Converting the fish tanks into greenhouses, part 5: all set up and pretty much done

Today, I was finally able to continue setting up cat proof greenhouses in our unused fish tanks, to start seeds.

What I wanted to do was line the tanks with rigid insulation where they were near walls. Since there is no way to lower the lights to be closer to the seed starts, I was going to line the insides with foil for reflective light.

I may not need to do that.

Here is the big tank.

I got photo bombed by a Susan.

I had three boxes with identical dimensions, which allow me to raise the rigid insulation floor high. As the seedlings get bigger, I can change the positions of the boxes to get different heights. I’ve got 3 boxes in there, but I might try to squeeze a 4th one in, to stabilize the floor better.

Because of how the top of the tank is designed, to hold glass covers that broke long ago, I had to cut the insulation to fit the opening, rather than the space I wanted them in. That meant the floor piece has quite a gap around it. The sheet of insulation I cut to size for the long, back wall had to be cut into thirds to get it in. Plus, there is a sheet at the end. The wall in the back of the picture is one of the original log walls. The wall at the left is an exterior wall. Yes, it has more modern (almost 50 years old) insulation, but it’s still pretty cold!

The insulation on the sides helps to fill the gaps around the floor piece, which stabilizes it as well.

At these dimensions, I can only fit two seed trays in here, which means there is a fair amount of space around them to add more containers with seed starts. I just have to figure out what waterproof surface I can fit in there to put them on.

I think I can get away with not adding foil, though. What do you think?

The second tank was much easier and faster.

Once again, I had to cut pieces smaller, to be able to fit them through the top. I only needed to add insulation to the back, which is against the exterior wall, but I added more to the sides to help fill in gaps around the floor piece.

I’m going to have to find something better to raise the floor. The orange box is a bit too small.

Photo bomb, courtesy of Saffron!

As you can tell by the dusty footprints, the cats like the lid of this tank!

At this point, I should be ready to start seeds in here. According to the package instructions, I don’t need to start my onion seeds – the ones that need to be started the earliest – until the end of March, but experienced zone 3 gardeners in groups that I’m on have already started theirs, and say they should be started now. The seed trays I have are too big to fit into the smaller tank, so I will have to find something else waterproof to hold seed starts in the little tank. I want to buy more seed trays, anyhow; I’ll have to take a good look at what dimensions are available.

There is only so much I’ll be able to fit in these, even if I’ll later be able to move the onions into the sun room and make room for something else. I did find something that I might be able to use, for when I’m starting the squash and gourd seeds.

The squash and gourds need more space to grow, and they are the things that need to be started soonest, after the onions. I’ll be using these cups, with drainage holes punched into their bottoms, as pots. The storage container is designed to fit under a bed, but the hinge on the lid is broken, so it has been languishing in the basement until now. I have a second one. Once I figure out what to do with the stuff stored inside it, I’ll be using that as well.

We have so many varieties of summer and winter squash, as well as gourds, to try. Depending on how many seeds are in each package, I may not plant them all. Some are packed by weight rather than number of seeds. I figure, at most, I’ll start 10 seeds each of the summer and winter squash. Whatever the germination rate turns out to be, that’s what I’ll be planting. If I get just a 50% germination rate, we will still have lots of each variety, and with the number of varieties, we should have plenty for both fresh eating, and preserving and storage. For the gourds, I’ve decided to start 5 seeds of each, and see how they do. One of them is an eating variety, but the others are to dry and use for crafting purposes. Curing them takes about a year, so the sooner I can get some grown, the sooner I’ll have materials to work with! If space in an issue, though, I’ll drop the gourds for this year.

I still have the mini greenhouse that my daughter bought for me last year, which can hold three of the trays that are in the big tank. The cats still managed to get into the closed plastic cover, and it gets knocked over easily, so anything we start in there will be done later in the season, and in the sun room!

With the trays I have now, all I need to figure out is what to use in the small tank, and I should be able to start the onion seeds very soon!

The Re-Farmer

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