Scott in greenhouse. Torrey. Family.

Scott in greenhouse.

From February’s winter chill to July’s 90-degree days, our tomatoes have made a grand transition. It’s hard to believe that, what began as a quarter-inch seed and then became a viable transplant, is now this jolly green giant.

Greenhouse plants. Torrey.

Stupice tomatoes

But we see that metamorphosis with our own eyes and taste these lovely gems that adorn our almost-nightly salads. With their robust growing habit and tangy flavor, stupice tomatoes remain our long-time favorites. Sungold cherries are a close second and should be coming on soon.

Greenhouse plants. Torrey.

Last September, as we began building our strawbale greenhouse, we hoped for a bountiful harvest but didn’t really know what the results of our efforts would be. Our crops grew in March and April, and, until two weeks ago, there was enough spinach to feed our friends and ourselves, plus sell to farmers’ market patrons. The spinach bolted as temperatures increased, but the kale and chard are still going gangbusters. Mooribor hybrid kale and bright lights chard seem to be a good fit in the greenhouse setting.

We’ve just replanted carrots, lettuce, and spinach and have added cucumbers, leaf celery, and hot peppers. These compliment the plants in our outdoor garden.

Greenhouse plants. Torrey.

The greenhouse provides protection to our new apple grafts and jade plant starts.

Scott in greenhouse. Torrey. Family.

The two things we worried about – bugs and excessive heat – have proven to be inconsequential. As planned, we opened the doors on the east and west to create a moderating breeze. Inside temperatures have been no hotter than outside. And, once the doors were opened, the small aphid problem we experienced in April disappeared.

So far, the greenhouse has been a satisfying success. The next tests will be the seeds we just planted and then our fall crops, which will be planted in mid-August.

Greenhouse veggies. Torrey.

Jolly green giant tomato in its infancy

Greenhouse veggies. Torrey.

The first zucchini of 2016 – in April!

Greenhouse veggies. Torrey.

What will become the first cantaloupe of 2016

Greenhouse plants. Torrey.

Bright Lights chard sold at the farmers’ market

Homegrown Tomatoes


A famous Guy Clark song expresses one of life’s truisms: There’s only two things that money can’t buy, and that’s true love and homegrown tomatoes. The song goes on to say, “Plant ’em in the spring, eat ’em in the summer. All winter without ’em is a culinary bummer.” And that’s why we’re building a greenhouse – so we can eat homegrown tomatoes in all year long…or as close to that as possible.

Our progress so far…


Roof joists perched on the frame





2015083037797A gap between the joists and the frame







2015083037798Is filled in order for the frame to better support the weight of the roof.






2015090637809After observing the amount of shadow cast inside the greenhouse by the joists throughout the day, we changed the original design by increasing the amount of polycarbonate on roof. Painting the ceiling makes a lighter space for growing.


2015090637811Fascia and soffits





2015090637808Drip edge at the bottom of the south windows







2015090737817Insulation in the roof










2015090737820Tar paper





2015090637812Tired Scott and Stentor the cat sitting outside our strawbale house at the end of a long work day.






All the roof needs now is the metal sheathing with drip edges and the polycarbonate “glass.”