My $20 Greenhouse/Shed Makeover & Garden Updates

Recently, my husband and I sat down and went through and organized our lists of projects that still need to be completed for our house. We prioritized things into URGENT, high priority, medium priority, and low priority. One of the things on my list was that I wanted a new greenhouse (made out of the recycled windows that I have been collecting), and I wanted a cuter garden shed. Once I realized that we literally have over 50 items on our project to-do list, and those two fell pretty low on the list, I decided it was time to be happy with what I have for now, and make the best of them. Eventually we will probably get around to building my dream greenhouse, but in the meantime, I am happy with my little popup greenhouse. I made the inside much better which helps!

The greenhouse and shed are in our downstairs yard, which is actually a secondary lot joined to our property. You can see the before pictures here. My little plastic raised beds have been moved around a few times since we moved here, but I think I am finally settled on their location. I am addicted to finding free stuff from Craigslist that I can upcycle into something cute for the garden, and the bench and bench cushion below were some great Craigslist finds. 🙂 The bench looked awful when we got it (the previous owners left their kids alone with some paint samples and the kids went wild on the poor bench), but a can of spray paint and it is now a cozy little area under the apricot tree. When we moved in, you actually couldn’t even see that poor little tree because it was being strangled by vines! I am so proud to have rescued it. 🙂
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The metal shed was a rusty eyesore. I had some leftover paint from when I painted our patio furniture, so I decided to start painting the shed. The only thing I bought for this greenhouse/shed makeover was a couple of extra cans of spray paint and suddenly they are both much better! We also recently got a second compost tumbler (found here). We loved the first one so much, and realized now that there are three of us, we are generating a whole lot more food scraps! The one bin was getting a bit overwhelmed so it is nice to have two now. We are also in the process of putting in another large wooden raised bed in this downstairs area (getting dirt down there is a tedious process and my husband is building a ramp which I need anyway).
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Inside the greenhouse is my favorite part of the transformation. I had lots of cute decor things that I have made for photoshoots over the years, and have been storing them away in my office. I typically hate reusing the same props over and over, but didn’t want to get rid of a lot of these things since I worked hard on them. I couldn’t find a spot in our house for everything, but they made the perfect (free!) decorations for my little greenhouse!
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I realized that my pitcher plant was not doing well because apparently you are only supposed to water it with distilled or rain water! Ooops! It is getting some love in the greenhouse for now while it recouperates. I also gave it a spray with some watered down fertilizer. The other plants on the shelf rack are things that need some extra love (after getting trampled by my son for example), or things I have recently propagated. 🙂
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I made a pathway out of pieces of slate that were removed elsewhere in the backyard. In case you are curious (since people always ask me), you can find his cute moccasins here.
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A little chandelier makes everything better.  🙂
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My ferns and some other plants are not always in here, but they needed a bit of extra TLC after being at the fair all week. They came home fine, but just a little sad and droopy after being in a cold, air-conditioned building all week.
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The little star lights are battery operated string lights I got at Ikea many years ago. When my husband saw them, he got upset thinking I was trying to hint that I needed electricity in there. I assured him they were just for decoration, and any time it is dark, I won’t be in the greenhouse because I close it up at night. 🙂
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My little baby staghorn fern won 2nd place at the fair, even up against big huge ones! 🙂 It is a very happy, healthy little guy.
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I am addicted to propagating new plants from cuttings. I love having lots of plants and making more for free is the best! I have found great results with starting cuttings dipped in rooting hormone, then placed in a jar of water, and then transitioning them to moist potting soil once they have roots established.
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This thermometer is the best since it also gives humidity percentage. So important to keep an eye on the humidity levels in a greenhouse. You can find it here.
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I couldn’t get E to look at the camera today. He fell again and got another nasty cut right above his eye and he is quite upset about it. He has been sad when he sees himself in the mirror.aliciainwonderlandblog

I cleared out all of my lawn care tools, which left me some room in the shed to get organized! Most of the shed is actually taken up by my husband’s stuff, but now I have my own little organized corner. 🙂 I have been having a hard time with the wildlife chewing through my bags of fertilizer, so I got this dresser to stash my bags (the dresser was another free Craigslist find!).
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Our raised beds are coming along, even though they got a really late start this year. I have recycled doors placed at the ends of the raised beds for now (to keep the dogs out), but they will be going up soon and make the area look more our style. 🙂
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My cucumbers and peppers have not been doing as well as I would have expected. They have consistently perfect moisture, no signs of disease, perfect soil fertility, full sun, and yet they were struggling. I finally figured out the problem (besides the fact that they were planted so late in the season). The darn Japanese beetles have been burrowing under the soil and munching on the roots of my veggies. I just sprayed everything with neem oil which should help deter them, and also gave the plants a folliar treatment of an organic fish/kelp emulsion to help perk them up.
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My husband keeps getting frustrated that I planted the raised beds “so sparse”. I assured him that lots more will be poking through soon. 😉 I filled up all of the extra spaces with carrot and beet seeds.aliciainwonderlandblog aliciainwonderlandblog
Our son is a tomato fiend. He knows exactly when to grab the tomatoes too. I can guarantee that he will find this one tomorrow.
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I can’t wait for this guy to ripen. 🙂
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I planted tons of corn seeds very late in the game. It will be an experiment to see how they do. 🙂
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This is another one of my mystery squash plants that came from the compost in the flower beds. This was the only transplant survivor. I am so curious to see what kind of squash comes from this one. 🙂
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My monster squash plant is starting to try to take over the whole flower garden! That is just ONE squash plant!
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After my recent miscarriage, I cut all the roses in the garden and put them where we buried that tiny little baby. The garden seemed sad for quite some time after that. It finally started getting blooms again, and just in time for the last week of the fair. My flowers won a few ribbons (more on that in another post soon).
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Remember my post about the wasp problem and disease on this rose bush? The rose bush is doing much better thanks to diligent application of neem oil, and the wasp problem is gone thanks to the Waspinators! I was very skeptical but it seems to be keeping the wasps away!
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Last but not least, it is time to start seeds already for the fall/winter! I am starting snapdragons, stock, violas, pansies, and calendula for flowers. For veggies, I am starting lots of cool season foods like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, broccoli raab, cauliflower, onions and leeks. I will also be planting lots of carrots, beets, radishes, kale, mustard, and other root vegetables and leafy greens straight into the raised beds in the downstairs garden. I use the raised beds downstairs for cool season plants since it has a cooler microclimate down there thanks to the pine trees and the way the ocean breeze comes through there (our upstairs back yard stays much hotter year-round because of the way the concrete retaining walls block the breeze).

I used to start seeds indoors, but we don’t have any sunny windows in this house where I can set up flats of seeds. Also, the last time I started seeds indoors at our old house, our pets got to the sprouts in the middle of the night and had a party. I woke up one morning and found baby veggies and dirt all over our living room. Not a fun day. I am trying out seed starting with these portable little greenhouses (found here). I have them in our patio, under the pergola for now, but like the fact that I can easily move them around if I need to. I have been closing them in the late afternoon to try to keep the temperature fairly even. I am hoping this works out! I have a variety of seed starting trays, but I like these best. Also, make sure you always use organic seed starting soil for starting seeds, not potting soil (here’s a great option).
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How To: Plant a Garden Full of Flowers Without Spending a Fortune

I always check the sale racks in the garden sections of the big box stores since occasionally you can find some great deals.  I never buy annuals that are on the sale rack since those are usually on their last leg.  Perennials on the sale rack are usually a great deal.  I check to make sure that they look disease free, and otherwise generally healthy.

I found these flowers on sale recently, and they were an amazing deal.  They were originally around $20, and marked down to just $3.50 for these huge 3.5 gallon containers!  Most did not have flowers on them at the moment, but the descriptive tag on the side told me that they are white roses and pink geraniums…things that were on my shopping list anyway!  Roses and geraniums are so hardy that I should have no trouble with these.  I don’t have the space prepped yet where I am planning to plant these, but they were such a good deal that I just couldn’t pass them up!

I always plant flowers from seed since it is so much cheaper this way, especially for annuals and wildflower mixes.  I usually plant the seeds directly in the garden, but since I had a little trouble with that recently (original post here), I decided that I will start more wildflower seeds in nursery containers, covered with plastic wrap, to create a mini-greenhouse effect.  This should help them get a better start, and will help me make sure that I am actually planting flowers in my garden, and not more weeds.

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Gardening Lessons Learned the Hard Way: Seed Starting

Most of my gardening experience has started with either direct planting seeds in the garden, or buying starter plants from a garden center.  Before we moved into our new home, I decided to get a jump start on the upcoming new garden by seed starting a ton of veggies indoors (see original post here).

I laid out all of my seed starting trays on folding tables in our living room where they would stay warm and get nice indirect sunlight.  Everything was going very well at first.  Once the seedlings started to get get a little bit of size, I propped the lids of the seed starting containers open.  They then reached a point where they were too big for that, and were ready to have the lids removed.  Everything went well up until that point.

Once I took the lids off, all bets were off.  We have three very unusual pets who love vegetables.  I think they have grown to love vegetables because they associate them with things that I cook.  I don’t really know why they love vegetables, but I don’t know any other dogs or cats that literally beg for veggies.  One night while we were sleeping, the pets had a veggie party.  When I woke up the next morning, almost everything was munched away.

I tried to salvage what was left of the little seedlings, by relocating them to our second bedroom at that house (which I used as my office).  However, that room did not get much natural light in it at all, and they all started looking droopy.  Our old house was a really tiny craftsman cottage (house tour here), and there weren’t many places I could hide the seedlings from the pets.

Since it was starting to be early Spring, I figured it might be okay to put the surviving seedlings in one of the greenhouses.  Of course, the night that I put them in there, temperatures dropped and it got really cold and rainy while we were sleeping.  When I went out the next morning, even more seedlings had started to die.  I was somehow able to consolidate the few survivors and hide them from the pets until we moved by placing them on a high shelf.

There were just a few seedling varieties that survived all that trauma: the tomatoes, peppers, and a few onions and eggplants.  Their growth looks a little stunted, but I am hoping they will catch up on growth now that they are secure in their new happy homes. 🙂

In the future, I am going to try seed starting again.  Now that we have much more space in our new house, and more rooms to hide things from the pets, I am hoping it will go better.  We are even planning to reuse the ugly florescent light fixtures that were in the kitchen when we moved in as part of a special seed starting station. 🙂

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