Don Burnett

Burnett: Working smart in the home greenhouse

My little greenhouse will have climate control capabilities similar to its larger commercial cousins

As many of you have heard, I am finally back in the greenhouse business. Well not exactly in the business because my greenhouse is only eight by 12 feet in size and it’s in my back yard. I have however taken great effort in making this little unit into a productive year-long plant and vegetable factory using the knowledge I acquired running about an acre under glass and plastic from 1972 to 1997, when we closed our operations on Ethel street.

I was born in 1950 into a “greenhouse” family with my Dad and Grandpa having built their first greenhouse in 1932 10 years after they arrived in Kelowna from Weyburn, SK. I’m sure the Lysons Greenhouse operation right across the street from us located where Cottonwoods Extended Care is now, was an inspiration to them.

Mr. Lysons operated perhaps the largest hot-house tomato and cucumber set up in the interior and it was state of the art for its time. He sold the operation to the Mori family in the late forties and the greenhouses stayed in business until 1977 when the property was sold to Interior Health.

My little greenhouse will have climate control capabilities similar to its larger commercial cousins in that I have insulated the supporting structure and headhouse and caulked and plugged every tiny crack. I have a 25,000 BTU heater going in for winter heat and a swamp cooler set up for summer cooling with a thermostat which controls both. I also have a commercial grow light to lengthen the daylight hours in winter. The plan is to grow a winter crop of tomatoes and cucumbers as well as lettuce and other salad plants. I am also using it to over-winter some of my tropicals and frost tender plants which I use in planters on the deck and patio.

In the spring, I will start most of my own bedding plants and hanging baskets as well as produce another crop of tomatoes and cucumbers to come to fruition in late May to early June. Forcing plants to produce in the greenhouse has been done for a couple of hundred years now and even though there is lots of info online I’m having fun taking information from one of my Grandpa’s books called “The Forcing Book, first printed in 1897.

You might wonder why I’m resorting to such an old publication and I suppose if I was doing this on a commercial level it would be unwise, but I’m such a nostalgic kind of guy and my thinking is to take some of the info from the book and combine it with today’s climate control technology I should get some cool results. I just hope at the end of the day my tomatoes don’t cost me $20 each.

A reminder of an invitation to join me on my next trip to the UK for a Spotlight on London tour including a day-long visit to the Chelsea Flower Show and taking in the magic of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and the beautiful Savill Gardens. We leave for this fabulous trip on May 16, 2018 however because of the demand for Chelsea tickets you need to book soon. Contact Gail Fritsen at Marlin Travel- 250-868-2540.

Listen to Don Burnett and Ken Salvail every Saturday Morning from 8am to 10am presenting the Garden Show on AM 1150 now in its 34th year.