Backyard Hothouse Tomatoes at a Northern Latitude
photos from Stan Schaap and Susan Kramer
We thought you'd enjoy seeing the tomato greenhouse that started
as a cold frame! Last summer we had so much rain that our tomatoes rotted
before ripening, so this year we hope to raise them beginning tomorrow in their
own greenhouse. Stan designed and built the greenhouse and Susan has raised 12
tomato plants from seed which are now 7 inches tall. We'll add pix to this page
later in the summer to share the results of our experiment.
1. April 17, 2005. Stan is showing the
finished tomato factory with a front panel that slides out to make tomato pickin' easier! The unit is against a south-facing wall.
2. April 17, 2005. Stan securing the framing
to tent-post type anchors buried below the concrete. The walls are made of thin
3. April 17, 2005. These are 25 liter - 25
quart bags of compost which Susan is planting the tomatoes into directly - 4
plants per bag. The 1 foot square paver is the step down into the cold frame.
4. Below pix is our window box garden from
2001 - outside our kitchen window in our apt. in Amsterdam - our first try with
tomatoes planted into bags of store-bought compost. This was a west-facing wall
but did not get direct sunlight - rather, only reflected light from the
building opposite the window.
5. April 18, 2005. About 7pm. Today Susan
planted the 12 tomato plants - see cuts in top of bag for plants - this idea
came from a BBC (British Broadcasting Channel) program.
6. May 8, 2005. The tomatoes are growing well
and the rest of the garden is in a strong Spring
growth spurt. A variety of agapanthus in the foreground.
7. June 12, 2005. A close up of the tomatoes
after 7.5 weeks in the greenhouse. That's Swiss chard in the garden plot to the
left. The tomatoes have blossoms now.
8. June 12, 2005. A close up of the
trellis-pergola made of bangkirai - from Indonesia,
similar to teak. To the left, the fan shaped trellis is supporting grapes.
Below it are strawberries. Going up the left hand vertical support is the new
wisteria plant. To the right in foreground is mature Swiss chard I'm letting go
to seed to be able to plant again. In the background sitting at the table is
9. August 12, 2005. Tomatoes
fully grown but still green. At the left is a green bean teepee with vines
that climbed to the top of the plum tree, and just a little further to the left
is the giant sunflower - see next picture.
10. September 10, 2005. Some or our tomato
crop - we harvested 80 tomatoes. We pulled up the vines and now have red swiss chard growing for winter.
We'll put the top back on soon.
11. September 10, 2005. This single sunflower
(the flower about 5 feet off the ground) to the left of tomato factory is a
natural feeding station to our local population of coalmees
- the largest members in the bluetit family.
See the ripe green beans hanging from the plum tree :-)
August 17, 2012 update: We decided to install a real greenhouse after our first experiments were so successful. You’ll find that page at greenhouse construction from a kit. Garden projects are an ongoing challenge for us as we think of new ways to green our garden and help the environment - Susan
photos copyright Susan Kramer 2001-2015