It’s eternal summer in the greenhouse

It may be winter outside, but inside the greenhouse, tropicals flourish.
It may be winter outside, but inside the greenhouse, tropicals flourish.

It may be winter outside, but in the greenhouse, it’s always summer no matter what the weather. It’s humid, warm and when the propane heater gets going, almost hot. I love it. Winter in Oklahoma isn’t that dreary until after the holidays. Right now, blue skies reign mostly supreme. You just never know what kind of morning you’ll wake up to . . . today, a heavy fog, but it burned off rather before I got outside. I was working on the book, and deadlines come first. Some days in December are almost warm in the 60s. Others reach a high of 30F. We have weird yet wonderful weather until  Christmas comes and goes.

January and February make me think I’ll lose my mind. Skies are often cloudy, and the temperature is even more frustrating as we travel further from the sun. We never know what kind of winter we’re going to get. However, in the greenhouse, all is warm and wonderful.

Inside the greenhouse, you can see the controls at the back of the house, along with the electric heater.
Inside the greenhouse, you can see the controls at the back of the house, along with the electric heater.

I pinch myself every time I open the door. I can’t believe we really bought and built it. I’ve always wanted one, and I saved my earnings for three years. Yes, three years. Writers don’t get paid much anymore. Ha!

Propane heater for the greenhouse. Bill thinks he bought it a little large.
Propane heater for the greenhouse. Bill thinks he bought it a little large.

I planned to use the unheated greenhouse to harden off seeds as part of my seed starting routine. Then, I realized I wanted so much more. I need a place to go when the cold winds rattle my my very soul. I need to smell summer fauna, and maybe a flower or two.

Not just want, but need. I need a lemon tree. I know, it sounds decadent, but lemon and mint are my two favorite flavorings. Mint is easy to grow almost anywhere. However, to grow my own citrus would be a dream come true. I’m going to buy a lemon, a lime and maybe even a tangelo or kumquat. That’s next spring’s challenge. I’m going to grow mint and basil over winter. I will always have both. Hurray!

Now, for some technical info. Bill and I first put in an electric heater, but we worried about two things. One, if the power went off,  the heat would too, and that could quickly turn into a problem. The other concern was cost. Electric heat is much more expensive than propane heat. We elected to have two separate heaters, propane and electric. Since Oklahoma’s weather is variable, we don’t need the pilot light lit all the time. So, if we forget to turn on the pilot light and get a sudden downturn in temperatures (like the end of this week and part of last week), the electric heater will come on. It’s a two-stage system for two people who might forget. I also talked Bill into a carbon monoxide monitor to make sure I don’t gas myself in there. The propane heater is much more cost effective than the electric one, as long as we have propane in the tank outside. Next time, I’ll talk about the water situation. This post is getting rather long.

Carbon monoxide monitor for the greenhouse, not cheap, but worth it I think.
Carbon monoxide monitor for the greenhouse, not cheap, but worth it I think.

I make the small farmer rounds everyday. First, I visit the chickens, then grab the mail and finally, head last to the greenhouse where I open the door to find . . . .

Agaves hanging out in the greenhouse. While agaves don't need to be kept this warm, it doesn't hurt.
Agaves hanging out in the greenhouse. While agaves don’t need to be kept this warm, it doesn’t hurt. I have these on the right side where nothing is watered much.

Summertime has again arrived.

 

 

A package from the postwoman!

I got a big box in the mail. My postal carrier, who is a dear woman, drove it up my long driveway and honked for me to come outside. She said, “It looks like rain so I didn’t want to leave this one in the box.” We have a box just for packages on our fence. Keeps the dogs from tearing into them.

Like Pooh Bear, I almost said, “Tut, tut . . .,” but I didn’t think she’d get the reference. She might even be offended. Does anyone even say “tut, tut” anymore? Probably not. Like The Little Engine That Could and The Little Red Hen (Paul Galdone Classics), Pooh’s dialogue, in The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh, is mostly packed in mothballs these days. Please read these stories to your children. They will remember one day and thank you for it. Claire and I were discussing the first two books this morning on our way to school. Also,Henry and Mudge and Mr. Putter & Tabby Pour the Tea. Claire said the Henry and Mudge books made her think she could read long before she could. She’d memorized them, but I digress.

Back to the package. I bet it isn’t packed with mothballs. At least, I hope not. Don’t you just love packages from far, far away? They always hold a bit of mystery inside, and even if from only across town, they feel like they’ve traveled from afar. Mine states “Breakable–Glass” on its front. Shall we open it together?

A box with treasures inside!
A box with treasures inside!

I know I don’t look happy, but I am just concentrating, trying to take a selfie. It’s harder than you think. I can hear my children laughing.

Postmark from Canada
Postmark from Canada

Look! The postmark says it’s from Canada. Hello Canadian friends! Ooh, look inside. I wish they’d used biodegradable filler. It could go on the compost pile instead of the landfill. Unfortunately, they did not. Sigh.

Not biodegradable filler
Not biodegradable filler, not a good thing.

Uncovered, we see four little packages wrapped and strapped and snuggled into their beds.

Look at those little packages snuggled in their box bottoms up!
Look at those little packages snuggled in their box. Bottoms up!

Have you guessed yet what they are? Shall I show you another photo?

You can see they wrap them very well.
You can see they were wrapped very well.

Ready to see them? I know I am!

A Tye-type vase. It appears to be old because of the width of its top. It is also not molded. A good find.
A Tye-type vase. It appears to be old because of the width of its top. It is also not molded. A good find.

The one above is a Tye-type of hyacinth vase. Its shape was created by George Pearcy Tye in England in the mid-1800s. It has been copied ever since. There are blown glass examples and molded ones like the second vase below. The Birmingham History Forum (UK) has more information on Mr. Tye. The vase, above, is older and blown glass. You can tell from the sharpness at the top and the place on the bottom where it was connected to the blow tube. It is not, however, an original Tye because it doesn’t have the markings needed, “Gt Charles St, Birmingham” and in the middle: ‘G P Tye.’ Some also included ‘1850’”. This is quoted from my favorite UK blog on forcing, Garden Withindoors. It is from Julie’s first blog: Hyacinth Vases. Before you buy any vases on eBay, you may want to check out her list of researched prices. This is quite a service for an unknowing buyer.

Here’s vase #2: It is a molded variety, and from this photo, you should be able to see the line on the side. This means it is a newer variety. I can’t tell you how new, but I know molded vases were produced well into the middle of the 20th Century. It also has a polished rim that is very smooth, another indication that it is molded. In the back part of the photo is my dining room. The part bathed in light is my seed starting station. Right now, it’s full of amaryllis and paperwhites under light. We’ve been very cloudy so I’m giving them a bit of extra help to get them going. I want paperwhites and some amaryllis, preferably the red ones, by Christmas. I also put some out in the greenhouse to get an early start. To learn more about growing amaryllis, may I suggest Matt Mattus’ informative post, Amaryllis Confidential. He’s a bulb connoisseur and knows a lot about them.

We know this is a newer vase because it is molded. Can you see the line on the side?
We know this is a newer vase because it is molded. Can you see the line on the side?

While this vase is not as graceful as the older one, who really cares? I’m just using them to grow hyacinths so I don’t go mad in winter. Some of the best information on all things forcing are on blogs from the Netherlands. I found several through Pinterest, and fortunately Google Chrome makes an attempt to translate them for me. Sometimes, the verbiage is pretty funny and wrong, but I still get the gist of what the author is trying to say.

Now, on to vase #3. Don’t you feel like they are pageant girls? Maybe it’s their hourglass shape. Vase #3 is a blown variety. See the bottom? That tells you it is mouth-blown. It does have a smooth top and was polished. It is a round variety. I don’t know about its date, but I think it is old.

See where it was blown and cut off from the pipe?
See where it was blown and cut off from the pipe?

Here’s another shot of it.

Cute little round, green hyacinth vase
Cute little round, green hyacinth vase

Vase #4 may not be a vase at all. It could be a candle holder, and it’s a strange little creature. It is sorta lopsided. I knew this when I bought it. I loved it’s color and unique shape. Even if it is a candle holder, it will still work as a bulb vase.

Even if this is a candle holder, it will still work as a bulb vase too.
Candle holder or vase? You decide.

So, those are my prezzies to me. I have been on a bulb vase binge this year. I started earlier than last year, and the prices were great. I’m still waiting on a package from the Royal Mail (UK) with three Tye-type vases in unique colors. I’ll let you know when they get here. In meantime, here are the four vases sitting on my kitchen table. I cleaned them which is always a pleasure. Look how they shine. Can’t you just see purple hyacinths in them, or red tulips? I can.

Four Green hyacinth vases
Green hyacinth vases

Did you buy yourself any pre-Christmas presents? Will they come in small or large packages? Do tell.