Geothermal Greenhouse in NW Missouri

A look inside a geothermal greenhouse

We know the owners of this geothermal greenhouse located in NW  Missouri and I get to go over and poke my head inside from time.  It seemed like a terrific idea and I was excited to even go watch it going up.

Yesterday we went by while we in the area to peek inside the geothermal greenhouse.  I was amazed with the progress of the plants inside.   These tomatoes, 5 different varieties if I remember correctly, were planted back in the first week of April.  They’re easily 3 times the size of my own tomatoes that are growing outdoors.

Tomatoes growing in a geothermal greenhouse in NW Missouri
Tomatoes growing in a geothermal greenhouse in NW Missouri
tomatoes grown vertically in a geothermal greenhouse
Tomatoes grown vertically using the Mittleider method in a geothermal greenhouse

About this greenhouse

This greenhouse is a Mittleider design as seen in the Mittleider Gardening Course book.

grow spaghetti squash vertically

Grow spaghetti squash vertically

Growing spaghetti squash vertically is easy.  Going vertical reduces the likelihood of tripping on or breaking vines while maximizing the use of space in our gardens.  Here in our NW Missouri Mittleider garden we grow vertically whenever possible.  This system allows us to grow more plants in a smaller space by going vertically.

One of our favorite vegetables has become spaghetti squash over the last year.  The children are very picky eaters and I was amazed when I gave them a sample of spaghetti squash and they asked for more.

This year we are going to grow two crops of the spaghetti squash with the second one being inside the in the garden green house.  The first crop is out in the soil and many of the plants are already over 8 feet tall.  Our best plant went over 17 feet long this year. Here is just one of the many squash growing in our garden.

Grow spaghetti squash vertically in a Mittleider garden
Grow spaghetti squash vertically in a Mittleider garden

Why grow spaghetti squash vertically?

Going vertical with all the crops in our garden has made our garden more productive and has put more food in our pantry and on the table.  Getting the squash off the ground makes it so much easier to control the weeds.  Those days of stepping on vines while trying to pull weeds from under it are long gone.

Having the plants growing vertically makes it easy to access the plants for pruning, spotting insects, inspecting for insect eggs and it makes harvest so much easier.

What string or twine will you need to grow spaghetti squash vertically

We use a baling twine rated at 170 pound test that has UV stabilizers added.  Twine like the Tytan International wont deteriorate out in the sun and will last you several seasons.

Shredding zucchini for freezer storage

Shredding zucchini for freezer storage

Lets face it, zucchini is one of those garden crops that is always abundant.  Your family and neighbors so as to avoid being given yet another couple zucchinis.  Because we have so much we are finally left with taking care of all that zucchini.  Rather than let ours go to waste we have taken to shredding our zucchini, putting two cups into a quart sized bag and then freezing it.

What are the best ways of shredding zucchini?

Initially we used a box shredder we had on hand to shred our days harvest of zucchini.  While it worked and didn’t cost us any money the darn thing was VERY time consuming to use.

Box shredder for shredding zucchini
Box shredder for shredding zucchini

As a result of this guy growing tired of using that thing we talked it over and finally decided to break down and purchase a food processor.  Without a doubt, it is far less work or time consuming to use our little food processor.  Because I’ve seen how much faster and easier the food processor makes this task I’ve absolutely got to recommend it.  Unless you only plan on shredding a few zucchini the process is the only way to go.

In addition, I might add that we decided to go with a low end food processor model and spent around $30 total.  Any food processor you can find capable of shredding will work.

We put two cups of zucchini in each freezer bag

Today we sat down and shredded the zucchini from the garden.  At the end of this little project we had 22 cups of it to put in the freezer for zucchini bread we all love.  To date we now have over 100 cups of shredded zucchini processed.

Our favorite recipe calls for 2 cups of zucchini so we pre-measured into into quart size freezer bags.

Shreddeing zucchini for freezer storage
Shredding zucchini and placing in quart bags for freezing

Here they are ready to go into the freezer.

Why shred and store in quart sized freezer bags

Shredding your zucchini and storing in freezer bags like shown in the above picture really maximizes space in your freezer.  It stacks well with very little waste space.

Most noteworthy, we have discovered that as a result of shredding and putting two cups of it into each baggie that it becomes easier to offload on friends and family.  They’re more willing to take it when it requires no work on their part.

Do you want to maximize the amount of zucchini you get from your garden and make it easier to control insects? Pruning your zucchini will help.

My case against 4 foot wide grow boxes

Why I don’t like a 4 foot grow boxes in a Mittleider garden

I’ll be honest here, I don’t like 4 foot wide grow boxes.  They’re popular and you will see all kinds of articles and videos where they are recommended.  They require too much bending over of the gardener for my liking.  For a Mittleider garden I think they’re generally a mistake.

It is difficult to tend to stuff in it and you can’t reach from one side to the other.  This becomes particularly evident when things are grown vertically.  Reaching towards the middle of the box to prune or harvest from a mature plant is near impossible.  Sure, you can push through and get it done but you risk damaging plants.  you could even knock off nearly ripe vegetables.

The top of these tomatoes in the picture below are a little more than 3 feet apart.  I can only prune and harvest easily by going down each side of my grow box.  Growing these tomatoes in a 4 foot wide grow box would prevent the easy access necessary to properly care for our plants.

grow box in a Mittleider garden
tomatoes grown vertically in an 18 inch wide grow box in a Mittleider garden

Are there good uses for 4 foot grow boxes?

There are indeed.  First, if you’re on a very tight budget yet determined to have a grow box the wide grow boxes will work.  For the cost of two 18 inch wide boxes you can build one 4 foot box.  But if you’re on a budget I’d highly recommend growing in your own soil.

The only time I might recommend a 4 foot wide grow box in a Mittleider garden is for growing potatoes.  We have heavy clay soil here in Missouri.  Our grow box dedicated to growing potatoes allows them to sprawl and makes harvest a breeze.  It is isolated from the rest of the garden and is used only for potatoes.  In this picture below we grew sweet potatoes last year.

4 foot grow boxes filled with sawdust and sand
Sweet potatoes grown in a wide grow box. Grow boxes are a great option for growing all tubers

What size grow box do I prefer?

That’s easy. An 18 inch wide grow box is ideal, particularity for vertical crops in my Mittleider garden.  We built these grow boxes in our in the garden green house.


Remove insect eggs with a lint roller

Remove insect eggs in your garden with a lint roller

For the gardener who wants to limit damage to crops and vegetables you should consider how to remove insect eggs. Preventing the eggs from ever hatching because they’ve been removed from the garden entirely is far more effective than spraying.

This past spring I had someone share with me a tip that makes the task of removing insect eggs in your garden much easier.  He uses an inexpensive lint roller to remove insect eggs. You can buy a travel sized lint roller like the one in the picture below at Walmart for 99 cents.

lint roller used to remove insect eggs in the garden
lint roller used to remove insect eggs in the garden

An alternative to lint rollers

If you don’t want to go buy a lint roller to remove those pesky eggs you might have a roll of sticky tape like duct tape around the home.  Pull of 8 to 10 inches of it and stick itself together in a loop with the adhesive side out.  With one hand hold the tape and apply your other hand on the opposite of the leaf to give you something to press against.  Touch the tape to the eggs and apply light pressure until all the eggs are removed.

These squash bug eggs were removed with a piece of duct tape
remove squash bug eggs with duct tape

When eggs are laid next to large leaf veins

With crops like zucchini where there is a large vein on the backside of the leaf the duct tape actually works better than the lint roller.  When the eggs are laid next to those large veins the round lint roller will roll onto the vein and pass right over several eggs.  In these instances the duct tape works better.  When pruning and removing insect eggs from our squash plants I now use only the duct tape.

use duct tape for squash bug eggs laid next to a large leaf vein
squash bug eggs laid next to a large leaf vein

Watch insect eggs get removed with a lint roller

After trying it I had to get a little video to show just how well it works.  Typically we use the lint roller on cabbage, broccoli, kale and cauliflower.