I have been a lifelong gardener. I have always said that gardening is cheaper than paying for counseling to deal with life’s daily stresses. In addition to the enjoyment of watching things grow, I know that what I grow is healthy and in many cases tastes better than what you can buy in stores. Stores don’t necessarily sell produce that is the best tasting. Often it is what harvests the easiest, transports the best, and has the longest shelf life that is sold in stores. The type of corn or tomatoes that I grow you will never find in stores because they don’t transport well. But they sure taste great!
In addition to growing better tasting produce, there is something to be said for picking it fresh and eating it that night. It also gives me the option of growing it organically and not worrying if what I buy at the store was grown with harmful chemicals.
I raised my family in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. It has a mild climate and for the most part is a good place to grow a garden. The length of the growing season was adequate, although sometimes it rained in the spring so much that seeds rotted and plants died from saturated soil. We were typically safe from frost by the first of May and didn’t worry about our first freeze until mid-October. The lack of sunshine and an overabundance of spring rain sometimes affected our gardens productivity, but typically a garden would do well there.
When I retired as a mechanical engineer in 2010 my wife and I decided to change scenery. We sold our house and moved to Hamilton, Montana, a small town located in the beautiful Bitterroot Valley of southwest Montana. The elevation in Hamilton is approximately 3,500 feet above sea level and there lies the first obstacle to growing a garden. The second obstacle to growing a garden here is the soil conditions or should I say the lack of topsoil where we live. If one wanted a rock garden then moving here was the perfect choice. The third obstacle to growing a garden here is wildlife, i.e. whitetail deer. These voracious creatures will eat anything you try to grow faster than you can grow it.
Soil conditions can be improved over time and rocks removed, a fence can be built to keep hungry creatures out, but nothing can be done about elevation. With higher elevations come cooler nights and shorter growing seasons. In the Hamilton area the rule of thumb is that you can plant the first of June and likely will have your first freeze by mid-September.
After improving the soil conditions and erecting a fence around our garden area I have grown a garden every year we have lived here. The relatively short growing season has been a challenge, but you learn what will grow and what won’t. During our 2012 gardening season I complied with the local rule of thumb and didn’t plant my garden until the first of June. Unfortunately a week later we had a forecast for sub-freezing night time temperatures and I knew that all of my tomato, pepper, cucumber, squash, etc. starts were doomed. As I frantically tried to figure a way to cover and hopefully save them, it dawned on me that I had a number of 5-gallon buckets in the garage that I could use to cover them. After placing the buckets over all of my vegetable starts I crossed my fingers and hoped that in the morning I would find them alive. The air temperature dropped to 30°F that night and I knew that I may have lost all of my newly planted starts.
As I reached my garden the next morning and started to remove the buckets I was elated that not one of my starts had frozen. The next night also produced below freezing temperatures and once again all of my plants survived. That started me thinking that if my buckets were clear and if they had a vent ring to help control interior temperature and humidity I could use them as miniature greenhouses and just leave them on my vegetable starts. After an unsuccessful search on the Internet for something I could purchase, I built a crude prototype and put it to the test. After a few days of testing I knew that not only would it protect my plants from frost, but the plants would grow much faster in a warm and moist greenhouse environment.
Thus began our journey to produce Greenhouse Buckets. My goal was and still is to build the best possible product at a reasonable price. I have chosen not to maximize profit by having it built overseas but to support my country and have it built here in the United States. In conflict with good business sense, I have added UV stabilizers to significantly increase life expectancy and used only high quality materials and parts in its construction. I added interior ribs to not only strengthen the bucket’s side walls, but also prevent the buckets from sticking together during off-season storage.
During the 2013 gardening season I had prototypes of our Greenhouse Buckets available for testing. The results were everything we had hoped for and more. If you want to improve your garden’s productivity I know you will not be disappointed.
As I previously stated, I am trying to make the best possible product at a reasonable price, not because I have to, but because my name is on it.