A greenhouse can be a great addition to any yard or garden if you have the space. It gives you a chance to get a jump on the season, or a way to garden a few things all year round. Using a greenhouse is a pleasurable and rewarding experience.
Installing a Greenhouse
The first thing that you need before you install a permanent greenhouse is a building permit. If you are installing a portable greenhouse, this is not necessary. You need to a find a level place in your yard that can accommodate a concrete pad that will act as a foundation for the greenhouse. Leveling the greenhouse will ensure that the doors and windows will work properly. You can hire a contractor for the job, or buy a do it yourself kit.
Locate the greenhouse in a spot where it will have full sun exposure. This means that it should get 6-8 hours of sun per day. You should also place it somewhere that it will receive some protection from the wind. You also need to consider whether or not you have a water source nearby. Greenhouse plants generally need to be watered more often. If you want a source of electricity to the greenhouse, this will likely require professional help.
Protecting Plants for the Winter in a Greenhouse
Plants in the greenhouse during cold weather need extra measures to be taken to protect them. Especially in very cold climates, it is important to have methods in place to keep the temperature constant. Thermometers should be placed in the greenhouse, and the goal is to keep the greenhouse around 80 degrees with temperatures not dropping below 55 at night. Aside from using heaters, there are other methods that you can use.
You can trap heat inside the greenhouse by collecting the warmth of the sun. This is done by placing large containers of water on the north wall of the greenhouse where the sun will shine directly on them. During the cooler nights, the water will release the heat that it has collected during the day. Heat can be trapped in the greenhouse by using bubble wrap to collect the sun and to insulate the greenhouse. This allows the light to come through which the plant needs.
Starting Seeds in a Greenhouse
One of the benefits of owning a greenhouse is being able to get an earlier start on the growing season. You can start seeds weeks earlier, and grow transplants to be placed in the garden at a later date. Seeds should be started in trays or small pots. All you need is potting soil. You can buy it in the garden center, or make your own using peat moss and compost.
When seeds begin to sprout, thin them to the strongest one in each pot. Make sure to water well, and regularly to ensure that plants continue to grow. If the weather is going to be cool, make sure to protect plants appropriately. If the temperature in the greenhouse becomes too hot, vent the windows or open the door to allow some of the heat to escape.
Popular Greenhouse Garden Crops
Many people successfully grow vegetables in their greenhouses and you can as well. Tomatoes and cucumbers both grow well in greenhouses. Buy seeds that are specific to greenhouse growing. Bush types of both vegetables grow well because they are more compact. Also look for varieties that are tolerant of cooler temperatures. Root vegetables such as carrots and radishes will do well in your greenhouse, and you can grow greens like lettuce for a good part of the year. Also experiment with varieties of bush beans and peppers.
The use of your greenhouse is limited to your imagination. You may have to use trial and error to find what conditions work well, and what plants you can grow successfully. In any case, enjoy your greenhouse, and your ability to produce all year long.
Want to learn more about gardening with a greenhouse?
Hobby Greenhouses from Clemson Cooperative Extension
Planning and Building a Greenhouse from West Virginia University Extension Service
Greenhouse and Floriculture Extension from Colorado State University Extension