If you love fresh vegetables and herbs and hate having to buy them in the winter we may have just the thing for you. Greenhouse gardening can extend your growing season and provide you with fresh vegetables year-round. Just think how great it would be to be able to go into your own greenhouse and pick fresh herbs for soup on a cold winter day. Maybe you would love to be able to go into your greenhouse and pick fresh lettuce and tomato for a BLT sandwich. All this and more is possible if you set up your own greenhouse garden.
Why Greenhouse Gardening?
A simple look back at the year we have endured in 2020 could give you all the reason you need to start greenhouse gardening for yourself. Looking back at the spring we saw shortages of many items in the supermarket. Even worse, due to short supplies, prices spiked for many items. During the summer prices were way up at the farmer’s markets we visited as well. All these are important reasons you might want to consider greenhouse gardening.
Besides all those reasons there are plenty of simple reasons to have a greenhouse. Many people find gardening relaxing and fun. They enjoy the simple pleasure of watching their plants flourish. Others find it satisfying to have their own source of fresh food. Still others find that they enjoy a green oasis during the cold, drab winter months. Whatever your reason, starting a greenhouse can give you loads of enjoyment and space to let your green thumb go wild.
What Is A Greenhouse?
A greenhouse is a structure that is warmed by the sun during the day and hold some of that heat inside at night. As the sun warms the ground and the soil they absorb and hold onto that heat. As the sun sets some of that heat is radiated into the air of the greenhouse to help keep the plants warm at night. This simulates the growing conditions most plants need to grow during the spring and summer.
This allows early vegetables to be planted much earlier in an environment which protects the tender seedlings from wild weather swings. They can then be transplanted outdoors once the weather is more conducive to normal growth. It also allows you to extend the growing season for plants into the colder months of fall and winter. This can give you a year-round supply of fresh, nutritious food for you and your family.
Modern greenhouses are usually made from rustproof steel tubing for the frame and a specially made plastic covering which is designed to allow the maximum amount of sunlight into the greenhouse area. This maximizes the amount of light and heat inside the greenhouse.
Benefits Of Greenhouse Gardening
Here are a few of the benefits of constructing your own greenhouse:
- Controlled growing conditions give you the optimum opportunity to obtain the desired results from your plants. Whether vegetables, herbs, or flowers, your plants will have the perfect growth environment.
- Your precious plants will be protected from adverse weather, bugs, and other pests, birds, and rodents, and it may prevent diseases too.
- The easy access to most greenhouses means that almost anyone can grow their own plants. A small space such as a greenhouse is much easier to maintain than a wide-open garden space. The plants are normally grown in pots which are much easier when considering weed control and watering.
- Speaking of water, plants in greenhouses normally use much less water because the inside air gets heated, so it can hold onto moisture. Sitting here writing this article I am looking at my temperature monitor in the greenhouse. The relative humidity outdoors is less than 50% with a temperature of 64o while the temperature of the greenhouse is 75o with 90% humidity.
- Some people can enjoy a wider variety of plants using a greenhouse. Some plants may need special growing conditions that your particular area may not be able to provide. For instance, those in the northern states may be able to grow plants that they could never grow outdoors due to the short growing season where they live.
What Type Of Greenhouse Do I Choose?
Many factors will affect which type of greenhouse you choose. Your options will be limited by the amount of space you have available, as well as other considerations. For instance, if your area receives a lot of snow you will want to consider a rigid greenhouse to prevent the collapse from accumulated snow. On the other hand, those in more southerly areas may want to consider a modern greenhouse with a non-rigid covering. These are lightweight and come in a variety of sizes and shapes to fit almost any situation.
You will also want to consider factors such as winds and tree cover. Your greenhouse needs to stay in place, so you may need to anchor it against strong winds. If you have a lot of trees around you may need to consider the location, so your greenhouse can get the most sunlight possible.
The space you have available plays a crucial role in your selection of a greenhouse. But don’t worry, there are hundreds of designs to fit almost any space you can think of.
What Tools And Materials Do You Need?
If you have grown potted plants in the past you may already have everything you need for greenhouse gardening. If not, here a few things you will need:
- Plant starting flats such as those that come with plants purchased from a nursery.
- Small pots or styrofoam cups to transplant seedlings from the flats.
- Pots of a larger size for transplanting your seedlings once they grow to sufficient size.
- Good quality potting soil. You also want to add sand, rocks, or crushed nutshells for drainage.
- A small hand shovel for digging potting soil and filling pots, etc.
- A pair of gardening gloves.
- Benches and trellises are not essential but can be needed for starting plants and then supporting them as they grow. These are not totally necessary but can help to keep you from having to constantly bend over.
- You’ll need a way to heat the greenhouse during the long cold winter nights. Propane or other space heaters can do the job efficiently with a minimum investment.
- Some plants may require the use of grow lights to “extend” the sunlight from the short winter days. They can also help heat the space with the heat they radiate while they are on.
- Any other tools or supplies you find useful. You’ll come up with your own preferences as you get started.
Now that you have this information you may want to construct your own greenhouse for fun and to grow your own plants and vegetables. Using the knowledge and ideas you have read here may be just what you need to get you started building and using your own greenhouse.
More information on greenhouse gardening can be found here. If you start your own greenhouse please feel free to share your photos and experience in the comments section.