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Garden Lifestyle

Growing Plants in Greenhouses

For one, I live in Northern California where the temps can really get down there but face it, we're not Minnesota.

This is our humble greenhouse. Standing in front of it is our cat, Nike. She has a sister named Puma. We named them after tennis shoe brands while going through our gym phase.

Here at the suburban farm, we have a small greenhouse we inherited with our home 6 years ago. It is a small, 6 X 8 foot greenhouse with fiberglass glazing and a southeastern exposure. It isn’t much to look at as far as greenhouses go, but it’s sturdy and has glazing so you won’t hear me complaining.

Up until now, I’ve used it for a handful of tender potted or hanging plants that vacationed outdoors during the warm season and needed protection from the frost during the cold months. For the most part, this has worked well out very well.

I live in Northern California where the temps can really get down there, but face it, we’re not Minnesota. Don’t get me wrong, I have lost my share of plants due of lack of vacancies in my house for overwintering plants. I thought I’d give them a shot at winter life in the greenhouse.  Try not to be shocked, it’s not the first time I’ve been wrong.

This winter, I plan on heating my greenhouse so that I can having things not only “make it through the winter” until the following warm season, but also actually grow and thrive and, God willing, even propagate. My plan is to reap full use of my personal paradise this coming ski season; a little green heaven in the otherwise gloomy months during Old Man Winter’s reign.

I think one of the most interesting things about greenhouse growing is that you simply can’t duplicate the outdoors, no matter what the season. A greenhouse is its own animal; you can take the same two tomato varieties and plant one outdoors in the warm weather while the other grows inside a greenhouse and they’ll perform differently. The two environments are pretty unique unto themselves. So, I find it exciting and challenging to learn the intricacies of greenhouse growing, whether it’s for food crops or ornamentals.

Because every greenhouse provides different climates depending on the size, shape, glazing, zone, placement, and plants you’d like to grow, I’m reading up on what might be the best ways to set up my greenhouse for the coming winter, as each plant species has particular needs when it comes to heat and humidity levels. Because I’m what gardeners call “a collector” (which basically means I’m indecisive), I’m giving up trying to decide which type of plants I’d like to grow and have instead decided to go eclectic. I’m aiming for plants that enjoy a median heat and humidity level so I can have a variety of species inside the little building.

If anyone has any great tips or ideas they’d like to pass along, I’d love to hear them. Tell me about your successes and failures and what you’ll do differently in your greenhouse this cold season.

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