Greenhouse Dreams

What gardener wouldn’t want a greenhouse? We’d love to stretch the growing season (and growing zone!), but not many of us have the money or space to run an ideal glass house. Lately there’s been a temptation lurking in big box stores: plastic covered metal framed greenhouses. Last year my father succumbed. It’s 6’x8′ (1.8m x 2.4m) and ended up not fitting well into his garden (at least that’s what he told me), so now I have it. Hmm, how to make it work…

We put it up on gravel and attached it to 6″x 6″ boards anchored into the ground, because the wind from the west can be pretty strong around here. It was obvious that it was built to have good ventilation; there’s a flap at the bottom that never seals and four screen windows that close with Velcro. A professional greenhouse grower told me about her losses from a night when cold air slipped beneath a closed door and damaged frost sensitive plants. It will be just over two months before our average last frost, so frost is a concern.

How do we make the greenhouse safe for our seedlings? We’re going to try a passive solar technique: heat sinks. We picked up some cheap used barrels and filled them with water. The barrels were white, so we threw a sheet of used rubber roofing over them. After a week, it seems the temperature inside the greenhouse is about 10 degrees (F) warmer than outside, so today we’re trusting our first seedlings to it: parsley  (yes, they sprouted yesterday!), cole crops, and ‘Mignonette’ strawberry seedlings. Hopefully it will be warm enough soon to grow tomato and pepper seedlings.

Cross your fingers for me!

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6 Responses to “Greenhouse Dreams”

  1. You will love your greenhouse. It gives extra opportunities and somewhere to do some gardening in bad weather. Great fun.

  2. Hunting Says:

    keep us posted on this. looks like a hoop house concept but with time saving setup.

    • So far it’s been much warmer, as much as 20 degrees Fahrenheit warmer during the day and about 5 degrees warmer at night so while we had frost outdoors, there was no frost in the greenhouse.

      • Hunting Says:

        I’m up in Maine so as you can imagine I’m very interested in season extension. Do you think it would work year round? Or is the plastic too fragile?

      • It’s not so much that the plastic is fragile as that the design doesn’t keep the air out. For a really long season it might be better to have a double layered plastic covered solar greenhouse or a pithouse like in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hV8Teiskfo

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