Greenhouse Gardening Tips – Growing Vegetables in a Greenhouse Year Round

In Homesteading by M.D. Creekmore

by Crazy Joe

It is in the greenhouse that seeds are started so a larger seedling/plant can go out in the spring and increasing the chances of an earlier and better crop The larger scale greenhouses with their heating units, air circulation systems, automatic water sprinklers, and temperature controls are on a scale most homeowners could not afford or just not have the room or need for.

I have met so many people over the years who garden and stated how they wished they had a greenhouse. I have shown many folks and helped a few to build one the easy and cheap way out with a cold frame.

The most simple is to get some old storm windows of equal size – 4 for the four sides and 2 for the top. This is good enough to get a few dozen herb plants started or 20 or 30 tomato plants. It only takes a little time to read up on watering requirements for seedlings and the fact that even on a windless cold sunny day in March a small cold frame being 5 feet by 5 feet and 3 feet high can get up to the 60 to 70-degree range.

Getting old storm windows and putting them on a frame or making them with wood lathe and greenhouse plastic and securing them to the south side of any building will give you a much larger cold frame with some standing room.

I have built cold frames as small as 3 foot by 5 foot up to some in the 10 feet to 20 feet long range. On the larger angle cold frames a couple of hinges on a window gives you a window to prop open slightly for those cold sunny days and NO you cannot do this and go to work for 10 hours You will come home to dried out seedlings – as in dead seedlings. The same goes for watering.

Even on cold late spring days a closed cold frame or greenhouse can get up to 90 plus degrees – death for newly sprouting seedlings or very young plants. You want the advantage of a greenhouse or cold frame, therefore some attention is required. Believe me, the attention and advantage is well worth it. I have gotten way ahead on cantaloupe output by getting them started 8 weeks earlier in a small greenhouse.

Building a greenhouse, especially with scrap material (saves money), is not that difficult. It is the same as building a dog house only bigger and it gets covered with glass or plastic instead of plywood. One does not have to have the 3 foot high benches inside as the bigger houses have.

In a smaller greenhouse, with enough headroom to walk down the middle flower pots can sit on the ground or on some lattice or lattice type of structure raised on some bricks works fine At present my greenhouse is in a pile – I dismantled it. The 30 foot long 12 foot wide -at base – by 9-foot high center was all white so boring and it was warping-both deficiencies bothered me equally.

I found a web site with “Victorian Greenhouses” which some include scalloped cedar shake shingles on the bottom part of the greenhouse and some brass or bronze accents. I have about 120 recycled wood frame windows that I have trash picked from homes getting the new and improved vinyl windows. All of these were all white.

I chose an oil-based paint in a shade of forest green (semi-gloss) for the frames and will keep the caulked part of the window panes in an oil base gloss white. Now I have 30 or so painted. In the next 4 months, I hope to get as many done as possible but do not expect to rebuild the greenhouse by next July.

Last but not least is the upkeep and care of a greenhouse that brings me back to the day before Thanksgiving. Greenhouses can provide shelter for small critters seeking warmth on a cold January day. The glass gets dirty or the plastic gets old and brittle.

Weeds may have spouted up and you were busy doing other chores so they kept growing all summer in the empty greenhouse. This is the time to get that empty greenhouse or cold frame in shape. Spring is about 18 weeks or so away.

Here are some web sites for greenhouses, cold frames and their construction, care and what can be started in them. Trust me. Gardening is simple and with a cold frame or greenhouse, you get a major head start over the competition.

Even if you should just get a cold frame going you will reap the benefits.

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