Winter Greenhouse

Our first winter at trying to grow food in our greenhouse. I thought it might be helpful for those that want to try this but don’t know-how, to see the mistakes and the triumphs we make along the way. Because believe me we don’t really know what we are doing we are just learning as we go. We built this the summer of 2018 and were able to grow some stuff last winter even without a real heat source but it was mostly cold hearty things like greens, radishes, and potatoes.

Right now we have tomatoes (indeterminant) that grew all summer and are still doing ok, 2 pepper plants that are holding their own and producing, an eggplant that has about 4 eggplant buds, and a nice basil plant that is still thriving. There’s also my avocado and Meyer lemon trees and a lemon tree over in the corner, all are doing well, there are 2 lemons on the Meyer.

One of our tomatoes turning red

I planted kale and arugula in a garden bed but I want to grow greens in the greenhouse so I plan to put a shelf above a window on the north wall that gets a lot of sun. We will do that this week and I’ll post pictures as we see seeds sprouting. Last year I tried mustard greens and they did great even without a heater so I will plant them again this week. We thought about cucumbers but they really need a lot of heat so I’m not sure if I want to try them until I am sure we have the heater figured out and also the lights. The potatoes we did last year went crazy and their greens grew huge and tall but before we could harvest them they got filled with aphids and I had to cut all the greens out and clear out the aphids before harvesting the spuds. We determined that this happened because there wasn’t enough circulation in the greenhouse. Since then we have been using fans a lot to keep the air circulating. I don’t think we will do potatoes this year, I’d rather do carrots so I will be seeding them soon. I love pea sprouts, (see my recipe for pea sprout salad with corn fritters) so I am going to plant some peas too.

Currently, we have a 1500 watt oil filled heater that we are using for colder days and at night. It is keeping it around 50′ at night which isn’t going to be good enough when the nights get down in the low 30s and even 20s so we are researching other heating options. Our neighbor who is an electrition is working with Jeff on getting real power inside. When they complete the electrical we should be able to install a hard-wired heater with a blower that will keep things around 55′-60′ at night which will be perfect. The blower will be dual purposed it will distribute the heat better throughout the greenhouse and help to pollinate the tomatoes. We might put in an oscillating fan for pollination as well but not sure yet.

As for lights, we get a lot of sun here in the winter but at times we have periods of fog and grey days and of course we have lots and lots of rain so we decided to add lights for those times. I use LED light strips for my starts each year and they work great so we thought they would be a good idea to try in the greenhouse and they are very economical as well. We will need large ones so I am researching them now.

I am posting some pictures below of the build so you can see how we did it. Jeff is disabled so we had a lot of help but he drew up the plans and supervised everything. He also came up with the idea for the drop-down vents at the top to allow the heat to escape in summer which worked very well. Scroll over the little ones for the caption.

Side panels and windows in