Ever considered greenhouse gardening?
Growing plants in a greenhouse can expand your gardening horizons far beyond the limits of your geographical bounds.
With a backyard greenhouse, the growing season can last year round.
Is it mid-January in your backyard, with snow piled deep on the ground and an arctic nip in the air?
Not in your greenhouse, where it’s a delightful, sunny 72.
Do outside conditions make it impossible for you to grow the plants you love right now? Are you months away from enjoying homegrown, summer savory tomatoes?
Not if you have a backyard greenhouse.
You could be serving your very own homegrown summer veggies for Christmas dinner – picked fresh Christmas morning.
Greenhouse gardening will give you the freedom to grow almost anything you want, anytime you want, without waiting for a by-your-leave from Mother Nature.
To be sure, you can spend lots of money on a garden greenhouse if that’s what you want to do.
There are some beautifully elegant backyard greenhouses available that would complement the finest of mansions in appearance and aesthetics.
But there are also some surprisingly cheap greenhouse kits that you can purchase and assemble to create your own fully functional greenhouse. You can also build your own greenhouse from scratch, and really save some money.
Thanks to modern greenhouse technology and space age materials, virtually anyone who wants a greenhouse can have one, no matter how humble or majestic it may be.
What do you want to grow? That’s the more appropriate question, because you could grow virtually anything you want in your greenhouse.
Sure, there are exceptions. Not every plant on Earth is a candidate for greenhouse growing. But when you’re deciding what to grow in your greenhouse, you’ll find that there really aren’t many limitations.
And for the most part, the limitations you face will be of your own choosing.
If you choose not to heat your greenhouse during winter, for example, the list of plants that will be candidates for your greenhouse will be shorter. Or if you decide not to use artificial lighting to extend the day length during the short, dreary days of winter, that too will be a limiting factor.
But the inherent magic of a greenhouse is that you can create almost any environment you choose. And with that power you can make your greenhouse a happy home for most any type of plant, whether ornamental or edible.
I’ve been involved in greenhouse gardening on a commercial scale for many years. My primary crop has been greenhouse tomatoes.
And though I’m always delighted, I’m no longer surprised when a customer tells me that my tomatoes are the best that he or she has ever eaten. I’ve heard that many times.
And they don’t say: “Your tomatoes are the best I’ve had except for summertime tomatoes.”
Nor do they say: “Your tomatoes are the best I’ve had except for the homegrown tomatoes I grow in my own garden.”
They just say: “Your tomatoes are the best I’ve ever had!”
Why are our greenhouse tomatoes so good?
It’s pretty simple, really.
We grow them in a controlled environment, where the pampered plants receive exactly what they need to produce perfect tomatoes.
That’s the advantage of greenhouse growing.
And it applies to everything you’ll grow in your greenhouse, not just tomatoes. (But trust me – you’re going to love your greenhouse tomatoes!)
By the way, the sheltered environment of your greenhouse will also allow you to grow the most cosmetically perfect plants and produce you’ve ever seen.
Think about it: Your plants won’t get rained on, wind blown, dust stormed, hail battered, frosted or sun-scorched.
The result will be exotically lush plants producing food that is off-the-charts delicious and nutritious - and beautiful to boot!
I don’t want to get carried away and paint too positive a picture.
Greenhouse gardening isn’t a perfect panacea for eliminating all of those gardening thorns-in-the-side. You can have pest problems in a greenhouse. You can have disease problems, too.
But I don’t know of any potential negative that isn’t more easily prevented or controlled within the protected environment of a greenhouse.
An example: My greenhouse tomatoes that I was so shamelessly bragging on a few paragraphs up? They are grown without any form of pesticide. We can control insect pests in our greenhouse without ever spraying insecticides, and we can control fungal diseases without ever spraying fungicides.
From season’s beginning to season’s end, not a single drop of pesticide enters the doors of that greenhouse.
I’m not saying you couldn’t do the same with outdoor tomatoes. But I am saying you can do it much more easily in the controlled environment of a greenhouse.
If you’ve been gardening for a while, you’re accustomed to having nature dictate the terms of your relationship. Try planting too early in the season, or grasping for a few extra precious harvest days late in the season, and nature is liable to slap you down hard.
But in your backyard greenhouse, you’ll set the terms.
First frost date - last frost date? Meaningless. Shortest day of the year? So what?
In your small greenhouse, the temperature can be what you want it to be. The day length can be whatever you need it to be. What you’ll be able to grow will be dictated by what you want to grow.
If you’re accustomed to playing by nature’s rules, you’ll find that greenhouse gardening offers an exhilarating sense of freedom – and lots of gardening fun.
And by the way: Though I’ve admitted above that a greenhouse isn’t a Garden of Eden, it’s easy to believe otherwise when I step inside one of my greenhouses on a bitter cold winter’s day.
I can remove my coat, and comfortably work among my plants in shirtsleeves. Though winter rages outside, it’s magically held at bay by only a few thousands of an inch thickness of plastic.
As I work, my breath provides a bit of extra carbon dioxide for my plants, and they, in turn, enrich the atmosphere with oxygen for me. And we all enjoy the virtual springtime oasis created by the snug and cozy greenhouse.
No, it’s not the Garden of Eden. But it can’t be far off.
How does a greenhouse work? Have you wondered? In a way, it’s really rather how amazing how a greenhouse works to convert light into warmth. It actually seems kind of magical when I walk into one of my greenhouses do to some greenhouse gardening on a cooooold winter’s day.
Greenhouse management is the key to successful greenhouse gardening. Whatever the type of greenhouse you’re managing, and whatever the size, to be successful you’ll need to manage 3 environmental variables.