Thursday, January 13, 2011

My Winter Greenhouses

I have two greenhouses on my property.  No serious gardener should be without some sort of plant shelter, no matter how tiny.  One can extend their growing season tremendously with such a building and a simple heating system.

I must admit that the greenhouse on a sunny spring morning is one of my favourite places to be.  It is also nice during a rain storm.  You are basically outside in the fresh air, able to work without getting soaked.

My hoop house is just passive solar, in that I have no other heating system beside the sun.  The plastic will keep three or four degrees of frost at bay, so this structure certainly extends my growing season a month or so on either end of regular gardening. As you can see it is not a fancy structure, but still very functional.

The little polycarbonate greenhouse has an electric heater with a thermostat.  I can put hardy plants out in March, provided I watch closely on the really cold nights.  More will follow on this as we approach that season.

I thought I would give you a glimpse of my two greenhouses in mid-winter.  Yes they are pretty much storage sheds from six months of the year.  Although on a sunny Sunday afternoon we will go and sit in the lawnchairs and just soak up the Vitamin D.

Note that I store all my plastic trays and such in the polycarbonate house, which filters out 99% of UV light.  UV rays destroy plastic over time, making it brittle and easily broken.  The plastic on the hoophouse does not filter UV, so is not suitable for that type of storage.  Yes I am aware that that pile on the left hand side looks suspiciously like pots.

The hoop house is also handy to work in if you have any small engine repairs to do.  It's bright and a whole lot warmer than outside, during daylight hours.

I apologize for the apparent lack of organization in this shot.  It does become a bit of a catchall this time of year. You can see that I pulled the tarp up from the floor last fall and have not got it put down again. Note my two rototillers are still in the greenhouse.  It is probably not a great place to store small equipment, because of the condensation and dripping on warm days.  However I was making one good tiller from two not-so-good ones.  The black one is now the functional one and should be back in the garden shed, except for the fact that the king of procrastination has not got around to it.  The old red one served me faithfully for many years, but is now awaiting a trip to the scrap metal yard.

This greenhouse is great for storing our baskets.  I just bring them in in the fall and hang them.  When it is less busy some winter afternoon, I will rip the dead plants out, dump the soil into a wheelbarrow, refurbish it with compost, manure and whatever other amendments I see fit.  Then they will be ready to replant come spring.

The one other change I am going to make this spring in the hoophouse is to actually add a raised bed.  I will fill it with compost and other good things and will use it for hothouse tomatoes and peppers.  Both appreciate the summer heat, and the extra month or two of fresh veggies is worth the effort. 

And that is about all I have to say for today.

Musings and meanderings from the Musical Gardener.

1 comment:

  1. What do you do to compost? A pile? Or a container? Or do you just buy?


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