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Indoor Greenhouse, NW Region,

 
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I'm doing my first indoor greenhouse.  I have it in a corner with  South and West facing floor to ceiling windows.  It has a green cover, and I have some warming matts and lights.  I've never done a greenhouse before, and I'm trying to figure out the best setup to grow winter greens and things.  I just need to take the first step.  What would you do first?
 
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Location: Washington State
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Lise Pettigrew wrote:I'm doing my first indoor greenhouse.  I have it in a corner with  South and West facing floor to ceiling windows.  It has a green cover, and I have some warming matts and lights.


Lise, could you elaborate?  Is this space in your home? Shop?

My sister and I have played with the table top indoor growing spaces before but they are expensive and not as much fun as playing in the dirt.  Ah hem, I mean soil!
 
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A photo would help.
Which is more important .. function or appearance?
 
Lise Pettigrew
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It's in the corner of my home, at the bottom of a second stairwell that is rarely used.  I don't need it to look pretty, I just want it to be functional, it can look like an indoor greenhouse.  I've also purchased quite a number of seeds to do a "real garden" this next year.  I've got a little orchard with a couple dozen trees, and berries (currents, gooseberries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, boysenberries), grapes, and lots of herbs, a pumpkin patch, and lots of tomatoes, but I've never done a full grown garden.  I have plenty of land - and this is the year.  Seeds are bought.  So in addition to wanting some over the winter greens, I'd love to start some things indoors that benefit from being started early.  I'm completely overwhelmed by all of it.  Companion plantings, pest mitigation, soil amendment, keeping weeds at bay, how to orient my garden, how to water it best.  Anyhow, that's a lot more than  my indoor greenhouse.  Every time I walk past it I just kick myself.  I can't seem to get started, I've never done the indoor greenhouse thing.  So any ideas about a good place to start - would be helpful.  I'd like to plant my dwarf tom thumb tomato, basil, a lettuce mix, and a few other things that grow indoors well (if you suggest it, I probably have the seeds for it).  I hope that helps define my situation more appropriately.
 
John F Dean
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If light, the lack of   becomes an issue, consider hanging  a space blanket to reflect more light onto the plants.
 
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You actually sound pretty prepared.
Rather than succumbing to analyze paralysis,  put your set up together keeping in mind you can change things that dont work.
So do you have growing containers, watering trays, something to protect the floor from spills, gfci adaptor for the electricity,  a timer,  and shelves to hole everything?
 
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I wouldn't worry to much about getting it "right". First of all, as it is in your house you will be able to tend it carefully and hopfully spot if you have lack of light. If you want to grow rather demanding plants in the winter you will probably need to have an external light source (depending on your local electricity price LED or floureceant would be an reasonable start).

I have no idea on how the region you are in compares to where I am, but where I am I need an early start on tomatones, and peppers. If you have large quantities of seeds, you can also do som microgreens in your greenhouse-area as it gives quick results and you can reap the benefits of your area quickly.

 
John F Dean
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Hi Soliou,

Welcome to Permies!
 
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Great! I attach a greenhouse to the south side of my house every winter in order to 1) heat my house, 2) produce leafy greens and few other things all winter, and 3) have greenery to look at and dote on, which seems to make the rest of my life happy. So I'm in favor of your project!

In order to better understand what you're doing, it would help to know
1) Where are you located? Not the name of your region, but your area's climate (eg USDA zone, or minimum winter temperatures, or something like that).
2) What is your latitude? That affects how deep the sun comes into your space in the winter.  
3) Do any deciduous trees or vines etc shade the south and west windows? In my personal experience these reduce solar heat gain in winter to the point that it's useless. People say that without leaves trees don't cast much shade, but in my experience very little hot sunlight really gets through. For example, here snow melts or dries away by 9 am in the open, but stays on the ground for days in the semi-shadow of deciduous trees.
4) How cold is your sunroom likely to be on midwinter nights?
5) What is "a green cover"? In my vocabulary, "green cover" means the ground is covered with foliage (because my region is very barren desert, that's a thing we talk about). Or... woven green shade cloths are very popular in India. I suspect you don't mean either of those.

The great advantage of south facing windows is the sun comes in deeper in winter and less in summer. An advantage of vertical windows on your grow space is that it's easy to put up curtains on the coldest nights, or to pin up an extra layer of clear plastic for the coldest part of winter. I can't do that in my greenhouse.

The western exposure is not very helpful, because it gets less hours of sun in the winter, and more hours of sun in the summer. But it can increase the hours of daylight for your plants a little bit in winter, which can be helpful.

I don't try to grow real heat lovers over the winter, like tomatoes or basil. But most of the leafy greens and hardier herbs boom all winter, and carrots and beets can be treats in February, if I started them back in September. Here's what does well in my greenhouse over the winter: lettuce, spinach, arugula (rocket), claytonia, chard, any cabbage-family greens like kale, mizuna, bok choi, etc; and herbs like parsley, cilantro (coriander), dill. Perennial herbs usually go purple or yellow for the middle of winter but produce for the early and late winter and the rest of the year: chives, garlic chives, rosemary, lavender, lemon balm, mint, thyme. My greenhouse does go below freezing every night for a month or two, so in your indoor space and heating mats, you're likely to have more things keep growing and being green all winter.

Your space will definitely be great for starting heat-loving plants early in the spring.
 
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