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Does anyone have an attached greenhouse/conservatory? Thoughts?

 
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We are building a new home in Kingman AZ, and I want to include an attached sunroom. In addition to skylights, it would have windows facing east and south with the west side attached to the garage and the north side attached to a mudroom. It would not be heated, but would need to be cooled in the summer. I'm thinking portable swamp cooler. Does anyone have an attached sunroom that they use to grow things? Purpose would be year round growing of greens, flowers, using it for starts and a few potted citrus. Aesthetics are important. It needs to be beautiful inside and out. Any experience? Any suggestions on cooling? Any recommendations for materials to use or companies to use.
 
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Posts: 2010
Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
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I love my attached greenhouse! In winter when there's no greenery outside I stagger out into the greenhouse with my morning cuppa tea, and just love it. We remove our greenhouses completely in the summer, because they are made of plastic film and we just roll them up and tie them under the eaves. I think it would be better to have a way to open yours as much as possible, rather than trying to cool a greenhouse in the hot AZ summer sun. It's also important to have thermal mass to store a bit of warmth and coolth through at least a few days and nights.

If it's a sunroom with vertical glazing and a solid roof, and if the south side is exactly south facing and vertical, it won't get much sun in the summer, but that east facing side will soak up lots of heat on the long summer mornings. Also, in that case you'll need to have your perennials in containers to take out into summer sun. I really like the simplicity of our greenhouses that are on for the winter and open for the summer.

I grow leafy greens and herbs in the winter, and flowers all year in my attached greenhouse space. Eliot Coleman's books are wonderful for learning how to grow vegetables through the winter. Here in the desert I feel the greens actually do better in the greenhouse in winter than they do out in the gardens in summer, but it might just be the closer attention I give them because they're so close to home. Other attached greenhouses at our school, we use for leafy greens, spring seedlings, and perennials that are not considered quite hardy outside here, like grapes and strawberries.
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