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So, what do you grow in your greenhouse?  RSS feed

 
Irene Mouthaan
Posts: 8
Location: Almere, The Netherlands
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I was working on my plans for the garden this year, and I mentioned I wanted a polytunnel for tomatoes and cucumbers. As I expected my boyfriend (aka my worldbuilder) thought plastic wrap and PVC pipes are blasphemy and have no place in our garden, so this polytunnel plan has escalated into a full blown wood frame greenhouse. This of course caused my garden planning to escalate, and now I'm making a plan for year-round growing in my greenhouse.

I live in zone 7/8 (Europe), so the winters get below freezing here. The greenhouse (6.8 m2) is attached to the house so it will get some warmth from there in the winter, I also have some old car tires and lava stones to use as heat storage and I'm planning to build raised beds which I'll fill with the contents of the compost pile (which is mostly straw and rabbitshit) topped off with finished soil in the fall so I have some hotbeds to use in the winter. I hope all of this will keep the temperature in the greenhouse above freezing (the past few years there has barely been any frost anyway). I'm really exited about growing tomatoes, cucumbers and melons in the summer and mostly salad greens in the winter. But I'd like to grow some more stuff that I can harvest in Jan/Feb/March.

What do you grow in your greenhouse in the summer, spring, fall and winter? What zone do you live in? What is the high/low temperature in your greenhouse? How much sunlight do you get?
 
Olga Booker
Posts: 80
Location: Pyrenees Mountains, South of France
6
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Hi Irene,

We live in the Pyrenees zone 6 I think but I'm not sure. Winters can be cold and snowy, but with climate change, it has been more wet than anything else. We've only been down to -6C so far this year.

Anyway, we have a large unheated polytunnel and at the moment there is swiss chard, red vein sorrel, beetroot, leeks, perennial onions, wild rocket, lamb's lettuce and parsley. In the spring, I use it essentially as a nursery to start my seedlings and plant a few radishes, by then all the self seeded plants come out mostly various lettuces, coriander and tomatoes. In the summer I grow tomatoes, cucumbers, tomatilloes, chillies and melons only, it is too hot then for anything else. In the fall I plant all sort of winter salad stuff, winter lettuce, land cress, mizuna, leeks and beetroot. but on the whole, it depends on what has self seeded. One thing is for sure, I am always amazed at what makes it in adverse conditions. For instance, this year, I have had a coriander plant that has survive the winter! Go figure...
 
r ranson
master steward
Posts: 6016
Location: Left Coast Canada
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Until last year, my grandfather had full control of the greenhouse. He's from Suffolk, UK (which is a very simular climate to ours, only they get rain in the summer) and grew up between the wars, so of course he grew tomatoes and cucumbers... and nothing else. This frustrated the hell out of me, because the greenhouse would be empty for half the year or more. We have little 8x10 foot greenhouse, with one door and one window, so the airflow is non-existent. The tomatoes and cucumbers would always get disease early in the year from lack of airflow and overcrowding. The skins were also very tough from lack of water.

I use to drive my grandfather crazy because I would start my tomatoes a month later than him, put them out side, not in the green house, but horror of horrors, put them directly in the ground, and I would constantly harvest my first tomatoes two to four weeks earlier than him. As our greenhouse has no insulation, so the temperatures fluctuate drastically in the spring and fall - going near freezing at night, and soaring up past 35 degrees C if the sunshines - his tomato plants suffered a lot of set back early in life.

Cucumbers I get about the same harvest in the garden as I do in the greenhouse, so I think I'll just grow them outside for now.

Last year, I grew luffa, cotton and chilis in the greenhouse. The luffa, which is a kind of sponge that grows as a squash... it's weird. luffa sponge. The cotton (which absolutely won't grow this far north no matter what, even in a greenhouse, because we simply have the wrong daylight hours) grew very well. I got quite a nice harvest off it and have already started the seeds indoors for this years planting. The peppers grew amazingly well. I grew tiny little chili peppers. By the end of the season, we estimate that we got about 1,500 peppers from each plant. The luffa we won't grow again for a while. We got some fruit, but the greenhouse just wasn't big enough. This year there will be a lot more peppers, and I'm trying several new cotton varieties.

Over winter, I planted some soup peas in the greenhouse about new years day. It's my first time planting peas in the greenhouse, but I figured with the temperature fluctuations, snacking peas probably won't work. I also plant spinach seed in early January, and that grows well.

Over winter, I plant fall lettuce, kale, leeks (started the spring before, and transplanted into the greenhouse as the summer things come out), chard and a few biennials that I want to save for seed. In the greenhouse they flower much earlier, so if it's something I don't want to cross with other plants, like kale for example, then I transplant them to the greenhouse come fall and they flower about a month earlier than their outside cousins.

We are a zone somewhere between 8a and 9. Most years we don't get snow, but we usually have a heavy frost overnight.
Temperature range in the greenhouse during the winter. Mostly it hovers between 5 and 10 degrees C. When the sun shines, it gets a lot hotter. Two or three days ago, it was sunny. The outside temp was about 15 degrees C, and in the greenhouse it was about 30 degrees C. It would be much better if I had a set up like you describe with something to hold the heat and reduce the drastic changes in temperature.
 
leila hamaya
pollinator
Posts: 1125
Location: northern northern california
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i have both a hoop house plastic tunnel, and another greenhouse ish type structure. it is much like a simple hoop house, covered in plastic...only its a pre made square frame that is made of metal, that was upcycled and free. this year i covered that one instead, and put all my young and older cold sensitive trees and plants in there. theres about 10 citrus trees of various ages, and 3 cold hardy 'bacon' avocados, a few passionflowers, the youngest kiwis...as well as many of the starter pots i planted last fall to overwinter and stratify. i'm filling up the shelves and all the available space in there now with seed starting pots.

right now i have celery, broccoli, mustard greens thats mature, and newly planted green beans in there...at the end of last year the tomatoes planted in those covered beds lasted a bit longer, into early december.

unfortunately the cherry trees around the other -- the hoop house have grown so large and shady, the hoop house area did not work out very well last year, but the year before i grew some amazing peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes in there.
last summer -the middle and side beds did ok, they still get enough sun, but the one closest to the cherry tree produced nothing at all, the tomatoes and peppers were quite sad looking there and never got going enough to make a yield. in the center i grew tomatoes, cucumbers and a lot of yummy basil, that did ok and got an earlier start being covered up the winter before last.
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the hoop house last summer
 
Irene Mouthaan
Posts: 8
Location: Almere, The Netherlands
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Olga: Thanks for the input! I'm adding sorrel, leeks and perennial onions to the list, I have them in my front garden and usually they die off in the winter but with the pussy winters the past few years I've been able to harvest the leaves the whole winter... One question though, what's the benefit of growing beetroots in the polytunnel? I'm planning to grow them outside.

R Ranson: Unfortunately we have too much rain to grow tomatoes and cucumbers outside, I try every year but they suffer from phytophtera and the fruits don't ripen or they just die. I'm jealous! The luffa sponge plant sound great, I read about it last year but completely forgot about it. It's going on the list
What do you do with the cotton? Do you get enough to make fabric or do you use it for something else?

Leila: What climate do you live in? Do the citrus/avocado trees give fruit? Growing citrus or avocados in the Netherlands would be kickass.
 
Olga Booker
Posts: 80
Location: Pyrenees Mountains, South of France
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Hi Irene,

I grow beetroot inside and outside, but the ones inside are easier to harvest then the ones outside when they are covered by 30cm of snow! I also like to eat the green tops and inside they seem to be much better. But as you said, pussy winters and all that...

Mind you, here, it's snowing right now!
 
r ranson
master steward
Posts: 6016
Location: Left Coast Canada
749
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Irene Mouthaan wrote:
What do you do with the cotton? Do you get enough to make fabric or do you use it for something else?
.


I have enough to make some thread. I'll be combining it with some handspun silk to make a scarf... or maybe wait until I have a few years worth and weave a top with it.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
garden master
Posts: 2492
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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My growing season is very short, so one purpose for my greenhouse is to get a head-start on the season. That allows me to grow plants like fava beans, tomatoes, okra, and peppers that don't do very well here if direct seeded.

Another purpose of my greenhouse is to get earlier harvests, because the best prices of the year at the farmer's market are for first-to-market crops.

Space in my 10 foot by 12 foot greenhouse is limited. Therefore, the plants that go into the greenhouse are primarily oriented towards crops that can pay for themselves...

I currently have fava beans germinating in the greenhouse. Favas are a crop that is not yet very locally-adapted to my climate, so I am using the greenhouse as a way to get older plants into the ground in cooler weather, so that they can set seed while the weather is still cool. I may eventually develop a variety of favas that do well here when direct seeded. In the meantime, the greenhouse allows me to season-shift the favas by a few weeks. And they will be out of the greenhouse before I need the space for tomato transplants.

I also have a crop of my earliest shelling pea germinating in the greenhouse. The plan is to plant out peas that are a month old, at the same time as I normally direct seed peas. Perhaps I can be first to market with shelling peas.

I devote most of the space in the greenhouse to tomatoes in early spring. I aim to have 6 week old transplants to go into the field on about June 5th.

After June 5th, I intend to grow sweet potatoes and teosinte in the greenhouse this summer. I think they might benefit from the warmer temperatures and longer growing season. I think that potted plants are more valuable than growing food crops out of season, so even though I might plant spinach or bok-choi in the floor of the greenhouse, it gets chopped out when I need the space for a flat of potted plants, or for a breeding project.

Also, around here, the greenhouse is more humid than outside, so I might store the mushroom logs in it, or root cuttings.

Potted plants in greenhouse:


My Greenhouse:


Workbench in Greenhouse:


Mushrooms fruiting in greenhouse:





 
Ann Torrence
steward
Posts: 1191
Location: Torrey, UT; 6,840'/2085m; 7.5" precip; 125 frost-free days
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Right now, ducks sleep in a fenced off section at night. Chickens lay in wall-mounted nest boxes during the day. And whatever greens will come back after the great chicken caper where they devoured all my winter veg to the ground. I should plant some spinach now. A tiny row of tulips and Dutch Iris will come up soon. Then cover crops for the summer. And greens again in the fall. Until the d@*m chickens attack again.
 
leila hamaya
pollinator
Posts: 1125
Location: northern northern california
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Irene Mouthaan wrote:

Leila: What climate do you live in? Do the citrus/avocado trees give fruit? Growing citrus or avocados in the Netherlands would be kickass.


well thats the idea! we will see how it goes. most of the citrus are very young, but some of the older ones should produce fruit this year.
i live in USDA zone 8. i dont know how that corresponds, you said you were in zone 7? is it similar?

here i am zone pushing to try to keep the lemons and avocado happy, but so far i have managed to keep them alive...the young mandarins and lemons have been through a couple of winters now...with the help of the cover. it doesnt make it that much warmer than outside, but our temperatures rarely fall below 25 F...and usually only for short periods of time if they do get into the 20's...
 
Chris Bijsters
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Hi there!

The boyfriend here with a model of the greenhouse
We're going to use wood for the frame. The posts will have slots cut in to them so the glass panes can slide in, the panes will be separated by a similar piece of wood.
The 4 top windows will be able to open, probably with something like this.

You can view and download the model here. I would love to hear your feedback and ideas!
 
Irene Mouthaan
Posts: 8
Location: Almere, The Netherlands
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
My growing season is very short, so one purpose for my greenhouse is to get a head-start on the season. That allows me to grow plants like fava beans, tomatoes, okra, and peppers that don't do very well here if direct seeded.

Another purpose of my greenhouse is to get earlier harvests, because the best prices of the year at the farmer's market are for first-to-market crops.

Space in my 10 foot by 12 foot greenhouse is limited. Therefore, the plants that go into the greenhouse are primarily oriented towards crops that can pay for themselves...

I currently have fava beans germinating in the greenhouse. Favas are a crop that is not yet very locally-adapted to my climate, so I am using the greenhouse as a way to get older plants into the ground in cooler weather, so that they can set seed while the weather is still cool. I may eventually develop a variety of favas that do well here when direct seeded. In the meantime, the greenhouse allows me to season-shift the favas by a few weeks. And they will be out of the greenhouse before I need the space for tomato transplants.

I also have a crop of my earliest shelling pea germinating in the greenhouse. The plan is to plant out peas that are a month old, at the same time as I normally direct seed peas. Perhaps I can be first to market with shelling peas.

I devote most of the space in the greenhouse to tomatoes in early spring. I aim to have 6 week old transplants to go into the field on about June 5th.

After June 5th, I intend to grow sweet potatoes and teosinte in the greenhouse this summer. I think they might benefit from the warmer temperatures and longer growing season. I think that potted plants are more valuable than growing food crops out of season, so even though I might plant spinach or bok-choi in the floor of the greenhouse, it gets chopped out when I need the space for a flat of potted plants, or for a breeding project.

Also, around here, the greenhouse is more humid than outside, so I might store the mushroom logs in it, or root cuttings.



Wow, love the mushrooms! Sweet potatoes are also a good idea. So many options, so little space....

leila hamaya wrote:
Irene Mouthaan wrote:

Leila: What climate do you live in? Do the citrus/avocado trees give fruit? Growing citrus or avocados in the Netherlands would be kickass.


well thats the idea! we will see how it goes. most of the citrus are very young, but some of the older ones should produce fruit this year.
i live in USDA zone 8. i dont know how that corresponds, you said you were in zone 7? is it similar?

here i am zone pushing to try to keep the lemons and avocado happy, but so far i have managed to keep them alive...the young mandarins and lemons have been through a couple of winters now...with the help of the cover. it doesnt make it that much warmer than outside, but our temperatures rarely fall below 25 F...and usually only for short periods of time if they do get into the 20's...


It does get a bit colder here, and our summers aren't that great either. After some Googling I learned that it's possible to grow citrus in an unheated greenhouse in the Netherlands, I never knew! Now, where to fit that orange tree....
 
leila hamaya
pollinator
Posts: 1125
Location: northern northern california
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oranges are usually the most sensitive to cold.
kumquats, many interesting hybrids, manadarins (tangerines, etc) are all much hardier than oranges, many of them i could grow here outside in usda zone 8, while oranges need zone 9-10. most lemons are slightly more cold hardy than oranges, and limes are the most sensitive.

this is just generally speaking, and to say you would probably be better off trying mandarin of some type, or if you like them -kumquats. those two are similar to oranges but more cold hardy.
citrus does ok in cold weather, just not below freezing, of course. so if you can keep the temps above 30 or so, and in the 30s and 40s in the winter, they should make it ok.

your greenhouse looks nice, i would love to build a nice greenhouse proper, myself, but for now- i work with what i got. i vision building a very tall greenhouse, so i could grow some trees, citrus or others inside....also, partially underground to get earth sheltering benefits of stabilizing the temps....here, just that alone would probably be enough to keep it that little bit warmer...
 
Rebecca Norman
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"So, what do you grow in your greenhouse?"
20160206-Leafy-Salad-from-my-greenhouse-1.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20160206-Leafy-Salad-from-my-greenhouse-1.jpg]
 
Casie Becker
gardener
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Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
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I'm rather embarrassed by my green house compared to the very sturdy and sometimes even self built examples seen here. Mine's just one of those vinyl constructions that my mother surprised me by picking up at the end of season clearance last year. We put it up in late January to start pepper, squashes, eggplants and amaranth. When I tried starting these and tomatoes in the house last year we had almost enough light. Almost isn't the same as enough. I've been very happy with our results this year.

After I get the last of these seedlings planted in the garden (probably by the end of March) we'll disassemble the greenhouse until next spring. Anything that would survive the winter in this structure would probably also survive it in the ground outside.

That actually reminds me, I need to start looking at thrift stores for a duffelbag big enough to store all the parts. They work better for tents than the orginal bags and this is very similar.
 
Mike Turner
Posts: 329
Location: Upstate SC
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I’m using a greenhouse and a hoop house. The greenhouse is a 12 ft X 7 ft home-built structure made of a 2x4 frame skinned with plywood and foam board on the north, east, and west sides. The east and west sides each has an upper and lower vent opening operated by automatic vent openers. The south side and top are glazed with 7 ft x 3 ft sheets of plate glass. Two decades ago I got a good deal on used plate glass from a building demolition and have been using them for various projects ever since. It is heated to 40 degrees F by two oil filled electric heaters controlled by thermostats placed on the back wall on the greenhouse. In the greenhouse I overwinter tubs of water chestnuts and water spinach for spring planting outside in my working garden pond and in 3 ft wide plastic tubs (empty livestock mineral tubs). Also pineapple plants to be planted outside in the garden for the summer (cultivars such as Sugar Loaf that aren’t found at the grocery store). This time of year I’m growing seedling flats of cole crops, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. Also potted non-hardy citrus, herbs such aloe vera and basil, and a few odd ornamentals such as Rhapis palms, bird of paradise, tree ferns, and elephant ears. By May all of these plants have been moved out of the greenhouse and during the summer I use its high heat to dehydrate tea and nettle leaves, to dry laundry, and to solarize flea infested dog bedding and luggage that may have collected bedbugs from motels on road trips. In the fall I’ll use it to cure sweet potatoes before moving them into the root cellar.

The unheated hoop house is a 10ft x 50ft structure made of cattle panels wired together along their long edges and stapled to a 2x6 board frame stapled to rebar driven into the ground. The two removable end panels are made of 2x4’s framing in a door. It is covered by greenhouse film attached to the sides by 1x2 strips. The 16 ft long cattle panels are bent to form a 10 ft wide semicircle, which combined with a 4 inch elevation on the 2x6 and a 1 ft deep path down the center of the hoop house provides over 6 ft of headroom inside the hoop house. It cost $400 in materials to build and provides 7 degrees F of frost protection. In the winter I grow greens such as lettuce, spinach, komatsuna, mustard, collards, and kale, root crops such as leeks, radishes, carrots, and broccoli, peas, etc. The leeks are the non-cold hardy “summer” leeks such as King Richard that will overwinter in the hoop house and get huge when overwintered forming 2 inch diameter x 2 ft long shafts. Permanently planted in the hoop house are borderline hardy citrus such as Satsuma, Bloomsweet grapefruit, and some fig cultivars that require a longer growing season than we get here to do well. After the frost season is past in the spring, I remove the greenhouse film and replace it with both 30% and 50% shade cloth for the summer. This should give me at least a 9 year life from the 4 year life green house film since it is only exposed to the lower winter UV levels. A third of the house is covered with 30% shade, the remaining 2/3 and the end panels with 30% shade The shade cloth acts to temper the high summer heat and also as a screen to exclude larger insect pests as a squash borers, squash bugs, Japanese beetles, leaf footed bugs, harlequin bugs, and cabbage loopers. Smaller pests such as cucumber beetles and tarnished plant bugs can get through, albeit in reduced numbers. The 50% shade lets me grow heat sensitive crops such as lettuce though much of the summer and allows cole crops and beets to survive the summer (in outside beds they are normally killed by the summer heat). The 30% shade allows crops such as sweet peppers, pole beans, and tomatoes to continue to set fruit through the heat of the summer. I also use it to grow the fall potato crop that in outside beds normally get killed back by frost before fully maturing their tubers. It is watered by soaker hoses in the summer, but doesn’t require any irrigation in the winter.
 
Tim Malacarne
Posts: 226
Location: South central Illinois, USA
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We have a pit-style greenhouse or solar growhole... 8' X 16' on the inside, concrete walls 8" thick. Earth beds. We have found that lack of bottom heat severely limits what will grow in winter, even cool season crops. Without bottom heat, you can "hold" a crop, but you can't grow one. I bought a soil thermometer and measured soil temperatures. On a sunny winter day, snow on the ground maybe, it could easily be 70F in the greenhouse, but the soil temperature was around 40F, not enough for growth. Imagine sitting out there the top of you at 75F and from the waist down you are in ice water. You wouldn't grow either!

We have a workshop with a wood-fired stove. I rigged an old cast iron radiator in there and with buried insulated pipe, can pump warm water out to pipes laid in the greenhouse beds. Most days I fire the stove and the circulating water gets to 70F. That seems to be enough for plant growth out in the greenhouse.

We grow, so far, spinach, radishes, and different kinds of lettuce. This system is NOT cost-effective, but we like it. Good luck!
 
Joseph Lofthouse
garden master
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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Yesterday in the greenhouse. Favas, onions, garlic, peas, herbs, medicinals, some winter tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and squash.
 
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