Owning their own greenhouse completes a fantasy for many gardeners. Whether lean-to or freestanding, a greenhouse offers control over nature while providing healthy foods and beautiful flowers. All greenhouses need ventilation and access to water in addition to walkways and shelves. Available electricity allows heating, cooling and process automation. Larger greenhouses can grow commercial quantities of greens, herbs and vegetables for sale locally or to share.
Extend Growing Season
Greenhouses extend the growing season. Primarily the extra time becomes available during cold weather when light frosts and freezes kill susceptible plants outdoors. The greenhouse warms naturally in the daytime and has supplemental heating on cold nights. Depending on your growing region, a greenhouse extends the productive season for herbs, flowers and vegetables several weeks to all winter.
Cold-tolerant plants such as salad fixings grow during the fall and winter in a greenhouse to give you locally-grown, fresh vegetables like carrots, radishes, lettuce and spinach. Using a system called thermal banking, a grower adds black collection ducts to the greenhouse to collect heat during the day and passively radiate it at night. According to Colorado State University extension service, adding solar panels provides another option for passive heat collection.
Starting plants from seed in a greenhouse greatly expands the variety of plants you can grow in your garden beyond those available at a local nursery or box retailer. A greenhouse gives you a nurturing location for young plants before transplanting.
To start seeds in the greenhouse, fill peat pots with a growth medium composed of vermiculite and peat moss, add two to three seeds to each small container, water thoroughly, and cover with plastic until the plant has two leaves. Remove the plastic cover and allow the plants to grow to 4 to 6 inches tall. Harden the plants for a week and then transplant into the garden after the last frost.
Because you control the environmental conditions in a greenhouse, you can grow exotic plants that do not survive in your area because of temperatures, lack of humidity, poor soil or indigenous pests. Even in winter, a greenhouse can fill your home with lovely flowers, ferns and tropical plants, including the aristocrat of the plant world--orchids--according to Dotty Woodson with the Texas A&M University extension service.