Greenhouse Gardening by June Morgan
With the often extreme temperatures in our northeast region, even greenhouse gardening can be a challenge unless one is willing to pay large heating and air conditioning bills in order to keep optimal temperatures throughout the year. But good planning and reasonable expectations can help overcome the problems of utilizing what can be a considerable investment of money and time.
When planning a greenhouse, make watering easier with a centrally located raised spigot, a coiled hose with a mister attachment. Use wire shelving and have space for large containers of seed starting and potting mixtures, etc. A porous floor such as gravel is necessary. Gro-lights and warming lamps can be hung with S-hooks and chains from the ceiling to augment a heater with a thermostat. Having the greenhouse close to the house or with protected access is handy in inclement weather.
Fall begins the cool season when it is time to bring in small healthy annuals, non-hardy citrus and plumeria, etc. The greenhouse will have been washed down, spider webs and trash removed to prepare for planting. Most plants will thrive at a minimum temperature of 50°. In this environment leafy greens will grow through the winter. Very early spring is the time to start seeds and take cuttings of annuals such as coleus for next summer’s garden. Some seeds such as peppers require extra heat in order to germinate so a thermometer and humidistat are useful tools. If the seeds are started too early, the new plants will suffer transplant shock, be root bound and stunted. Too late and the seedlings will not have enough roots to handle the transplant stress. Before planting outdoors, pick off the blooms and harden the plants gradually by giving them just enough water and fertilizer to keep them going.
When an uncooled greenhouse gets too hot, most plants and trees can go into the garden and some in a protected shady area. A few, such as aloe vera and cacti can stay put. Orchids can do well in the house under Gro-lights or in a window. Summer in Texas is the time to temporarily abandon the greenhouse.
Most of all, the gardener should not think it mandatory to fill the greenhouse with everything possible. It is there for gardeners’ own needs and enjoyment on their terms.
Excellent books that go into much detail about building, measuring light, plant choices, etc. include GREENHOUSE GARDENER’S COMPANION by Shane Smith, THE COMPLETE BOOK OF THE GREENHOUSE by Ian G. Walls, and ORTHO’S ALL ABOUT GREENHOUSES.