Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by Kathy-momof9, Aug 24, 2004.

  1. Kathy-momof9

    Kathy-momof9 Member

    Jun 29, 2004
    There is a greenhouse on our property. Wood frame with plastic but the plastic needs to be replaced (torn & flapping in the wind). Looking for what/where to buy it and how to attach it. I also read that plastic is temporary and needs to be replaced every 3-8 months? Since we have very windy springs here (Nebraska) can/should I use something more permanent?

    Next, how do I heat the thing? Years ago I read using a black barrel filled with water was good as the sun would heat it up. True? What else? There was electric out there at one time...I will probably get that going again.

    Any websites/books that you'd recommend? Can I get tomatoes growing through the winter? Herbs? What else? I'm looking foodwise more than flowers.

    Thanks for any and all suggestions!

    Kathy in Nebraska
  2. ozarkin'it

    ozarkin'it Well-Known Member

    Jul 28, 2004
    Ozark Mountains
    This reminds me, so I have a couple questions to add to this thread. If you keep the temperature in a greenhouse in the 65 to 70 range(winter house temps) and use electric lights to make 14 hour days, can you grow whatever veges just like it was summer time? or are you just out of luck. I was thinking of planting summer stuff in mid October, and would have veges ready to sell by Christmas. Is this possible?

  3. Jimmy Mack

    Jimmy Mack Well-Known Member

    May 7, 2004
  4. Hank - Narita

    Hank - Narita Well-Known Member

    Aug 12, 2002
    We have a new greenhouse but don't have it heated for winter yet. We bought the construction materials on the web.
  5. DayBird

    DayBird Big Bird

    Jul 25, 2004
    Pell City, AL
    I've read somewhere, probably Mother Earth, that a leanto type greenhouse with the largest glazed wall facing South could be passivly solar heated all winter. Something about having the back wall lined with black water barrels to use as a solar bank. One paragraph of the article talked about pumping the water from the blackened barrels through underground pipes to keep the rootbed warm. If you could use solar panels to run the water pump, this should work well for you.

    At the very least, I'd think that straw bales stacked part way up around the walls would help not only as insulation, but partly as a wind barrier in the winter as well.
  6. shadowwalker

    shadowwalker Well-Known Member

    Mar 5, 2004
    wyoming/ now tennessee
    I'm going to build one when I get to Tennessee. I got alot of books off ebay. Also go to google and type in greenhouse. shadowwalker
  7. bill not in oh

    bill not in oh Well-Known Member

    Jul 27, 2004
    I'm going to throw my 2 cents worth in here. IMO - the absolute best, hands down, way to heat greenhouse (or pretty much any space) is in-floor radiant heat - hot water pumped through pipes (usually plastic) placed in the floor of an area and encased in a heat-retaining substance. I know of systems installed with standard concrete, lightweight concrete, sand, in the dirt, and simply under floor joists without any materials to hold heat other than the flooring materials above the system. The source for heating the water (some systems use special fluids that facilitate the exchange of heat better than water) can be:

    dedicated boilers sized for the individual system powered by electric, gas, oil, coal, wood - anything that creates a lot of heat heat

    active solar (panels) if you actually have enough sunlight through the entire year or the $$$ to set up enough panels to get you through the (Nebraska) winter

    geothermal (areas that have underground hot springs)

    heck, I've even hear of people heating radiant systems with compost piles!!! - the ULTIMATE fuel efficiency...

    But I think that from a practical standpoint, utilizing a technology that is relatively new to our society deserves serious consideration. Tankless water heaters are incredibly efficient and seem almsot to be designed for this type of application. Currently, I only know of models that are powered by gas (most widely available) or electric (110 and 220 volt). I have my doubts about the efficiency of the 110 volt models, but with the demand of radiant heat in a moderate size greenhouse (especially if well insulated) it might work very well.

    As to carte blanche summer vegetables for Christmas... I don't think so - not in most areas of North America. Cool weather veggies probably as they will grow with less light and cooler temps. There probably are hybrid tomatoes that will tolerate artificial light and cooler temps, I just don't know what they are.

    Huge thanks to Jimmy Mack! That is hands down the most comprehensive list of links for greenhouse information I've ever seen! I'll be spending some time there over the winter...

    PS Kathy - Caution: Do not attempt to supply the hot water demands of a family of 11 with an on-demand system - it would probably disinegrate!! LOL Actually, if you had the right (knowledgeable) plumber, there probably is one that would work...

    Good luck to all

  8. 3girls

    3girls Well-Known Member

    Aug 18, 2004
    SE PA, zone 6b
    There is a greenhouse supply house named Stuckey in KS or NE. They will have everything you would need to know. I'm sure if you Google, you can find it.

    You will need 6 mil, UV protected, 4 year poly. You may want to put two layers, separated with a small squirrel cage fan. There are a variety of ways to attach it, but the usual way is with some form of poly-clips. Some are "wiggle wire" and some are slotted things that click together. The people at St. will be more than happy to help you. If you get hooked on hoop houses, they are the logical ones to go to from your area.

    Many many good sources to get educated. Two of the best can both be purchased at They are Four Seasons Harvest, by Eliot Coleman. The other is a booklet about hoophouses published by GFM, an accumulation of articles from the journal. The publisher is Lynn Byzinski (wrong spelling) who is a successful flower farmer as well as publisher of this most excellent journal about market farmers. She lives in Lawrence, KS, and the last I heard, has 4 30x96' hoophouses. I read it for fun-- Every word the day it comes. A third book, probablly used from is Solviva. I have mentioned this book in several threads. I have picked up many excellent ideas from this book. The author had four-yr-old tomato plants that produced. Did you know that rabbits and chickens produce 8 btu/# of body weight? How bout a small pen in the gh during winter! Also, you do not have to get your temps up to human standards for winter production. Somewhere around 50 degrees is about right. Your plants won't do much growing in the winter, so have to be near maturity by the time winter comes.

    There is a wide body of info out there. Mr. Coleman and wife do their farming in the winter and take June and July off! Their spring starts in August!

    Good luck on using your gh. You might not get too much in for this year, but should find winter 2005 to be very productive.

  9. anniew

    anniew keep it simple and honest Supporter

    Dec 11, 2002
    NE PA
    I believe the name of the greenhouse supply place is Stuppy's.

    Growing warm season crops in a northern greenhouse in winter
    is not exceedingly successful without great input. The limiting
    factors are heat and light. The sun is low in the sky and the
    duration and INTENSITY is very low, so you need more than
    regular lighting to make a difference. Most high density lighting
    fixtures cost big time. Heat is another major factor, and the
    most expensive time to heat is between November and February.
    So, you want things that are, as mentioned earlier and is the
    key to Coleman producing greens year round, things that are
    mostly mature going into that period, and maybe just holding their
    own, as well as things that don't require a lot of heat.
    That is why many greens are perfect veggies. You can get them
    up to speed by the time the heat and light are slowing down,
    and harvest from them over the winter without a lot of extra
    input of heat and light.
    I'm in NE Pennsylvania, and over winter things like swiss chard,
    and lettuces using no heat. I have a heater that I use mostly
    to give extra heat when a snow storm is predicted, to help the snow
    melt and slide off the hooped house.
    Yes, do use a double layer of plastic. Although there is slightly
    more R-value to a double layer than a single, it is minimal, but
    it will give some rigidity to the covering with air blown between,
    providing less flapping which makes the plastic break down
    quicker. Real greenhouse plastic may last 4-5 years using this
    system, with the weakest points being where the plastic touches
    the "hoops" which absorb some heat, or where it rubs against
    whatever the structure is that keeps the shape of the greenhouse.
    When I heat, I use a simple salamander or torpedo heater, the
    kind used by builders who need to keep an area warm while they
    work in the winter. It's got a thermostat attached that can be set
    so that it goes on when the temp drops to whatever you set it for.
    Ventilation is also an important factor, however, as a sunny day
    can make it very hot (110 plus, giving cooked greens) in only a very little time and if you aren't
    constantly there, you may want to consider an automatic fan
    (thermostatically controlled) with an automatic vent at the opposite
    end. Heaters and fan/opening sizes can be calculated using
    greenhouse management books for reference.
    Hope you have fun in your venture.
  10. 3girls

    3girls Well-Known Member

    Aug 18, 2004
    SE PA, zone 6b
  11. I also endorese colemans writings he spends just a little time on a soap box and focuses most of his writing on practical hands on type information. he likes to use row cover combined with the single layer hoop house and claims to achieve 2 solid climate zones in that manner with no added heat. He also points out most of north america does have more light or the same light as southern france the main differance being north america is simply colder for the amount of light than europe. I am not sure it would be feasable to attempt warm season crops any more than it would be feasable to attempt cold season crops in the heat of a texas summer. rather than fight nature why not go with the flow and focus on the cool climate production. You should still be quite capable of some excellant nutrition and flavors without breaking the bank peas letuces cabbage beet carrot even potatoe as well as most greens and several newer known oriental greens will love any climate kept above freezing by just a few degrees. Any sunny days will rapidly bring temps up to the 70's and achieve a few hours of rapid growth. Also you should gain several weeks at both the front and end of your normal season for those personal fovorites in the summer camp. Another intresting idea of colemans is to slide the greenhouse back and forth over 2-3 alternate planting beds. If wind is a problem in your area you may want to look into the fiberglass mesh reinforced plastic most construction tenting in my area has gone to that.For minimul winter heat i like the idea of nonvented clean fuel such as propane or natural. Personally my thoughts on mixing in livestock is it would not be a good idea take too much valuble space provide to little heat for the space they do need and create mangement problems like why did they eat my lunch? also extra trips in and out for feed or more space for feed storage hi humidity is good for plants not to great for animals or feed storage. a fish tank as a thermal flywheel may be a possible exception, but still costly in space.