Ideas for an itty bitty greenhouse

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by woodswitch, Oct 12, 2006.

  1. woodswitch

    woodswitch Member

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    Hi everyone! I need some help and ideas for my 6' x 6' greenhouse. We bought it as a kit in the spring and have only used it to start flower seedlings so far, but this winter we'd really like to grow any type of salad fixin's and herbs that we can. It resembles a gambrel roofed little shed. It's plastic/poly type of panels, has a vent in the top and is placed on a brick paver foundation. It's southern facing and has an electric outlet run to it. We are in southern Pennsylvania, zone 5.
    I welcome any and all advice from you expeirenced gardeners! :)
     
  2. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    I tried using a heating tape last year, with poor results. I have decided that there is not enough winter sunshine in our locations. The plants lived but grew more leaves VEEERY SLOOWLY! Really they practically stayed the same as when I put them in.

    I am thinking about using a light this winter.
     

  3. DenverGirlie

    DenverGirlie Well-Known Member

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    You should have plenty of winter sun whereever you are if you'r in the lower 48 states.

    I would recommend reading some of Eilot Colemans books, he's in Maine and gardens year round.

    He lives in Maine, but noted that he gets that same amount of sun that France does, and determined how to keep his garden gowing all year round with something always getting ready to be picked.

    In the winter, he does use both cold frames and a greenhouse. We have no greehouse, so that just leaves cold frames for us (mini hoop house over raised bed)

    http://www.fourseasonfarm.com/main/books/books.html

    I would also paint a few milk jugs black and fill them with water and place in greehouse as it will absorb sun heat and radiate it back out in the evening when it's colder.

    Good luck
     
  4. woodswitch

    woodswitch Member

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    you know, we were wondering if heat tape buried in the bottom of a large pot would help a tomato plant....maybe combined with a flourescent light??

    anyone ever tried it?

    also, thanks for the link on the books!!
     
  5. PonderosaQ

    PonderosaQ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Whatever you do to try and heat it or keep the plants warm you'll find it much easier if you "insulate the GH". You can line the inside with bubble wrap or you can cover the whole outside with a CLEAR solar pool cover. I have tried both ways and find the pool cover works better and is much less work. You can buy them on line from several places, check carefully as prices vary a lot. I just wrap my GH and hold things in place with nails and bungy cords. I have tried tomaotoes and other heat loving plants in a pot with heat tape. It may improve their health but won't give you tomatoes as they need a higher air temp to bloom and set fruit. I have grown greens that way and thrown plastic or a frost protection fleece over the plants to hold in any escaping heat with success. Elliot Colemans ideas also help greatly in the winter. My first GH was smaller than yours I managed to use to all winters for many years in zone 7 despite all the negative things people said about such a small GH. Have fun,
    PQ
     
  6. fin29

    fin29 Well-Known Member

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    You could modify the traditional hothouse model by putting a good 6" of FRESH cow manure on the floor, mixed with a bit of straw or leaves to start the composting. It'll smell the dickens in there, but it's a free and renewable source of heat. Just use old boards as paths over the muck.

    You could also line the south wall with black-painted milk jugs filled with water for thermal mass. Hammer some lengths of rebar (make sure it'll fit inside the handle of a gallon jug} and stack the jugs, using the rebar through the handle as support.
     
  7. woodsmokeinherhair

    woodsmokeinherhair it's bout quality of life

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    wow .... good ideas :) ..... A small green house is on my list of projects :)

    Woodsmokeinherhair!
     
  8. MaineFarmMom

    MaineFarmMom Columnist, Feature Writer

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    Eliot's growing season ends in late December, usually just before Christmas. It doesn't start again until a few days after Ground Hog Day (Feb 2). Between that time there isn't enough sunlight or heat to break dormancy. He takes January off and occasionally travels to places like France to see what growers are doing there.
     
  9. woodswitch

    woodswitch Member

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    these are great ideas. as soon as I can get to the library, I'll look up Colemans book!
     
  10. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The drawback with a greenhouse that isn't insulated is the amount of heat required to keep it anywhere close to warm at night. Before you get too far into it, try heating it on a night that is below freezing. The energy it requires is much more than most people realize.
     
  11. YoungOne

    YoungOne Well-Known Member

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    I saw an intersting PBS show about Washington's Estate. He had a greenhouse with a firplace at one end sunken down (maybe a half floor). Anyways the chimney was actual a brick lined channel under the floor that he (yea right, his slaves) would light a fire in the evening and the heat would be held in the brick channels overninght. Esentialy it was primitive "radiant heating"