We love this idea!
We love this idea!
For more information on these tips and more check out the book “Greenhouse Gardener’s Companion“
Just received this nice note and pics from a Canadian home greenhouse gardener:
“I just wanted to tell you, i built a greenhouse in southern Alberta Canada and picked up your book. It has helped us build a great greenhouse. You make things very simple to follow for beginners and i have had very good success. Just wanted to say thank you for writing the book and keeping it simple as i am a mechanic not a gardener but looking in my greenhouse now you would not know it. The information is to the point and excellent. I have recommended the book to countless people and use it every day. Thanks for a great book.”
I live in a locale that has short seasons and lots of hail. The solution? Grow tomatoes in a greenhouse. To be successful you must grow indeterminate varieties that grow in a more vine-like manner rather than in a bush. That way I can take advantage of my airspace for higher yields.
Because tomatoes don’t have tendrils to climb a trellis, I train them to grow up some twine suspended from my rafters. I simply twist the tomato vines up the twine as they grow. This year I am growing mostly tomatoes that I have grafted for greater vigor and am having great success.
Each morning, I venture into the greenhouse to gently shake each plant which helps to promote pollination. We use our ripe tomatoes in making caprese salad and we also dehydrate a lot of tomatoes for winter pizza’s and other Italian dishes. I find that dried tomatoes (when you use homegrown ripe tomatoes) are a whole different and tasty animal and are preferred over winter grocery tomatoes.
I was fortunate to provide some initial assistance with this great project. Every community needs a community greenhouse. Especially one associated with a school. Read more here.
Guest article by Mackenzie Kupfer
Growing up on a farm is a rough life for a kid. I had to get up very early and help my mom gather eggs and help my dad milk the cows, all so we could make breakfast. I used to say to myself that I never wanted to be farmer when I grew up. At the time I didn’t realize the valuable skills I was being taught, but now, I constantly thank my parents for all the gardening skills they taught me as a kid. After college, I moved to the city and got a job and a place to live. Eventually, though, gas and food prices started rising and rose faster than my income. It wasn’t very long after that I both started riding my bike to work every day and decided to start a garden in my backyard with hopes of growing some of my own vegetables.
Joining Clubs and Organizations
Local farmers gather on the street sides and set up their stands to sell organic fruits and vegetables. One of my personal favorite items to buy is organic honey. Most of the time I can get it straight off the comb! Farmers markets are not only a local resource for fresh fruits and vegetables, but also a fun place to meet others who are also interested in eating organic, healthy foods, and finding out information on local gardening clubs and organizations. Vegetable gardening provides those of us who enjoy the outdoors a social component, as well. Members can gather at weekly meetings with and present a guest speaker. Clubs, such as this one, plan several events that are open not just to members, but open to the community as well. Throughout the world, several groups of gardeners have formed social clubs where members can show off their garden grown goods and receive awards. Some of them even offer college scholarships.
One of the biggest reasons I personally prefer home grown fruits and vegetables is because of the taste. I’m sure everyone will agree with me that taste is everything in food. Any chef will tell you, the fresher the ingredients, the better tasting your meal will be. There are many ways to bring out the flavor in your ingredients. One way is referred to as companion planting, and as you can see here, by planting certain plants next to each other in your garden, you can not only enhance the flavor of the plant, but you can also help repel unwanted worms and bugs from eating or destroying your crops.
Going Green with the Sun
Greenhouses are also extremely eco-friendly outdoor buildings to grow gardens in. By trapping the sun’s heat and light inside the structure, they promote photosynthesis in plants, creating oxygen for the planet. Greenhouses are very versatile buildings. They come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes, as well as material, and can be customized to fit your exact specifications. They are used by corporations who grow crops for food or even experimental purposes. Materials used to build greenhouses could be simple wood and plastic structures, or a larger metal frame with panes of glass.
Greenhouses are used all over the world, not just in the United States. Japan and Great Britain are just two countries leading the way in providing us with new greenhouse technologies. In the Netherlands, a company is researching how greenhouses can be “a supplier of sustainable heat and electricity.”
Rooftop greenhouses are popular among the urban communities. Since temperature and humidity can be more easily managed, gardeners can grow their fruits and vegetables year round. A company called Sky vegetables, which specializes in rooftop hydroponic farms, lists various community and environmental benefits of greenhouses, such as:
• Increased access to fresh produce
• Improved nutrition for local citizens
• Reduces greenhouse gas emissions
• Food is grown without herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers
Healthy eating is a growing trend to many people in the US. It helps reduce stress, helps control weight, can improve mood, and can also boost energy. If we combine those benefits with the benefits of what greenhouses can bring us, the alternative is not really a choice at all. The benefits of greenhouses exceed what I can put here. Readers, what has been some of your experiences with greenhouses and organic gardening?
Mackenzie Kupfer is from Boise, ID. She gardens to her heart’s content and is a student of horticultural history. With her passion for learning she plans to be a lifelong student of the Earth. Vegetable gardening, writing and experiencing the beauty of nature are just a few of Mackenzie’s favorite things.
Years ago I gardened in a greenhouse that was covered with a space age film called “Tedlar.” It never really took off, but it did have some impressive characteristics. Now there is a next generation of greenhouse film that may dethrone the ubiquitous polycarbonate. It is called ETFE film. One common brand name of this film is “F-Clean®.” Special thanks to Shawn Speidel (with Soil Fertility Service, LLC www.SoilFertilityService.com), who brought me up to date on this material.
ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene), fluorine based plastic. While it is new to us in the US, it has long been used in Japan, Europe and China in commercial houses. It is also what was used on the Eden Project in Great Britain and the .
Advantages of ETFE glazings or “F-CLEAN®”
Downside to ETFE
We lose heat from the greenhouse through your glazing (glass or plastic) at night. When you have two or more layers of glazing you gain insulation from having dead air space between the layers. Some glazing has as many as five layers thick as in the case of this polycarbonate pictured to the right. Sometimes you can forgo night insulation because you have a glazing with multiple layers. By the way, the more layers of glazing you have, the cooler your summer daytime temperatures will be. But, there is a trade off in light transmission. I wouldn’t go with more than a three layer polycarbonate if you live in an area that doesn’t have many sunny days. I live in a sunny location and do fine with a five layer polycarbonate.
A cheap way to add another layer of glazing is to add a bubblewrap material to your glazing.
You can also add insulation by using a insulation barrier. Commercial growers have long used aluminized curtains for both holding in the heat and to provide some shading when needed. Styrofoam beads have been blown in between glazing layers to provide night insulation but have suffered from static electricity problems, making the beads adhere to the glazing. This was first experimented with at Kansas State University by Architecture professor Gary Coats back in the 1980s.
More recently a number of people have been experimenting with the use of soap bubbles to insulate between greenhouse glazings (see video below).
“The Invisible Garden House was installed in the home of a Danish family who wished to extend their time spent outdoors into the fall.”
“Essentially a large greenhouse comprising three interconnected domes, the structure is heated by the sun and ventilated naturally with adjustable holes.
The largest middle dome functions as a garden house with wooden floor, while the two smaller connecting domes are used to grow vegetables and flowers.” ~ excerpt from article in GizMag.com