Grow (and harvest) veggies in Greenhouse during winter??

kroach001February 23, 2009

Hello all!

I am the proud new owner of a new 8.5ft x 20ft greenhouse. My question is a bit early, because I won't be trying this until next winter since I'm already too late this year... but here it goes... oh, and I'm going to exclude tomatoes from this dicussion because there is tons of info online about growing tomatoes in the greenhouse, and that is all I can find... I need to know about my other favorite veggies! :)

Can I grow veggies, such as bell peppers, and be able to harvest them thru out the winter months in my greenhouse? My greenhouse gets sun from the very first hint of sun up, to the very last drop before sun even in the shortest winter days, this is still a solid 9 hours of sunlight (I think that is right)...which I would think is enough for most veggies to grow. I was thinking along the lines of a few bell pepper plants in huge pots,I could dig up the healthiest ones in the fall and bring them into the GH. I would need to help them pollinate... I don't know the methods for each plant... like with tomatoes you tap on the support stakes to shake it up a bit... I've heard about using an artist's paint brush for some other things... but at any rate... if I can manage to figure out how to help the pollination... and get soil management down and keep the overnight temps above 55, will I be able to harvest veggies thru out the winter?

high electric bills are not really concerning me at this point... we put up the GH in January and we've just gotten thru some of the coldest days and nights, and during the days when its literally freezing outside and wildly windy, its been 90 inside with no heater!!!! and last night, at 11pm, I forgot that I didn't close my roof vents!!!... so I went out there to shut them and even with the roof vents open, and 23 degrees outside, it somehow managed to stay 45 degrees inside!!! I haven't used it yet, no need yet since the GH is empty, but I do have a heater with thermostat available that can kick on if it does get under 55 degrees overnight in the winters. The GH is empty right now, but I'll be starting seeds soon and I doubt I will keep anything in it over the summer since it gets crazy hot in there as it is with freezing temps outside. Please let me know if anyone has had success (or knows of) growing veggies (other than tomatoes) in the winter... AND harvesting veggies thru out the winter. I've found info on how to overwinter plants thru the winter in a GH... but I'm looking at being able to actually continue growing and harvesting the fresh garden veggies all winter long!!! And if so, what are some good veggies to grow in the GH during the winter?


Thanks for the info!!!

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Hello, I'm envious of your ability to keep relatively warm temps in there without much supplemental heat.

You'll have to decide whether or not it will be worthwhile to try to grow warm-temp vegetables like peppers, tomatos, and cucumbers in there. They would definitely need supplemental heat, especially important would be root-zone heating to keep the soil mass warmer. It certainly can be done.

I would NOT attempt to dig pepper plants in the fall, though. While it can be done, the setback to them would be fairly significant. Instead, I'd just grow some in large planters and bring them in when frost threatens. Then, you'd be all set with those.

Cool season vegetables, primarily greens and herbs, possibly root crops like radishes and carrots, would be a piece of cake in your setup.

The main things to watch out for are insect problems, aphids, etc., and fungal disease problems. Disease can be the biggest problem because of the lack of much airflow and the high humidity. Running a couple of small fans to promote air movement helps, and you may need to use fungicide dusts or sprays periodically.

I have 2 greenshouses, 10 x 12 and 10 x 32, but I simply can't afford to heat them in Michigan winters. Used to do that, but the cost of heat was more than the value of the plants overwintered (tropicals, patio plants, that sort of thing). Now, I use them in the spring for seed starting, and in the summer to grow crops like okra, cotton, etc. which benefit in my climate from the extra heat. I have 4 laying hens spending the winter in the larger greenhouse, but they'll be bummed out when they have to go back to their outdoor, summer accomodations in April, since they seem to love it in there, it's their little winter spa.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2009 at 9:08AM
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ah,thats cool. I have chickens too. I have 21 hens and two are not allowed in my GH though! I had the GH open today and walked back to my house to get something and when I got back they had all helped themselves in, pecking around at some new potted plants I just got! lol. They can be a pest sometimes, but they are funny and do keep me laughing. Now to figure out some type of chicken wire "screen" door so that I can keep ventalation going good on warmer days AND keep the chickens OUT. lol.

Thanks for the info on winter GH gardening. I will definately plant several bell pepper plants in containers, and a few bush type variety tomatoes. I just started a bunch of seed today.... a few varieties of each... bell peppers, brocolli, eggplant, celery, parsley, sage, fennel, a bunch of daisy seed and a few more things that are escaping memory right now. I would have started more, but I was short seed trays. I'm so excited to start planting this year. Last year was our first year at this property and my first chance to ever have a really nice large garden... so now this year I am syked to try out a bunch of different heirloom varieties and a few more types of veggies too. We have a farmers market stand on the property and I'm hoping to grow enough to sell a bit on weekends or something. =)

    Bookmark   February 25, 2009 at 9:01PM
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It's fantastic that you have a big greenhouse. I am in Virginia, too, & last fall I bought 2 4'x8' pop-up greenhouses shaped like little pup tents, & they worked very well for me. I planted mache, claytonia, cress, tatsoi, beets, radishes, carrots, turnips, chard, spinach, arugula, and many different lettuces. The radishes did well, the turnips and beets not so well, and the carrots were a total bust, but all the green stuff just grew & grew. I picked stuff for a salad every single day (I'm eating salad as I write this). Even when the temp went down to single digits for 5 days in a row, everything kept thriving, even without supplemental heating. I got all my inspiration from Eliot Coleman's book Four Season Harvest, & it was so easy and gratifying that I can't imagine not doing the same thing every winter. Good luck with yours.

P.S. If you don't have Eliot Coleman's book already, it's the Bible!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2009 at 2:21PM
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Sounds great,looking forward to gardening all year.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 8:26PM
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sfallen2002(z5 IA)

Eliot Coleman - read him for sure. Inspirational AND practical advice from someone who has and is doing it!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2009 at 6:12AM
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Garden web - greenhouse.
This post is mainly for Katfried. I read that you have two pop up tent greenhouses and would like to know where you have gotten them. I also want to start a greenhouse - obviously not this year - and all I need is to find the right direction in which to go. I just happened to stumble upon this site - while trying to find out if it's possible to plant fennel in a greenhouse. Any good information - especially where to get inexpensive green houses would be appreciated. Thank you.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 4:01PM
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jll0306(9/ Sunset 18/High Desert)

Lucia, I ordered a 7X12' "greenhouse" (hoophouse, really) from Amazon for $70.00. I have also seen them on Ebay for about that same price. They also make them in smaller and larger sizes.

Hope this helps,

    Bookmark   October 9, 2010 at 10:33AM
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Can not believe you had such good weather INSIDE you winter GH. I Believe you are telling the truth, it is not what I though would be true. Guess that what I get for thinking instead of doing things for myself.
I have a 18 feet X 18 feet loop house style green house frame.
I was going to cover it with 6 or 10 mil plastic green house cover. But did not want the big heating bill that a large GH would use. The hoops are individual ribs so I could use 2 or all 10 of them. 3 ribs would be 6 feet X 18 feet,because of the hoop style you can not have plant racks or you will have unused space behind the racks, near the edge of the hoop.
Thank you for the information & zone.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2011 at 6:48PM
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My husband has promised to build a greenhouse for me from materials left here on our property by the former owners. It will be 16 feet long as there are 2 4 x 8 sheets of heavy tempered glass that he will design and build around. It will attach to the south wall of our stucco garage so will have good sun all winter and have a little bit of sun protection during the hottest part of the summer with a palo verde tree directly west of it. Good eastern exposure. I realize in my climate that cooling the greenhouse will be more of a consideration that heating it. We will have to have evaporative cooling, whether portable or thru the wall I dont know yet. Looking forward to the process, but I must be patient. He is retired now and seems to have so much less time to do things that when he was working. Go figure.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2011 at 11:12AM
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I live in Oregon, our elevation is 4,016 basically on a mountain surrounded by mountains. We get down to zero deg. pretty often. I built a wood framed greenhouse on a slab with all southern exposure. At first I was going to specifically use it for starting spring plants for the garden (Wife tired of dirt in the house lol) Heat was getting expensive, so I ran insulated 3" duct off the pellet stove exhaust to the green house, put a through wall through the polycarbonate panels, then ran the duct un- insulated around the perimeter inside the greenhouse. Then back out the other side wit a through wall. Needless to say, we are still have temps 0-20 deg's and I have celery,lettuce,brusselsprouts, peppers, squash,cilantro,parsley,dill,cabbage and over wintering the house plants for the wife. The heat source is one of the best inventions i've come up with yet. even with out the heat duct, the polycarbonate panes heat the greenhouse just by sun to 75-80 deg even when its 20 deg's outside. greenhouse 7' x 14'

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 5:50PM
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Hi and thanks for sharing guys.
I successfully overwinter Collard greens, Kale and Swiss Chard that I transplant into a 8'x12' hoop GH... but i know from experience that everything stops solid at a certain point in winter. I just ordered a clear solar pool cover which is like durable bubble wrap and will try using this to insulate the growing area like a hoop GH inside a the GH or possibly make it the outer skin. But I see that without sufficient heat, like after a cloudy day, there is little point in insulation. The extra cover could, however, make supplemental heat sources economical or realistic.
I like the strategy of using large thermal mass, like water barrels or rock to store heat energy from the day for slow release at night. Plants could grow directly above the heat storage area. I have a second hand solar water heating panel that I could put in a loop with the barrels... then I would also need a pump, antifreeze mix, a DIY heat exchanger to heat the water in the barrels and ..a temperature difference box with sensors to operate the pump at the right times.! Rather complex and somewhat expensive...?.
A great design I came across in PA... a wood fired hot tub inside the GH - what a treat!
Final thoughts on winter GH - build a well insulated one onto the house so that it maintains at room temp and adds heat and veg to the home.
Happy winter and fresh veg to all.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2013 at 10:23PM
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Maybe to cool and not enough Light out this way?

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 11:40AM
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I have a 10 x 20 x8 greenhouse that is a plastic vinyl cover style similar to a portable garage. We're zone 8a, in the mountains of central California and saw temps down to 22 degrees in December.

We set it up as a greenhouse inside of a greenhouse. We have a 5x10 raised bed that we cover at night with survival blankets (high quality reusable, 5x7ft size $18 each, sewn together to make a larger cover) and heat with old fashioned Christmas lights and when cold, a small heater that has a very low thermostat shut off temp. We also have a 4x4ft table top that has a mini greenhouse over the top that we also cover with a survival blanket to reflect the Christmas tree lights back inside.

I have 3 large tomato plants and 3 cherry tomatoes in there. I have toms every day. We also have a Japanese eggplant that is producing fruit we should be able to harvest in about a month, a regular eggplant also with baby eggplants on it. We have hot chili peppers I'm harvesting right now. We also have bush beans, but they're at the end of their life cycle - still alive but pretty tired.

We have 3 mini bell peppers, two were hit pretty hard by a mildewy substance and aphids, the other is still doing well (2 different beds) but the bad ones produced up until about the end of December. We also have the typical cold weather kale, swiss chard, cabbage, and the like as well as plenty of lettuce, onion and cilantro (LOVE salsa and we're still making it fresh).

It only takes me 7 minutes to close up the greenhouse at night and 5 minutes to open things up in the morning and we're not seeing a huge jump in the electric bill. It seems like the heater comes on no more than for a couple minutes and the survival blankets trap that heat for a long time. The heater is on a stepping stone at soil level so the roots are keeping warm as well.

Hope this helps :-) I'm not sure if these links will post pictures but I'm giving it a try


    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 12:57AM
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