small greenhouse uses

hemnancy(z8 PNW)March 19, 2010

Fred Meyer has small greenhouses covered in zippered plastic, with shelves. Are these usable for putting out hardy perennials and tomatoes at this time of year? Starting lettuce and salad greens? I have too many plants under lights and would like to get some of them outdoors. Would they overheat in the sun? I could put some storage containers of water out under the shelves and maybe put an oil-filled heater in for nights.

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Some neighbors around the corner of our block have had a foot-high tomato plant out for several weeks now. They simply have it under a plastic sheet and sticks, much like a pup tent.

A few blocks away and for many years, some people have their entire yard as a series of these little plastic/stick tents and they grow copious amounts of mint and other greens year-round. The covers on all these structures are adjusted for daily weather.

Both these locations are not raised beds or potted plants, just planted right in the ground.

So your Freddy-house should work fine if it cannot blow over or if the unzippered cover parts on sunny days do not blow shut.

The trick with these small, enclosed spaces is to remember to get the covers off/unzipped on sunny days that now have the same sun angle as September 22.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 12:15AM
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hemnancy(z8 PNW)

Thanks, Larry Gene, I will be planting the tomatoes out starting in April under tunnels, which are probably like your neighbor's stick plastic cloches, but they are different from the greenhouse, which I would think could be warmer. The hardy perennials among the seedlings I have should be able to take frost if actually hardened off but I don't know if putting them in a plastic greenhouse would necessitate hardening off in shade first, or if tomato plants would burn put straight into the greenhouse from being under lights. I usually harden off on my front porch but a little later in spring.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 3:56PM
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What I have done is, double wrap our greenhouse and ran lines from one end to the other, covered with frost cloth and a heater set to come on at night in case the temperature drops below freezing. At night I also cover everything up with blankets and remove everything in the morning before I take off to work(really traps the heat). We have had temperatures outside drop to freezing and in the morning the temperatures underneath the covers has been around 10 degrees.

I still have my tomatoes, peppers, basil and some cukes left in my main garden shed under lights. Alot of my plants started being moved outside in early February as I did run out of room. The link I have attached should bring you to my photos of this years planting and my set up.

So far this seems to be working for me and the plants outside are thriving.

Good luck!!

Here is a link that might be useful: 2010 planting

    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 11:12PM
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hemnancy(z8 PNW)

Wow, rejeanne, thanks for sharing your set-up. I have 6 shelves with 2 flats each, 36 pots per flat, indoors, and trying to transition them outside. This is my first greenhouse experiment and have to find out if the greenhouse plastic can prevent sunburn in leaves put in it from under lights, and whether the plants then need gradual sun exposure from the greenhouse to being set outdoors. I guess I can just experiment to see what happens but don't want to set the tomatoes back with sunburn.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 6:18PM
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My tomato plants go from the garden shed to the greenhouse without any issues and when I am ready to plant, some stay in the greenhouse others are outside. I have never had my plants get sunburned from being in the greenhouse however, the plastic that is on there is not clear which may make a difference. Every few years we buy a roll of new plastic from the lumber store, its a 6 mill polly with UV protection. Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 11:02PM
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Karchita(WA Z8)

I have a coldframe which works very well for me. I use it to start tomatoes and other plants in it every spring and overwinter many semihardy plants in pots and seedlings.

It has hinged windows that could take an automatic opener but I have made do by just leaving it open a crack and a little later in the spring, remembering to open and close the window each day. I also have some water jugs inside.

I think it is a better buy than those plastic things they sell at Fred Meyer. It cost about $150-$200, but it is sturdy, with twincell walls, and will last for years. Having the option of using an automatic window opener is nice, too. I bought a different one a while back that wasn't as sturdy and collapsed under snow, but the new one is great. I got mine at Charley's, but I don't see them on their website now. There's a picture, but then no item. Strange. I am sure you could find something similar elsewhere.

Here is a link that might be useful: Charley's Greenhouses

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 2:15PM
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hemnancy(z8 PNW)

Thanks, karchita. I admire your being able to remember to open the window! I have a cold frame I built, hardware cloth on the bottom to keep out voles and moles, corrugated polycarbonate sides, and a polycarbonate sheet for the top. I don't actually get a lot of use out of it because it is a long way from hose bibs, because of lack of good sites near the house. I do start my peas in it, they are coming up great, and when they get too tall for the sides I rigged up a chickenwire frame over it so the deer can't eat them.

The appeal for me of the little greenhouse is its not being in contact with the ground because of vole and slug problems, I want to try to grow lettuce, plus store some of my seedlings.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 5:17PM
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Karchita(WA Z8)

Sometimes I forget! But I let my cat out every morning and the coldframe sits on my patio just out the door, so I see it and it's easy to remember.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 5:51PM
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We just bought a house here in the Willamette Valley this past July, originally from Southern CA. So I'm trying for the first time to grow in this zone. The only seeds that started to sprout were my lettuce. I had them growing in a 72 space burpee seed starting system. I put them in a similar greenhouse that I got at Lowe's. It got too hot and killed my lettuce. The other plants haven't shown any sign of breaking the soil. They could have gotten too hot, or there was a light moss/fungus on top that I scrapped off (these could have killed the seeds as well). So be careful with lettuce in the greenhouse. Lettuce is very cold weather hardy. Also you can take a couple of 1 gal milk containers and fill them with water and put them on the bottom of your greenhouse. This will store some warmth for the cool nights as well as help keep the greenhouse from getting blown away.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 1:00PM
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