the right way up.
I thought I posted this with the pic sideways, but now I don't see it. This pic was taken at 2pm today. Greenhouse temp was 59, not bad for metal and glass building with no insulation. The coldest it got during this spell was 18 air temp and 28 under the sheets that we cover the beds with any night that goes below 20 That was the night that it got to 8 outside. We took out hot coals in a bucket but as big as the house is, (16x24) I don't know how much good it did.
During the 3 days that we left the sheets on the beds, some of the lettuce damped off, rotted at ground level, but that was the only casualty.
I love it. When I regain the use of my right arm I plan on building something, even if it nothing but hoops
This is what I need! It looks great.
Dorothy, It looks great.
I had dragged existing containers of plants into my greenhouse in early December and they had held up well through the previous cold spell. I didn't even attempt to keep them warm by covering them through this current spell as I expected it to last for so long and to be so cold at night. Most of the plants in there were warm-season tomato plants and flowers, and I never intended to try to keep them going all winter by rather to just be able to keep enjoying them for as long as possible. Our coldest outdoor air temp with this spell has been 10 degrees and at night my greenhouse has remained above freezing when outdoor temperatures where as low as 19. I didn't expect it would keep plants alive at temps lower than that without a heater.
I had not even looked inside the greenhouse since this last bit of cold weather arrived. I just walked right past it every day with blinders on. It is easier to pretend everything inside is okay if you aren't looking at it. With the silver Aluminet shade cloth over the whole building, you only see vague outlines of plants from the outside, so I could pretend they were okay as long as I didn't open the door and look inside.
So, I just walked outside and opened the door on the east side of the greenhouse and peeked inside, and everything is pretty much frozen as expected. Last night's low was only 28 inside the greenhouse, but was 19 outside. I imagine it was the 10-degree night that got the plants. The only green plants inside the greenhouse now are the potted fig tree, two lantanas, some mint and some Laura Bush petunia sprouts that are about an inch tall.
After Christmas, I'll clean it all out and set up tables and flats and try to get an early start on the winter/spring garden. We had a great winter garden last year, inside and outside the greenhouse, but this year I was so tired from fighting the drought all summer that I didn't even plant a fall garden. It really isn't a decision I regret because I needed a break, and the drought continues here......
Before the ice fell, we had lettuce plants volunteering in the garden from plants I let go to seed for the birds last spring. I imagine they froze back to the ground. It still is icy in there, so I haven't been able to check on their status, but frozen, black lettuce leaves is what I expect I'll find once the ice melts.
Your green plants look so lovely. Thanks for sharing the photo to give us all a mental break from the white landscape outside!
Every time I let the greenhouse plants freeze and die in December or January, I have a few moments of regret, but not so many that I've gone out and bought a greenhouse heater yet.
Dawn, as I mentioned before, we planned a "hot room" into the greenhouse. In the southwest corner we walled off an 8x8 ft room and we put tomatoes and cucs in there last fall. We did manage to get 4 tomatoes to live and start producing tomatoes in late January of last year. (The cucs got mildew and died after producing only a few cucs.) But this year we decided not to heat or try to grow tomatoes--too much money for too little return.
But the plan from the beginning was to grow winter salad and steaming greens in the area shown. There are two plant starting benches just to the left of the beds in the pic. One of them is an old grocery cooler that I bought years ago for $10.00. After the plants outgrow the starter benches, we will probably need to heat the hot room again on cold nights, but that won't be till next March, after I have to pot up the broccoli and tomato starts. Right now there are two guava plants in 18 gal tubs. I didn't remember that they were evergreens. They experienced that 18 degree night and I don't know how they will fare. The coldest temp the ones in our SoCal backyard endured was maybe 26-28. They still have almost all their leaves, so maybe they are all right.
Larry and Leslie. If a greenhouse is not in the budget, cold frames can produce a lot of winter greens. We used one for years before we built the greenhouse. The main problem we had with them is that the mice sometimes found their way in while they were covered for a few days with a heavy blanket or quilt or snow and ate up the greens. They can do a lot of damage in a short time. I also catch mice in the greenhouse. I keep a trap set all the time. I also used to raise microgreens on the heated starter bench when it was on the front porch. Every two or three weeks, I would start another tray of lettuce, spinach and mesclune. Then I would have to devote the bench to starts for the garden in midFeb.
I followed an ad on Yahoo to a greenhouse kit site and saw that a 16x20 house was close to $9,000. Our 16x24 cost a little less than $3,000, thanks to my dad who gave us the used tin and windows that comprise the walls. So we only had to buy the frame and tin for the roof and the electric wire for it. We could have made a hoop house even cheaper, but at our age we didn't want to have to replace the skin in a few years.
Dorothy, Last spring I forgot to bring in the lemon and orange trees when we got back very late from a fire one night. They sat outside all night in what was forecast to be a 28 degree night, but was actually a 23 degree night. When I found them frozen outside the next morning, I figured they were dead. However, I left them in a sunny, sheltered location and watered them and hoped for the best. Within a couple of days of that 23-degree night, they were putting out new growth. After they leafed out, I pruned away the obviously dead branches, leaving the citrus trees half their original size, but at least they survived. They rode out this last winter blast in the sunroom and in the garage and are fine. They were too weakened by freezing in the spring to flower and set fruit, and likely won't do so for another couple of years, but at least they still are alive and growing. I hope your guava bounces back like my citrus trees did.
I kept greens going all winter last year in our greenhouse, but didn't bother this year because we were busy with fires when I should have been starting seeds for winter greens. I also had them in the cattle trough by the garage and, as long as I covered them on up cold nights, the greens in the outdoor trough actually performed better than the ones in the greenhouse. There were days when the greenhouse got so hot in the winter sun that some of the greens started bolting prematurely. I learned I can have either cool-season plants in the greenhouse in winter or warm-season ones, but cannot have both at once, unless I put up a wall to divide the greenhouse into a hot zone and a cool zone.
We had a huge winter garden last year, and I kinda miss it this year, but I don't miss having to run out there in the late afternoon and throw row covers over stuff on especially cold nights. It is likely I'll plant a winter garden next year as long as we aren't in drought at planting time because I really miss having one this year, but with all the ice and snow falling this year and with the bitterly cold outdoor temperatures, an outdoor winter garden here this year likely would already have frozen. Last year it didn't freeze until late winter.
I did notice yesterday that the catnip growing in the garden was sticking up out of the ice that still covered the ground, and it was beautifully green and didn't look damaged at all. I'd like to think that as today's rain melts the ice, I'll find more pleasant surprise plants in the garden, but I don't really expect to.
Leslie and Larry, I've used low tunnel hoops similar to what Dorothy described, and you do have to fight the rodents all winter. I've had better success in winter growing greens in a cattle trough that sits about 20" above ground on metal legs. Rabbits can reach the green stuff growing in it if they stand on their hind legs and stretch, but the trough otherwise is too tall for rodents, etc. to get in there and devour the crops. Our trough has hoops over it and I keep bird netting over it all the time. The bird netting keeps birds and bunnies from eating the greens and lettuce, and the bird netting and the hoops that support it give me a sort of framework, so I can quickly toss winter-weight floating row cover over the entire trough in just a minute or two. Last year, when temperatures went down into the teens, I'd throw a couple of moving blankets (bought cheap from Harbor Freight) over the hoops for more cold protection.
My greenhouse is a hoop house and I love it. We will have to replace the 6 mm greenhouse plastic in a few years, but I feel like the Aluminet shade cloth will help that greenhouse plastic last longer than it otherwise would have. In the late winter and early spring when the raging winds are the big issue for small seedlings, all my seedlings in flats are warm and secure in the greenhouse, which is the main reason we built it to begin with. Before we built it, it was a struggle every year to harden off seedlings raised indoors because the wind was so hard on them. I've lost many more seedlings to harsh wind during the hardening off process than to cool air temperatures. In a perfect world I would be at home when the winds were fierce and just would move all the plants out of the wind.Here in the real world though, when winter and spring winds are blowing strongly, we're often out a wind-driven wildfires, and I cannot just drop everything and run home to put up my plants, of course. Also, once the plants were hardened off well-enough to stay outside almost 24/7, I still would have to carry flat after flat of seedlings back indoors if an extra-cold night threatened. Since the light shelf is upstairs in a spare bedroom, I made oodles of trips up and down those stairs. I haven't had to do that since we built the greenhouse. I just move all the flats of plants that were outside hardening off right back into the adjacent greenhouse and close the doors. It has saved me tons of time these last few springs.
For low tunnels, we use a hoop bender we purchased online. You can use it to turn electrical conduit into the support hoops for a low tunnel in no time at all. Before we bought it, we just used rebar as anchors and bent PVC pipe to run across the rows from one piece of rebar to another and that works fine too. I still use some of my PVC hoops in spring, but when they get brittle and break, we will replace them with EMT hoops. Last spring I had hoops over many of the rows of veggies in the garden, with bird netting over each hoop. The bird netting was more for hail protection than bird protection. When that one or two freezing cold nights per week rolled around, we threw floating row cover over the already existing hoops. It was so quick and simple, and it took only a few minutes to secure the edges of row cover to the ground so the row cover wouldn't blow away during the night. Once, during a really cold week late in the season far beyond our average last frost date, I left floating row cover over those hoops for five consecutive days and nights, and the plants under those hoops grew like mad. When I took the row cover off the rows of plants, the tomato plants were blooming and setting fruit despite nights with temperatures around freezing. The low tunnels were functioning really well as mini greenhouses.
I'll link a website that sells hoop benders because I love their photos of simple low and high tunnels that people can build themselves. There are a few of Lost Creek's photos of high and low tunnels on the website, and then if you click on their gallery of consumer photos, you will find a lot more examples submitted by their customers.
Here is a link that might be useful: Photos at Lost Creek's website
This is also where I bought my 4 foot bender. This is 10 feet of electrical conduit pushed into the ground with 10 foot wide Agribon row cover stretched across it when a Spring storm was coming. Luckily the trellis that was in place was wide enough to put the hoops in between. I have greenhouse plastic in the same width when I need a plastic low tunnel.
Here is a link that might be useful: