Gardening methods around the world vary immensely, because the soil, air temperatures, wind patterns and other factors differ greatly. The need to cover a gardening area is usually because you want to protect your garden from animals, but it’s often because you want to extend your growing season or protect your plants from a cold environment. Fences and other means are typically pretty effective for preventing pests from nipping your buds, but protection from the cold means building a greenhouse.
In northern climates or higher elevations where it gets very cold, a greenhouse is a good way to extend your growing season and possibly provide you with year-round food. Considering that a greenhouse enables you to lay your seeds earlier and lets your garden produce later in the year, a greenhouse is well worth looking into.
Garden and farm suppliers have the resources and equipment today to construct the best high-tech greenhouses for home and commercial operations. Nearly all farms and nurseries these days have at least one greenhouse, and they might have several.
If you’re a beginning gardener and just getting started growing things, you probably don’t need a greenhouse yet. For starters, you should learn what plants grow well in your area, and you should take the time to understand how your local plants respond to the sun, shade, wind currents and temperature variations in general.
Once you’ve learned what grows well where you live and you’re satisfied with your experiments with various plant foods, you’ll get to the point at which you realize the limits of farming and winter’s effect on your productivity. This is when you might consider a greenhouse.
Before you get started on your project, it’s a good idea to check with your local government to find out if there are any restrictions, permits or other requirements associated with building the structure you’re planning.
THE FRUGAL FARMER
Before you spend an arm and a leg on the components for a greenhouse, let’s look at some of the ways to create the greenhouse effect for as little money as possible.
During the Great Depression, my grandfather ran a 51-acre farm in rural Ohio. He had 3,000 chickens, an orchard, vineyard and a large area where vegetables and corn were grown. The Ohio winters were cold, and the snow was deep.
In order to get a jump on the spring planting, my grandfather had built a small, low-cost greenhouse for sprouting seeds. He used cinder blocks and mostly discarded glass windows to build the little greenhouse. My grandfather was a practical, pragmatic man, and he tried not to spend money if it wasn’t necessary. Bear in mind that this was during the Great Depression, when jobs were scarce.
The little greenhouse measured perhaps 8 feet wide by about 15 feet long, which is not huge by greenhouse standards. He began construction by laying out cinder blocks to define the perimeter. On top of this, he built a simple framework with 2x4s and a peaked roof that was tall enough inside to walk upright. He covered the framing with long glass windows, which I believe were discarded from a construction or renovation project. He added a simple door, and inside, there were low platforms in which he planted his seeds.
Such a greenhouse would shed the snow in the winter because of the steep roof, and it would retain some heat in winter as well, even with minimal sun.
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