Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Extend Your Growing Season: Build A Greenhouse

Juliana 4-Tier Growing Rack
A miniature greenhouse available from Walmart (mail order only)

If 2010's frigid manifestation of global "warming" teaches gardeners anything, it's the utility of a greenhouse. You can purchase a small greenhouse kit online, or build one using inexpensive materials. The following web site has links to various plans:

Build A Greenhouse

Down here in southeast Texas, winter temperatures seldom dip below the 30's Fahrenheit. But we do get cold snaps taking us down into the 20's (which is still balmy compared to conditions farther north).

The wind from advancing cold fronts can be a bigger problem than the cold itself, as I discovered to my chagrin the other day. A strong gust tipped over my outdoor growing shelf, spilling all of the seedlings and soil into a jumble. I saved most of the plants, but now the varieties are mixed up and I don't know which breed of tomato or pepper is which. God has shuffled the deck, so to speak. This will make separation of the varieties (to inhibit cross-pollination) difficult, so I'll have to make liberal use of tulle fabric shrouds over unfertilized tomato and pepper flowers. These flowers are self-fertilizing.

Update (3/3/10)

Although I'm highly satisfied with my newly purchased Juliana 4-tier growing rack, I quickly learned the importance of keeping it well-ventilated during sunny days. Several seedlings were cooked last week because I neglected to open and roll up the front flap. It takes little time for a greenhouse to become too hot. Check your plants frequently! You might also want to install a thermometer.


  1. I'm in the Houston area and I love this idea. If I start seedlings in the greenhouse, what would be the latest I could leave them in there? I want to sprout a bunch of Morning Glory vines to grow over the gazebo by the pool but I'm afraid I'm starting a little late.

  2. Cathy, you have plenty of time to start those Morning Glories. The ones in my Houston backyard are still dormant. If you plant the seeds in mid-March (which is usually the end of our frost season) you'll do fine.

    I wouldn't leave plants in the greenhouse beyond April. Keep a close eye on them for any signs of wilting from the daytime heat, and be sure to keep the soil moist. Don't forget to ventilate the greenhouse to keep it from getting too hot inside.