First of all, let me say I am not a professional gardener in any kind of manner. That said, I have over twenty years experience (wow, time flies) playing in the dirt.
We have had so many inquiries into Greenhouses and I am going to address some basic questions here.
However, if you have more questions, call Ty. And if you want to talk to me, just let him know you would like to talk to Kay about gardening.
How big of a greenhouse do I need?
That totally depends on what you depend on doing with it. If you are just trying your hand at gardening then maybe a small 4x4, just enough to start seedlings will be sufficient. However, if you are planting 25 flats of tomatoes *grins*, I would suggest something larger. If you are a hardcore gardener, wanting to become self-sufficient, to buy bigger than you think you would need just because you will be amazed at how much you really can grow in a greenhouse. But again, no one but you knows how much you will use it or what you intend to do with it, so consider this. Really think about it.
Will I be able to use the greenhouse year round?
I really want to say yes. But the simple fact is, we live in Texas. If you let it get too hot in your greenhouse, your plants are going to cook. BUT! ...there had to be a BUT
Remember last year, 2013?
We had a freeze in MAY. MAY! And it is times like this, after the temperatures have risen nicely for spring and then suddenly plummet that you will be glad you had someplace to move all those tomato flats to. Typically, in mine, now every climate even ten miles west of me, is different - so you are going to have to play with this depending upon where your greenhouse sits and how much sun it gets - does it get western evening sun? does it only get morning sun? is it under an oak tree? But in mine, if the temperature goes above 80, I need to open my windows and turn my sprinkler heads on.
I have had my greenhouse FULL, literally all my shelves and my floor so you cannot even open the door - many, many, times. If a spring storm is coming up - you know the hail, potential tornado kind of storm - I immediately rush outside like a madwoman and move everything from my outdoor nursery to my greenhouse. I have been known to do this even into June.
So how many months do I use it?
I use it all the time. But it doesn't always have seedlings in it. In the heat of the summer (July-August) its storing my gardening supplies - flats, dirt, tools, etc. It has plants in it from October to April/May - depending upon how hot it gets.
Right now, I have tomatoes started - but because its just too cold (supposed to be single digit wind chills) they are inside under grow lights in my dining room. But as soon as it warms up enough to not be deadly cold to the plants, they will all move to the greenhouse and stay there for several months until they move to the outdoor nursery. Unless it shoots up to 85 in February. You have to be ready to move your plants around if you are greenhouse gardening in Texas. Yes, they provide great shelter for seedlings, but there is a point in which its too hot or too cold unless you modify it.
Do I need electricity? Heat? Grow Lights? Fans? Water?
Electricity? Maybe. We do not run electric. But you can have it added if you want. Or run extension cords (waterproof outdoor extension cords).
Heat? I have used little space heaters before and its nice to keep the chill out of the space.
Grow lights? Should not need them unless you put it under that oak tree.
Fans? Proper ventilation is a *must*. Air movement makes stronger, healthier plants. Windows are great! You can run fans if you like, but I have never found a need with my windows but we have a lot of wind here.
What kind of base should I put the greenhouse on?
Mine is on a treated/cedar base. However, some people do gravel, some people do nothing but dirt.
The choice again, is yours.
As much as I love my Greenhouse, I also love my outdoor Nursery benches. They are a great "interim" place for plants between the greenhouse stage and the ground. And they are awesome because they keep the plants off the ground and away from ants, critters, etc.
If you are interested in any of our Greenhouses, Nursery Benches, or Raised Beds - please call Ty.
And I am happy to talk gardening if you have any questions.
Oh! And as for tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants - I always start mine now in January. I have found February to be too late for my liking. I prefer a bigger plant to put in the ground and that is why I have started as early as January 4 in years past.