This is my first winter using a greenhouse. Last winter it did not get that cold in my area, but my greenhouse was not finished. I started my first plants in the spring and have been learning how to grow things in there according to the weather.
I have been eagerly trying to figure out how to hold onto heat to grow plants in a winter greenhouse. Right now it seems that the temperature stays pretty warm, and I have been able to keep some plants alive from summer.
Here are a few ways to heat a greenhouse in the winter that I have found:
Winter Greenhouse Insulation Ideas
There are a few good ways to insulate a greenhouse. First, grab some of the material used to cover windows in the house. The plastic cover is good because it will create less wind and generate more heat. Your greenhouse should be facing the south so that it always gets as much heat from the sun as possible. The plastic cover holds in heat, and keeps out air. I have placed this in my greenhouse on the wall that faces the sun. I want to get heat in, and keep out the cold air.
Next, just like in your home check for openings and cracks. Anywhere that cold air can sneak in needs to be eliminated. When you winterize your home, the same plan needs to be used for the greenhouse. Basically, to grow good vegetables in the winter care has to be taken.
I have not tried this method due to the fact that I have wooden floors and my greenhouse sits off of the ground. But, I am intrigued to try it if I build a high tunnel in the future. Another idea to heat an area in the winter is to use a covering for a high tunnel and place in the shady window. For me, that is my potting area. In the summer I have to place a shade cloth on the front of my greenhouse due to the extreme heat. I found out the hard way a shade cloth was necessary.
Water Barrels to Heat the Greenhouse
I do not have room for big barrels of water in my winter greenhouse, but this year I have saved several milk jugs. My intention is to fill these and place them in separate corners of the greenhouse. I have saved almost 25 of them. The theory is they will attract and hold heat which will in turn heat up the greenhouse.
Some people have said to pain them black, but if this theory doesn’t work I want to reuse them for winter sowing next year. Large black barrels place in the corner of a larger greenhouse helps to keep the warm air in. Make sure the water bins are full. Lids on and everything.
Compost Creates Heat in the Winter
Believe it or not, building up a compost pile in the greenhouse can generate heat. I have heard that in the middle of some compost piles the temp. Can get to be 103 degrees and above. Compost is really an interesting concept and if done right can be multipurpose in your greenhouse. In addition to trying compost in the greenhouse it would have to be set up to deter mice. I would think mice would enjoy a nice warm spot to reside in for the winter.
A hot bed is another way to create heat in a winter greenhouse, and it is close to the compost method, but involves wood chips, old vines and grass clippings. Hot beds are built inside the greenhouse in side of a small bin with a canvas lining. Wood pallets can be used to create the small space, and definitely utilize an old tarp.
Mini Storage Tub Greenhouse
Another way to maintain vegetable plants in a winter greenhouse is by creating mini greenhouses. The lid helps to hold in sunlight and moisture to keep it warm enough from the cold. For me, I found a storage tub method that works well. It is tall enough to allow the plants to grow, and thick enough to protect them. Right now I have echinacea growing, romaine lettuce and thyme.
In addition to my vegetables I have been able to propagate Rose of Sharon trees. I keep the storage lid over them. The trays are sitting inside of water trays, so I use a milk jug to fill in the water trays once a week. So far, this method has been working well.
Especially right now it is so important to save money on food. Growing healthy food that is good for your family is the number one reason to build the simplest greenhouse. For more tips on suburban homestead ideas sign up for my newsletter.