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Gardening can have a myriad of impacts on your life from increased sense of autonomy, supplementing grocery bills and even helping you eat a healthier diet among many other things. Gardening provides a chance to get outside and work with your hands, even get a little dirty in the process. Gardening can also provide a lot of mental health benefits along with the physical benefits, all of which are highlighted in one of my previous blog posts, How A Green Thumb Can Combat the Blues. Yes it seems like gardening is a pretty great activity for a number of reasons. If outdoor gardening is so good for you and is essentially free once you have a plot of land to tend, why then spend the money on a greenhouse? Greenhouses can have large costs upfront for both the structure themselves as well as the equipment needed to keep them running. So why then am I seeing all these greenhouses everywhere? I’ll let you in on a little secret, greenhouse gardening is so popular because it can be done year round, assist you in growing plants outside of their natural zones and allows you to create and control an unique microclimate to your liking among many other things!
As documented in another previous blog, History of Greenhouses, the greenhouse was thought to have been created in theory around the year 30 AD. The Roman Emperor Tiberius was instructed to eat what was essentially an ancestor of the modern cucumber every day, for his health. Now these “Roman Greenhouses” were more of rough prototype created out of necessity and was mobile instead of sedentary. Oil cloth was used in place of glass and the whole garden was moved indoors during the night to help combat the cold temperatures. The construction may have been a bit antiquated, but the purpose was the same. Growing plants from different regions has been a struggle for humanity since the beginning. Greenhouses are the engineering step forward we’ve taken as a species to be able to grow tropical fruits and veggies in non-tropical climates. It is the first, and arguably the most important, reason why we have greenhouses today. In fact, the ability to grow plants outside of their original climate is part of the reason why we aren’t only eating the food that grows naturally in our regions. Greenhouses are in part, the reason why you can find rarer natural food items in your grocery stores. Not only food items, but your local nursery that grows your houseplants is likely using a greenhouse to grow their supply. Some flowers are beautiful, but have very specific growing conditions and cannot be grown outdoors outside of those conditions. Orchids are one that comes to mind for me, these beautiful tropical flowers are a staple in many people’s house plant collections, but they only grow naturally in tropical environments. So what happens when you want to grow an orchid from scratch but you live in the Pacific Northwest? The answer, get yourself a greenhouse!
Perhaps you’re not looking to grow something exotic, maybe you just want fresh tomatoes in the winter. Greenhouses make this possible! With the ability to create a controllable microclimate you can effectively grow whatever you want whenever you want. Without the ability to grow produce during the winter months, we would be at the mercy of the Southern Hemisphere to feed us for close to half the year. Large scale commercial greenhouses can also help alleviate the pressure of cross country food transit. If something can be grown local to you, you will likely pay less for the said produce as they don’t have to figure shipping costs into their price equation. This idea of climate control within a confined space is the same concept that allows us to grow plants from different regions. To be able to create a microclimate within a less hospitable climate is a marvel of human design and it not only allows us to grow food, but it’s the same principle behind heating our homes! Before greenhouses, we were forced to eat only what was locally available during the season in which we were eating. That to say, you couldn’t go to your favorite local restaurant and order a summer salad all year long. While you still might not be able to do that these days, you can however, have fresh tomatoes all year long.
Flowers and produce are all well and good, but what if you have other things in mind? That’s perfectly okay! We’ve had a number of customers who use their greenhouse space for things other than gardening. The ability to create and control a unique microclimate on your property opens you up to a whole new world. Always wanted a hot tub or infinity pool but you live in a climate where outdoor water based activities are restricted to the summer months? Get yourself a greenhouse! Greenhouses are perfectly suited to keep a hot tub or pool temperate while also dealing with the excess humidity without a hitch. We’ve had quite a few customers that end up using their greenhouse as a personal spa space on their properties and for good reason. Greenhouses can be kept warm without having to spend an exorbitant amount of money on heating. These spaces are much smaller than a full sized home or even pool house so the heating costs will be lower to start, combine that with a greenhouses ability to trap and store heat from the sun and you’re looking at a nice warm place to hang out come winter. Solariums are also great options for those who want a greenhouse but don’t exactly have a green thumb. Again, same principle, a greenhouse is capable of trapping and keeping heat in a more efficient way than you’re entire home so heating this space is cheaper. Greenhouses come in all shapes and sizes too so you even attach one to your existing home. The use of large windows will allow your space to effectively capture the suns warmth and allow you to hang out in a semi-outdoor setting all year round. I’ve personally spent some time sitting in a greenhouse during the rain and let me tell you, it is nothing short of cathartic. The gentle pitter patter of the rain droplets landing above and around you in full view while remaining completely dry and warm is a sensation unlike any other and would surely help you relax after a long day at the very least.
These major reasons are far from the only advantages to having and using a greenhouse. Their protection from the exterior environment gives the owner the opportunity to essentially ignore what’s happening outside. Sure you can pull up a chair and read during a rainstorm, but you can also garden without the impact of the natural world. Weeding is more or less not a thing when gardening inside of a greenhouse. Generally speaking, one will plant things in pots atop tables inside a greenhouse. This method not only saves your back and knees from the bending and crouching normally associated with the gardening process, but can keep weeds from growing in your greenhouse. Unless you keep the doors or vents open all the time and a sudden wind gust brings in a lot of pollen and plant seeds, you really shouldn’t have to worry about it. Greenhouses also allow you to not freak out any time we get a large rain storm out of nowhere, as is quite common in the PNW. The walls and roof of your greenhouse will not only keep the rain out, but wind as well so your newer starts and more delicate plants won’t cause you to worry. Nothing can wreck a garden quicker than a sudden torrential downpour. Beds and root systems get washed out and what plants survive can risk root rot from being stuck in over saturated soil. But not in your greenhouse! Unless you have a leak in the roof, which is a whole other issue…
Say you don’t really want to garden all year round, but very much enjoy growing outdoors during the warmer months. A greenhouse is still a great idea! Inside your temperature controlled growing space you have the ability to start your growing season early! This not only means you can plant sooner, but you can effectively elongate your growing season and potentially get two crops when you would normally only be able to get one. Starting seedlings in March can allow you to plant outdoors in May just as your plants reach their mature stages. Once you’ve moved your seedlings outside in May, you can start a whole new round of seedlings to be planted come July.
Above all, as far as gardening is concerned, greenhouses are great for your plants! Plants generally grow better in a greenhouse because of all the benefits listed earlier. If you truly love the plants you’re growing, why wouldn’t you get a greenhouse? It’s a very logical conclusion if you ask me…
Whatever your reason for getting/having a greenhouse, I’m sure it’s a great one! The only wrong way to use a greenhouse is letting it go unused. Just remember; your greenhouse, your journey! Have fun with your greenhouse, treat it nicely and it will return the favor. Let your greenhouse be a reflection of you and do with it whatever you want. The possibilities are endless, within reason, so get be creative and I’m sure you’ll love it.
Thanks again for reading this week! Summer is coming up and thus the busy season in your greenhouse so keep your eyes peeled for helpful hints and tricks to make your life in your greenhouse easy and satisfying. See you next week!