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Not Born With a Green Thumb? New Strategy to Beat the Seasons

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Whenever you’ve visited someone with a lush, gorgeous garden, you hide it, but you want to cry. In school, when everyone else grew beans in a jar, yours died. And, the final indignity was buying a seedling at a garden store that looked really healthy. It lasted a few days before it curled up, brown.

Wishing for a Vegetable Garden

For vegetable lovers, growing their own produce could be the ultimate thrill. Planting seeds, tending to the watering, fertilizing, weeding, and making sure it has the necessary, but not too much, sun could be the nurturing many people crave.

As you thumb through cookbooks looking for just the right recipe for fresh vegetables, you wish you could grow your own. When you visit your friend who grows everything herself, you find it remarkable how great it tastes with and without cooking.

Regret No More

It’s time to put away your regrets and consider growing plants — edibles and decorative plants — in a greenhouse. Your thumb could become a green thumb with a little help from an enclosed growing area that has temperature, lighting, water and other major elements controlled.

Can that be true? Could you grow what you want, when you want it?

With a greenhouse, the gardener can control the season, make the days seem longer or shorter, add nutrients easily when needed, and water in just the right way. Methodically, you can follow a plan.

What Would It Take to Build a Greenhouse?

Making a decision to get started is the first step.

Then, assess your available space, research types of greenhouses, and decide on size and accessories (covers, heaters, coolers, manual or automated water, nutrient dispensing systems, etc.). Contact a greenhouse supplier to discuss what’s involved. Let their answers help you decide whether they are the right source for you.

Climate, east-west placement, temperatures, shade (you don’t want shade), sunshine, and other factors will help determine what works best for your site. Another consideration is whether there are building codes that govern how and what you can place on your land.

Pricing can range from less than $1,000 and up, plus the cost of accessories. Sizes can be as small as 6 feet by 8 feet and on up to as long as 35 feet or larger custom sizes. And, greenhouses can be in any number of shapes, from simple rectangular frames to geodesic domes. Some of the greenhouses are available in easy-to-assemble kits. Other greenhouses might need skilled carpenters to put them together.

Growing Greens in the Desert, Squash When It’s Snowing

The exciting result of using a greenhouse is that out-of-season plants can be cultivated when you want them. If you crave something, allow enough time and you can have it. In the desert, you might need to control for daytime heat; cold climates might need heaters.

Switching the season on Mother Nature means you shorten daylight hours to force the plant to move to productivity and seeds by covering the greenhouse surface to block daylight.

Some of the other advantages of growing in a greenhouse include preventing weeds and pests, and controlling soil conditions with nutrients and PH. Almost any growing medium can be used: soil, hydroponics, and/or aquaponics. Containers can be used. Plants can even be planted in rows.

Warm weather vegetables and fruits like tomatoes, peppers, beans, cucumbers, eggplant, cantaloupe, and summer squash do well where minimum daytime temperatures can be adjusted to 60 degrees and a minimum of 55 degrees at night.

Cold weather daytime temperatures of 50 to 70 degrees and 45 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit at night work well for vegetables such as beets, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, chard, leafy greens, turnips, peas, and radishes. Spacing of plants should be taken into consideration.

Whatever you choose, check with information sources like county cooperative extension agents to provide standard growing seasons and optimal conditions for the plants you wish to grow.

When you have your own source of food, you will think differently about your dinner — greener, healthier, fresher, crunchier, and just plain tastier. And, you can choose what you want and eat it moments later. Time to get started!

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