Greenhouse in backyard


If you’re lucky enough to have a greenhouse, then you’re about to be very busy as we move from the end of the warmer season into the cold months. This is the time to get your greenhouse into shape in order for it to do its job as cooler weather approaches. Follow these steps to make the process smooth, organized, and humming right along:

3 Steps to Prepare Your Greenhouse

greenhouse in the fall
Greenhouse prepping for cold weather

1. Clean the greenhouse. Begin by removing and disposing of any existing greenhouse plants that are dead or diseased. Discard any trash, broken pottery, old soil bags, or garden tools that are beyond repair. Declutter, clean, and organize the tools that are left over. Sweep the floor and give it a good once-over with a soap-and-water washing, then hose the floor down to remove any lingering residue. Wash the framework, glazing, and any existing benches — you want to have a clean exterior to allow sunlight in, and a clean interior to do your work.

2. Inspect the structure. Now that everything is squeaky clean, turn your attention to the actual greenhouse structure. Check the glazing for cracks or gaps, and caulk any gaps in the insulation. Examine heaters to make sure they are safe for use and double-check all of your exhausts, vents, and ducts. Drain your water lines, cover the exterior faucets with insulation, and fill any existing tanks (oil, gas, or propane). If necessary, line your north interior wall with extra insulation (plastic sheeting or bubble wrap) to protect against chilly northern winds.

3. Move in your plants. Inspect all of your plants before moving them into the greenhouse — no pests and diseases allowed! Use your garden hose to run water through potted plants to dislodge and flush out any pests, and hand-pick off larger bugs on foliage. If necessary, use an organic product to further remove any unwanted guests. Clean your plants up by removing dead or diseased leaves. Wipe off the exteriors of your potted containers, and thoroughly clean out your empty ones — you don’t want to bring dirty containers into your clean greenhouse, and you’ll be happy everything is ready to go next spring.

Tip: Even if you don’t plan to move plants into your greenhouse this year, go ahead and complete a seasonal cleaning and inspection. This is the best way to keep your garden investment in top form, ready for work once the weather warms up.


Why You Want to Use Your Greenhouse Early

Don’t leave your greenhouse empty this autumn, it is better to start using it before you need it. The protection a greenhouse provides will keep plants frost-free and allow you to grow crops likes salads and herbs, as well as some exotic fruits and vegetables, all winter long.

Benefits of a Greenhouse:

  • Longer Growing Season
  • Pest & Predator Protection
  • Optimal Growing Environment
    • Temperature Control
    • Frost Protection
    • Moisture Protection
    • Optimal Light

How big does a greenhouse need to be?

If you want to start out small with year round gardening, the smallest types of greenhouses are simply individual beds that you have turned into cold frames in order to protect a few delicate plants. You can do this by securing some plastic sheeting or by placing glass windows resting on top of the bed. You will want to construct these It’s a so that the row cover is not laying directly on the plants and can be lifted up if the sun gets too warm.

Read more about: DIY GREENHOUSES

Do I Need To Heat My Greenhouse?

To heat or not heat will depend on how cold your winter gets and on what plants you are growing.

  • First know what temperatures you plants need for optimal growth.
  • Invest in a thermometer to monitor the soil temperature of your plants.
  • Use low tech temperature control where you can, a horticultural fleece or bubble wrap can provide insulation on or around your structure or plants.
  • Use proper ventilation to keep moisture down and trap warm air on sunny days.

When heat is needed:

  • Selectively heat when possible by grouping plants together.
  • Use heating mats and heated propagation stations.
  • Use electric heat if possible, it is safer and does not add extra moisture.
  • Propane and paraffin systems can be used when no electricity is present, take care to watch for moisture and mold.
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