One of the biggest advantages to using a greenhouse to grow your vegetables is that you can grow these vegetables all year long, even when they are technically not “in season.” You can grow cold-hardy vegetables all year long and you won’t have to worry about outside conditions, because a greenhouse takes great care of your veggies and allows them to grow well regardless of the season. Indeed, having fresh veggies all year long is a great thing, but something else you have to remember is that not all vegetables should be placed inside of a greenhouse because they do not all react to greenhouses the same way.
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What do I need to grow vegetables in a greenhouse?
The first thing you need to do before setting up your greenhouse is to decide what you’ll be using it for. You’ll be setting it up differently when growing seedlings for outdoor planting than you will if you intend to grow plants in the greenhouse all year long.
You also have to have sturdy, reliable materials that include the staging and seed trays, the best lighting source since green plants need light for the photosynthesis process, the right amount of heat, the ventilation that is necessary for the plants to grow properly, making certain your soil is healthy at all times, deciding on the perfect irrigation system or watering regime, and making sure you purchase your seeds from a reliable source.
This sounds like a lot of hard work but by simply following the instructions on the packet of seeds and using common sense, you’ll have 90% of what you need to successfully grow home-grown crops.
All of these things work together to provide you with the perfect greenhouse and therefore result in successful vegetable plants and easy greenhouse growing. Planting and growing season vegetables isn’t complicated when you use a greenhouse because most of the time, your veggies and other plants are going to grow well regardless of the season, especially if you take good care of them.
Which vegetables do well in a greenhouse?
As mentioned earlier, not all vegetables do well when grown in a greenhouse. As a general rule, however, vegetables that tend to do well in a greenhouse include:
- Peppers of any type.
- Vegetables typically grown during the warm months, including beans, cucumbers, cantaloupes, summer squash, and eggplant.
- Typical cold-weather vegetables that include cauliflower, beets, cabbage, chard, carrots, leafy greens, broccoli, peas, turnips, and radishes.
Because a well-built greenhouse keeps the veggies at the perfect temperature and moisture level all year round, you can count on being a successful vegetable-grower depending on which veggies you want in your greenhouse. This doesn’t mean you don’t have to take care of your greenhouse vegetables, but it does tend to be easier to grow them in a greenhouse as opposed to growing them outdoors.
What are the benefits to growing vegetables in a greenhouse?
As you can imagine, growing vegetables in a greenhouse presents some obvious advantages over growing them outside. For instance, growing the perfect greenhouse vegetable types:
- Allows for a much longer growing season.
- Reduces the possibility of your veggies being destroyed by various insects and pests.
- Protects the vegetables from any bad weather that may occur.
- Means you can grow your veggies without harmful pesticides.
- Allows you to personalize your garden as you see fit.
- Allows you to save energy because it is an eco-friendly way to grow veggies.
- Enables you to grow many more types of vegetables.
- Lets you create the perfect growing environment, regardless of which vegetables you’re growing.
- Means the beneficial insects will remain inside, such as ladybugs and others.
- Allows you a great way to relax and get rid of stress.
The fact that you can grow a variety of vegetables year round and can even grow tender plants in your greenhouse make this a great option for many people, especially those people who don’t want to wait until a certain season to eat the vegetables they love.
What are the downsides to growing vegetables in a greenhouse?
Just like anything else related to growing fresh vegetables – or any other plants, for that matter – growing vegetables in a greenhouse has its share of disadvantages as well as advantages. For one thing, using a greenhouse may cause you to spend a lot more money in the long run for your veggies to grow right.
The panes used in most greenhouses to let in just the right amount of light are usually made out of either plastic or glass, and depending on the size of your greenhouse, it can be costly to purchase enough to cover the area or replace broken panels. When you add in a good ventilation system and a great way to heat and water your greenhouse, it’s easy to see why this could be a very costly venture indeed.
In addition to costs, pollination is another problem. Some vegetables and fruits need pollination to grow and thrive, and since that can be more difficult to happen (due to fewer flies and bees) when you use a greenhouse, you may have to skip planting certain types of foods because they simply won’t grow the way they should.
Tomatoes, for example, need pollination to grow, and even if you have a fan in your greenhouse, it may not be strong enough to initiate the pollination process. A natural way of resolving this issue is to use a small paintbrush to spread pollen from one flower to another. Greenhouse gardening, therefore, doesn’t mean that you can plant anything you want there, even if you have enough space to build your greenhouse there.
What vegetables can be grown in a greenhouse over the winter?
Greenhouses generally do better with some vegetables than they do with others, but just because they allow you to grow your vegetables year round doesn’t mean all of them are suitable for growing in a greenhouse. There are also vegetables that tend to do exceptionally well in the winter time, and they include:
- Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, and Brussels sprouts. Since these veggies store large amounts of food reserve during the winter months, any of them do quite well when they are used as a greenhouse vegetable.
- Garlic and onions; in particular, garlic, shallots, green onions, and onions. These are all low-maintenance plants that you can pretty much leave alone during the winter months.
- Root vegetables that include beets, carrots, potatoes, and parsnips. All of these vegetables are great at thriving even during frosts and cold weather.
- Raspberries and strawberries, need warmth and sunshine to plump up before they’re ready to pick.
- Peppers and tomatoes of all types, since they do best with plenty of sun and heat. Don’t forget to space tomatoes about 24 inches apart when planting them if you want the best results.
What vegetables can I grow in a mini greenhouse?
If you choose a mini greenhouse instead of one that is standard sized, you’ll naturally have limited growing space to grow your plants in. For this reason, you may have to limit your selection of plants to grow there. You can build shelves, of course, so that more plants can be accommodated, because even mini greenhouses can accommodate a lot of vegetables if you know what to do. If you build shelves, it may mean you’ll have more shade around certain plants, but as long as you know which plants do best in direct sunlight and which ones can tolerate shade, you should still get great results from your greenhouse.
For instance, some of the plants that actually benefit from shade include:
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a great greenhouse vegetable that does best in full sun, consider these:
With greenhouses, the growing season for most vegetables can be all year round, making these facilities a great investment if you love eating fresh, healthy vegetables all year long.
What vegetables are best grown in a greenhouse?
Though there are tons of vegetables that do quite well when grown in greenhouses, below are some of the best veggies to choose for your greenhouse:
- Early, leafy vegetables such as spinach and lettuce. Even if you plant them in late winter, you can still be enjoying these veggies by early spring.
- Peppers and tomatoes of all types. If space is limited, choose the most upright varieties, and make sure you pick them as soon as they are ripe so that you get a very sweet taste.
- Cucumbers and eggplants. Both of these types of plants need to be pruned regularly to get the best results; however, each of these vegetable plants grows in abundance and therefore, they are a favorite of gardeners who love to eat a greenhouse vegetable every night.
Of course, there are many other plants that make great greenhouse vegetables and can thrive there regardless of the season, and they include:
- Okra, which loves the sun!
- Chilies of all types.
- Grapes, as long as you “train” them to grow upright.
- Oranges and lemons, which are super easy to grow.
- Mushrooms, but make sure you pick the non-lethal types!
- Pumpkins, especially if your greenhouse is large (they need lots of room).
- Sweet corn. Yum!
- Peas, which sometimes require a little more space than usual.
- French beans.
- Sweet potatoes.
- Watercress, which sometimes does better in greenhouses than the great outdoors.
Again, if you have a small greenhouse you may have to research these vegetables before you decide to plant them. Smaller greenhouses may not be able to accommodate vegetables that have large spreads and which grow quite large, especially if your goal is to have lots of variety in your greenhouse.
Is it better to grow vegetables in a greenhouse or outside?
There are numerous advantages and disadvantages to growing vegetables in a greenhouse and growing them outdoors, so the best way to determine which method is “best” is to take a look at these pros and cons and determine which ones are most important to you. Many gardening enthusiasts prefer the perfect greenhouse vegetable because they know they can eat that veggie regardless of the season, but for people who don’t mind waiting until a certain season to eat their favorite veggies, outdoor gardens might be the best option for them.
Let’s start with choosing gardening with a greenhouse and take a look at what is good and what is not so good about this option.
- The sun is free, so you get as much heat and warmth as you like.
- You can enjoy gardening and grow season vegetables regardless of the season; in other words, your “growing season” is four seasons long!
- Humidity and climate control are directly affected by outdoor temperatures.
- Greenhouses are initially more expensive to set up rather than directly planting outdoors.
On the other hand, there are pros and cons associated with growing your plants outdoors, and they include:
- Again, sunlight is free to use regardless of the plants you have outside.
- You don’t need to purchase expensive apparatus to grow outdoors.
- You can only harvest at certain times of the year, depending on the climate in your area.
- Growing seasons are shorter.
- Climate is sometimes inconsistent and leads to a poor quality crop.
- You have little to no control over the weather and pests.
- Usually uses large amounts of water.
- It’s a muddier form of gardening!
When you choose gardening via a greenhouse, regardless of its size, lots of vegetables can grow that may not be able to grow well outdoors or even indoors. This includes even tender plants that are sensitive to climate changes and disease. Furthermore, there is no such thing as season vegetables when you use a greenhouse, because the vegetables you choose to grow can grow almost all year long, not just in certain seasons.
When gardening and growing vegetables outside, you are truly dealing with season vegetables and therefore you have to pay attention and make sure you grow your veggies during the right season.