“How do I best use my little greenhouse in a chilly climate?” you may wonder, but know that countless gardening enthusiasts throughout the world are envious of you. In addition to allowing you to enjoy longer growing seasons, a compact greenhouse will protect your sensitive plants from the harsh winter weather.
Can You Use a Mini Greenhouse in the Winter?
Keep in mind that a compact greenhouse allows you to grow any kind of plant, no matter what the weather or season is like outside your windows. Since mini-greenhouse gardeners can manage their plants’ growing conditions even in the coldest months, they tend to cultivate harvests all year round.
Here’s an example of how to make the most of your miniature greenhouse in a cold climate:
You can garden nonstop
Even in the middle of the winter, a little greenhouse will enable you grow everything you desire. However, in order to compensate for the lack of sunshine wavelengths during the short winter days, you may need to use artificial lighting. Your plants’ growth potential will be greatly enhanced if you add additional lights.
It causes your tropical plants to thrive
A little greenhouse is an excellent investment if you like tropical plants since it allows them to go through the seasonal cycle of sunlight without being adversely affected by extreme temperature variations. A grow light is another option to consider if you want to see your plants bloom.
It’s extremely mobile
Despite the fact that mini-greenhouses exist in a variety of shapes and sizes, they are significantly easier to transport than traditional greenhouses. This makes them ideal for those who have little space for gardening. To put your little greenhouse on the roof or in a corner of your kitchen is completely up to your preference!.
It’s excellent for starting seeds
Your compact greenhouse can help you get your plants off to a wonderful start if you have a small garden. If you have a little greenhouse, it can help you satisfy your plants’ demands more easily by providing them with the right amount of water, light, air, and food.
Seeds can be started inside all year round until they are robust enough to be moved to a larger container or planted directly in the ground. Your seedlings will thrive in any mini-greenhouse, no matter how early in the season you choose to begin the process of seeding.
You can grow the most vulnerable plants
For many gardeners, a compact greenhouse is a must since it offers the most fragile plants with adequate shelter from frigid weather.
An orchid is a good example of a delicate plant with unique requirements. Because of their unique needs, orchids must be grown in shade and in soil that is rich in oxygen and drains well. Humidity is beneficial to orchids, as well.
Unless you’re willing to spend a lot of time and money digging up an entire flower bed so that you can0 put down dryer soil, consider purchasing yourself a tiny greenhouse. In addition to keeping the moisture and temperature levels stable, this can assist you keep the snow at bay.
You can grow your herbs indoors
If you wish to grow herbs, a compact greenhouse is a better option than a regular garden setup. Anywhere in your home can be a good place to grow herbs and spices like thyme and lemongrass and oregano and basil and cilantro and parsley and mint, for example. Even if it snows outside, your favorite herbs will remain healthy in your little greenhouse.
In addition, hydroponic farming is encouraged by the use of tiny greenhouses. Hydroponics is a way of growing plants without soil, in case you were wondering. Using mineral nutrition solutions as well as an aqueous solvent, this is accomplished.
7 Heating Options for Your Greenhouse
To keep your greenhouse warm in the winter, you no longer need to rely on scarce and dirty fossil fuels. All of the alternatives listed here are eco-friendly and may be used in either an on- or off-grid setting.
You may benefit from one or more of the selections below (or a combination of two or more of these choices). And I’ll teach you how to grow food year-round in a chilly area while adhering to ethical standards.
1. Hotbeds (Heat from Composting Materials)
Making your own hotbeds is a simple and effective approach to keep frost at bay in your greenhouse.
When it comes to growing plants, a hotbed is a raised bed filled with layers of decaying straw and manure (or other organic matter) topped with a thin layer of growing medium (soil/compost). To put it simply, it is a compost pile that is used as a raised garden bed.
Compost is used to build a hotbed in the same way as any other compost heap. There should be an enough amount of nitrogen- and carbon-rich elements in the mix.
Making a Hotbed
To make a hotbed, horse manure and straw are traditionally used to fill it. Many greenhouses of the Victorian and 19th century eras featured beds created in this fashion. However, you don’t have to use horse dung and straw to make your own composting mixture. The same effect and heat may be achieved by using a variety of biodegradable materials.
The heat generated by a hotbed comes from the bottom up. Materials in the hotbed decompose and release heat. A hotbed can serve as an alternative to more expensive ways of winter heating by producing mild, natural heat.
It’s time to cover your hotbed with soil and compost after you’ve added all of your compostable items. I’ve found that a one-to-one ratio works best for me. The ideal compost is made at home. In the absence of a compost pile of your own, look for and purchase a peat-free variety. (Using peat compost is extremely harmful to the environment.)
An optimal temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit can be achieved by using a 3:1 ratio of heat-producing material to growing media. Soil and compost should be at least 20-30cm deep in your growth medium.
Cover Your Hotbed to Retain More Heat
You can keep your plants warm and cozy even in the most frigid conditions by covering your hotbeds with cloches or row covers. Covering your hotspot in a variety of methods is an option that you should consider. It’s possible to try, for instance,
- Old window pane in a house.
- A cloche or mini-greenhouse made of glass, sometimes known as a “hot box.”
- Polycarbonate sheeting that has been recycled.
- Row covers made of plastic or a small plastic polytunnel.
Material that would have otherwise gone to waste can often be repurposed.
2. Hot Water Heating
Another option is to install a hot water piping heating system in your greenhouse beds. Grand nineteenth-century greenhouses had plenty of hot water heating equipment as well. However, coal boilers were used to heat the water back then.
A few more environmentally friendly options for heating water for such a system have emerged in recent years, which is encouraging.
Solar water heating panels are the first choice. Structures that allow water to be heated by the sun, instead of solar panels for energy generation. Hydronic heating is another name for this type of heating.
You may learn how to build a direct solar water heater here if you’re interested in a DIY project.
An alternative method for heating water that’s both low-tech and simple is to use a composting system to coil pipes. The decomposing materials in a compost heap (like the hotbed described above) produce heat. Before running water pipes into your polytunnel, run them through the inside of a compost heap to transfer heat and keep soil temperatures higher than they otherwise would.
Solar water heating may suffice in some cases. Solar water heaters can also be used to pre-heat water before it is fed to a boiler, bringing the water to a higher temperature. (Boiler options can be found in the following section.)
3. Ground To Air Heating
Another option for heating a greenhouse is to run air-handling pipes into the earth beneath it. It is possible to utilise the sun’s heat collected during the day in a greenhouse with a ground to air heat exchanger.
A system of pipes beneath the earth circulates warm, humid air pumped from the greenhouse. Energy is ‘collected’ by the soil, which is then pumped back into the space to keep it warmer at nighttime..
Using the correct fans and a thermostat, you can easily control the temperature in your greenhouse and keep it at the desired level.
Ground-source heat pumps are another alternative for greenhouse heating, but they are more expensive. (Also for your own residence, possibly.) To put it simply, this is a method of bringing heat energy from the ground up to grow areas that are coated in insulation.
4. Renewable Electricity Heating
Utilizing renewable energy sources is a more traditional method of heating your polytunnel while yet being environmentally friendly.
In most cases, solar panels are used to harness the sun’s energy. For the methods mentioned above, minor amounts of electricity can be generated via solar panels. As well as efficient greenhouse heaters that utilize less energy than a generator.
Most greenhouses are better served by heating the soil beneath plants, rather than heating all of them. So, before looking into space heating options, consider piped subterranean heating.
Using renewable energy (solar, wind, or water) to power an efficient electric boiler is a viable option for this system.
5. Wood-Fired/ Biomass Heating
Decomposing materials, as well as the sun, can be used to heat greenhouses with hot water pipes. However, if these are not sufficient, a boiler may be necessary.
Renewable electricity can power a boiler, as we’ve already covered. You can also heat your greenhouse using a boiler powered by wood or other biomass.
Using old 55-gallon drums, for example, you may build a rustic DIY system like a wood-fired boiler. If you can, utilize a solid fuel stove and a greenhouse to heat your home at the same time.
Make a rocket mass stove to heat your greenhouse using solid fuels. Fuel efficiency and heat retention are achieved by the use of a rocket mass stove (RMS). A heated shelf that extends from the stove can be used to support planters. Where the winters are particularly harsh, this is an excellent answer.
6. Rustic Heater With Candle and Plant Pot
Putting in one of the more complicated heating systems, even in a small greenhouse, may not seem worthwhile.
It’s also a good idea to think of a simple remedy. You may make a mini space heater out of a ceramic plant pot and a candle by doing so.
As with any bare flame, extreme caution should be exercised, therefore this idea comes with the normal warnings. However, even a candle’s heat can be enough to keep a small greenhouse out of the cold.
7. Heating With Livestock
Think beyond the box when it comes to keeping your greenhouse plants warm throughout the cold months. While growing plants in a greenhouse throughout the winter, it is possible to keep the hens apart from the plants.
In addition to their own body heat, chickens’ feces also emits heat. Aside from that, it can actually help to boost the temperature of the greenhouse at night. Additionally, the greenhouse will assist keep chicken houses warm by absorbing heat from the sun during the day.
Plants can be grown in one portion of a greenhouse while other livestock are kept in another. During the night, the greenhouse plants can benefit from the warmth of the animals’ bodies.
Do You Need To Heat Your Greenhouse?
Some new ideas for heating your greenhouse in the winter have been discussed. Be sure to consider whether or not you need to heat your greenhouse before making a final decision on which plan is best for you.
Even if you don’t do anything to improve the temperature, your greenhouse may already be adequate for winter protection. There may be no need for additional heating after all, if you follow the methods listed below.
Choose Hardy Plants To Grow Over the Winter Months
Make sure you’re planting the proper things first. You may want to consider which plants are most suited for an unheated greenhouse based on your temperature zone and the conditions in your polytunnel or greenhouse. A wide range of solutions can be found in some places. Of course, there will be fewer possibilities if you live in a colder climate, but keep an open mind.
Remember to select plants and varietals that are appropriate for your climate and location. To the extent possible, buy seeds and plants from local growers. Local gardeners can help you choose the best greenhouse-grown varietals to grow in.
Add Thermal Mass To Regulate the Temperature
Think about how to capture the heat in the system before you choose any heating solution. Enhance the thermal mass of your greenhouse.
High thermal mass materials store and release heat energy slowly when temperatures drop during the day and rise again at night. This natural energy flow can be refined and managed by using the ground to air heating outlined above. If you want to get the same effect in a smaller amount, there are simple and quick techniques to do so
Thermally dense materials include:
We can capture and store more energy and manage the temperature by increasing the amount of these materials in a greenhouse. Your space will remain cooler and warmer depending on how much thermal mass you can fit in.
Adding thermal mass to a greenhouse can help prevent the need for heating in the winter, so here are a few ideas:
- Consider an earth-sheltered greenhouse if you don’t already have one.
- Water can be stored in barrels, tanks, and other containers in your greenhouse.
- Use materials with high thermal mass for pathways and bed edging. Bed edging made of stones, bricks, wine bottles filled with water, cob/adobe, or earth bags can also be used.
Add Additional Insulation for Plants or your Greenhouse
You should think about how to keep the existing heat from escaping the room before you start heating it. Although not perfect, a greenhouse does provide some level of protection. It is quite easy for glass or clear plastic structures to heat up. On the other hand, most greenhouses have poor heat retention.
Consider adding an inner layer to your greenhouse. Adding a second layer of glass or plastic over the existing one (and creating an air gap between them) will help keep the room warmer throughout the winter. For example, some gardeners recycle bubble wrap and use it to line the inside of a greenhouse.
It’s possible to insulate individual plants even if you don’t have the time or finances to construct a double-skinned greenhouse in time for winter. As an illustration, you could:
- To protect individual plants, use small cloches (plastic beverage bottles, old milk containers, etc.)
- Use horticultural fleece to protect individual plants (or upcycle old clothing or textiles for the purpose).
- Extra shelter from the cold can be provided by row covers or mini-polytunnels placed inside your greenhouse.
Add Mulches to Protect Plant Roots
Mulches can also be used to protect the roots of plants throughout the winter. A dense layer of mulch or ground cover might reduce the requirement for additional heating in the soil.
Root crops and alliums may be able to effectively overwinter in colder areas without the need to heat a greenhouse, for example
Straw, bracken, and sheep’s wool are only a few examples of possible mulches. The following is a comprehensive list of possible garden mulches.
Regardless of whether you need to heat your greenhouse this winter, consider the sources and destinations of heat energy. This can assist you in making the greatest long-term decisions, both for yourself and for future generations.
How Warm is a Mini Greenhouse in Winter?
Most days throughout the winter season, the average amount of sunlight is between 5 and 6 hours. An insulated small greenhouse can have a temperature difference of roughly 30 degrees Fahrenheit between the inside and outside.
As a result, you can count on your little greenhouse to remain fruitful during the colder seasons. Just before the air inside the micro greenhouse reaches the frost zone, it will be down to -17 °F in temperature.
Do Mini Greenhouses Protect from Frost?
If you have a little greenhouse, you can anticipate your plants to be adequately protected from frost. If you don’t have a place to anchor your little greenhouse, you’ll have to worry about severe winds blowing it away.
What Temperature Should You Keep in a Mini Greenhouse?
You must maintain a temperature between 80 °F to 85 °F in your tiny greenhouse.
The solution to the question, “How do I best use my little greenhouse in a cold climate?” has undoubtedly made you happy with your decision to start planting in a greenhouse. Make the most of your time and money by having fun.