Posted on March 16th, 2012

There is nothing better on a chilly March day than going into the greenhouse.  Bright green plants are sprouting, a welcome sign of spring, and behind them are the lettuces and herbs that we grew on a window sill all winter.  It's always warm in the greenhouse (often warmer than our house) and I've been known to go in there to make phone calls, answer emails and read a book. 

We spent January and February working on building it and are pretty pleased with how it turned out.  It's only 8'x10' so while we may outgrow it someday, for now it's the perfect size for our small vegetable patch. 

We have kale and chard seedlings, which are growing quickly and soon will be ready to be hardened off in the cold frames before we transplant them.  We also have lettuce, mesclun, bok choy, onions, shallots, scallions and leeks and we're excited for the day they'll be out in the garden! 

Our very first tomatoes have sprouted.  We chose a variety known for its cold tolerance and early production so we can hope to see fresh tomatoes in late June or early July.  Of course, it all depends on the weather so we hope we don't get a cold snap in June.
It's been so warm this spring that we're already glad for our ridge vent.  We often open it first thing in the morning and keep the door open as well.  This provides plenty of ventilation and keeps the temperature from climbing too high during the warmest part of the day. 

We put the plastic on in two layers, one attached to the outside of the frame and one on the inside.  This creates an insulating layer of air between the plants and the cold nights outside which makes the heater more effective. Later this spring and summer, the nights will be warm enough we won't need the heater at all. 

We'll have seedlings in the greenhouse until August.  Once the last plants have been transplanted,  we'll start thinking about building raised beds inside for winter greens.  We'll choose hardy plants such as kale, chard and spinach which will be able to withstand freezing temperatures at night and grow during the days.  There will be no need for a heater with these plants.  It will be great to have fresh greens year round!

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