The Q&A Archives: Bare Bones Green House

Question: We have an L-shaped wood deck, where the deck sits about six feet about the ground. My husband will help me turn the foot of the L into a greenhouse where I hope to winter over my beautiful hanging baby-breath's, the hanging geraniums, to start seeds and also house my flowering amaryllis plants. This part of the deck gets full sun in the winter. The greenhouse would be about ten feet wide by twenty-five feet long and we can insulate the bottom of this portion of the deck.

My question is, I have two floor model space heaters and (because the previous owner left a large number of bricks behind) I could put lots of bricks on the bench tops to absorb heat and hence give off bottom heat. With this, do you think I'd stand a chance of bringing wintered flowers through to spring? What is driving my question is that I was charging gun-ho developing plans for my greenhouse until I read in a state's farm extension bulletin that heating to appropriate temperatures was the major problems of greenhouses (because of the windows?).

Also, does the whole roof and sides need to be pretty much glass? We occasionally get hail stones within our storms so I'm concern about breakage plus I can't afford very fancy windows (like thermo and such).

Answer: To be honest, the plants you named can usually be kept in the house over winter with no problem: amaryllis are fine on a window sill, as are geraniums and hanging baby's breath (they may get leggy but they will survive), and seedlings can be started under lights and then moved to a coldframe or other sheltered spot for hardening off.

Home greenhouses are always an adventure and it takes a lot of planning (and usually some experimentation and adjustments) in order for things to come out right in the end. You might find the following article about Home Greenhouses very helpful in deciding if you really want to try to do this and if so, which type and what materials would be best for your situation. A greenhouse is normally quite expensive to heat no matter what materials you use, so take a careful look at the heating requirements section.

Good luck with your project!

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