A Four Seasons Greenhouse and the Winter Crops to Grow for #Christmas Feasting

A greenhouse for growing vegetables, winter greenhouse crops and starting my garden seeds has been on my backyard plan wish list for quite some time now

Winter Greenhouse
VIA Rhonda Fleming Hayes (Some Rights Reserved)

During a cold, Canadian winter, the produce section at the market, or grocery store, can begin to look a bit bleak once the last of the local produce disappears for the year. When produce tags and stickers on the peppers, apples, and other fruits and veggies start appearing from origins on the other side of the planet, I try my best to avoid them. I do not mean to sound picky or ungrateful and I am not, I just have a hard time stomaching the whole idea of these foods being shipped from far off lands when they could quite easily be grown right where I live.

Leading back into my greenhouse plans... So many wonderful, extremely healthy crops can be grown through the winter with an appropriately designed greenhouse right in your backyard, even in a land known primarily for it's igloos, hockey, and the toque! I am determined to find the best and most affordable solution to my winter gardening and vegetable quandary.

The Four Seasons Greenhouse

Now, first let me say there are some extremely elaborate greenhouse kits and designs, most very much out of my price range at this point. Sure, it would be lovely to have a beautifully engineered, solar powered, glassed building for growing in all year. Not a reality here quite yet, though! We will be discussing more the frugal’ approach to greenhouses, as we move on.

My so far, favorite greenhouse design has to be the straw bale greenhouse idea, in which a straw bale wall is installed on the North facing wall of the greenhouse and slanted glass for the others. I will leave the bulk of this straw bale explanation up to this post found at StrawBale.com and their corresponding Straw Bale Workshop Home Page, as the masters there will do a much better job and provide an extremely detailed description of this style of greenhouse. Check out the Free Framing Report they provide

Another great resource for planning and building a greenhouse, I found in a Horticulture paper posted by the West Virginia University Extension Service. The file is simple, straight to the punch and very much worth the read. You will find an extremely detailed plan of how to construct a greenhouse to withstand many years of Mother Nature's hand.

For the not so 'do-it-yourself' approach, BackyardGreenhouses.ca is an awesome source for greenhouse supplies and kits. If you want to glance at some gorgeous greenhouses, this is the place!

Growing vegetables, in Canada, in the winter? You’re crazy!

Nooo! We do, and I really want to give it a try!

Here's how they do it in the Arctic:)
 Arctic greenhouse
Experimental greenhouse @ the Yukon Research Centre (Some Rights Reserved)

Unfortunately, only certain vegetables and garden plants will grow in a greenhouse during the winter. Without the warmth of the summer sun and regular visitations from one of our pollinating flying friends, the bee, many plants cannot survive.

During my online search, I also came across the following webpage, and magazine publication, that discuss winter vegetable greenhouse crops to a greater extent. This post found at LoveToKnow.com provides a helpful plant guide and several winter gardening tips for growing vegetables HERE.

An extremely ‘cool’ concept and a very interesting read, this "...excerpt from The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year-Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses...written by Eliot Coleman..." published in the GreenhouseCanada.com magazine, discusses unimaginable cold climate growing possibilities in the article Low Tech Vegetables. 

While we are on the topic of growing vegetables and fruit indoors, for those of you interested in more of the indoor, hydroponic approach, I have included a great link to HydroponicsSimplified.com’s post about indoor vegetable gardens and what crops will grow best indoors HERE for you. This is a must read for anyone starting out on their adventure into indoor, hydroponic vegetable gardening.

All in all, I am still in search mode for the exact greenhouse design that will work best for my winter gardening wants and needs. I am definitely leaning towards the use of straw bale walls and would really like to incorporate solar panels and power into my future greenhouse plans. Although, the growing zone I am now living in is much milder than that of where I came, I still feel that the insulation provided by straw bale walls would be extremely helpful, if not necessary, for growing throughout the entirety year. Not only would the wall help to keep the cold out and warm in, through the winter, but would also help to keep cool in through the heat of the summer. 

Stay tuned, as I continue on my hunt for the best, and my favorite all season greenhouse design to protect my future winter garden crops from the often bitter bit of a healthy Canadian winter. Have a winter gardening or greenhouse story or experience of your own to share, please leave all your details in the following Comments section!


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