Greenhouses are becoming an increasingly popular method for growing vegetables among home gardeners. They provide you to have moral control over the environment but can also have drawbacks. If you love growing vegetables, do they grow better in a greenhouse? Here’s what I found out:
Yes, vegetables grown in a greenhouse are better. The additional control you have over things like temperature, humidity, and ventilation gives your vegetables an environment that allows them to be grown in any season and provide better nutritional value.
I love my home gardening and have been growing my own vegetables for years. Spinach, lettuce, eggplants, peppers, herbs, you name it… my summers are long and my winters aren’t brutal for my veggies and I’ve been blessed with great conditions for growing almost anything. But since discovering what a greenhouse can do for the quality of your vegetables, I’ll never go back.
Why Are Greenhouses Good For Growing Vegetables?
As you will know by now, some vegetables only grow in the summer, others prefer the winter. This is because of the climate that you live in as well as the seasons.
With glass panels, they can trap the sun’s rays, while thermostats, fans, irrigation, and humidifiers allow the greenhouse to give you greater control over the growing environment, among other factors. It also gives you some control over the quality of the soil that your veggies are growing in.
The Benefits Of Growing Vegetables In A Greenhouse
Vegetables will grow far better, with a higher level of freshness and taste when they’re grown in a greenhouse. This is simply because you have the opportunity to put a lot of focus into how your vegetables are grown.
- Vegetables grown in a greenhouse will receive better care through some innovative gardening techniques that you can use to great effect on a small scale.
- Gardening on this small scale is also good for the environment and doesn’t consume as much water as industrial processes, resulting in less waste and, ultimately, carbon emissions.
- You’re even better off if you follow a plant-based diet because you’d barely have to visit the grocery store at all and your carbon footprint will be very, very small.
There is also no seasonal dependence for the plants that usually only grow well in certain climate conditions because you can create warmer temperatures in the winter for plants that thrive in the summer and cool the heat down for other vegetables that prefer colder settings.
This also means you can grow a far wider variety of vegetables all year long. Not to mention, you can grow exotic plants that are only found in other parts of the world, due to their dependence on very specific conditions that your outdoor environment simply doesn’t meet at any point of the year.
You could even sell these exotic vegetables at the local farmer’s market and make a few extra bucks! Greenhouses are also great for pest control because the enclosure keeps out unwanted animals and insects that can ruin your crops.
This also great because it means you don’t need any toxic pesticides to protect your plants. This adds to the taste and the nutritional value as well.
Here’s a great video showing some of the things you can do with a greenhouse:
The Downsides To Greenhouses
Greenhouses are spectacular and I can swear by it. I’ve been able to grow so many amazing vegetables that taste far better than anything I can find at the grocery stores and have a massive range of different vegetables to have for dinner on a daily basis.
However, there are a couple of things that you may want to consider before going out and spending a pretty sizeable sum of money on your personal greenhouse project.
The first thing, as I mentioned, is that it’s expensive. It depends on the quality of the products you’re buying, but you can expect to pay about $50-60 from an enclosure, $50 for ventilation, $150 for a digital thermostat, and a whole lot more to just get a decent setup where you can take complete control over the growing conditions.
- You can start simple with a basic enclosure, but you won’t get the optimal results.
- And once you’re done emptying your pockets for your greenhouse itself, those veggies don’t come for free – especially if you’re growing exotic vegetables.
- And let’s not forget the extra costs in water and electricity and that your greenhouse does have a lifespan so will need to be replaced after several years of use.
Another downside is that greenhouses have lost popularity in the commercial industry because it’s more efficient and profitable to grow crops on a large scale outdoors. But because you’re using a hyper-focused method at home, this isn’t really a concern for you.
The biggest problem when it comes to actually grow your vegetables has to do with pollination. You can install a fan and/or a good ventilation system, but some plants require bees or insects to pollinate.
If a plant doesn’t require insects to pollinate, you can simply give them a little shack or turn on the fan to transfer pollen to other plants. However, if they require insects, you have to put a bit more effort in. You would have to use a paintbrush or Q-tip, gather the pollen, and physically transfer it to another plant.
Although there are some drawbacks, check out this video with 10 reasons to own a greenhouse:
Ready-Made Greenhouses Or DIY?
One of the tricky parts at the start of my greenhouse adventure was about whether I should just buy a pre-made, standard Greenhouse or construct my own from scratch. I already had my own outdoor vegetable garden, so I didn’t want to move from the space. But it is a lot cheaper to purchase something pre-made than it is to construct something.
There are a number of advantages that building your own greenhouse brings, at least in terms of aesthetics.
- A personalized construction that doesn’t require foundations can make for a far larger structure and one that can slot perfectly into the motif of my Zen-like vegetable garden.
- However, it depends on how much space you want, most of all.
- So because I only wanted to start small scale operation to test out and because it makes better sense financially, I opted for a pre-made option that I tucked neatly in the corner of my vegetable garden.
Having already bought the thermostats, irrigation, ventilation systems, etc., it won’t be the most expensive process to construct my own in the future, because I have the equipment already.
Now that I’m really enjoying what my greenhouse can do for my gardening experience, I might invest in some materials for an enclosure and perhaps hire a contractor to help me put it together.
It would require me to buy some glazing materials as well. And there is extensive shelving and benches that I need to consider in my budget as well. But if you are sold on getting a pre-made greenhouse/greenhouse kit, here are some of the best options:
If you’re looking for something small, with good value for money that could fit on a balcony or patio, the Home Complete Walk-In Greenhouse (link to Amazon) is one of the most popular options.
For something a little bigger and more sturdy check out the 6′ x 10′ Aluminum Greenhouse Kit.
When it comes to what you can expect to pay for a greenhouse, the general consensus is that you’ll find yourself spending anywhere between $500 and $15,000, depending on what you’re looking to buy and how much space you want. On average, having one built for you, all expenses included, will cost you around $8,000.
Here’s a video showing some cool ideas for making low cost greenhouses:
Ultimately it comes down to your personal preferences.
- Do you live in a climate where growing vegetables at any time of year is an uphill task?
- Do you live in an apartment that restricts you in terms of size?
- How many vegetables do you want to be growing at any given time?
- Do the vegetables you want to grow to require all of the ventilation/irrigation/heating that a greenhouse provides or do you just need an enclosure?
- Every person is different, works with different budgets, and their passion for and experience with gardening is unique.
- What I love about my greenhouse is that I use it in conjunction with my outdoor vegetable garden
- Which gives me the opportunity to experience the “authentic” home gardening experience
- And when something is dying in my outdoor garden, I can simply transfer it to the greenhouse to recover.
It did, however, run throughout the winter when I gave up on my outdoor garden for a few months. The beauty is that I could do things the way I wanted to do. And you can do the same for yourself with your greenhouse gardening.
What Are The Best Vegetables To Grow In Your Greenhouse?
If you’re thinking of building a greenhouse and are sold on the idea, the next logical step is to consider what vegetables you want to grow, which ones prefer the cold, which grow better in warmer temperatures and how to get them tasting better than anything you can grow outdoors or buy at the grocery store. Here are some of the best vegetables to grow in your greenhouse:
Tomatoes are notoriously difficult to grown and will be the first vegetable that any greenhouse gardener will bring up first. I’ve grown tomatoes before, but they’re just never as big and juicy as they are in the store.
Now, after growing my tomatoes in warm soil, so that it germinates, with lots of heat during the day and warmer temperatures at night, I’m able to produce plum, delicious tomatoes.
They’re protected from the rain and the excess moisture that leads to the growth of fungi and nutrient deficiency that I struggled with so much when trying to grow tomatoes outdoors. They’re really easy to grow with consistent soil and temperatures. Tomatoes are ideally grown at a consistent temperature of around 60ºF (±16ºC).
Peppers, like tomatoes, love daytime heat and warmer temperatures at night. Germinating at 80ºF (27ºC) is best for your crop if you want to sow seeds indoors is optimal and otherwise, your peppers will just thrive in natural summer conditions.
In the winter, just adjust the thermostat to keep up those warm temperatures and watch them thrive! The easiest peppers to grow are Jalapenos, bell peppers, serranos and anaheims. I suggest you start with them just to get the hang of it and decide what you like the most.
Unlike tomatoes and peppers, lettuce, spinach, rocket and other leafy greens prefer more moderate temperatures. They should not be exposed to heats higher than 60ºF (16ºC).
But when the winter comes, they’re far more likely to struggle to make it through the snow, if you’re living in a place with freezing winters. Kale and radishes, for example, are actually able to grow all the way through the winter in most climates. And leafy greens are super, super easy, and require very little maintenance.
Cucumbers can only grow in a protective environment and the extended season of a greenhouse is necessary to get them growing to their full potential. They’re quite tricky because they need to be grown off of the ground on a shelf to increase airflow and the temperature needs to be kept at a consistent 65ºF (18ºC). Their seeds germinate best at about 80ºF (27ºC).
Herbs are quite tricky to grow because of how fragile they are. But rosemary, thyme, lavendar, oregano, sage, basil and parsley are among the incredibly wide range of new herbs that you’ll be able to grow now that you have control over the conditions.
It requires a bit of effort, but once they’re established, they’ll grow easily and yield a decent harvest. Each herb requires its own form of care, but a greenhouse will go a long way towards getting them just right.
Beans do grow well in warm temperatures, but once you reach a point in the summer, when heat becomes unrelenting, they will die on you. A greenhouse at about 50ºF (10ºC) during those swelteringly hot days, however, will keep them going until they’re ready to be harvested.
Funnily enough, I haven’t actually had any trouble whatsoever growing eggplants outdoors, thanks to my decent climate, but some people need the greenhouse to get the most out of theirs. Consistent moisture, along with germinating at 80 or 90ºF (27 to 32ºC) and growing the plants at about 70ºF (21ºC) will yield the best eggplants.
Strawberries are really, really hard to grow. They require hot growing conditions and desperately need protection from pests and parasites, both of which will only be consistently provided by a greenhouse. You will limit the damage and improve the yield with your strawberries, which, as anyone who has ever tried growing strawberries knows, is no small feat.
I’m sure that root vegetables aren’t what comes to mind when you think about what you’re going to grow in your greenhouse, but they took surprisingly well in my greenhouse, yielding a lot of vegetables in a very small space.
With enough space provided for the growth of the roots, they tolerate cooler temperatures quite well and they love the warmth that extra heat (50ºF/10ºC) provides the soil and just don’t stop growing. I’ve produced some massive carrots in the time I’ve been growing root vegetables in my greenhouse and they grow like weeds after a while.
So the only question that remains now is, why have you not gone out and bought/built a greenhouse for yourself? Your vegetable garden is simply incomplete without one and once you taste the vegetables you’re producing, you’ll wonder how you ever ate anything other than the delights you’ve grown yourself and how you possibly managed to keep anything alive without it.
It comes at a pretty hefty price and can make the process a little more complicated and time-consuming, but it truly pays off in every way. I haven’t bought any vegetables in months and my salads and vegetarian dishes have genuinely never tasted better.