By Debbie Roland and Emmy Ulmschneider, Master Gardeners
Most gardeners have longed for or at least been curious about a greenhouse. A greenhouse is for the protection of plants against cold or heat. In the 17th century they were made of wood or brick with windows and some way to heat the structure. As glass became cheaper, they changed to walls of glass. They became more common as the availability of exotic plants increased.
Now most greenhouses have a plastic or fiberglass roof and walls and are popular for growing vegetables, flowers and fruits that require special conditions in one season or another. Ventilation is a must and evaporative air conditioning may be required in the summer. Heating will be required in the winter.
Many places sell greenhouse kits of every size. Some come with electrical and water connections. Here are some additional points to consider if you are thinking about purchasing a greenhouse kit or just building one yourself.
You will need a space that has at least six hours of sun. If your house or fence can help block out the West Texas winds, that is a plus. Consider how you will water the plants. Being close to a water is a must and adding a faucet insider your greenhouse is something you will thank yourself for later. Run the length of your roof in an east/west direction to give the most even sunlight to your plants. There should be at least three feet between the wall of your greenhouse and any other structure.
My original greenhouse was a kit. My son found it in the Hill Country in his neighbor’s backyard who agreed to give it to him if you would get it out of their yard. He disassembled it, brought it to West Texas, and reassembled it. It is 6’ x 10’ and has PVC piping for watering. I use it strictly for wintering my patio plants. A small floor heater keeps all these plants alive when temps get low. It works well unless the power goes out. If that happens, we have a backup propane heater available. This type of structure is what most gardeners use to start their spring and summer vegetable plants early in the year.
Several years ago, I began researching growing plants inside a greenhouse directly in the ground. I live in an area that has good soil and with some amending it becomes great soil. We (my husband) built the greenhouse below for growing in the ground. It has a metal frame made of square tubing. The entire structure is covered with polycarbonate roof panels and has windows on the north and south sides since the prevailing wind is from the south. The greenhouse also has a ceiling fan and two exhaust fans that are on a thermostat and pull hot air out when the temperature reaches over 90 degrees. It has electrical outlets on all four walls and a faucet at waist height in the center of the building.
If you have questions, call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700.
Additional information, and our blog for access to past articles, is available at westtexasgardening.org. Click on “Resources”.