About Bren

I'm Bren, a everyday gardener who loves to connect with others. I've been growing in my 10'x12' home greenhouse in Ohio since 2008. I decided to create Growing4Seasons.com to help others who enjoy growing year-round just like me!
Website: http://bggarden.com/blog/
Bren has written 16 articles so far, you can find them below.


Fun Quote from the Greenhouse

Weather is a great metaphor for life — sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, and there’s nothing much you can do about it but carry an umbrella. ~Terri Guillemets

Greenhouse Road trip ... always sunny in the greenhouse!

The really great thing about growing in a greenhouse is that it is always sunny!  Happy Friday Everyone… hope you find yourself playing in the soil under cover. – Bren

 

So You Want To Grow Undercover – 3 Tips To Grow Success

Things sure have changed over the past few years in the garden industry and in my own home garden.  I’ve been growing under cover for about five years now and everyday I’m even more inspired to try new ways to produce food and flowers during the months I can’t grow outdoors.   I was asked to write a book 2 years ago about my greenhouse experience by a major publishing company and I actually started an outline with them but quickly had to decline because I just don’t have time to write – my passion is growing!   This passion I’m taking about will help you grow success under cover in any and all gardening zones.

BGgarden Greenhouse Project

3 Tips to Grow Success

1My greenhouse adventure started when I was inspired by a fellow garden blogger who grow in a greenhouse that was shared on her blog.   If I wouldn’t have reached out and asked questions about her growing experience I would have most likely never took the plunge  and started growing under cover myself.   Don’t be afraid to reach out to people online and ask questions about the gardens they are sharing.

 

2.Not everyday will turn out the way you want so it is important to always have a place you can reflect on your journey.  One of the most productive and easy ways to journal what is happening in my greenhouse is on my website.   Post daily about what you are up to in your greenhouse.  Small tasks like checking on seeds that you may have started or just checking on the heater can be documented as well by starting a photo collection on Google+ or Facebook to document many images in one day.

 

3Gardening for me has been a fun way I can break out of the box and break the rules in horticulture.   One of the things I love most about gardening year round in Ohio is that I can grow things that overs who are not under cover can not.  Don’t be afraid to grab some seeds and start planting what you want to grow.  As long as you create the right growing conditions you will succeed.

 

I want to hear from you … share with me your passion and adventures on growing under cover by commenting on this post.

To my readers

 

 

So You Want a Greenhouse

Each time I share images from my greenhouse on social media there is always a few friendly gardeners who comment ‘ I wish I had a greenhouse’.    I’m amazed at how the product providers are listening to the current trend of people wanting to grow year-round and providing some amazing kits for the home gardener.  I love seeing the greenhouse companies at garden shows around the country as well as at Home Improvement events.  Today I’d like to share on this blog post a few of the kits that I have found interesting as well as some tips when searching for a kit  being a kit owner and greenhouse growing for the past five years here in Ohio.

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A post on my Facebook Page

You can now find greenhouse kits in just about any home improvement stores starting at just under $500 to $5,000 .  Like anything else you build for your home it just depends on what you want to put into it.

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This kit is featured on the Lows Website : Click image to see details.

 

Things to Keep In Mind When Purchasing A Kit

Why consider a kit rather then building from scratch.  Products and materials can be hard to find and costly.  Kits provide everything you need and some times include a warranty.

Consider your growing zone : does it snow, heavy winds or cold sleet or heavy rain?  High wind and snow climates zones will require a sturdy structure.

New to growing year-round or using a greenhouse?  Size does matter : keep in mind what you want to grow and what furniture or tools you may need to put in your greenhouse.  Large containers and potting tables take up room.

It can be expensive to add a new greenhouse that is larger to your garden.   Be sure consider kits that you can add on to in the future.

A greenhouse does not provided the growing conditions you many need on it’s own.  Consider heating and additional cost when deciding on a structure.

If you are in a hot growing zone ( zones 7-9) you need to consider a structure with ventilation and shading options.

Year-round growing requires time and some cost factors. A well insulated greenhouse is a must.

If you just want to get a head start on spring by starting your own seeds you will not need the same the structure that is required for growing year-round.

Be sure to check Angies List or the Better Business Bureau when it comes to purchasing a kit from a company outside of a trusted hardware / home improvement store.  I’ve learned over the years that you CAN NOT trust everyone who provide products online to be honest!

Growing Year-Round in Ohio

My Greenhouse is protected by woodline around the structure in NW Ohio.

I’m Excited To Help You…..  ASK ME ANYTHING!  Considering a greenhouse I would love to share what I’ve learned in the past five years of growing year-round. – Bren

 

Moving In Day

Here in zone 5b Ohio we’ve had some crazy weather this seasons.  The summer was wet and oddly cool enough to keep the garden looking beautiful as long as it wasn’t a heat tolerant plant.   The peppers and tomatoes struggled this year in my raised beds and field garden.   Now that the days of Autumn are upon us with freezing temperatures closing in, it is time to start moving my treasures I want to save from the killer frost  into my 10’x12′ greenhouse.

What will I move into the greenhouse in 2011/12 ?

The image to the right are a few of the containers that wouldn’t fit in the packed  dump in the back of my golf cart I used to move all of the containers from the pond deck. I feel in love with this Amaranto Tri Color : Joseph’s Coat  late July on a local IGC visit to one of my favorite nurseries here in Ohio.    There is a Non-Stop Begonia and a bright yellow mini rose sharing the front seat of this load.

This year I will winter over the annuals that were hard to find and unique growers.   I will also pick the annuals that grew well for me last year in the greenhouse.  Nothing more rewarding then to have blooms year-round.

Space is limited this year because the size of some of the tropical and vines I’ve wintered over for the past 2 years.  There is a  tropical Hibiscus  that is 5 feet tall after winter over 2 years.    I’ve saved a 4 shelves just for veggies to be grown as soon as all the plants are tucked into there allotted space.

It appears we missed the forecast for frost last night in Ohio but that doesn’t stop me from working hard to move the annuals, herbs and veggies from the landscape this weekend.   Friday was crazy for me looking over the garden landscape and deciding what plants I couldn’t do without.  Take a look at our forecast in the image to the right.  A night of close to freezing and then back up in the 40’s for lows the follow week.  This has truly been a roller coaster season.

Passionate for my 2 Year Old Passion Vine

In 2010 hubby and I had a weekend getaway with out the kids to the Cleveland area.  During that trip we visited the Cleveland Botanical Gardens as well as Petite Nursery.This vine was a gift from my hubby on our 19th Wedding Anniversary.  We spent the day touring the Cleveland Botanical Gardens and a few Garden Centers in the Cleveland area. This was a vine we found at Petitti Garden Center in Avon Lake, Ohio. One of the helpful staff saw us checking this climber out and offered some advice. If it weren’t for her telling us about this fabulous tropical vine I don’t think we would have purchased it. It is growing in full sun on the gazebo deck near our pond. I will bring it into the greenhouse before the winter arrives.  This vine is a MUST move in the greenhouse each year because it brings back wonderful memories.

Sweet Caroline Sweet Red Potato Vine By Proven Winners

The Image above is my 2 year old Sweet Caroline Sweet Red Potato Vine by Proven Winners.  I LOVE this vine because of those vivid leaf colors featured in the photo above.   Last year  I took many of my potato vine and saved the root in a bucket packed with peat moss.  Most of them survived and I hope to do this method of saving the vine again this year to use in my garden 2012.

My Mid-October Greenhouse Landscape in Zone 5b Ohio

I snapped this photo with my iphone the night before the forecast of frost. Luckily we didn’t get frost and everything looked pretty much the same the next day only the greenhouse is fuller.   If you look really close you will see my orange lawn crown ornament my dear greenhouse sister Tootsie gave me as a ‘house warming’ gift my first year g rowing in the greenhouse.   I’m so proud to be able to contribute to this website with her.    I hope you will follow us along our journey as we enter winter growing season 2011/ 12.


Before You Build… Consider This

It is that time of year when I start sharing more images of my garden and how I’m continuing my growing experience by moving my favorite herbs, annuals and even some veggies into my 10’x12′ greenhouse I’ve been using for the past 2 years.   In the first year I was networking my greenhouse experience on my blog, facebook and twitter because it was a very important part of gardening for me.    The way this little structure we found on Ebay for $350 has changed my life more then I can put into a basic blog entry.     In year two of networking my greenhouse my goal was to inspire others to think about growing year-round in their own greenhouse using images and comments that shared the simple facts of how anyone can do this.  As I enter year 3 of growing year-round via my greenhouse the main focus of sharing with you is to educate on to do this while making it fit your lifestyle.
So you have decided you want a greenhouse after looking at all the really cool images online from gardeners like myself.   I’m sorry to inform you but growing in a greenhouse is not always for everyone.  I do want to warn you that if you plan on traveling for more then 3 days at a time during the months of October – December and then again in March – May you can FORGET ABOUT IT!   Unless you have a reliable friend who can come do some basic watering and adjustments on temperature control in your greenhouse this is not going to be  a successful experience for you.

LOCATION of the greenhouse can be crucial to your growing experience.  If your space has less then 5 hours of sun at any point of the growing season – FORGET ABOUT IT!

WIND – RAIN – SLEET – SNOW keep in mind all the elements that are apart of your garden.  You are going to want pay attention to structures you may want to include near your greenhouse.  Example : if you are in a super windy location you may want to consider building near a fence or structure that is going to provide some block.

Good drainage is another extremely important factor to consider.  I suggest Building the greenhouse above the surrounding ground so rainwater and irrigation water will drain off and away.

Consider location to electricity that you may need in the greenhouse and also make the structure accessible during winter storms.  Living in zone 5b I’m thankful to have my located only 50 feet from my back door.  This area seems like 100 feet when I dredging through fresh snow after a major storm in January!

NOW THE FUN PART :  Picking Out A Structure

  • We found our greenhouse on Ebay.  It was a Gardener Supply Company design that the went out of production about 7 years a go.    I would suggest looking on Craigs List, Ebay and even the classifieds in your area.
  • Local hardware and building supply stores carry kits from $500 to $6000
  • ONLINE … just google GREENHOUSE < be prepared to have greenhouse envy – there are some amazing ones out there!>
  • Library : yes that is right.  Head up to your local library and see what design books they may have that you can use to build our own from scratch.

I hope these tips and ideas have helped you.  The bottom line is owning a greenhouse adds to the value of your home and your quality of living and that is why I strongly suggest you look into joining the growing4seasons movement!

If you have any questions please leave me or Glenda a comment.

Click The Image ABove to View The Podcast

Glenda & Bren talk candid about basic structure tips that will get you growing in your own greenhouse before the next warning of frost. Be sure to leave us a comment with any questions you may have about building your own greenhouse.

Time Stand Still

Hoping to fit this wordless onto the G4B blog before Wednesday was complete but my lack of  organization leaves me with having to add a few words on Thursday.  As I walk out to my greenhouse growing area each day I feel like I’m behind because there was so much more I wanted to do this summer in this landscape.  There were many seeds I didn’t get to plant because of travel and growing a social network of growing fun on #gardenchat.  The anxiety builds as I harvest veggies that are providing a healthy addition to each meal for my family and knowing I should have started to build a cover to go over those raised beds by now for a continued harvest well into Autumn.   What keeps me inspired is this view featured in the photo above.  If It weren’t for the monster Rose of Sharon growing outside my kitchen window I could see this view.

My goal as we start to think of beating the season by loading up the greenhouse for continued growing fun is to get organized.  Whatever it takes to get my plants in order, greenhouse maintenance complete and journal ready to document the experience.    Some people prefer a paper trail while I enjoy logging everything on my mobile device.  Whatever your choice be sure to START NOW with a list of what your goals and dreams are for growing year-round.

Lets keep inspiring one another to grow with hopes of making a healthy lifestyle we can continue for a long time as time stands still in the photographs we share.

Mammoth Birth

Spring arrives in my northern greenhouse in late January as long as we have at least 4 hours of sunshine in a day.  This is when my bulbs that I’ve brought in for the winter usually start to show some green.  One of my favorite containers that I wintered over this year was my mammoth elephant ear plant.  As the plant began to emerge this spring I noticed there were a few new shoots popping up.  This is when I decided to take a look at the bulb in the container only to find the mammoth had given birth!

I had received this bulb last spring from a friend of mine who knows  I’m a huge fan of foliage.   This bulb other wise known at the Colocasia esculenta, is a quick growing , dramatci, tropical that I prefer to grow in containers but can go directly in the ground in most garden zones.      As you can tell in the image above taken in early summer when the rest of my porch containers are just starting to take  root in their new containers  this plant is already putting on a show!

What are your favorite bulbs to divide and enjoy each spring / summer season?

It’s Not Always Salsa & Blooms

Gadget to Make Growing Easier

Each time I open the door leading to my green world located in my greenhouse here in Ohio I always have my cell phone in hand to tweet the adventure.  Fan of growing year-round or not , those warm cheerful photo shares will surely brighten the viewers day. Blooms & Salsa are some of my favorites to grow that keep me smiling and healthy while the outside landscape is gloomy because it is covered with white mulch.

I’m all about sharing the facts growing year-round in zone 5b so this blog entry about the true winter days is in order.  In my greenhouse there is a water line installed underground but my engineer ( AKA Husband) and I decided that we would leave it unused the first year of operating the greenhouse.   My first thought was of all the exercise I would get hauling the water needed the 70 some feet out to growing area.   It really hasn’t been that bad of an experience filling the 5 gallon bucket of well water from my frost-free spigot attached to the house. Obviously, it has been a breeze to maintain water in the greenhouse without having a line working out to the greenhouse because I’m a few months from celebrating year two of growing year-round without it!

The video below is a live view of how the frost free cover works.  I’ve had no issues with freezing even with weeks below zero.


Fetching the Well Water the Zone 5b Way


Some days the full pink Carhartt Gear is required. The snow wouldn’t let up after 2 days a few weeks ago and I had to haul 2 full 5 gallon buckets of well water out to the greenhouse.  The pink gear kept me warm and as much as the thoughts of the 65*F spring atmosphere in the greenhouse I was heading too!

Making it fun and always green in my Ohio zone5b greenhouse.  I would love to hear your thoughts on watering in the winter greenhouse so leave a comment.

The Lady GaGa of Gardening

As a northerner living and growing in zone 5b  my greenhouse is a place to grow and nurture my plants from the winter elements.   I must admit that I forget about the southern  growers who rely on greenhouses for some of the same reasons that I do.   I had the honor of connecting with Texas gardener Susan Fox of GaGa’s garden a few months back on Twitter via my dear friend @greensoil. Susan is a an avid horticulturist holding national awards for growing prize winning roses and award winning gardens.  A true master in the art of rose growing and garden design. When you visit her website at Gaga’s Garden you will see her dedication to perpetuating knowledge about all things growing in her gardens and particularly the planting and care of rose gardens.  She is a perfect example of taking gardening to the next level by adding a ‘safe haven’ via her greenhouse in her beautiful garden and landscape.’

I had the honor of connecting with Susan and she was willing to answer a few questions I had for her about her greenhouse in zone 8  where she lives and grows in Plano, Texas.’

My Interview with GaGa’s Garden:

Bren : What did you take in consideration when you decided  to build a greenhouse of your own? Did you have a ‘reason’ you wanted a greenhouse of your own in your garden?

Susan of GaGa’s Garden : Each year we invest hundreds of dollars in plants that will not sustain winter temperatures only to lose them over the winter. Many of them are potted patio plants. Last year I even decided to invest in an exotic large expensive Sago Palm that will tolerate temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit, however in N. Texas we do dip below that with ice and snow as well.  One of my plants is a beautiful ever blooming jasmine that a friend started from a plant she brought from her native home in a Persian village long ago. These potted plants have accumulated to the point that they will not fit in the garage, so basically me and my plants were evicted J. “OUI” “see post explaining “OUI” Theory at http://www.gagasgarden.com/?p=40 saw no other solution but to build a small greenhouse to protect the plants for the winter rather than store them in the garage. Also watering them in the garage created such a mess that my husband and I were  rather tired of muddy pools accumulating around the car.

Bren: Tell me about your greenhouse – what made you decide on using wood / aluminum frame?

Susan of GaGa’s Garden : We used wood because it is very inexpensive and easy to work with and the structure can be preassembled in the garage.  We only use the greenhouse for plant storage for the winter months. After the walls are preassembled we  staple the Visqueen plastic sheeting  directly to the wood as outside walls . At the end of the season since our storage is limited we have given the entire structure  away to our landscaper to use as a shed. It breaks  down and is carried away  in about 10 minutes. Wood, Visqueen, and Styrofoam board walls are all easy materials to work with to assemble and break down.

Bren : Were the sales associates at Lowes / Home Depot ( where did you purchase from) help you with this adventure?

Susan of Ga Ga’s Garden : “OUI” actually designed it and did not need assistance from the sales associates other than to ring up the sale.

Bren : What do you use to heat your greenhouse?

Susan of GaGa’s Garden :If you recall I outlined in my post at gagasgarden the fact that the first year we built a greenhouse we only used Visqueen plastic sheeting only to protect the plants and we lost some plants. This year we insulated the structure with blue board insolated styrofoam (this is the brand on the product:R-Max r-matte +3 made in Dallas, TX ) and it is working much better to keep the structure warm. We do not have any additional heaters, of course they could be added. The flooring is the stone floor of our flag stone patio.

Bren : Do you grow year-round in this greenhouse?

Susan of Ga Ga’s garden : We are not starting any new plants but it would be easy to add shelves and start seedlings and cold weather plants in the greenhouse like onions, broccoli, etc. We are using the structure for winter protection so far.

Bren: If you could give someone thinking about starting their own greenhouse any tips / ideas what would it be?

Susan of Ga Ga’s Garden : We were very careful to adhere to our neighborhood  city codes and ordinances, since gagasgarden is an urban farm setting J. We have a homeowners association and the rules are strict about height and visuals of structures from the street over the fence. You would not be very happy to build your beautiful little structure then have to remove it because your neighborhood or city asked you to take it down. We are very pleased that it can be assembled in the garage and then taken down and stored for the summer if you don’t want to leave it up. We have it standing for the winter on our stone patio out by the back north fence and we don’t sit out there in the winter so its an easy space to give up for the winter.


Thank you  for sharing your Texas greenhouse with us Susan! I love how you share how easy and cost efficient it can be to make your own greenhouse that will provide shelter for your beloved plants.

If you have questions for Susan or about this blog entry please feel free to post a comment on our blog here or go visit Susan at her site.

House Plant Mystery

Growing Year-Round via Houseplants

I spent most of the evening at home improvement stores browsing  for tile, stone, and collecting  paint samples for the ‘sun room’ we recently added on to our home.   After all the design inquiries and help I’ve been receiving from my garden friends I have decided to call this a ‘garden’ room.  I will share some of the designs in this room upon completion because it is coming together as a wonderful space to grow plants in year-round.    While at the home improvement shops I couldn’t help but stop at the garden center displays.    This was the first plant I picked up and ‘tweeted’ out via my phone asking my garden friends  if they knew what this mystery flower maybe.

I got a response back from@vargasgirlred  @containergarden and @tootsie_time  .  Read their comments here : Twitter search.

Rex Begonia ?

The color in this house plant is perfect for my bathroom which receives low light.   The foliage surely fits the discription of showy leaves which are large and have a variety of colour  combination.   The red leaf steams are brittle and the leaves can damage easily.  I can tell by a few of the brittle branches that this fits the description I found in a google search.  One of the descriptions on the image I found in this search says ‘Begonia rex enjoys a position with good light, but not in direct sun or deep shade.’  The description always noted: these are excellent for shallow containers and I also read that this begonia does not produce flowers but the leaves will truly brighten your room.   It also says that this plant enjoys a dilute fertilizer at least once a week.  On that note I’m going to submit this as my Fertilize Friday share for this week.

What do you think about this house plant?  Is it a REX BEGONIA and have you ever grown this before?   I am wondering how this will do in the house with low light.   If it doesn’t like it I can always take it out to the greenhouse.

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