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.

Facebook Connection : Debbie in Zone 6 Kansas

Social networking has played an important part in my adventure in growing year-round. I do believe I would have had a greenhouse eventually even if I wasn’t so active online in the field of gardening. Getting to know and connect with the gardeners online has truly added to my success in growing year-round.   When I envision the perfect veggie & bloom garden I see a beautiful glass house on that colorful blooming canvas.  This glass house is much like the beautiful photo one of my Facebook garden connection friends shared on her wall post recently.

I’m not sure how or when Debbie and I connected on Facebook but the one thing that comes to mind with our connection is the beautiful photos she shares and the encouraging words she always adds to my garden images.  I love this quote off of Debbie’s  Facebook Page :  ” If you have never experienced the joy of accomplishing more than you can imagine, plant a garden.” A week ago she had shared an image of her beautiful greenhouse that I had no idea was a part of her growing experience.   It was one of the most adorable working greenhouses that I had always imagined when I think of the  ‘perfect’  garden.   I quickly emailed her and asked ….. could I please add you to the ‘Growing4Seasons friends who Grow Year-Round’  network.   Graciously Debbie agreed and kindly answered a few of my questions I was dying to ask a fellow greenhouse owner.

Debbie tells me that her hubby built her greenhouse from a kit 13 yrs ago and they stopped heating it about two years ago because  it got to be too expensive.  It is inspiring to see the condition of this greenhouse and I’m quick to notice it is truly a treasure in her garden.   Debbie shares on her network her love for  gardening, collect vintage garden tools, collect garden seeds, read and cook.  They share their garden with 3 dogs, 2 cats and a flock of chickens and the grand children she has been blessed with.

My Interview with Debbie McMurry of D & D Acres

Bren : What garden zone do you live and grow in?

My greenhouse is located in Zone 6 in SE Kansas.

Bren: What made you decided to grow in your own greenhouse?

I wanted a greenhouse to start seeds of all kinds. Especially tomatoes and peppers for my husbands large vegetable 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?

We had to pick a spot free of falling limbs from our many, large, old Oaks and have plenty of sunshine.

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

I liked the look of the old fashion glass greenhouses so looked through many catalogs before finding the company we ordered from. We ordered it from Sturdi-Built green houses in Oregon. They had all sizes and styles in pre made kits. It came in precut pieces of glass and red wood and a windowed door. Our greenhouse is 9 x 12. It has windows in the glass roof that opens automatically when it gets to hot. We put a gravel floor in it for humidty along with a wood sidewalk down the middle. Wooden potting tables built on both sides in it.

BREN : What do you use to heat your greenhouse?

We put a small apartment size propane heat stove for heat. Ran electric and water to it also.
BREN : what was the cost involved with this project?

The cost purchasing the greenhouse 13 yrs ago was $3,000 but worth every penny. And has held up great in our Kansas tornado winds.

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

We have not heated it for about three years now due to the high heat expense but now thinking of starting it again.
I love growing seeds, having blooming geraniums and ferns to enjoy all winter in the greenhouse.

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

The important factors of a choosing a greenhouse to me is choosing the size for what you want to use it for and think of the kind of heat you would have to heat it.

I want to thank Debbie for sharing this information with us on Growing4Seasons.  Debbie doesn’t have a blog right now but tells me she is working on getting one online soon.  I think you would have LOTS of followers of that garden blog Debbie judging by the lovely images and inspiring garden information you share on your Facebook.   Keep use posted because I look forward to connecting with your blog.

Connect with Debbie at her Zone 6 / Garden Club on Facebook.

Hoop House Grower : Diana of Voice In The Garden

Something wonderful has come to my attention with social networking in the New Year.    I’ve noticed my ‘live stream’ has been showing some images of greenhouses and other tools used to grow year-round. You can imagine my excitement to find one of my Facebook garden connection sharing images of her new hoop house online this week. Hard to believe it was only a year ago I was talking to Glenda, my greenhouse partner about how lonely it felt on the network being the only two growing out of season.

When Diana’s hoop house images came across the Facebook feed last week I was quick to click on the fabulous images. To see what people are using across the country to grow their own veggies & blooms fascinates me. It is amazing to see all the different designs people who obviously love to grow are creating to make their dreams of growing anytime happen.   Diana is a wonderful contact on my Facebook garden network who always shares inspiring garden thoughts from her blog at Voice In the Garden

Not only does Diana share amazing images of nature on her blog she shares her love for growing year-round.Wonderful to read about the  heirloom seeds, and chemical-free vegetables the y grow and harvest.   I’ve learned so much about greenhouses, even though I own my own on this blog entry located at Voice In The Garden : Hoop House, High Tunnel, Polytunnel .

I asked Diana a few of the questions that she was so kind to answer for me.  I hope these thoughts and ideas will inspire you like they have me.

Bren : What garden zone is your greenhouse located in?

We are in zone 8.

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?

Much of this is in the blog, re: the limited location and space we had available. We have wanted a greenhouse for many years, but they are extremely expensive. When we read about the hoop houses (high tunnels) several years ago, we felt this would be a good alternative. Then when we met a gentleman who could supply some of the components and we decided it was in an affordable range, it seemed the appropriate time to do it.

Our main reason for wanting the greenhouse was to extend the growing season and house most of the vegetables I start from seed.

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

We wanted durability and a structure sound enough to withstand the winds we sometimes get in the winter.

Bren: What was the cost involved with this project?

We located a supplier in Washington, a 5 hour drive from our home, and from him we purchased (as stated in the article) the steel anchoring stubs, the 17 gauge bent steel bows, some of the bolts for attaching the metal, and the greenhouse-grade polyethylene for a 12’ x 20’ high tunnel/hoop house/greenhouse. That cost was $485.

Except for some of the major connectors, everything else was purchased at our local lumber and hardware. Expect prices to vary. We comparative shop lumber prices at three different outlets, additional screws, bolts, hinges, door latches and metal bracing. We found some lumber on sale; some was used that we already had on hand. It all greatly depends upon which part of the country one lives as to the cost. We estimate another $150-200 for the cost of additional materials.

Bren : What do you use to heat your greenhouse?

Since we have just completed the project, there has been no decision at this time as to whether we will use any heat. Our current daytime temperatures have been ranging in the low to mid 50’s and nighttime temperature above freezing. We’ll have to gauge that as we go.

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

Our hope is to grow year-round or pretty close to it.

Bren : What are your favorite things to grow in the greenhouse?

Vegetables, vegetables and more vegetables, organic and heirloom, and I am looking forward to getting a Meyer’s lemon tree.

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

My number one advice would be to do a lot research first, and then make a PLAN: what is your budget; how do you plan on using the greenhouse, your individual requirements;

select the correct location; work from your drawing, and stick to the plan.

I want to thank Diana of Voice in the Garden who is growing year-round for sharing her experience with us.   I’m honored to add Diana and her beautiful greenhouse to our list of ‘Friends who Grow Year-Round’.

Going Green with Samsterland

One of the exciting things about garden networking is meeting the amazing people who make that community grow.  During one of the #gardenchat events on Twitter I had the privileged of ‘tweeting’ Sammy of Samsterland : Going Green with the Samster Website.   It isn’t that often I meet garden enthusiast online who own their own greenhouse.  Excited to make the ‘greenhouse’ connection with Sammy I quickly got a hold of him and asked if he would check out Glenda and my site here at Growing4Seasons. I’m honored today to add Sammy to our ‘Friends Who Grow Year-Round’ link here today.   Sammy, who lives on a small farm (30 acres) which his grandfather purchased in late 1930’s ,  says one of my new years resolutions is to keep his  site updated throughout the growing season this year.  I hope we can all stop over to his site and encourage him to keep on sharing!

About ‘The Samsters’ Greenhouse

From Building the Greenhouse : The Samsterland 1/3/3011 by Sam Langley

Sam Langley of GoingGreenWithSamster.com

I looked at a number of designs out on the internet as well as some books I had on sheds and outbuildings and finally selected one I liked from a book I had purchased at Lowe’s.  Although I liked their design I changed it up to suit my tastes as well as my pocketbook.  They used real redwood for the frame and lots of cedar shingles for the trim, both of which are really expensive where I live.

So, the following pics document the building of my greenhouse.  It’s 12’x16′ building on a perimeter wall foundation and pea gravel floor.  The walls and roof are covered with polycarbonate panels and the door is an old storm door I got from my mom’s house after she remodeled.  Hope you like it. Enjoy.

I asked Sam a few questions about his Greenhouse Adventures

Bren : “How long have you been gardening?”

Sammy : “My Mom and Dad both grew up on a farm and some of my fondest childhood memories are of visiting my grandparents and spending time outdoors in my grandfather’s garden.  I however, grew up in the city and spent most of my adult life living in the city with no garden.  Around seven years ago both my Father and Grandmother passed away and I decided that I wanted to keep the family farm.  So, I moved out to the country and about three years ago I caught the gardening bug.  Each year I have been scaling out my garden and one day I hope to have a working farm that will allow me to quit my day job.”

Bren : “What are your favorite things to grow in your greenhouse?”

Sammy : “I’ve had my greenhouse about three months now and my favorite plants to grow are the ones I can eat.  The lettuce I have growing is the best lettuce I have ever grown.  There is no dirt or dust on the leaves and there are no bugs eating it for me.  I can practically eat the lettuce right from the plant without washing.  I also have some nice flowering plants growing in my greenhouse.  My Bougenvilla and Cyclamen Periscum have been blooming non-stop for the past few months.  One of the coolest looking plants I have is the Purple Passion.  It really looks great when you hold it up to the light.”

Bren : “Do you grow year round?”

Sammy :” This will be my first year to grow year round and the only way I have managed to do that is by having a greenhouse.”

Bren: “What zone do you live in?”

Sammy :”  I live just outside of Canton, Texas.  It looks like it’s 7b or 8a.”

Bren: “Where did you find the supplies needed to build your own greenhouse?”

Sammy : “I purchased the concrete, re-bar and wood at Canton Lumber, my favorite local lumber store.  I bought the polycarbonate panels, cedar slats and Baer waterproofing redwood stain at Home Depot.  I used metal to wood screws to attach the polycarbonate panels to the frame and I bought those and the pea gravel at Canton Hardware, my favorite local hardware store.”

Bren :”Would you mind listing the expense to make a greenhouse like the one you grow in.”

Sammy:”The greenhouse cost right around $2000 to build.  I have a bit more than that into it now, after spending money on plants, my Aquaponics setup and other odds and ends.  I went on a spending spree buying plants on clearance in late October and November.  A lot of the tropical’s I bought were in bad shape but I was paying anywhere from 75 cents to $3.00 per plant so I didn’t really mind.  I figured I could get them into decent shape in no time.”

Bren: “What do you use for heating?   Fan?  Circulation?”

Sammy:”After purchasing a bunch of tropical plants for my greenhouse in early November, I began to get worried when the weather started turning colder.  So, I purchased a portable electric heater from Lowes that has a timer and a thermostat.  Starting out, I would turn the heater on at 80°F at 8PM, set the timer for 12 hours and walk away. A few cold mornings later I realized that the heater wasn’t doing the job.  The heat from the heater was going straight up and leaking out of the top and sides of the greenhouse through the ridges and furrows in the corrugated polycarbonate panels.  My solution for this was to plug all of the furrows with small 3”x3” pieces of bubble wrap wadded up so they would completely fill each furrow.  I also purchased an oscillating stand fan and pointed it directly at the heater.  Now my greenhouse never drops below 46°F even on the coldest nights.”

Bren : “Do you have any tips you would like to share with those who are thinking about building their own greenhouse?”

Sammy : “If you’re planning on building your own greenhouse the best tip I can offer is to plan ahead.  When I start a new building project I have a tendency to jump right in and start building.  Planning ahead is really important especially with regards to location.  With the sun being lower on the southern horizon this time of year, that nice large Elm tree to the South of my greenhouse keeps me from getting full sun the entire day.  It turned out ok for me because right now the tree has no leaves.  I get an ample about of sunlight but I could always use more, especially on those tomato plants.  Also, don’t forget that “measure twice, cut once” expression, it’s a real money saver!!”

You can follow Samsterland over at his Twitter account where he shares his greenhouse and garden.

Thank you Sammy for sharing your greenhouse with us.  I look forward to following you on the gardening networks and hope you will keep us posted on your growing experiences.  

IF you are someone or know someone who grows year-round Glenda and I would loved to hear from you!

Heating in the Winter Months

The way nature works never ceases to amaze me.    In the first winter of growing year-round I had never scratched my head so much…. really! Shocked and bewildered on how the heat could stay in this 10’x12′ structure with nothing but plastic between my plants and winter in Ohio.   Everything from how much sun we receive to how much water is in the rain barrel can make up to a 20*F difference.    A very important design factor that helps with the heating and climate for the plants is the fact that to enter the greenhouse you have to walk through a potting shed that is well insulated.   Not having a door that opens directly to the winter in garden zone 5b makes a huge difference.  My friend Glenda up in zone 3 did an experiment on this topic that I will link to later in this blog post.

In the video above I share with you a peek inside my greenhouse the first year with a gas propane R.V. heater we recycled for our heater.  The heater was $25 on ebay and my electrical engineer ( AkA Hubby) added some duct work cost around $20.    If that heat should fail we have an electric heater from Walmart ($40) with a floor fan to circulate.  The electric heater is on a separate thermometer  to kick on if the gas furnace goes below 50*F.   The benefit of using an R.V. heater is if we lose power the furnace can run on a car battery.

If you have any additional questions concerning the heat source we use please leave a comment and I will do my best to find an answer for you.  Happy Growing!

A Boo With Some New On Bloom Tuesday

This is Tuesday so lets share some blooms!
I am super excited to see this Dallas Red Lantana blooming after I chopped this 36″ plant down to about 4″ to move from the landscaping into a container for the winter.  She doesn’t seem to mind the change of scenery.
I had a new friend join me in the Greenhouse today as I did some flower maintenance.  I’m sure he only wanted to get out of the wind and find a nice warm place to take a nap.  Quickly, he found a nice dry spot in the corner of the greenhouse to rest his chin.  ( photo collage above).How could you resist Boo Kitty’s’ big blue eyes?  See him snuggled in the corner in the bottom left photo.

New Things to Grow in the Greenhouse
The collage above is a collection of some of the new things I have added to the 10’x12′ greenhouse I am using this winter.   Over the weekend I came across this Rose Tree at Bench’s (40% off!). Everyone needs a tree in their greenhouse right? It will be a wonderful show when this Lavaglut (red rose) blooms.  I also added some french ivy around the bottom of the tree container.    The containers are starting to take shape considering all they have been through.  Most of the larger containers are annuals I dug up from my landscaping and moved to smaller pots with hopes of prolonging their life.  I have already been enjoying the rosemary and basil containers that usually would be gone by this time of year.  So far – so good!

Optical Grass
This little guy took his time ‘ blooming’ after being divided and moved inside. He is now in a 4″ terra cotta pot.  My goal is to keep most of these bloomers to enjoy through the winter.  As spring arrives I will transplant into larger containers and stop the cutting back so they can grow bigger before putting them outside.
This post is from the BGgarden.com archive.  I’m sharing this today for Bloom Tuesday to inspire you to think of all the things you can grow year-round.   – Bren

The Skies The Limit

As I sit down at my desk and I try to put into words what it is like being a ‘year-round’ grower  the first thing that comes to mind is the possibilities!  The sky has been the limit.  I have been able to enjoy summer veggies & blooms that I have grown  while the rest of my garden zone is covered in a foot of snow.   The end of summer was once a burdened as I felt so sad to watch the summer color  fade away.  As a year-round grower I am loading up my treasures in the greenhouse for the winter so those summer blooms can carry on.  Living in Ohio and being able to bring into my home a large container of lantana in full bloom during the New Year celebration was something to celebrate!  These are the first thoughts that come to mind when I think of what the experience has been for me and my family.

I hope to share with you to the best of my ability the joys and frustrations of being a grower year-round.   I want to stress that it isn’t easy to be a greenhouse grower but with the support of others who have experienced this extraordinary lifestyle we can grow healthy roots that will last forever together!

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