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.

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 archive.  I’m sharing this today for Bloom Tuesday to inspire you to think of all the things you can grow year-round.   – Bren
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