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Friday, August 12, 2022

Great Depression Era Home Remedies

By Tiffany Davis - August 12, 2022 at 09:00AM

On the lookout for Great Depression Era home remedies? Looking back at history, there’s a lot that we could learn, especially from the individuals that lived during the Great Depression. When there weren’t enough doctors to go around, families had to figure out how to treat and cure certain sicknesses on their own. And although...

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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Slow Cooker Bread

By Tiffany Davis - August 10, 2022 at 07:00AM

Have you ever made bread in a slow cooker or crock-pot? If not, you’re missing out on a delicious, simple way to make homemade bread. This slow cooker bread recipe is so easy that anyone can make it with great results. What’s nice about this bread is that you can set it and forget it....

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Saturday, August 6, 2022

Why You Need to Stockpile Garden Seeds Now

By Tiffany Davis - August 06, 2022 at 09:24AM

Should you stockpile garden seeds now? Just in the last year alone, there’s been a significant increase in food pricing along with an alarming shortage of food products on grocery store shelves all across the country. Plenty of experts will argue that we’re still dealing with the after-effects of the last 3 years; but I’m...

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Thursday, August 4, 2022

Ways to Heat Your Greenhouse in the Winter

By Jill Winger - August 03, 2022 at 10:49AM

Here in Wyoming, winters can be brutally cold and crazy windy, so choosing the right greenhouse was pretty important. When we started our search, we discovered that there are so many options, and it was easy to feel overwhelmed.

Even though we have cold, snowy, windy Wyoming winters, we still chose to go with an unheated greenhouse. It wasn’t an easy decision, and all the choices did overwhelm us at first. In the end, we found The Greenhouse Mega Store and they were able to point us in the right direction.

If you are struggling with all the options or have a ton of questions about which greenhouse you should get, give their customer service a call. The Greenhouse Mega Store should be able to help you with all your greenhouse needs.

You can also listen to  How to Use a Greenhouse for Increased Food Security from the my Old Fashioned on Purpose Podcast, to hear firsthand from their marketing director. So far, the greenhouse we bought from them (one of the Gable series models) has done a great job against our strong Wyoming winds. 

Ways to Heat Your Greenhouse in the Winter

What is a Heated or Unheated Greenhouse?

When people talk about choosing a heated greenhouse, it simply means that they have a greenhouse that contains heat and air circulatory systems installed. While it sounds nice to be able to control the heat, it may not be cost-effective for a home gardener.

An unheated greenhouse is a structure that is designed to use sunlight as its main source of heat. The sun comes through glass or plastic and warms the air inside the greenhouse. Sunlight combined with other methods of heating can be an effective way to heat your greenhouse without extra cost.

Don’t think like a heated greenhouse is your only option just because it gets below freezing where you live. If you opted out of buying a heated greenhouse like us, then you will simply need to find a different way to produce heat during those cold winter months.

Luckily, there are different ways to heat a greenhouse during winter, and having an unheated greenhouse ourselves has given us the opportunity to try out a few to share.

Ways to Heat Your Greenhouse During the Winter

1. Heating Your Greenhouse with Sunshine

A greenhouse is designed to allow sunlight in and trap the heat that is produced. During the day when the sun is out, you can rely on the heat produced by the sun to help heat your greenhouse.

The problem is those daylight hours are shorter in the winter. Plus, you have to think about nighttime. Not only is it colder at night, but the sunlight isn’t available to help you heat the greenhouse.  During the night, an unheated greenhouse will drastically lower in temperature to meet the temperatures of the outdoors. Unless you live in a mild climate, you will need to combine another method of heating your greenhouse with this one.

2. Using a Compost Pile to Heat Your Greenhouse 

Making and Using Compost can help heat your greenhouse and is a great way to prevent organic materials from going to waste. Compost is made through the process of decomposing organic material. During this decomposition process, your compost pile generates heat. If you place a compost pile in your greenhouse, then the heat produced in that compost can help raise the air temperature. 

Note: The amount of heat produced depends on the size of your compost pile, the amount of moisture it contains, and the surrounding air temperature.

3. Using Thermal Mass Objects to Heat Your Greenhouse

Thermal mass objects have the ability to absorb, store, and radiant heat. They are a great cost-effective way to heat a greenhouse. 

The most common thermal mass object used in greenhouse heating is water. Drums can be painted black, placed in direct sunlight areas, and filled with water. This water thermal mass method is also known as a heat sink.

We don’t use large water drums (yet), but I do fill old plastic milk cartons with water and place them around my plants during the winter. The water in the containers hold heat longer into the night, and the plants nearby benefit from this.

Another way to store heat for your greenhouse is by using bricked pathways or just simply adding bricks or stones to your greenhouse. Bricks and stones hold heat and can help naturally and gently heat up your greenhouse during the night. This isn’t going to dramatically warm up your greenhouse, but every little bit you can do can help. I’ve heard of some folks putting large stones in the middle of the greenhouse garden beds because they can help warm up any plants that are planted right next to them.

We are halfway finished with the process of making all of the pathways out of brick and I’m excited to see if that makes a difference in there during the upcoming winter months.

4. Use Small Animals to Heat Your Greenhouse in Winter

Small animals like chickens and rabbits have been used for years to help keep greenhouses warmer during the winter. This method of greenhouse heating is also known as bio-heating. Chickens and rabbits create body heat and manure that can be composted to warm the air in the greenhouse. An added bonus is that these animals also produce carbon dioxide which is essential in the growth of plants. 

Note: If you are using small animals to help heat your greenhouse, you will need to provide coops or runs to prevent damage to your plants. 

5. Insulating the Walls of Your Greenhouse

The Winter months can be very cold, so to help keep the heat inside, you can use a layer of  “bubble wrap” (Bubble Polythene) to trap the heat. Bubble polythene is available in sheets that you can attach to the walls of your greenhouse.  This bubble wrap is clear so it allows the sunlight in, traps the heat produced, and keeps drafty air out. 

Of course, you can try other creative ways to insulate your greenhouse walls if you cannot afford (or find) bubble polythene. Our version, for example, has been to store hay bales along the outside walls on the sides of the greenhouse that get hammered by our winter winds. It has helped keep the temps more stable in our greenhouse.

Here you can see our tall wall of hay bales on the outside of our greenhouse (as well as us adding bricks).

6. Use the Hotbed Method to Help Heat Your Greenhouse

The hotbed is when the composting method is used under topsoil in your garden rows or raised beds. Composted materials are left to decompose under about 6 inches of topsoil in the rows where you have planted your plants. The materials will continue to decompose creating heat that will keep the roots warm and warm air that rises.

7. Insulate Your Soil to Help Heat Your Greenhouse

Soil is its own thermal mass object, it absorbs heat that is provided by the sun or another outside source. To keep the soil from losing the heat it has absorbed, you can use a mulch to insulate it. Mulch can include straw, grass clippings, wood chips, and dead leaves. This method helps heat and also adds organic materials to your soil.

8. Cover Your Plants to Help Keep in the Heat

Like mulching, a cover can help keep the heat from escaping into the air. A cover sheet is usually used because it allows sunlight in and keeps the trapped underneath. Row covers can be used to cover larger areas, but another smaller DIY option is milk jugs or clear plastic totes. 

We started covering our greenhouse plants with row covers last winter and it helped a TON to keep the plants alive during brutally cold nights. As long as I remember to cover them in the evening and remove the row covers in the morning, the plants are pretty happy (it can get pretty warm in the greenhouse during a sunshine-filled winter day and I have killed a few plants from wilt/heat by forgetting to remove the row cover during the day).

The bricked pathways and hay bales along the outside walls means that the greenhouse is a fun place for the kids to play “outside” during the winter.

9. Greenhouse Geothermal Heating

Geothermal heating is essentially heat produced from the ground. Water or air goes through tubes that are under your greenhouse. While it is moving through these tubes it is being heated by the soil.  We took a field trip to an amazing greenhouse that has been heated with geothermal heat, you can watch our experience here.


 

We are thinking about adding geothermal heating to our greenhouse in the future. However, it would have been MUCH easier to add this feature before we built the greenhouse, so if this is something that interests you, try to remember to add that feature at the beginning of your greenhouse construction if you can.

10. Using Heaters in Your Greenhouse

Electric heaters are kind of an obvious way to heat your greenhouse. An electric fan heater or two can be placed in your greenhouse as long as you have a power source available. Electric heaters are usually equipped with a built-in thermostat that can regulate the temperature. You can find electric heaters that are made for heating greenhouses but keep in mind the area size you are trying to heat. 

Some folks put woodstoves in their greenhouses, which sounds pretty darn awesome to me. We haven’t done that (yet), but that is an excellent option for a great heat source if you have access to wood and you have a decent-sized greenhouse that can comfortably fit a woodstove.

Another Option for Winter Gardening…

If you are worried about the amount of heat that you will be able to provide or about the expense of a greenhouse, another option is to simply extend your growing season and also try growing cold-loving plants.

There are a ton of different vegetable options out there that you can plant in the fall for a winter harvest. Planting these will limit the amount of heat that you will need in your greenhouse (and you might be able to grow an extended fall garden outdoors without a greenhouse at all). For a list of vegetables and how to extend your growing season take a look at How To Plan Out Your Fall Garden.

And listen in to my podcast episode: The Mysterious Winter Garden Podcast Episode

Start Heating Your Greenhouse in the Winter

Use one of these methods or combine them all, these are great ways to heat your greenhouse without a huge expense. Planting cold hardy plants, starting a compost pile, or housing chickens in your greenhouse are simple ways to add a little heat during those cold winter days. It’s going to take some trial and error to figure out exactly how many ways you need to add heat to your greenhouse in order to keep your plants thriving. So keep good notes, keep checking the air and soil temperatures in your greenhouse, and observe the vitality of your plants to see how you’re doing. 

Do you have a greenhouse that you heat in the winter? Are there any methods that work best for you?

More About Growing Your Own Food:

Extending your growing season and providing fresh produce for your family is another step towards self-sustainability and freedom. If freedom is something that interests you then my membership community Freedom Foundry could be right for you.

->Freedom Foundry is all about learning different ways to be independent and free from the systems that have been holding you back. This group offers a new lesson each month with a step-by-step playbook and conversation with experts to help you create the independence in your life you have been craving. One of my goals in Freedom Foundry is to help folks opt out of some of our modern systems that are full of vulnerabilities. Learn More About Freedom Foundry Here. <-

Ways to Heat Your Greenhouse in the Winter

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Thursday, July 28, 2022

Ways to Cool Your Greenhouse in the Summer

By Jill Winger - July 28, 2022 at 01:32PM

 

Adding a greenhouse to our homestead was a dream come true. When we first decided it was in our budget, I was ready to just start building. It didn’t take long for us to realize it isn’t that simple.

What we discovered is that when researching greenhouses, there is a flood of information, a lot of different options, and many extra things to consider. And on top of that, there’s also a learning curve to starting to use one (I don’t wanna even TALK about how many plants wilted in the first summer in the greenhouse!).

If adding a greenhouse is on your homesteading dream list, then the questions you will want to consider first include: 

  • What will your greenhouse be used for?
  • How big will you need it?
  • Where is the best placement?
  • Will it be a fixed structure or portable?
  • What materials will be used?
  • Will it be heated or unheated?
  • Will you use it in the summer? If so, how will you keep it cool?

The whole process can be overwhelming and at one point we just stopped looking. Then we came across the Greenhouse Megastore and with the help of their excellent customer service, we were able to get our priorities in order and decide without the overwhelm.

The Greenhouse Megastore is a family-owned store that sells greenhouses and all sorts of different kinds of gardening supplies. They know greenhouses and can give great advice on what works best in every situation.

You can get some of this great advice by listening to my podcast episode How to Use a Greenhouse for Increased Food Security. In this episode of the Old Fashioned on Purpose Podcast, Drew Landis (the Marketing and IT Director for Greenhouse Mega Store) shares his knowledge with me about greenhouses. It was a fantastic episode and I learned tons.

A greenhouse is used to create a controlled environment for growing all kinds of different plants (and it’s also great for simply extending your garden season). Once you have chosen your greenhouse size and type, the most important details you will need to figure out in order to really thrive with growing in a greenhouse: You will need to know how to heat it in the winter and cool it in the summer.

I’ll talk about how to heat your greenhouse in a separate future post, but for now, let’s take a closer look at how to keep your greenhouse cool in the summer.

Ways to Cool Your Greenhouse in the Summer feature image

Why You Need to Keep Your Greenhouse Cool

When your greenhouse gets too hot, there are a few things that can happen: your plants can dry out, you can create an ideal habitat for pests, it can cause your plants to wilt, and it can make your plants more susceptible to disease. These are the reasons why you should monitor the temperature in your greenhouse.

During hot summer months, it is important to keep your greenhouse at an around the ideal temperature, which is at approximately 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit. There are different ways you can keep your greenhouse cool. You don’t have to do all of them, especially at first. You might have to start with one or two options and see how it goes for a summer season and then decide if you need to add even more cooling methods for the future.

Ways to Cool Your Greenhouse in the Summer

1. Cool Your Greenhouse with Good Ventilation

Natural ventilation is when you use openings and wind to circulate the air through your greenhouse. How you ventilate your greenhouse will depend on what type of greenhouse you have. If you have a portable one with plastic sheeting, you can just role up the sides when you know it will be exceptionally warm. A fixed greenhouse with walls will usually have vents, and these are normally found on the sides and sometimes on the roof.

We use a few different natural ventilation options on our greenhouse. We have a large garage-type door that we keep open during the day in the summer as well as some ventilation fans on each side of the door and also on the opposite side so that the wind goes right through the greenhouse and helps keep the air circulating quite nicely.

Note: When you are using natural ventilation, the interior of the greenhouse will only cool to the air temperature outside.

2. Use Evaporative Cooling

This is when water from different surfaces in the greenhouse is evaporated and used to cool hot air. In a greenhouse an evaporative system can drop the temperature 10 – 20 degrees below the outside temperature. In a greenhouse this can be done by using a fan and pad system, it works best in less humid climates but can be used with success other places.

To learn more about evaporative cooling systems and how they work you can read Greenhouse Floriculture: Fan and Pad Evaporative Cooling Systems.

3.Cool Your Greenhouse with Fans

Fans are another way of circulating air through your greenhouse, they can help lower the temperature in your greenhouse by a few degrees. They circulate the already existing air so your greenhouse will not get much cooler than the current air temperature. Fans work well with other cooling systems to help move the air around.

We have a few fans in our greenhouse as well as the other ventilation options I mentioned above in #1.

4. Use a Misting System

A misting system is a network of lines that are usually run along the ceiling of a greenhouse. These lines have small nozzles where pressurized water is forced out. The mist that is created evaporates cooling the air in your greenhouse.

5. Shade Cloth Can be Used

Shade cloth is a fabric that is used to block different amounts of sunlight. It is installed above the plants in a greenhouse to create a barrier. They come in different thickness levels and sizes so they can be used in different greenhouse environments.

If you live in a very sunny climate, you might find these really helpful. Wyoming summers gives us enough clouds that I haven’t found this necessary yet.

6. Use Tree Cover to Shade Your Greenhouse

When you are deciding what area is best for your greenhouse, you may want to think about the average temperature in your area. If you think that you will need to provide a barrier during those peak months, you may want to consider using trees on your property as a natural barrier. You will want them close enough to the greenhouse to provide natural shade but far enough away so they can’t cause any damage.

Wyoming is sorely lacking in trees, so I don’t use tree shade for my greenhouse right now (but that sounds pretty nice!).

7. Wind to Cool Your Greenhouse

Natural wind gusts can help cool the temperature inside your greenhouse. This is kind of like when the wind hits the side of your house it causes that side to be the “cooler side of the house”, same concept except with your greenhouse. Before you build your greenhouse check to see if there is an area that will align with natural wind patterns.

Note: Be careful with natural wind, this can also be a hazard if your area is prone to strong winds. Be sure to find a greenhouse that is rated for the wind gusts in your area.

We chose a type of greenhouse that can withstand Wyoming winds (one of the Gable series models from Greenhouse Megastore) and we use our Wyoming winds to our advantage with our greenhouse ventilation setup. 

8. Use Your Plants to Help Cool Your Greenhouse

Plants are like a natural evaporative system, they absorb water through their roots, use what they need to grow, and then the rest goes through something called transpiration. Transpiration is when excess water is evaporated. Planning and planting large leaf plants strategically can help lower the temperature of your greenhouse.

I also use heat-loving plants (like squashes and melons) to provide some shade some of my cooler-weather-loving plants. This helps delay the bolting of my cool weather plants. 

9. Water Your Plants Regularly

Watering your plants regularly will keep them healthy and make sure that the heat isn’t stressing them out. As I mentioned before plants absorb the water that they need and then the rest evaporates. Making sure that your plants have the right amount of water will ensure that the transpiration process takes place.

10. Damp Down Your Greenhouse

This is the process of spraying down pathways, empty areas, and other surfaces in your greenhouse so that the water can evaporate and cool the air. This process is like misting and is all about keeping your plants cool. Damping down creates a humid environment where your plants will be able to withstand the heat.

Are You Ready to Keep Your Greenhouse Cool?

Monitoring your greenhouse temperatures will ensure that you have healthy, productive plants throughout the heat of the summer. These different ways of cooling your greenhouse will help prevent plant stress, pests from moving in and diseases from spreading. 

Adding a greenhouse has helped us extend our growing season and increase our food security. It has been another step in our journey to more self-sustainable and free from systems holding us back. If being more sustainable is a part of your dream too, then my community-based group Freedom Foundry might be right for you. 

-> Freedom Foundry is all about learning different ways to be independent and free from the systems that have been holding you back. This group offers a new lesson each month with a step-by-step playbook and conversation with experts to help you create the independence in your life you have been craving. One of my goals in Freedom Foundry is to help folks opt out of some of our modern systems that are full of vulnerabilities. Learn More About Freedom Foundry Here. <- 

More About Growing Your Own Food:

Ways to Cool Your Greenhouse in the Summer

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Friday, July 22, 2022

How to Grow Grapes in Your Backyard

By Tiffany Davis - July 22, 2022 at 10:21AM

If you want to learn how to grow grapes in your backyard, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we will discuss everything from planting and caring for your grape vines to harvesting and storing your grapes. I will also provide some tips on how to make the most of your grape-growing experience....

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Thursday, July 14, 2022

Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup

By Tiffany Davis - July 08, 2022 at 08:08AM

There are many dishes that can be made with Condensed Cream of Mushroom soup. This versatile ingredient can add flavor and creaminess to a variety of recipes. I’m going to show you how to make this soup on your own so that you don’t have all those weird additives that come in the can....

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