Five reasons to put in a Greenhouse

We talked last time about greenhouses, what they do, what they aren’t and how they can help extend your seasons in the garden.  This time, lets talk about why a person might want a grrenhouse.

Lately, I’ve adopted the five reasons strategy for finding out if I really want something and will really use it.

It goes something like this:  If you can come up with one good reason, it might be just an impulse buy.  Two is stronger, but can still be impulse.  Three reasons means were getting close to where we need to be and the item is probably something we’ll use.

small greenhouse

When we get to five good reasons to have an item, chances are it will be used and not be set on the back shelf to end up covered with dust of lack of use.

It’s like when I bought a new tractor.  I got tired of fixing the old one(1), needed something that would start reliably (2) had more power than the old one (3) had features the old one didn’t have (4) and because somewhere along the line, I got older and all those things I did by hand seemed to hurt (5).

And so it is with the greenhouse.   Growing your own food is economical (1) it is safe (2) picked at the peak of ripeness (3) is ready when I want it (4) and it is something I like to do.(5).

(1)It is true that getting and setting up a greenhouse means there will be expense involved.  If you buy a commercial greenhouse, installed by a certified professional, It can cost nearly as much as a house per square foot of floorspace.  Purchasing a kit can reduce costs greatly, but not everyone is a “do-it’yourselfer” or has the skills of a building professional.  The last category is those individuals that have the ingenuity to design and build exactly what they want and have reasonable expectations that it will come out as planned.

Whether you build your own or have it installed may depend on a number of factors.  Rest assured, building a greenhouse is not like building a cathedral, it is as shell that prevents delicate plants from being damaged when temperatures dip below optimum for outdoor growing.  Numerous books are available on the design and building of greenhouses at garden stores all over the area.  If you are unfamiliar with building, it might be best to consult a pro first to get some ideas about how to proceed.

Once set up, growing produce is not much different than growing in your own garden.  Once you have the seed and soil in place, it may be easier than garden sowing and care.  The greenhouse isolates plants from many of the outside pests that make outdoor gardening a challenge.

(2)Newspapers and television news programs periodically run stories about salmonella outbreaks in spinach or other food borne diseases in many of the row crops.  As conditions deteriorate, more of these will make the news.  Rather than taking a chance on supermarket foods, why not grow your own instead of putting your own or your family’s health at risk.

The Federal Government has shown concern about the vulnerability of our food system.  Most crops are grown out in the open, where literally anyone can have easy access to sabotage our foods.  Now, the FDA has done a marvelous job of protecting consumers, but notice that most food recalls occur after several people have become sick eating contaminated foods.

(3)No question that food produced in Chile is picked while still immature, then treated by who knows what before being loaded on a 747 headed to your supermarket.  Those plants have not had a chance to reach maturity, preventing them from fully developing the nutrients inside them.  This is not to say that picked green means no nutrients, but the plants just haven’t matured and lack a good deal of the vitamins and minerals of a mature tomatoe.

At one time we bought produce from a local bulk discount store.  The tomatoes came in a little plastic box and they all appeared to be at the same stage of ripeness.  Biting into one was like biting a cardboard box.  There was a difference, however, because the cardboard box had more flavor–and probably more nutrients–than the tomatoes.  I swear those were the only tomatoes that could dull a ginsu knife. Something like this is not worth taking home.  It’s doubtful that one of those tomatoes would rot if thrown on the compost pile, you might find it there the next spring.

(4) there is nothing more satisfying than going to the greenhouse, during the dead of winter and picking a ripe tomato.  Or a handful of green beans  that so compliment my wife’s meatball soup.  Or any of a number of vegetables that you started before the temperature dropped and are now maturing.

Of course, planning is key to having those on hand when you want them, but winter grown vegetables mature slower and have a tendency to stay at the peak of freshness longer than the summer crops.  Some crops do better in winter conditions, namely the cabbage family, but anything that thrives during the colder spring months will do well, depending on the inside temperature of your greenhouse.

(5) my fifth reason is that I love to tend the garden.  It’s one of the reasons I look forward to the spring every year.

When I was a kid, I would mark branches of the cherry trees we grew in the Willamette Valley to see how growth progressed.  I kept a journal right through the time we picked the cherries and on through to the fall.  It was the first thing I did every day.

Fruit and produce are but a couple of types of plants that can be grown in greenhouses.  The leading agricultural crop in Oregon is nursery stock, flowers and shrubs.  For a person who loves the work, the greenhouse is the way to go.

So there you have my five justifications for the greenhouse.  Are there more?  Sure, lots more, but this is my justification.  It makes a good investment because it will be used and used some more.

So far we’ve looked at greenhouses in general and reasons for having a greenhouse in the first place.  Next we’ll take a look at types of greenhouses to help you decide which might work best for you.

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