Preparing your Greenhouse for spring planting

As spring approaches I know it’s time to sort my seeds from last year, order any new seeds and get the greenhouse open and ready to use. greenhouse in the snow
Creative Commons License photo credit: wikked one

Once the greenhouse ready for use I let it set for a week to warm up. I use solar heating so the water needs to warm and that takes about a week to take the chill out of any corners.

It takes about two days to clean and organize the greenhouse.

I use the following checklist

  • Wipe down any tables and surfaces with a disinfectant.
  • Check all corners, doors and windows for air leaks.
  • Check tables and indoor cold frames for stability and any needed repairs.
  • Clean and fill clear plastic containers for solar heating
  • Sort and clean any left over pots and planters
  • Check any leftover soil to see if its useable
  • Collect my compost and start more
  • Check plastic used for mini greenhouse climate control
  • Check additional lighting needed for seedlings

Solar heating

I started using solar heating about three years ago. My spring climate is so unpredictable and a cold snap would have expensive gas bills or have to rely on wood heat and go out every three hours to check the fire and temperature. I don’t know about you but the alarm going off at 3 am to head out into sub degree temperatures tends to make me grouchy.

What I did was set up my greenhouse two foot wider on all sides than I wanted. I had my brother dig a trench three foot deep with his backhoe and placed black metal 35 gallon barrels in the ground filled with water. The greenhouse frame and ground heat will keep the water in the barrels from freezing. I cover the barrels with clear plastic after the end of the greenhouse season. This set up keeps the greenhouse at about 40 degrees all winter.

After the greenhouse is cleaned I fill clear plastic jugs with warm water and place on top of the 35 gallon barrels. The sun will keep the plastic jugs at a temperature that is warm enough to heat the greenhouse to a 55-degree temperature. If I need additional heat the use of a small heater or even light will warm the greenhouse another five to 10 degrees.

To insure the jugs get enough sunlight I set the tables I use beside the water containers not on top of them. Later in the spring and summer the tables are placed over the barrels so they do not heat up by the sun.

I will also set up mini greenhouses within the greenhouse for starting seeds that require more heat. I have even used hot beds in the greenhouse for my finicky heat loving seeds and transplants.

One other way I have to heat an area is with a waterbed heating pad. I usually use this only for tomato and pepper plants that germinate better with heat from the soil, but if desperate I will use the heater in the greenhouse.

Greenhouse gardening can be a lot of fun. It gives you a larger selection of seeds and plants that you can grow and extends your growing season.

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