Garden planning?

Growing Food Year-Round in a Greenhouse

Growing Food Year-Round in a Greenhouse

Growing Food Year-Round in a Greenhouse has been a dream for a long time!

Growing Food Year-Round in a Greenhouse Growing Food Year-Round in a Greenhouse

It’s mid-September here in Canada and I just sowed the last of my winter gardening crops.

Above is the ‘before photo’ of our backyard and new greenhouse, next season it will look a lot different after we put in our garden and perennials. The next photo is the weed disaster that we inherited. The last is taken 2 weeks ago after I cleaned out the greenhouse and sowed our crops with the girls.

I feel blessed to have greenhouse on this new acreage and that opens more opportunities for year-round gardening. Having a greenhouse year-round means some careful garden planning, crop rotation and good soil restoration though. Our greenhouse looks rectangular but when I measured it, it was around 19×19 (guessing a 20×20 with the outside beams). I wish I could tell you more about it but because I didn’t put it up I don’t know too many details.

Previously on my old blog Little Mountain Haven I’d shared with you our succession sowing schedule for our old polytunnel greenhouse (the plastic and pipes we’ve kept to build low tunnels with in our new garden). It looked something like this:

Growing Food Year-Round in a Greenhouse

Greenhouse gardening sowing schedule for a continuous harvest year-round

Growing Food Year-Round in a Greenhouse

I sowed all of our fall and winter crops Sept 4th & 8. Next year I’d like to reserve a corner for some earlier sowing, maybe mid-August. You don’t want to sow too early because it’s hot and can make the plants bolt and go to seed.

Our first frost this year was Sept 13th, but the greenhouse stayed frost-free and likely will until it dips well below zero. Our turnips were the first to sprout after just 2 days, the rest of the seeds have been coming up consistently since. Some crops are experimental: broccoli, cold hardy cauliflower (purple cape is supposed to be able to handle -10C/14F) and overwintering Galleon cauliflower down to -18C/0.4F) and I had some old parsnip seeds that I threw in there, they take 100 days so they might not get large enough.

I’m looking forward to all the crops filling in & will keep updating this article with photos with the progression!

Growing Food Year-Round in a Greenhouse


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    • Hi Erika,

      It depends on what I’m planting, in general I use decomposed manure, compost and azomite (to re-mineralize). I also use worm castings and/or seasoil under each transplant (I find it’s cheaper to feed each plant rather than do the whole bed sometimes). I’ll make compost, plant or manure fertilizer tea to boost during the season too (mostly fruiting crops). I made the mistake my first year fall/winter gardening of not restoring the soil after the summer crops so I restore the soil at the end of the summer before the fall crops go in too. Leaves and alfalfa pellets over garden beds in the fall that will be the brassicas or leafy crops next season for a nitrogen boost.

      I’ve heard mixed things about the back to Eden Gardening, a friend wrote a few excellent articles after trying that method for a few years:

  1. I don’t have a green house yet, I am in NE TN, and the temps have gone cold at night, usually around 2or 3 AM, but I planted lettuce and I go out and clip those little leaves every other day and have them with the peppers and make a salad or sandwich, it is great. started spinach, and as I was bringing the plantings to the front of the house to bring into my basement, I just plucked the tiny second leaves and they are so delicious!!!

    I cover my lettuce out side with a sheet, I plan on either using a lamp or bringing those plantings into the dining room to the window where it is cool, have wood heat in basement. That way can water and eat till at least FEB. In Jan will start the new crops and have them out in March. Ground does not freeze here, but we have a drought now and the fires in NC are so close and some have come into the area about 20 miles east of me, smoke and all bothered me this morning in town. cold and snow predicted this weekend, I would love it to rain, I use the water from the ‘spring’ that is pumped up from under my house by a sump pump when it gets full, I collect it.

    One day, I will have a green house outside the back of the house and will walk in an glean my food from there and not have to rely on others. I am 80 and this is exciting to me, after being almost crippled by spinal problems, ALL plantings will have to be waite high for me cause I cannot get down, but pallets work great for me and those barrels from town for 12 bucks each, cut in half, put on some concrete blocks or stacked pallets and there I have a huge place to grow.

    Thank you for showing you have problems like I do, but we get through them and gain from it all. Love, Nancy:-)

  2. Hi. Just stumbled on your website. I have grown large gardens for years. But have never done any fall/winter gardening. We live in Alberta. Are you just extending your fall season? Or are you just keeping things from freezing to harvest established root crops all winter?

    • Hi Heidi! I believe you’re in a zone 2 or 3 in Alberta. I have a winter garden in 3 ways: to harvest greens and root crops until the deep freeze sets in (about mid to late Dec, these crops are sown early to mid-summer), to harvest during mid-winter thaws when the temps go up enough that the greens like kale or spinach thaw out to harvest, and the 3rd is overwintering for early spring harvests (I sow these crops in September so they’re close to the ground, protected by snow or in the unheated greenhouse, then they grow like crazy in April to provide us with early harvests).

      I do know in your growing zone you’ll need a double tunnel effect because of the cold. Every winter is different, some winters are super cold, others aren’t. In general our temps go down to -20c, yours tend to be -30 or even -40 ( I lived in Calgary & Edmonton for many years!)

      If you search ‘winter gardening’ or ‘fall gardening’ on my blog I’ve written MANY posts on it. This will be my 3rd year with the unheated greenhouse (our cover is more of a canvas and doesn’t absorb as much sunlight as a plastic cover would do to increase the temp)

      Hope some of this helps!


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