It’s eternal summer in the greenhouse

It may be winter outside, but inside the greenhouse, tropicals flourish.

It may be winter outside, but inside the greenhouse, tropicals flourish.

It may be winter outside, but in the greenhouse, it’s always summer no matter what the weather. It’s humid, warm and when the propane heater gets going, almost hot. I love it. Winter in Oklahoma isn’t that dreary until after the holidays. Right now, blue skies reign mostly supreme. You just never know what kind of morning you’ll wake up to . . . today, a heavy fog, but it burned off rather before I got outside. I was working on the book, and deadlines come first. Some days in December are almost warm in the 60s. Others reach a high of 30F. We have weird yet wonderful weather until  Christmas comes and goes.

January and February make me think I’ll lose my mind. Skies are often cloudy, and the temperature is even more frustrating as we travel further from the sun. We never know what kind of winter we’re going to get. However, in the greenhouse, all is warm and wonderful.

Inside the greenhouse, you can see the controls at the back of the house, along with the electric heater.

Inside the greenhouse, you can see the controls at the back of the house, along with the electric heater.

I pinch myself every time I open the door. I can’t believe we really bought and built it. I’ve always wanted one, and I saved my earnings for three years. Yes, three years. Writers don’t get paid much anymore. Ha!

Propane heater for the greenhouse. Bill thinks he bought it a little large.

Propane heater for the greenhouse. Bill thinks he bought it a little large.

I planned to use the unheated greenhouse to harden off seeds as part of my seed starting routine. Then, I realized I wanted so much more. I need a place to go when the cold winds rattle my my very soul. I need to smell summer fauna, and maybe a flower or two.

Not just want, but need. I need a lemon tree. I know, it sounds decadent, but lemon and mint are my two favorite flavorings. Mint is easy to grow almost anywhere. However, to grow my own citrus would be a dream come true. I’m going to buy a lemon, a lime and maybe even a tangelo or kumquat. That’s next spring’s challenge. I’m going to grow mint and basil over winter. I will always have both. Hurray!

Now, for some technical info. Bill and I first put in an electric heater, but we worried about two things. One, if the power went off,  the heat would too, and that could quickly turn into a problem. The other concern was cost. Electric heat is much more expensive than propane heat. We elected to have two separate heaters, propane and electric. Since Oklahoma’s weather is variable, we don’t need the pilot light lit all the time. So, if we forget to turn on the pilot light and get a sudden downturn in temperatures (like the end of this week and part of last week), the electric heater will come on. It’s a two-stage system for two people who might forget. I also talked Bill into a carbon monoxide monitor to make sure I don’t gas myself in there. The propane heater is much more cost effective than the electric one, as long as we have propane in the tank outside. Next time, I’ll talk about the water situation. This post is getting rather long.

Carbon monoxide monitor for the greenhouse, not cheap, but worth it I think.

Carbon monoxide monitor for the greenhouse, not cheap, but worth it I think.

I make the small farmer rounds everyday. First, I visit the chickens, then grab the mail and finally, head last to the greenhouse where I open the door to find . . . .

Agaves hanging out in the greenhouse. While agaves don't need to be kept this warm, it doesn't hurt.

Agaves hanging out in the greenhouse. While agaves don’t need to be kept this warm, it doesn’t hurt. I have these on the right side where nothing is watered much.

Summertime has again arrived.

 

 

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32 comments on “It’s eternal summer in the greenhouse

  1. Jane Scorer

    How deep does that need go to nurture things in the warm sunshine ! It is an almost physical absence when winter is here and it just can’t happen! Seems like you have the ideal solution ! I have 2 cool greenhouses which we keep frost free so that tender stuff survives our uk winters, but I would love to do what you are doing. I have always been put off by the cost of heating, but you have given me food for thought. Thankyou !

  2. PlantPostings

    Oh gosh, Dee, how wonderful! I’ve always wanted one, too. We bought a small “pop-up” greenhouse last spring, but by the time we were ready to put it up it was mid-May! Maybe we’ll think ahead a little better next spring. We did, however, buy a Lemon tree! It’s in our sunroom, which is a southern exposure with windows on three sides. So far, it seems to be doing just fine. It’s going through a winter phase now, with temps in that room at about 45-50, and nighttime temps in the upper 30s. It will be an indoor tree from October through April, and then it will go outside during our hot Midwest summers. I hope to have Lemons by this time next year! Enjoy your little corner of summer!

  3. Les

    What a well deserved luxury. I’d like to turn the space currently occupied by our deck into something somewhere between and enclosed porch and a greenhouse.

  4. I have always wanted a greenhouse but I don’t have room…well maybe a bit of a redo in the garden to fit a small one 🙂 Someday

  5. Jean

    Hi Dee, I’m considering a greenhouse myself. Watching the bougainville lose its leaves again all over my living room floor is a good incentive. Can you recommend the manufacturer?

    1. Dee Nash

      Hey Jean, I hope you buy one. They are some work, but a lot of joy too. I got mine, the Freedom Greenhouse from Bartlett Bench in Maine. Mine was a different configuration than they had at the time, but now, I think they offer it. http://www.bbwire.com/New_Prod_Freedom_Greenhouse.html The one shown has a roof that lifts off entirely. Mine has vents that open. HTH~~Dee

  6. judi hively

    Bet you will be adding on to it before long since they are so much fun…I always hated saying “Good Bye” to all the plants that couldn’t fit into the house…bet you are the same way.

    1. Dee Nash

      Yes, Judi, I fear I will one day, but let’s not tell that to Bill yet. He hasn’t gotten over the shock of heating it. Just kidding.

  7. Jessica Tucker

    Lovely post and greenhouse, Dee! I very much agree with you about having a little haven away from winter. As I was shivering in minus 11 this morning, I could not help but think back to my time working in a greenhouse:)

    Have a wonderful winter with your greenhouse!

  8. Rose

    I love your greenhouse! What a great place to retreat to on a miserable January or February day. I remember visiting my daughter in Arizona in the winter and seeing lemon trees behind her house–yes, a lemon tree is just what you need to make this sanctuary complete. Looking at the weather maps for today and tomorrow, I hope you don’t have to shovel too much snow to get into your greenhouse!

  9. Greg

    Very nice Dee. I’m jealous, but I’m limited by space. Someday I will add a lean to type on the south side of the house. Currently putting my Aloes and Agaves under lights in the sun room. I am experimenting with different methods of overwintering tenders and am anxious to see how they grade. Are you ready for the arctic blast later this week?

  10. Lisa at Greenbow

    I have always wanted a greenhouse too. Seeing yours gives me hope that one day I will have one. I can almost smell the damp soil smell. mmmmmm

  11. granny annie

    Our neighbors are in the process of building a greenhouse and I will share this with them. It is not a challenge I am brave enough to take on but one I will enjoy watching Yours in a wonderland.

  12. Phillip

    That is awesome and you should indeed get a lemon tree!

  13. Kathy from Cold Climate Gardening

    A very worthy savings goal for garden writing earnings! Now what are you saving for? Or are you going to spend your earnings outfitting and stocking your green house?

    1. Dee Nash

      I’ve spent a lot of my earnings already getting old terra cotta pots for the greenhouse. Oh my. I must say though they look great, plastic is easier to keep watered. I will probably buy some ridiculous things too for it. I can’t help myself. LOL!

  14. Layanee

    That will be quite a nice respite from the dreariness of winter. I think a lemon tree would be just the thing. Enjoy!

  15. Cindy, MCOK

    How cool is that? VERY cool indeed! Or should I say very warm?

    1. Dee Nash

      Cindy, you make me laugh.

  16. Cindy, MCOK

    How cool is that? VERY cool indeed!

  17. Annie Earley

    I love my Meyer lemon! Smells heavenly when in bloom and fruit is just so juicy. I bought it years ago before Binding Stevens closed on 41st in Tulsa. It was what started my dreams of glasshouses that and a mention of limonnias in Francis Mayes book Under The Tuscan Sun. It has always fruited for me even when overwintering in the house. I picked up a couple smaller ones at Southwoods last fall.
    I was interested to see how you where heating your greenhouse. My husband designed a solar heating system for my glasshouse it works great as long as you have sunshine! With the cold cloudy days he had to add a heater to system. Using diesel heater already had for time being. It comes on when solar can’t keep up. Like your electric and propane plan. We are learning as we go.

    1. Dee Nash

      Annie, I wondered if you’d chime in. I’ll have to get one on your recommendation. I have tasted the fruit since Whole Foods carries them. So delicious. I love your story about your greenhouse dreams. Mine probably started when I went in my first glass house, the one at Will Rogers Park in Oklahoma City. I was struck by how the light came through the windows just so.

  18. Patrick's Garden

    Happy for you, Dee. Am sure there is a lot of satisfaction in knowing it was paid for by three years of hard work. Had a ‘Meyer’ lemon tree in the backyard in Sydney as a kid. Just reading on wikipedia that it’s thought to be a cross between a lemon and orange or mandarin. Hope you buy one big enough for fruiting in the very near future.

    Now about that mint. Was a big fan of mint until we moved to our first home in Kansas and mint had taken over under our deck in a growing area of at least 8′ X 3′. Wanted to take it out and cover in plastic/stone so I cut it all the way to the ground. One cannot imagine the intensity of the mint cloud created and I think I will never be able to appreciate it again.

    If I had your space would have to have a big pot of parsley for my mash potatoes which was very popular back home. A little bit goes a long way. No need for gravy when mashed with butter and parsley. Have you tried or heard of doing this, my dear sweet Dee?

    1. Dee Nash

      Hi Patrick! Yes, I have heard of that. I do grow parsley, but mine overwinters in the potager. I only have to remove it when it begins to bolt in spring. I only eat gravy once in awhile. I had some on Thanksgiving. Love a good roast with gravy. Now, you’re making me hungry. I find mint in iced tea almost divine, but I see your point. Never had a mint julep. Ah, I guess that’s too late. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by. Please post again soon on your blog. Your readers miss you.

  19. rusty duck

    That’s wonderful Dee, a haven in the garden all year round. Definitely a lemon tree, definitely!

    1. rusty duck

      Bloomin’ spell check… THAT’S wonderful!!!

      1. Dee Nash

        I fixed it. 🙂 Do you know how many times that happens to me?

  20. Jennie Brooks

    I’m smiling and happy you have your greenhouse.

  21. Nancy

    I would appreciate info on the “controls” for the greenhouse.You would want to vent off the built up heat during the summer. Did you build in a system for that?
    Glad you can enjoy the warmth during the winter.
    Cold in So.Ca. is the 40’s but the greenhouse is always a great addition for any greenie.

    1. Dee Nash

      Hi Nancy, Yes, I should explain the controls better. Maybe I’ll write more about them when I write about the water. The entire thing is controlled with batteries and solar power. The gears at the top of the greenhouse are also connected to a thermostat. They automatically open when it gets too hot in there. We built it over the summer, and it opened throughout the day, often closing at night. There are also controls for the watering system, but I’m not too happy with it. I may do a different watering system. If I decide to grow anything in the greenhouse in late spring, I’ll probably need an exhaust fan. Does that help answer your question?

  22. Julie

    Dee, it’s so beautiful! I’m so happy for you–I can just feel your joy! Have a wonderful time playing with your new toy! (P.S. I think I need a carbon monoxide detector. The propane always makes me a little nervous, too.)

    1. Dee Nash

      Thank you so much Julie. I do love it. About the carbon monoxide detector, $99 is worth it for one’s life.