Another Layer on the Greenhouse


Freezing drizzle has been falling since last night.  A light snow and bitter cold are on the way so of course this is the very last opportunity to add another layer of plastic to the greenhouse if I want to save the plants inside.  I have a 4×6 foot “lean to” greenhouse.  The greenhouse has three sides and it is attached to the back wall of the house which creates the 4th wall.  Someday I hope to write a whole series on managing a small greenhouse but for now, I’ll just share this story.

I like to do things ahead of time but this year, for various reasons I was operating on last minute deadlines.  Our first frost was almost a month later than average so much of the garden closing didn’t get done until quite late, if at all.  I have a lot of plants that I  bring in to the house to overwinter and I wanted to try very hard not to bring in any insects with them.  One year I had terrible aphids on my orange and lemon trees (still waiting for my first orange).  So of course, the night before the first frost, I put those plants in the greenhouse, knowing it would buy some time before I had to bring them in the house.

This year I also have several new fig trees and had to decide if I’ll try to overwinter them in the greenhouse or a cold dark garage.  The garage has no daylight and will be consistently cold, but won’t dip down as low as the green house temperatures.

The plants that need to be indoors for sure have made their way into the house by now and the fig trees are in the greenhouse so far but as our temperatures were predicted to fall below zero I worried about the temperatures in the greenhouse. While the snow would provide an insulating blanket our forecast also called for wind and the snow might not settle on the roof of the greenhouse in any measureable amount.  So, I retrieved the plastic sheet from the garage marked “greenhouse” and recruited help from the taller member of the family to get that extra layer of plastic added to the outside of the greenhouse.  The plastic is added only to the roof and front of the greenhouse with binder clips from the office supply store.  Last time we also had to add a bungee cord across the top because of the winds.

We headed out the back door, taking baby steps on the icy deck and around to the greenhouse.  Of course the bungee cord and binder clips which are used all over the garden during the season for such things as bird netting, shade cloth or row covers, are stored inside the greenhouse and the door was frozen shut from the freezing drizzle.  A cup of hot water and a cloth to dry the track worked great to release the frozen door and I retrieved the clips and bungee cord as quickly as I could so as not to let too much cold air into the greenhouse.

We soon had the plastic up and cold hands (you can’t really manage binder clips with mittens on) and were back in the house warming up.  That day we got less than 2 inches of snow and over night the temperature dropped to -4 degrees.  The temperature in the greenhouse got down to 14.  A few days from now (one week after that storm) we might have a day in the 60’s.  Welcome to Kansas!


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