Mavis Garden Blog – Getting the Greenhouse Ready for Spring

cleaning gutters

When we had the greenhouse installed last spring, I originally thought I would be growing food year round in it.

glass greenhouse

But growing 2,000 pounds of vegetables can be exhausting, and by the end of the season I found myself needing a break. So I threw in the towel, cleared almost everything out of the greenhouse, closed the doors, and didn’t look back.

mavis garden blog

Until yesterday. I had gone outside to feed the chickens, and before I knew it, I found myself scrubbing the glass walls, removing pine needles from the tiny gutters, and emptying the giant feed tank I used to grow my green zebra tomatoes in. Today I plan on scrubbing down the breathable fabric flooring.

galvanized tub

Some how, some way, I’ve got to figure out how I’m going to grow 2 tons of food this year. I want to be able to maximize my 10′ x 14′ glass greenhouse it it’s maximum potential, but I’m not too sure where to start.

Right now I’m thinking about growing tomatoes and peppers in there during the summer and early fall months, and lettuces in the spring. But beyond that, I don’t have a clue.

Have YOU ever grown anything in a greenhouse before? Do you have any suggestions?



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  1. Sarah b says

    Where did you buy your tank? I think we might switch to those this year so we can remove our raised beds and do another drainage project. I need to go check out costal farm (I think) in Auburn where the old Walmart was. Did you put anything in he bottom to offset all the dirt? Like old 5 gal buckets, etc?

    No help in the greenhouse other thank maybe installing heaters to extend the growing season here.

  2. Farrah Siet Wright says

    I know you don’t know it, yet, but you are my new best friend!
    I haven’t read your whole blog, because I’m a newbie and don’t actually get on the internets too often. However, I have seen your goal to raise a ton of food this year, and haven’t read anything about aquaponics plans. This is the best, fastest, easiest, labor free method of raising food. A few hydroponic trays, a couple of water tanks to raise freshwater fish, or crawfish in and I guarantee you will meet your goal. I am an aquaponics farmer, and would love to see you putting out the good word on your ever so popular site. NO water is wasted, it is all reused over and over again, until it evaporates. Last summer was very hot here in Colorado, and I only refilled the tanks every couple of weeks, but just a few inches of water were needed. In our water hungry climate in the southwest, this is just what the doctor ordered! Fish, tomatoes, squash, herbs, cucumbers, pumpkins, watermelons , radishes, beets, tulips, crocuses all can be grown with this method, producing it’s own fertilizer if you raise fish as well. Even if you don’t like to eat fish, a trade is easily made with friends and neighbors who will gladly eat some local, hormone free, freshwater fish.Give it a whirl, girl!

    • suzanne says

      Farrah, wow that is awesome. Do you have to over winter the fish in the greenhouse in Colorado if so is heat buildup an issue in the summer?

    • Deb says

      I’m really interested in the hydroponics. My husband got some of these big square water totes with a metal frame and he wants to try raising fish and hydroponics in our greenhouse. Have you done that? We kind of don’t know where to start”

      I raised tomatoes peppers lettuce basil cakes celery and some greens in my greenhouse here in oly…..we didn’t use supplemental heat. The tomatoes took over everything!

      I just checked my peas and some flower seeds I’m starting under lamps and they are an inch high already! Has anyone else started seeds yet? Am I too early?

  3. says

    Put in a small space heater in the greenhouse to overwinter the lemon/lime tree. Have it set at the lowest setting (just so things don’t freeze). Then you can start things outside also. Go with greens in the later winter/early spring then switch to bush style tomatoes that do well in containers. You’ll get a better yield off of your heirloom tomatoes if you grow them straight in the ground rather than containers. Dedicate your greenhouse to smaller (determinate) tomatoes.

    To go for poundage select hybrid tomatoes that will produce like mad, or heirloom varieties that make the giant fruit. Cuore di bue or Mortgage lifter are good choices. Don’t put them out until late May though. Let them get as big as possible in the greenhouse then put them outside.

    For a Summer crop in the greenhouse go with peppers. It doesn’t get hot enough in the Northwest to properly get a crop on peppers. Since you have the space go with peppers. It’s too hot and humid in the greenhouse for tomatoes, but peppers will LOVE it.

  4. Lisa says

    Mavis, you need a video camera in your backyard so we can watch as you work. I know nothing about growning, moving or replanting and watching you would really help. Wait, that is kind of freaky. Ok, so maybe not. Have you been gardening your whole life? What made you get started in such ventures? I am fairly new to your site. Maybe you have said this all before and I have not read it yet. You are my hero!
    Love your site and watch for your blogs everyday.
    Thanks for all you share with us :)

  5. UgaVic says

    Up here on the AK Peninsula, that long skinny part of the state the goes to out to the Aleutian Island, I usually start with early, like almost now, greens and then move into tomatoes, peppers, cukes and beans. We also did squash, and many of my herbs (those that can handle the higher humidity) as least some for super early ones. I will share you usually need to keep the air circulation up to keep the icky stuff from growing too.

    We are maritime climate but somewhat colder than you, so lots of cloudy damp days.

    I then, in late July, plant overwinter greens. Thinking you could do it in Aug.

    I have over 2000 sq ft and use no extra heat. I also have raspberries and strawberries at times in them. You can do that outside and IF it is a rainy and cold growing season, low tunnel them!! I will probably never garden/farm without feeling free to use low tunnels over crops if the conditions are not great so my efforts and yields do not suffer.

    Just some thoughts.

  6. Rachel in TN says

    Hello from Tennessee!

    I’m a newbie to greenhouse gardening. So I started at the very beginning of your Greenhouse category and read until the January posting. WOW.

    It looked like a LOT of time and energy went into the growing of so many veggies. I’m a homeschooling mother of 3 and also work with my husband in our business, so time is something I am in short supply of. It was nice to live vicariously through your postings.

    You didn’t mention – how close did you get to your goal? What have you done in the past month to prepare for spring? Inquiring minds want to know! 😉

    • Mavis says

      I grew 2,023 pounds of food and you can see all the current gardening postings under the “Gardening” tab at the top of the blog. I so want to go to Tennessee some day! :)

  7. Steve says

    If you really want to grow that much. Two books will help THE MARITIME NORTHWEST GARDEN GUIDE from Seattle Tilth (visit the Seattle Tilth website) and THE WINTER HARVEST HANDBOOK by Eliot Coleman. The Seattle Tilth book is the best month by month guide as to what will grow in our special Puget Sound climate. The Coleman book is aimed at getting the most out the greenhouses, hoop houses and cold frames without using spending money on heating and lights. Coleman farms in Maine and has to deal with same short hours of daylight the Washington has during the winter.

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