I’m a Southerner. With a capital “S”. Which is why I am Suffering, with another capital “S”. Here in the Blue Ridge mountains of western Virginia, we have officially surpassed Anchorage and Denver in total snowfall for the season. Today’s batch adds up to 24″ on the ground at our farm.
Blueberries in the snow. If one more person says “Probably good for all the insect problems,” I’m going to get violent.
The chickens are not happy. They’ve been cooped up (ha! I didn’t really mean to do that!) for 10 days straight. I myself suffer from cabin fever, limp hair, seasonal depression, and a persistent cough.
Hell no, we won’t go!
What keeps me from going totally nuts? Only the best $12,000 ever spent – no,no, not granite counter tops…it’s our very own greenhouse. This modest 24′ x 48′ polycarbonate sheet hoop house may not resemble a Victorian conservatory (you can get one of those beauties here), but it works like a champ. Yes, we have greenhouses on campus for research and teaching, but that’s work; and pet plants are frowned upon.
Nothing beats your own private winter hideaway. My plant-diva-friend Elissa uses her crowded greenhouse for not only her immense plant collection, but also a festive (if cramped) happy hour.
As sleet pelts the roof, I’m surrounded by green: tropical plants dug up from the garden before frost and those “pets in pots” accumulated from hither and yon. The humidity is wonderful – I can hear my skin go “aaahhhh” after a couple of hours.
Herd o’ Agaves and succulents. They’re perfectly happy with the cool temperatures – several are blooming.
I’ve dreamed of one for years; then finally took the jump 16 months ago. Again, it’s nothing a homeowner’s association would ever approve of; just a commercial-grade, heavy duty, Quonset-type production house. Stylistic concerns were sacrificed for square footage. The most common complaint from home greenhouse owners is “I wish I had built a bigger one.”
The other concern is heating costs. It has a propane heater, and propane’s not cheap, nor environmentally friendly. But we run it pretty darn cold – around 48 F night temperatures, which certainly helps. Are the tropicals thrilled? Not really, but they’re alive and hanging in there (however, the begonias are really grumpy right now).
Some PVC pipe + overhead misting + heating mat = broccoli spinach, and basil seedlings, happily germinating at a 75 F soil temperature, despite an air temperature below 50 F. Basil?! Yes, I realize I’m totally jumping the gun timing-wise here, made worse by the fact that I teach both greenhouse management and ornamental plant production (do as I say, not as I do!).
Yep, more fun than you can shake a shovel at!
I’ll take your questions, comments, and snowballs now…