So it isn’t technically winter here in Nevada, but the weather would have you fooled. With fresh snow on the ground, temperatures hovering around 11 it sure feels like winter.
Running a homestead is a yearly operation. Things may slow down in the cooler weather, but animals still need to be fed, ice needs to broken, and projects need to be completed.
I do not necessarily spend my days outside, but I am busy inside the home cooking, cleaning and tending to our greenhouse.
This is the beginning of our second year with our greenhouse, through a lot of failures, and successes I’m happy to share that we are eating fresh, truly organic food from our own labor.
The greenhouse has been one of our greatest assets to our sustainable lifestyle. I wish I could say today we are eating 100% from our homestead, but it wouldn’t be truthful and after all I’m hoping to share our experience to encourage others to live more sustainably. It’s a process and definitely not one that can be done overnight.
Before the cold weather set in we removed the existing cover to our greenhouse and replaced it with a new cover to prevent as much wear and tear over the winter as possible. We lined the interior of the greenhouse with bubble wrap making sure to cover any cracks and crevices that may let cool air creep in. The bubble wrap helps to retain the heat on these below freezing days. We are fortunate enough to have heat in our greenhouse. With a small budget we dug in PVC pipe underground and ran an extension cord from our back patio to the greenhouse as a temporary way to have heat out there until we have the ability to have an electrician run electricity out there. It’s a simple, cost effective way to obtain heat without having to worry about an extension cord lying around the farm. Once the sun comes out there is no need to run the heater, we use it to keep the night temperatures above freezing inside. If you have no way of getting heat into your greenhouse I will be sharing soon another method to help create warmth.
We purchased two clear plastic covers from Home Depot and they work just perfectly. We keep an extra on hand just in case Nevada winds rip through our hard work. For only $25.67 they have worked perfectly for our greenhouse project. You can purchase the clear cover in the paint section at your local Home Depot or order them here. Home Depot does not pay me to advertise, like I’ve said trial and error has helped us to find what works and what does not. We’ve blown through a lot of plastic covers complements of Nevada winds, and have found this to be the most successful.
We call it the steeple, we’ve found that this shape works the best for our weather conditions. The snow and rain easily runs off. The wind is able to roll right over the greenhouse whereas our rounded, Oregon trail shape had a bit harder time. Rain would pool in little gaps creating sagging. This has by far been our most successful greenhouse. We stapled the bubble wrap around the wooden base of the greenhouse adding additional warmth to our plants.
I had started seeds around September in the greenhouse and have been anxiously awaiting the fruits of my labor. This week we enjoyed fresh Red Russian Kale, and Cabbage.
The Brussel Sprouts are loving this cooler weather and are quickly growing. Our citrus fruits are a bit chilly, but aren’t complaining.
I just added cauliflower, broccoli, and more green lettuce seedlings. I am constantly starting new trays of seedlings, I’ve noticed a simple way to help keep plants warm in the winter weather is to plant them close together. Some would argue that this doesn’t give the plant much room to grow, I’ve found that I’ve had no issues and the plants thrive tightly planted together.
Recently I was talking to someone that said growing your own food in our winter climate was impossible. I wish more people would discuss and share ideas because growing your own food in winter temperatures is definitely possible. A greenhouse makes year round growing a breeze. You do need to practice patience, seedlings take longer to start in the greenhouse, so I usually start them in a window in my home before hardening them off in the greenhouse. There are many work arounds to providing yourself an endless supply of food in the winter months. It just takes creativity, patience, and maybe a chat with an old farmer. I found my most useful information comes from chatting with an old timer, it seems that they have the answers to the lost art of sustainability.
Do you have a greenhouse on your homestead?
What are your successes and failures with growing your own food during these frigid winter months?
I absolutely love the smell of a greenhouse, its warm, earthy scent is what brings me alive on these cold days. The only place you can find something green growing in the high desert of Nevada during the winter. A greenhouse is a must have on a homestead it’s one of my greatest treasures around here.