Greenhouses can often take a back seat during the summer months, when gardens are flourishing outside. But that doesn’t mean they should go unused. In fact, year-round greenhouses take on new roles during this time of year. Here are 4 strategies on how to use a greenhouse in the summer.
Warm Sanctuary for Summer Greenhouse Crops
One great strategy is to use the greenhouse primarily for hot weather vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and basil. While shade cloth and heat-storage systems like a Ground to Air Heat Transfer (GAHT®) system can help control greenhouse temperatures, it is still a warm spot in the garden. Especially since the greenhouse may occupy the sunniest spot in your yard. We recommend taking advantage of it by shifting what you grow in there to plants that like heat and full-sun.
Natural Sitting Area
Many gardeners take their garden almost completely outdoors in the summer, opening up the greenhouse as a sitting area or extra living space in the summer. Some of our growers, for example, house mature citrus trees and a range of vegetables for most of the year. During the summer, it is common for these growers to move their trees, flowers, and vegetables outside and create a huge outdoor garden. This leaves generous space for morning coffee and a meeting area in the greenhouse. For greenhouses in climates with more intense sunshine, a shade cloth should be added to keep the greenhouse at a comfortable temperature for people.
Year-Round Greenhouse Growing
Other growers use measures to prevent overheating in the greenhouse and grow a wide array of crops, hot and cool in the summer. Sharon, in Boulder CO, noted of her solar greenhouse: “everything is so much healthier in there compared to my outside garden. Believe it or not, I still have spring greens, kale and chard, growing. The tomatoes, peppers, and basil are great too.” To accomplish this type of growth in the greenhouse, adding shade cloth and controlling the heat gain is critical. A Ground to Air Heat Transfer (GAHT®) system is one way – it allows the greenhouse to store extra heat in the soil for heating at night.
In hot climates (places that get over 100 degrees in the summer), a year-round greenhouse with cooling systems is the only way most growers are able to grow during the summer.
An energy-efficient greenhouse provides a controlled environment to grow a wide variety of crops during the summer, including kale and chard, as well as hot weather vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. A combination of shade cloth, a Ground to Air Heat Transfer (GAHT®), and evaporative cooler prevents greenhouses from overheating and allows year-round growth.
Here are some other quick tips for using your greenhouse for summer growth:
- Take off and store window screens during the summer months – they don’t effectively block out pests like aphids and white flies but they do block out larger insects like ladybugs and bees
- Plant flowers outside of your greenhouse to attract pollinators
Greenhouse Seed Starting
While most gardeners focus on their outdoor beds during the summer, greenhouse growers should also be preparing for their second growing season that occurs in the greenhouse. Growing year-round often requires getting plants started early, in the late summer / early fall while the days are still long enough. This allows seedlings to get sufficient light and mature before light levels wane. The healthy, mature plants continue to grow in the greenhouse through the colder months, providing a year-round harvest. If started too late, seedlings will suffer from reduced light levels and come out spindly or “leggy.”
Thus, the greenhouse is a spot for new beginnings in the summer. Growers can start crops in trays or directly in the soil, depending on their planting plan. The seeds planted for the second growing season will depend greatly on the local climate and greenhouse design. They should be planned for well in advance.
For guidance on what to grow in a greenhouse in summer, check out our blog, Year-Round Greenhouse Planting Calendar.
We hope this blog was helpful in providing some insight into how to use your greenhouse in the summer. For more information on climate control during warmer months, please read our blog, How Can I Keep My Residential Greenhouse From Overheating? or How to Reduce Heat in Your Greenhouse with Shade Paint.
To get in touch with a greenhouse expert, contact us today!