Using a Greenhouse or Sunroom

The best way to be self-sufficient and self-reliant is to have an adequate source of food all year round... whether you grow it in summer months and preserve it, or have it freshly growing and picked when needed. This is the key to being self-reliant, because, as you know, if you don't concentrate on the food aspect of living, you aren't self-reliant.

I once read a permaculture book, whose title I forget, that had pictures of her south-facing room. In there, she grew much of her fruit and veggies that she preferred to eat fresh. This included, amazingly enough, a tomato plant that was several years old, and so tall it reached her ceiling and curved along it.

We have two small windows facing the south in our current home. One of the conditions of our next home is that it have an entire room with windows on the southside, even if we have to build it ourselves. Whether it be that room, or a seperate building (greenhouse), we'll be growing:
  • bananas
  • lemon
  • lime
  • miniature columnar apple
  • miniature columnar peach
  • blueberries
  • strawberries
  • tomatoes
  • greens
  • carrots, carrots and more carrots
  • eggplant
  • onions
  • zucchini
  • yellow crookneck squash
  • string beans
  • herbs (many kinds)
Plants Versus Storage:
I recently saw (I think on PBS) a professional greenhouse for tomatoes. The tomatoes started on the ground and wound all the way up to the ceiling. This was a professional situation so I'm quite sure their storage area was somewhere else. As a homesteader, it's advised to keep your supplies closest to where you use them the most. We're opting for benches (pictured here) in our greenhouse, and probably something similar in our sunroom.

Keeping the Greenhouse Warm in Winter:
Winters here get very cold, sometimes below zero and sometimes snowed in. If there isn't a means of heating the greenhouse, any plants in there will freeze. Beyond what you may read in books or on the internet, this is our plan...

We will be surrounding the greenhouse: barn to left and garage to the right. That will give the greenhouse lots of heat. If you can't do that, you could heat with space heaters, but those are a little dicey and need attention in hopes that they won't burn down the building during the night.

You could also provide heat via animals! Yep... chickens or rabbits or other small animals. There's math involved (calculating BTU's, body mass, etc.), and you have to provide adequate summer housing, watering, etc., but I've heard of people very successfully using this method.

Consider not only extending your fresh-produce season, but increasing it! Make use of your south-facing (or north-facing in the southern hemisphere) windows to grow many fresh veggies and fruits in your home.

No comments: