I love my greenhouse from my Head (of lettuce) to my TomaToes..
At HCI, we pride ourselves in building houses that are Green, but I also enjoy building Greenhouses! As many of you know, I was raised on a farm and my first love is horticulture. In fact, my degree is in Landscaping and Construction. While I was forced to transition to “real construction” during the drought and recession of 1989, gardening continues to be a source of joy and relaxation for me. And, as a member of the Western Horticulture Society and California Native Plant Society, I spend a large amount of my free time with other fellow gardeners.
I have always wanted a greenhouse to start seedling and protect tender plants from inclement weather. I ordered a greenhouse “kit” over a year ago and was finally able to “build” it last month.
Left: My Happy Place. Right: Inside – shelves for seedlings, larger plants below
Greenhouse kits are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased through Lowes, Home Depot, Harbor Freight and various online stores such as Hayneedle. I purchased mine from Harbor Freight, primarily because it was economical, knowing that I could modify it to fit my existing space and because I had the tools and experience to do so. A word of caution: Don’t underestimate the term “Assemble” in the description. To construct my greenhouse, it required two weekends to “assemble” it and several more days to modify the stock structure into the “fully loaded” version I envisioned. This included the addition of strip lighting, decking, benches, a heater, a timer, automatic irrigation, and a vent.
To begin your collection of plants, start by selecting quality seeds. I like to purchase mine from Pinetree Garden Seeds because they have a wide selection of high-quality seeds. I also save seeds from fruits and vegetables that I’ve grown that are self-pollinated or locally cross-pollinated. That way they become hybridized to the local area.
Most likely, I didn’t do a decent job of convincing you that assembling a greenhouse is fun, but even if you never build a greenhouse, here are 10 good reasons that gardening is a worthwhile hobby.
1. Plants appreciate care and feeding, and they don’t talk back. (Those of you with kids will understand.)
2. The ROI is better than many of my investments. For the price of some seeds, water, and love, you can produce unlimited amounts of food. And, it’s amazing how much better it tastes when you grew it and it remains on the plant until it is ripe.
3. You will reap the rewards for your efforts relatively quickly; many plants bear fruit or vegetables within a couple of months.
4. Dirt can make you happy (and healthy).
Studies show that getting your hands in the dirt can have an unexpected range of health benefits including alleviating symptoms of psoriasis, allergies, and asthma, and improving immune function. Gardening has also shown promise in reducing the incidence of stroke and heart attack risk by up to 30% for those over 60. And, in one long-term study of 3,000 adults, researchers found daily gardening to represent the single biggest risk reduction factor for dementia, reducing incidence by 36%. Other studies confirm the antidepressant effect of gardening and found that a strain of bacterium in soil, Mycobacterium vaccae, triggers the release of serotonin, which in turn elevates mood and decreases anxiety.
5. Composting for your garden reduces waste.
Compost is necessary to create a healthy growing environment as it infuses nutrients back into the soil, reduces evaporation, and moderates soil temperature. And, you can compost using your own plant-based kitchen waste and yard clippings. A recent estimate from the Environmental Protection Agency predicted that up to one-fourth of all landfill waste could have been turned into compost. Click on this link for 10 Reasons to Start Composting.
6. You will be the envy of all your friends and neighbors.
If you do use a greenhouse, you’ll be able to grow tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, eggplant, lettuce, basil, and other vegetables during the winter and lettuce and tomatoes year-round!
7. Gardening allows you to grow your favorite plants and it’s a wonderful way to perpetuate family traditions and recipes. One of my favorite vegetables to grow is Espelette peppers, which I use to make my grandmother’s Piperade Sauce.
8. It’s a house that you can build without a permit!
A free-standing greenhouse with a maximum size of 120 sq. ft. USUALLY does not require a permit. (Please confirm this with your local building department).
9. Small business employee retention.
In addition to “growth” opportunities, my crew enjoys being my samplers and recipients of the “fruits” of my labors. A happy and healthy crew is a productive crew.
10. Gardening is a hobby that evolves with you and your family:
- For newborns, you have healthy pesticide-free fruits and vegetables that you can puree into baby food with confidence.
- For toddlers and elementary school students it’s a good educational tool.
- For teenagers… well, you might have to make sure they haven’t planted their own “green plants.”
- At any age, it’s a great place to escape from your cell phone, work or chores, and you will be all set for “the weird hobby years.”
Check out this wonderful book for kids from IKEA! 90 colorful pages of how its great fun making things grow!
Why Grow in a Greenhouse?
Learn more about Greenhouse Growing Benefits & Basics