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You Can Grow It: A greenhouse can extend your growing season

Wanna get started early on your gardening? You might consider getting a greenhouse.

Whether you grow flowers or vegetables, having a greenhouse can extend your growing season throughout the year, and allow you to grow plants that normally can’t thrive in Idaho’s variable climate.

Garden master Jim Duthie shows us some options you might consider for a backyard greenhouse of your own, and he takes us to a local elementary school where their greenhouse is helping to nurture both plants and young gardeners.

“It’s still winter. Spring’s right around the corner though, but we still have some transitional weather to go, with cold days from time to time through the spring. It’s still too early to get a lot going on in your garden, but you can get a lot started if you had a greenhouse.”

Steve Herring, of Greenhouses, etc., builds custom greenhouses and atriums. Some are attached to existing homes and structures, while others are free-standing, assembled from greenhouse kits, like this one that Steve constructed at Zoo Boise.

As well as this greenhouse that Steve built here at Cecil Andrus Elementary School in Boise.

“This is a good-sized hobby greenhouse. It’s 8 by 12, and comes in a kit. Basically everything you need is in the kit in the box.”

Most kits include an aluminum frame, and polycarbonate wall and roof panels that lets the sunlight in and heats up the greenhouse. even on a cold day, temperatures inside the greenhouse can get up to around 70 or 80 degrees.

When it gets too warm, ventilation windows in the roof let some of the heat out. This one opens automatically when the temperature gets about 65 degrees.

“These openers on this greenhouse are wax arm openers, and they’re actually filled with bees wax and vegetable oil, and as they get warm around 65 degrees, they’ll just push the vent open easily like this, and as it cools off it will pull it closed and close it for the night.”

The size of your greenhouse will depend on available space and your budget.

“Well, a kit like this is perfect. These actually come in 8 feet by 8, 8 by 12, and 8 by 16, as well as 8 by 20. So you can basically just kind of dial in your price range.”

Greenhouse kits aren’t hard to assemble, but it helps to have a helper. They’ll take a few hours to put together. And it needs to be anchored to a solid foundation to prevent wind damage.

“They can go on a patio easily enough. They can bolt down very nicely to a patio. It’s good to hold them down because the wind will take them and roll them down the street. As long as they’re tied down well and fastened, they’ll be good.”

And with proper care, your greenhouse will last for many years.

“A building like this will last 10 to 15 years or more, depending on the exposure it has, and whether it’s got shade cloth for it for the summer.”

And having a greenhouse has made all the difference for the garden club at Cecil Andrus Alementary School.

“Well, we’re able to winter over. So we can start things much, much earlier. We don’t have to buy the vegetable starts ourselves. We can plant them and grow them. So that’s a lot less expensive,” said school garden advisor Robin Bradish.

Students in the garden club are actively learning about horticulture, mainly because of this greenhouse in which they can work.

“We have a really small little garden club, and those kiddos propagated grapes from our grapevines, so they’re growing new grape plants. They’re growing new peach trees from peach pits. We’re germinating flowers right now and vegetables that we’ll plant in the garden later, or give away as gifts. perhaps sell to raise more seed money.”

“We’ll be putting out plants soon, so we’ll be ale to put out plants that we started that aren’t available yet at the nurseries.”

“I like to just hang out here. I’ll come in the winter time and pretend to be working, just sit around in a nice warm greenhouse.”

As backyard gardening continues to grow in popularity, so does business for Greenhouses, etc.

“It seems to be picking up quite a bit in the last couple of years or so, it’s been pretty good.”

Greenhouses like this are available online or locally as kits that you can assemble yourself. And it will make all the difference when you want to get started early on your garden.

A good entry-level greenhouse can start at under $1,500, but prices can range up to several thousand dollars depending on additional options and construction styles.

You can find greenhouse kits at some local garden centers and hardware stores, or online. 

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