Dreams of a Greenhouse

Windows are the gateway to the real world; except, my office didn’t have one.  At mid-day, while most sought a quiet location to enjoy lunch, my escape, eight miles east, included a reason to hydrate and meander the thin aisles of short to tall green foliage.  Secretly, I loved breathing in the earthy scents, and the consistent hum of the commercial fan.  Plant lovers often dream of owning a greenhouse to raise the germination percentage and not feel limited by a growing zone. Whether you live in an apartment or on acreage in the country, the idea is possible.  You just need the right structure and environmental factors to foster the humid combination of earthy smells and fast-growing plants. 

Let’s count the ways! 

Evergreen Trees 

A green thumb is not necessarily the magic required to follow precise directions in propagating evergreen slips. Cuttings of healthy nodules occur during dormancy and should rest in water for at least 24-hours to boost hydration levels.  To force the plant’s self-repair and grow roots, cut the outer bark one inch at the stem’s end.  Evergreens prefer a combination of all-purpose potting soil and coarse sand, with the slips planted three inches apart.  For ease of access, place the evergreens in a tray and wrap them with thick plastic, such as an extra-large space bag.  Cover the tray from the left, then to the right, providing an air-free, fully contained “greenhouse.”  Within hours, droplets of water will offer well-needed moisture!   

Directions:  Keep in a location of bright, indirect sunlight, ranging between 70 to 75 degrees.  Spritz the sand, only to keep it lightly moistened. Mark your calendar, and check on your slips several times weekly.  After one month, healthy roots should appear.  Transplant to pots and direct sunlight! 

The Humidity Dome 

Stepping up from plastic bags is the heavy-duty, reusable “humidity dome kit” to accommodate one to 96 seeds.  Usually, kits include a dome with ventilation to fit over seedling cells, and a bottom drain tray.  While self-contained and portable, the mini-greenhouse traps moisture to maintain relative humidity, achieving a 98% germination rate. 

Tip:  A built-in or included heating mat is a bonus to any kit.  Also, consider investing in hydroponics kits! 


Extending the growing season or protecting late, frost-sensitive arrivals requires an angled covering of either glass or six-mil plastic.  The base could be an established raised bed, transformed to shelter plants across three seasons.  Autumn and winter crops receive enough shelter, light, and warmth to survive temperature drops and harsh winds.  

Tip:  Think about the height potential of your cold-frame crops.  You may decide on an “A-frame” or “hoop” system.  

Tip:  Go for low expense; therefore, consider using old windows, PVC pipe (great bendability), or bales of straw.  

Four Tier Systems 

If you have a window, porch, or desk facing south, the possibility of having a greenhouse just increased!  Small systems, four shelves encased in plastic with a zipper, can produce enough humidity to release water droplets; yet, spritzing is still recommended.  Consider the possibilities, whether inside or outside the home.  You can enjoy germinating flowers, herbs, and vegetables to transfer to pots, to the ground, or to keep within the enclosure. 

Tip: Inexpensive seedling heating pads and grow lights will add to your plant’s success, especially on overcast days! 

The Walk-in Greenhouse 

Eventually, all gardeners voice the sentiment, “I need more room, tiered shelves….” and suddenly, the bulb lights up to the magical words, “a greenhouse.”   Shopping for one, on the other hand, requires an outlook of perseverance and high standards.  It must combine the promise of rugged durability in harsh environments, heavy-duty, twin-walled construction, and a frame that will not warp, melt, or crack.  Most likely, the kit will include solar heat-sensitive ventilation for all windows.  Take time to read the positive and negative reviews, watch several homeowners’ installation videos, and take notes on the pros and cons.  Once purchased, consider investing in a four-inch-thick concrete pad with a drain—a solid foundation to install an anchor kit.  The dream is possible with patience! 

Plant lovers seeking to fulfill their planting needs and goals can have it all!  While a walk-in meets the basic definition of a “greenhouse,” more transparent and translucent windows can cause a welcomed new problem—having too many plants! But, my goodness, is that even possible?


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photography by JEJ PHOTOS Budget Blinds of North

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