Sweet peppers are growing in the greenhouse this winter.

A basic greenhouse can extend the season

One must encourage a man when he’s prepared to do the cooking, so when David gets a notion to rustle

One must encourage a man when he’s prepared to do the cooking, so when David gets a notion to rustle up a batch of his excellent clam chowder in January that, he says, won’t work without sweet peppers, one can march smugly out into the greenhouse and pick him some right off the plant. Enough sunlight penetrates the clouds in our neck of the woods to sustain many crops.

A greenhouse can save money and improve one’s quality of life, particularly in winter. If attached to the house, it can help warm things up when an adjoining door is opened on sunny days; but attached or not, a greenhouse can support crops that cold frames cannot and can save us a trip to the store on a cold blustery day to buy them at winter prices.

Many books can scare us off, telling us that we must be scrupulously clean in the greenhouse and scrub everything down once a year with a bleach solution to kill possible disease organisms. We should mist the greenhouse down regularly and set up barrels of water to keep things warm overnight. Sprinkling systems, electric fans and windows that open and shut automatically are de rigour.

I don’t do any of this, yet my grapes produce sweet bunches, and peppers keep ripening until late January in my unheated greenhouse whose temperature averages 3 C (6 F) warmer than outside in winter.

Cold frames and cloches can work well to extend the season out in the garden, but nothing beats a greenhouse for growing more tender crops like cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers. We can keep plants even warmer by covering them with spun cloth cover. I rotate the crops in the greenhouse and find that my fertilizing and foliar spraying regimen produces healthy plants that do not acquire any diseases.

Recycled windows make dandy greenhouses but many farmers find that large, plastic-covered tunnels also work very well. In China, farmers supply 90 per cent of the fresh produce consumed in northern China by using adaptations of walk-in tunnels that depend entirely on the sun for heat and cover more than 640,000 acres.

The north side of the tunnel is a solid wall that absorbs sunlight in the day and radiates heat back into the greenhouse at night: then the heat is retained with insulating blankets that are drawn over the clear plastic-clad south side of the tunnel. The result? Temperatures in February that are maintained between 10 and 15 C warmer than outside.

I’m thinking that my greenhouse needs improvements.

Just Posted

South Island travel book a best seller

Areas of the Cowichan Valley covered

Elders Gathering in Cowichan Valley needs volunteers

Upwards of 5,000 participants expended to attend

Cowichan school district takes prize for trades training

The award includes $5,000 in additional funding

VIDEO: Colin James Blues Trio will play to a sold out house in Duncan

He’s always popular when he comes to the Cowichan Valley.

Seedy Sunday is packing ‘em in at Siem Lelum Gym. Why not join the fun?

Seeds, plants, and good advice: there’s lots for everyone.

UPDATED: Brake failure sees plane crash into gate; nobody injured

Rescue crews headed to the scene at Stamps and Henderson Roads.

Coming up in Cowichan: Public speaking, water, food preservation

The Justice for the Peace Island tour is stopping in Duncan on Wednesday, March 21.

A frustrated Trump lashes out at special counsel Mueller

In a series of weekend tweets naming Mueller for the first time, Trump criticized the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election

B.C. teachers’ union to ask for higher salaries to help with shortages

B.C. starting teacher salaries are $10,000 to $15,000 lower than Ontario or Alberta says B.C. Teachers’ Federation president.

Few political staffers on Parliament Hill report sexual misconduct: survey

Sixty-five of the 266 survey respondents said they had personally experienced at least one incident of sexual harassment.

Experimental pot lab sprouting cannabis-infused drinks, new edibles

Nestled inside Canopy Growth Corp.’s sprawling marijuana facility outside Ottawa is a special laboratory

Federal committee to examine human trafficking in Canada

The Commons committee plans on holding hearings in Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver.

Anti-pipeline protestors block Kinder Morgan tanker near Seattle

Protest was spurred on by the 28 anti-Kinder Morgan activists arrested in Burnaby

Some surprises in new book about B.C. labour movement

“On the Line” charts history of the union movement back to the 1800s

Most Read