Embracing the Frost with Cold Climate Greenhouses

Did you know that it’s possible to grow healthy and thriving plants in the middle of a snowy winter? It is possible because of a Cold Climate Greenhouse. These innovative structures provide a warm and stable environment, allowing plants to thrive in the harshest weather conditions. They offer numerous benefits, from extending the growing season to providing fresh produce year-round. But how do they work? And what makes them so effective? Let’s explore these questions as we dig deeper into these types of greenhouses.

Understanding Cold Climate Greenhouses

What is a Cold Climate Greenhouse?

A Cold Climate Greenhouse is a specially designed structure that harnesses solar energy to create a warm and stable environment for plant growth, even in the coldest months. It’s more than just a typical greenhouse; it’s an innovative solution that uses insulation, strategic orientation, and sometimes supplemental heating to maintain a suitable greenhouse microclimate for plants throughout the year.

The Benefits of a Cold Climate Greenhouse

The advantages of a Cold Climate Greenhouse are numerous. Here are a few key benefits:

  1. Extended Growing Season: These greenhouses allow for year-round cultivation, providing fresh produce even in the dead of winter.
  2. Plant Protection: Plants are shielded from harsh weather conditions, reducing the risk of frost damage and disease.
  3. Energy Efficiency: By harnessing solar energy and using insulation, these greenhouses can maintain a warm environment with less energy than traditional heated greenhouses.
  4. Increased Yield: With the ability to control the microclimate, growers can optimize conditions for specific crops, leading to increased yield and quality.

A Cold Climate Greenhouse is like having a small piece of summer that lasts all year long. Isn’t that a delightful thought?

Designing Your Cold Climate Greenhouse

Key Features of a Cold Climate Greenhouse

  • Insulation: Insulation serves as the greenhouse’s first line of defense against the cold, playing a critical role in minimizing heat loss. To achieve this, popular materials such as polycarbonate panels or double-glazed glass are used. These materials are not only effective in retaining heat but also offer durability, ensuring the greenhouse can withstand the rigors of a cold climate.
  • Heating Systems: The heating system in a cold climate greenhouse is pivotal for maintaining a stable and warm environment, essential for plant growth. Gardeners have a range of options to choose from, including electric heaters, solar-powered solutions, and even geothermal systems. The choice depends on the specific needs of the greenhouse and the local climate, but the primary goal remains the same: keeping the temperature within an optimal range for plants to thrive.
  • Light Management: Light management is another crucial aspect of cold-climate greenhouse design. During the shorter days of winter, ensuring that plants receive adequate light can be challenging. This is often addressed by incorporating supplemental lighting or by strategically placing the greenhouse to capture maximum natural sunlight. Effective light management is essential for the development and health of plants, particularly in conditions where natural light is limited.

Choosing the Right Cold Climate Greenhouse

The location of your greenhouse plays a significant role in its effectiveness. Ideally, you want a spot that gets at least six hours of direct sunlight each day, has manageable wind exposure, and is sheltered from extreme cold weather conditions such as deep snow, snowstorms, and below-normal freezing temperatures. The materials used in the construction of the greenhouse are equally important. The frame should be sturdy and resistant to weather elements. The covering should protect while allowing maximum light absorption.

Here are some of the top cold-climate greenhouses in the market:

1. Amazon’s Choice: KOKSRY’s  Walk-in Polyethylene Greenhouse 

Amazon's Choice for Cold Climate Greenhouse
  • All-Weather Protection: Shields plants from rain, wind, and snow, promoting a healthy growth environment and extending the growing season.
  • Gardening Advantages: Provides indirect light, retains heat and moisture, ideal for winter protection, seedling propagation, and cuttings.
  • Eco-Friendly Cover: Odorless, non-toxic PE cover, resistant to various environmental factors, and prevents seedling damage from excessive heat.

2. Walmart’s Best Seller: VEVOR’s Walk-in Tunnel Greenhouse

Walmart's Best Selling Cold Climate Greenhouse
  • Sturdy Structure: Features heavy-duty galvanized hoops with a 0.02″ thickness and 0.8″ diameter, providing rust-proof durability for long-term use.
  • Reinforced Design: Equipped with 3 top beams, 4 diagonal poles, and multiple crossbars, forming a reinforced round structure that resists snow and rain accumulation.
  • High-Quality Cover: Utilizes an upgraded 140 g/cm³ PE cover that is bite-proof, snow-proof, waterproof, and UV-proof, ensuring optimal protection for plants.

3. Wayfair’s Best Option: Veikous Polycarbonate Greenhouse

Wayfair's Cold Climate Greenhouse
  • Enhanced Growing Environment: Designed to improve plant growth conditions throughout the year, it offers an ideal setting for a wide range of plants, enhancing their growth cycle.
  • Adjustable Features: Includes an adjustable roof vent and a lockable door, providing flexibility in air circulation and security. The roof vent can be set in four different positions to meet varying needs.
  • UV Protection & Temperature Control: The twin-wall polycarbonate panel effectively blocks UV rays and helps maintain a consistent temperature inside the greenhouse, crucial in extreme weather conditions

Managing Your Cold Climate Greenhouse

Temperature and Humidity Control

Managing the temperature and humidity in a Cold Climate Greenhouse is a delicate balancing act. The ideal greenhouse temperature ranges between 64 and 75 ºF, with an optimal relative humidity level of around 80%. But how do we achieve this balance?

Firstly, consider your watering, ventilation, and heating practices. Overwatering can increase humidity levels, while inadequate ventilation can trap moisture inside. Heating systems, on the other hand, can help maintain the desired temperature, especially during cold nights.

Remember, every time you adjust the temperature, it will affect the humidity and vice versa. So, it’s all about finding the right balance that suits your plants and the external climate.

Winter Gardening Tips

Winter gardening in a greenhouse can be a rewarding experience, transforming your chilly months into a season of lush, productive growth. Here are some tips to help you succeed:

  1. Plant Selection: Choose winter-hardy crops that can withstand the cold.
  2. Sowing: Start your seeds early to extend the growing season.
  3. Care: Regularly check your plants for signs of pests or disease.
  4. Insulation: Use horticultural bubble wrap or fleece to insulate your greenhouse and protect plant roots from cold temperatures.
  5. Heating: Consider using heating mats or installing a greenhouse heater for particularly frosty days.
  6. Lighting: Use grow lights to provide additional UV light to encourage plant growth on dark winter days.

Remember, every greenhouse is unique, and what works for one might not work for another. So, don’t be afraid to experiment and find what works best for your plants and your greenhouse.

Innovations in Cold Climate Greenhouse Gardening

Latest Trends and Technologies

The world of Cold Climate Greenhouse Gardening is constantly evolving, with new trends and technologies emerging to improve efficiency and productivity.

One of the most significant advancements is the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automated systems. These technologies help manage various aspects of the greenhouse, from temperature and humidity control to irrigation and light management. Automated systems can adjust conditions based on data received from sensors located throughout the greenhouse. This not only ensures optimal growing conditions but also reduces labor and resource costs.

Another innovative trend is the Deep Winter Greenhouse (DWG). A DWG is a passive-solar greenhouse designed to limit the use of fossil fuels. It uses the sun’s energy to heat the building and stores this heat in a thermal mass made of rock or soil. This “heat battery” then releases the stored heat when needed, such as during the night.

Moreover, the use of sensors has become increasingly popular. These devices measure various environmental factors like temperature, humidity, light, and CO2 levels. The data collected by these sensors can then be used to automatically adjust conditions within the greenhouse.

These innovations are revolutionizing the field of cold-climate greenhouse gardening, making it more efficient, sustainable, and productive.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, Cold Climate Greenhouses are a remarkable innovation that allows us to extend the growing season and cultivate a variety of plants year-round, even in the harshest climates. From understanding their design and management to exploring the latest trends and technologies, we’ve seen how these greenhouses are revolutionizing the field of gardening. So, whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a beginner, why not take the plunge and experience the joy of winter gardening? Remember, with a Cold Climate Greenhouse, it’s always summer on the inside. Happy gardening! 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: What Plants Grow Best in a Cold Climate Greenhouse?

Various plants thrive in a cold climate greenhouse, including winter-hardy crops like spinach, lettuce, cabbage, and broccoli. Other suitable plants include arugula, beets, bok choy, broad beans, carrots, celery, chard, kale, leeks, lettuce, peas, radishes, and turnips.

Q2: How to Minimize Energy Costs?

Minimizing energy costs in a cold climate greenhouse involves several strategies. These include installing and maintaining infrared anti-condensate polyethylene film, high-efficiency heaters, horizontal airflow fans, and environmental control systems. Additionally, using compost and water barrels can add heat.

Q3: Building a Greenhouse on a Budget

Building a greenhouse on a budget involves careful planning and resourcefulness. Using reclaimed materials, such as old windows for glazing, can reduce costs. Opting for simple structures like hoop houses can also be economical. Additionally, DIY greenhouse plans are available online to guide you through the process.

Q4: Ensuring Plant Health During Extreme Cold

Ensuring plant health during extreme cold involves maintaining optimal temperature and humidity levels in the greenhouse. This can be achieved by using heating systems, insulating the interior walls, and creating a thermal mass inside the greenhouse. Regularly checking plants for signs of pests or disease is also crucial.

Embrace the frost with a cold climate greenhouse.
grant yost greenhouse innovator

Grant Yost

Grant Yost is co-owner of Beulah Land Farms, a small business that is part of and trying to push forward the local food movement. Although I grew up on a farm in the middle of Kansas, we took the wheat and other grain to the elevator, and then went to the grocery store to buy all our food. Maybe it's a generational thing, but we should be growing our own food as much as possible! My wife was diagnosed with Graves disease, which is an auto-immune disease affecting the thyroid, and while it wasn't debilitating (we are grateful for that) we have to wonder if it had to do with processed food and our mass-produced food supply. Auto-immune epidemic anyone? Also, maybe a generational thing... we live in the city in Kansas City, but our kids want to move to the farm!

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