A few years ago I convinced my husband Mike to buy and assemble a 6’x8′ greenhouse … I presented him with a couple of super logical reasons why the idea was a good one: (1) I would save money by overwintering the kind-of-expensive summer tender tropical plants I like to use in pots around the yard during the spring, summer and fall and (2) I would grow vegetables so we would have fresh produce in the dead of winter. The greenhouse would quickly pay for itself!
Mike isn’t a gardener, but he loves me and to save money so he agreed to the purchase. We had fun constructing the greenhouse and I had fun moving my potted plants (the ones that would normally have to be tossed at the end of the season since they couldn’t survive our harsh winters) into their plush winter home. Yup. Everything went according to plan. Until the first electric bill arrived. By the time I moved the plants back out into the garden in the Spring those tropicals were worth more than our pedigreed Siamese cat. And they didn’t even purr.
Since that first winter I’ve mostly used the greenhouse to overwinter borderline tender plants until spring. I wrap the pots in burlap and bundle them closely together (for shared bodily warmth, don’t cha know). Then I close the greenhouse door — and leave it closed — until Spring. It’s survival of the fittest in my unheated greenhouse. And I’m always amazed at how many plants survive. Sure the rosemary looks a bit tattered and the succulents look mostly dead, but after only a few weeks of warm weather (and liberal applications of fertilizer), they perk right back up.
Now maybe it’s because I haven’t heated the greenhouse in years and I think Mike will have forgotten how much it cost to heat the damned thing, or maybe because I just came back from warm and sunny South Carolina and I want to pretend that I’m still there (if only when I’m standing in my warm greenhouse, surrounded by tropical ferns, with snow piled halfway up the sides of the building) … I’m not sure which … I have it in my head that I’m going to heat the greenhouse again this winter. And “save” all my tender tropicals from certain death at first frost.
Call me crazy. Or bored. Or both. Fall has arrived in Northern New Jersey, land of quirky weather (and people). And Winter will slap us upside the head before too long. So today I spent my precious daylight hours cleaning, scrubbing and de-bugifying the greenhouse. Then I moved the ferns (5), succulent pots (3), herb pots (3) and assorted other tender plants into their winter home.
Here’s my thinking: I figure if I keep my fingers and toes crossed — and a sharp eye on the weather — I might not have to plug the heater in until January!
Yes, I am an optimistic gardener. Are you?!