Greenhouses are ideal for growing many types of vegetables, both in the warm weather and the winter. Not only is growing your own food fun and rewarding, but it can also save you hundreds of dollars or more on your grocery bills. Growing your own produce is not a complicated task--however, it is important to have the right greenhouse setup and supplies to accomplish your gardening goals.
Prepare your greenhouse for the growing season. Begin by making sure that the vents open and close with ease and that the greenhouse fans are in good condition. In the event that you're planning to grow vegetables in a cooler climate or during the winter it is also important to ensure that your natural gas or propane heater is connected properly and in good working order. If you are using a propane heater make sure that you have an ample supply of propane on hand so that you do not risk running out in mid-season. Cool weather or winter greenhouse gardening may require supplemental lighting and "bubble" style insulation, both of which can be purchased from any greenhouse supply vendor.
Choose the type of vegetables that you would like to grow. Bear in mind that a greenhouse is an enclosed space and that any plants that require insect pollination or wind pollination will be harder to grow indoors than outside. While it is possible to bring in beneficial insects, bees or high powered fans to do the job, many greenhouse growers prefer to stick with self-pollinating vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, lettuce, radishes, beans and peas.
Decide if you will plant directly in the ground or if you will use containers. Planting in the ground is easy and cost effective provided that your greenhouse is situated directly on the ground and the weather is warm. However, if you plan to grow vegetables in cooler weather, it is best to use planters or containers because the ground may be too cold. Growing vegetables in containers is also an excellent choice for gardeners who are looking for a low maintenance, easy-to-use growing solution. By choosing a self-watering planter such as the Earthbox it is possible to fill the reservoir with water and to not have to worry about watering the plants every day.
Purchase the seeds or seedlings needed to start your greenhouse vegetable garden. While seeds are the most inexpensive method for growing vegetables, most will also take a few weeks to two months to become the size of transplants. If you have the time and patience this is an excellent route to take. However, if you would like a head start on your vegetable garden purchase flats of vegetable transplants from a garden center instead.
Plant your seeds or transplants. Supplement the soil with a commercially available fertilizer, taking care to follow the manufacturer's instructions. Employ plant supports for any plants that are likely to grow tall or lanky, such as peas and tomatoes. Water your seeds or transplants regularly, and in the summer keep the vents open and make use of your greenhouse fans to ensure adequate ventilation. Gardeners in climates with extremely hot weather may want to consider using shade cloth to prevent their plants from experiencing sun scorch. In the cooler weather use the heater and supplemental lighting to ensure that plants receive adequate light and warmth.