Greenhouses Grow Optimism

There are times when I still miss the city, okay I miss pizza delivery really, but today is not one of them. I am outside stretching my limbs. I am enjoying the warmth of the sun beating down on my face and soaking up the heat with temps currently a balmy 80°F. My garden gloves are packed with potting soil, seed packets lay empty around me, and all that is left is trudging through 10” inches of snow to fill the watering can.

That is the wonder of a greenhouse. Snow can be swirling around the glass panes with artic temperatures that register a whopping 9°F, but inside it’s Maui. This is my happy place. There is just something about working in the greenhouse in February that cries eternal optimism with a side of profound belief that tomorrow is sure to come with April showers and May flowers.

Greenhouse Basics:

For the next few months, the temperature in the greenhouse will need to be carefully monitored. The sun normally warms the greenhouse effectively during the day, when the sun is shining, but drops drastically at night. Seedling heat mats are a must. I use a temperature probe that continuously monitors the soil temps and keeps it at a recommended 70° – 80°F.  I usually split the difference and keep the soil at an even 75°F.

As the days grow longer and the sun stronger, I worry less about night temps and instead start monitoring the temperature inside the greenhouse. It is important to equip the greenhouse with a fan attached to a sensor that will kick on when the temperature starts to tip over 95°F to allow proper venting.


Deciding when to start seedlings in the greenhouse will not only depend on what you are planting, but on the seed itself. Pay attention to the germination on the package and plan accordingly. As soon as I get my first seed book, I make a list of everything I plan to have in the garden. Using the germination and our scheduled market dates I will lay it all out on a planting schedule.

Here is a sneak peak at some of the produce that will be offered at the Illinois “Market on the Farm.” See the Events Calendar for dates and more details:

Unfortunately, gardening is not a direct science. Science can certainly help in the planning, but Mother Nature still plays an important role and she can be a very cruel lady. I have certainly had to learn patience and have been forced to accept the things I cannot control, but there are things that can be monitored and changed along the way to ensure a successful harvest. I look forward to the challenges as I tackle a new growing season. See you at “The Market on the Farm!

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