An annual plan for your greenhouse can be worthwhile. Most simple and even many well-insulated greenhouses are mainly home to tomatoes or cucumbers, increasingly also of peppers, aubergine or physalis. At most from April to October. In winter, however, the houses are often empty – for up to five months. We show you how to use such a greenhouse all year round with an annual plan.
The off-season in the greenhouse
The true greenhouse gardener is at his best in winter. He tries his hand at winter vegetables and, especially exciting: overwintering vegetables. The difference? Winter vegetables are harvested by Christmas at the latest, in mild years even later, and can then be stored in a cool but frost-free place for many weeks. Winter vegetables, on the other hand, such as the lettuce varieties ‘Maiwunder’, ‘Humil’ and ‘Trémont’ as well as the cauliflower ‘Walcheren Winter’, are grown in late summer and planted out under glass or in the open in autumn.
From May, in the greenhouse or cold frame even a little earlier, both are then ready for harvest – long before the very first spring crops. An annual plan for your greenhouse makes sense. If the greenhouse remains frost-free, e.g. by means of a greenhouse heater and a cover of insulating foil, potted plants such as olives, figs, lemons, hemp palms, laurels, oleanders or blue passion flowers can wait here until spring.
The main season in a greenhouse’s annual schedule
As mentioned at the beginning, most greenhouses are probably used over the summer for fruiting vegetables that require warmth, such as tomatoes and cucumbers, but increasingly also peppers, aubergines or physalis, the tomatoes protected from blight and the others from cool nights. This alone can extend the summer season in the greenhouse – compared to the open field – by months with an annual plan. If greenhouse heating is used in spring and autumn, sensitive fruit vegetables are ready four to eight weeks earlier and last longer than in the so-called cold house. And the winter vacancy is almost three months shorter.
However, if you want to move into your greenhouse before March according to the annual plan, you will have to heat it quite vigorously and thus expensively. This is only worthwhile with a well-insulated cover. Furthermore, additional light, for example a special greenhouse light, and thus a power connection would be desirable. LED lamps are the most economical. Their disadvantages are the high purchase price and the fact that the LEDs cannot be replaced. However, they are supposed to provide tens of thousands of hours of light, so they should last at least 20 years.
Over-summering houseplants or harvesting fruiting vegetables? If the requirements are similar, both. However, cacti do not go well with tropical plants like cucumbers, but orchids do. Many houseplants like to arrange themselves with tomatoes and peppers.
The all-season house
The all-season house should already have double-walled roofing made of insulating glass or high-quality double-skin sheets. The seals are also particularly important. Thermally decoupled aluminium profiles are the ultimate in successfully following an annual plan in the greenhouse. In such a perfectly equipped greenhouse, cacti, orchids or the bromeliad collection, for example, feel at home all year round. In addition to a heating system, e.g. connected to the central heating system of the house, a humidifier is also useful for orchids and other plants from the tropics.
Tip: Terrarium animals also feel at home here.
The early season in the annual plan of a greenhouse
If your greenhouse has an insulating roof, the heat will stay inside longer. This is an advantage if you want to grow early vegetables and possibly help your crops with a heating system. February to April is also the most important time for growing young plants, first for early vegetables, followed by tomatoes, other fruit and outdoor vegetables and finally summer flowers. It can be a tight squeeze. A greenhouse table creates space, because the grown soil underneath it can also be used. A shelf further increases the cultivation area.