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Greenhouse in winter ideas

Although full of tomatoes, cues etc in summer, my unheated greenhouse is pretty much ignored over winter, just used to protect tubs with tender perennials that have died back. But as our activities are going to be very limited this winter due to Covid, I'm looking for ideas of something I can use it for/grow so I can enjoy it. There's no electricity so heat/light is not an option.


  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 27,594
    Maybe a small solar powered light or heater?   A lot depends on where you are as even in the UK there are huge variations in light levels from northern Scotland to southern England as well as huge variations in temperatures from north to south and east to west.

    In my last garden - in Belgium so much colder and wetter than this one - I only had a small, unheated greenhouse which I lined with bubble wrap and then filled with pots of fuchsias and so on that would not survive outside.  I put pots of hostas which die back for winter into an unheated shed as they didn't need light.

    In this garden, we have a polytunnel and, again, I use it for overwintering pots of fuchsias and citrus plants but I'm also growing a big clump of lemon grass and have a chilli and a sweet pepper still growing in there.   I'm thinking of using the remaining space to grow some oriental brassicas such as pak choi and maybe some salad crops too but have no idea if that will work or not.   
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • sandyvsandyv Posts: 107
    I imagine there would be no point heating it unless it was insulated with bubble wrap. I'm on edge of cotswolds, so weather isn't usually extreme here, but still get plenty of frosts. If you are overwintering citrus your polytunnel must be heated?
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 27,594
    No, but it's big and and sheltered form the strongest winds by trees and the neighbours cow barns.  We don't get heavy frosts and when it does freeze it doesn't last long so the citrus are OK - so far.

    I suspect the best thing you can do is treat yours as a large cold frame and use it for getting ahead with early sowings of sweet peas and broad beans to get earlier flowers and beans next spring and summer.   Anything else that over winters well such as brassicas would have needed sowing earlier to get to a size that can stand over winter and crop in spring. 
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • PosyPosy Isle of Wight.Posts: 3,219
    My greenhouse is packed with tender plants. I keep it frost free and most flower all winter. It's largely empty in summer because I just can't be bothered with veg!
  • I think I posted a reply to someone asking a similar question last week or so. You'll be able to get some winter crops growing, lettuce winter density and rocket astra both grow fine in a greenhouse over winter, albeit slowly. Most caulis and cabbages will appreciate the protection also, and if you have any of those patio raspberries you'll be able to keep them cropping for longer.

    But don't expect real growth or a sizeable harvest. Mostly you'll just be setting yourself up for an earlier harvest next year, or extending the end of crops for this year. I started harvesting cauli in May by doing this
  • KeenOnGreenKeenOnGreen Posts: 1,630
    Our unheated greenhouse is packed with tender plants in Winter.  I don't see this as a waste, just because we're not actively growing anything.  As early as Jan/Feb we will start planting certain seeds in the greenhouse, so it's really only Nov/Dec when it becomes purely a storage place, rather than a growing place.

    Growth over Winter, whether it be winter crops in the ground at the allotment or seedlings in the greenhouse, is so slow that personally we don't think it's worth it.  We have a well earned break, and then are raring to go in very early Spring.
  • sandyvsandyv Posts: 107
    Several of you imply that you can keep an unheated greenhouse frost free. How do you manage this? Even in the shed where some of my bantams live over winter their water sometimes freezes overnight, and I'm only living in Oxfordshire, not known for extremes of cold.
  • PosyPosy Isle of Wight.Posts: 3,219
    You are right. People generally speak of an unheated greenhouse, which is what it says; a frost-free greenhouse which is not allowed to fall below 4° and a heated house which may be tropical, if you choose. But the heating required to prevent frost is very simple and need not involve electricity.
  • Nanny BeachNanny Beach Posts: 7,731
    I have 3 greenhouses, the "top" one is full of citrus, greenhouse bubblewrapped, and extra layer over them on very frosty nights/the bottom one, bananas,fucshias,pelargoniums, I have lettuces, micro salad greens, broad beans,herbs in there, as well,cannot stand the thought of empty greenhouses, the 3rd one, a small lean to, is storage at the moment.Posy what do you mean by simple not electricity heating?
  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 20,138
    Oxfordshire, not known for extremes of cold.

    Er, when Derbyshire is “suffering” from winter temperatures of minus three, Benson in Oxfordshire is always mentioned on the forecasts as having the lowest temperatures in England.
    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
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