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How I Get the Greenhouse Ready for Winter

Autumn, in my region, glows. I often walk by the window and stop and stare. The sky is deep blue and the giant maples glow yellow and orange-red when backlit by the sun. My city lot is surrounded by several big, old trees and right now the leaf cover is several inches thick. I’ll let many of those leaves stay right there on the grass, composting and feeding the soil. I can’t really even clean them all up if I wanted to.

Stepping into the greenhouse this time of year feels so cozy. Especially on a blustery, windy day. As soon as you close the door behind you, you’re standing in a little bubble of calm. It’s one of the great benefits of the greenhouse - protecting plants from harsh wind.

I’m describing the Fall greenhouse because for the last couple of weeks I’ve been hanging out in there slowly getting it ready for winter. Our temperature swings here in zone 6a/6b have been ranging from 35F to 75F. So some days I need to close everything up to protect the remaining plants, and some days I need to open both doors because it gets so hot.

Here on November 3rd, I thought I’d tell you what plants are still doing well and then what I do to get the greenhouse ready for winter.

The Boston Ferns still look lush and full and green, and that makes me happy. They’ll survive a few more weeks until the temperature gets down to 40F-50F and stays there. By the way, did you know that Boston Ferns can live over 100 years?! And that they are a very old plant, having been around for more than 350 million years? If I had a larger house and larger windows, I’d try to bring one or two indoors over winter. But they are pretty massive at this point in the year, and my house is pretty small. So, they are annuals here and won’t make it through the winter. They’re one of the first plants I buy in early spring since they can take the cooler temperatures. (Then I wait until mid-July and buy a few more once they are 50% off.)

The lavender still looks beautiful. It’s a perennial and will make it through winter. I will

probably set them outside in a few weeks so that the soil absorbs rain and snow, and they don’t dry out. If I leave them in the greenhouse I’ll need to water them every couple of weeks, and I just don’t go out there much in January, February, and part of March.

The tuberous begonias still look beautiful and the pink mandevilla is still flowering. Sadly, those are both perennials and won’t make it through the winter. The sweet potato vines and elephant ears are barely holding on. The coral bells look great - I’ll set them outside too so they don’t dry out over winter.

At the first cold snap a few weeks ago, I brought a few plants inside that will overwinter in the house. (I don’t heat my greenhouse over winter.) The pink bougainvillea, jade, geranium, pink vygie, and echevaria succulent have settled in well.

The main task in getting the greenhouse ready for winter is checking and adding plastic to

a couple of places. I staple greenhouse plastic to the inside of the screen doors. The plastic that’s rolled up on the sides of the greenhouse gets unrolled and tucked under heavy pots. I patch up any holes in the plastic that I didn’t get to during the summer. There’s a gap above the door frame, so I adhere a piece of foam pipe insulation to the top of it to keep the wind from howling through.

I unplug the fan and plug in the lights. (I only have one outlet right now.) I control the plug from an app on my phone, and I love to turn the greenhouse lights on from inside the house.

I need to spend some time organizing tools, supplies, pots, and all sorts of garden stuff, but there’s no rush.

As the remaining plants die, I’ll remove those and brush away the dirt. This year I’m planning on adding more lights and making some winter floral arrangements for the tables. It’s looked so bare for the last couple of years once the plants are gone, so I’m hoping to make it a bit more cheery this season. Last year I rolled up the burlap shade, but I think I’ll leave it down this year because it feels so much nicer with it down.

I needed to repair the front screen door this year before it got too cold. It was sagging, as wood screen doors are prone to do, and didn’t close. Fortunately, I discovered a screen door repair kit that was quick and easy to install. It has a turnbuckle for tightening and lifting the sagging side. I was super happy to get that done!

That’s about it for Fall greenhouse tasks!



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