I admit it. I’m wrong. The first thing that comes to mind when I think of a greenhouse is the kind you see on farms or at a big flower shop. They’re big enough to live in! They’re certainly bigger than my first apartment was. So naturally, when I think about tackling the subject of the best vegetables to grow in a greenhouse, my immediate response was, well, what wouldn’t I grow in a greenhouse.
But greenhouses don’t have to be enormous. They can actually be pretty tiny. I’ve seen people turn their porches into greenhouses. You can buy greenhouse kits and build your own. They can even be quite fancy (The New York Botanical Garden has a greenhouse that consists of 11 connected galleries and includes 17,000 panes of glass!). Most of us don’t have professional architects designing our greenhouses, nor do we have unlimited square feet. That means we have to decide which vegetables stay outside, and which are the best vegetables to grow in a greenhouse.
The best vegetables to grow in a greenhouse when you only have a little bit of space
The biggest advantage of planting in a greenhouse is that you have some control over the environment. That’s my favorite part. I don’t currently have a greenhouse at my new house (I inherited a giant garden instead!) but I used a small one at my last one and it was lovely. It’s particularly helpful in colder climates where the growing season is shorter than in, say, southern California. What does that mean in practice? It means you can start seeds early and extend the end of your growing season by weeks or even months.
With that in mind, the best vegetables to grow in a greenhouse are those that need more time to mature and produce, those that don’t like the chilly nights of early spring, or those that may be especially prone to garden pests such as rabbits, squirrels, or other wildlife. Also, flowers. Flowers do great in greenhouses.
While a greenhouse will help keep young plants warm, it’s important to consider the amount of sunlight your plants need before you start planting. Northern parts of the U.S. get limited sunlight in the winter. And at a certain point, even a greenhouse can’t keep out the chill of those long winter nights.
You can, of course, always invest in a grow light and heating system, but let’s take this one step at a time.
So with limited space, and extended, but not year-round growing conditions, what are the best vegetables to grow in a greenhouse?
- The tomato is always a winner, as they need about three months to produce fruit, and they like warm temperatures.
- Peppers love greenhouses, too. Whether you like sweet bell peppers or spicy jalapenos, these veggies will thrive.
- Cucumbers are a popular greenhouse vegetable, plus if you get too many, you can always make pickles!
- Herbs like basil, rosemary, and thyme revel in the warm confines of a greenhouse.
- You can’t go wrong with eggplants. Ever.
Not sure if you’re ready to take on a project like a greenhouse? You can always buy seedlings and plant them outdoors. That’s another great way to get a headstart on your garden.
Do you have a greenhouse? What vegetables do you grow? Share your tips in the comments below. I’d love to get more ideas for greenhouse veggies.