Makeshift Greenhouse Experiment


I’ve fallen behind on my posts and now it’s fall (cheesy pun intended)… I’ll keep posting through the winter to catch up for next gardening season but in the meantime I thought I’d share my latest experiment.

My basil was plentiful and looked amazing this summer, and to think I was so worried at the start of the summer. But now the thought of not having fresh basil is starting to cause me anxiety. I’ve tried growing basil indoors a few times but it always brought in aphids and the basil plant was fragile and weak. I was afraid I’d kill it by picking a few leaves. So I thought I’d try extending the gardening season on my balcony with a makeshift greenhouse.

Warning this is an experiment, it’s being tested as of today and I’d love suggestions and feedback! But its also a low cost solution so if you want to experiment with me I thought I’d post in real-time and see how it goes…

I used the following:

– 20 inch diameter plastic planter (you want a large planter so it’s less likely to freeze completely, and you’ll want plastic because terra cotta and other materials may can crack or warp if it freezes, plus plastic is cheap, just be sure to check the type of plastic to make sure it’s safe for food).

– Extra large (these were 127L) clear plastic bags (the thicker the better)

– Fan shaped trellis, tho you could try other trellises. I just had these on hand.

– Butterfly Clips (or another type of clip that will clip on to the trellis and the planter to hold the bag in place.

First fill the planter base with a little soil, about 2 inches. Then fill 1/3 full of uncomposted compost. It could be clippings from the garden and kitchen scraps topped with worm compost or just whatever is in your worm bin that’s still pretty solid. Just avoid any diseased plants. The composting material will give off heat as it decomposes so it’ll help create a bit of warmth. Make sure to include worms to help the process along and generate warmth.

Next top with soil and transplant plants and/or seeds. I’m guessing it’s best to work with healthy, larger plants because no matter how well the greenhouse works the amount of sunlight these plants will get will be less in the winter. I planted basil, Thai basil, lemongrass, parsley, tarragon, rosemary, sage, thyme, chives, and oregano.

With seeds I’m testing ones I’ve read prefer colder weather like beets, spinach, lettuce, and snow peas.

Place the trellis in the middle of the planter, cover with plastic bag, and secure with clips. I placed two at the top of the trellis and 3 around the planter.

I’m going to see how this goes first but I live in Toronto so I have a few back ups in case it’s not warm enough…

– double bagging, maybe even triple bagging
– burlap around the planter base
– moving the planters closer to the building for warmth
– adding more worms
– adding a small outdoor light with timer for warmth
– and hope for a warm winter đŸ™‚

Wish me luck!!


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