There's no getting around it: If you're going to do any serious gardening in Sisters Country, you need to have a greenhouse. It's the only way to deal with the climate extremes that plague the region - such as nighttime temperatures falling into the 20s in late May.
"It's a very necessary feature here in Central Oregon," says Michael Ludeman of Earth's Art - Tumalo Garden Market.
Earth's Art constructs greenhouses for clients across the region.
Greenhouses can get expensive, running into the thousands of dollars.
"The skeleton itself is not expensive," Ludeman explains, "but all the things that go along with it add up."
The challenge and expense is found in heating and ventilation - making the end wall the expensive component.
If you know what you are doing and are handy, you can save yourself money as a do-it-yourselfer. Buying a used greenhouse and reassembling it on your property is one way of saving money.
"You can build 'em cheap," Ludeman says. "If you know what you are doing, you can get into them pretty cost-effectively."
The knowing what you're doing part is key. Know what you're trying to grow - that will influence the heating and ventilation requirements. Know your budget to keep things under control. Know how much room you have to work with and what the orientation of the greenhouse will be to capture solar heat.
And know your limitations. You have to be handy to carry the project off.
It may be best to get your greenhouse professionally built to be sure you get what you want. Earth's Art installs greenhouses with radiant floor heating. This is an excellent means of holding heat where it's needed - at plant level. This is especially important if you are trying to grow tomatoes.
Radiant floor heating is an outstanding feature for a greenhouse - but it is expensive.
"This heating system produces even heat, which gently warms the entire room or building which results in uniform heating levels throughout the area," Earth's Art notes. "This provides optimum comfort levels for the plants growing inside the greenhouse. Also, because there is no energy lost through ducts or irregular air flow, this type of heating is more energy-efficient than baseboard or forced-air systems."
Earth's Art builds custom greenhouses of a variety of sizes from 10-by-12 feet to larger greenhouses: 20-by-50 feet, 32-by-50 feet, all the way up to 100-by-20 feet.
Local gardener Sue Anderson likes to use eight-inch-high grow-boxes made of cedar planks in her greenhouse.
"They're much neater, easier to tend, and allow you to drag hoses around without pushing over plants," she says. "Grow-boxes tend to stay warmer as well. If you fill them with a soil-less medium such as sawdust and sand, you won't have to worry about weeding."
If you're serious about gardening in Sisters Country, make a plan and a budget and get yourself the best, most-efficient greenhouse you can afford. It's the surest route to success in a notoriously challenging environment.
Posted: Friday, June 14, 2013
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There is a wonderful example of what can be done using greenhouses in the setup in Cheyenne WY. They began in the late 70's, and are still going strong today. And the possitive impact on the community has been fantastic! Look and see for yourself. We can do the same here in Central Oregon! And we should! Their website is:
Ted Jones ~seeking ways to uplift our communities~