Edible gardening

Green house tour – January, 2021

Happy New Year, 2021!

In this blog post, I wanted to share the greenhouse progress through the winter months and how the plants held up through the chilly days of November and December. This year we barely got any rain in the Bay Area, but on the days that we did get some, the plants in the greenhouse were sheltered from the cold and rain.

With the sun axial tilt which puts the Northern hemisphere in a more direct path of the solar energy, we can see various forms of life in the garden wake up and respond to the sun. January 14 is celebrated in several parts of India as Makar Sankranthi, the day when the tilt of the sun changes, celebrating and honoring the sun and all the life force around us. In our home garden, its usually around this time of the year when I start seedlings for early spring and summer plantings.

This is my first year with a permanent greenhouse, and the first winter growing in it. I decided to experiment this year with an unheated greenhouse, and no supplemental lighting. Check out my other blog posts on the greenhouse for setup of Palram greenhouse and using the greenhouse through the season.

Peppers, eggplants and tomatoes are perennials and could produce well for a few years if taken good care. In zone 9a, its tricky to overwinter these plants outdoors reliably without adequate protection. By digging them up during Fall and overwintering them successfully, the plants get a head start in spring and they produce fruits for an extended period of time. Overwintering is well worth the time and effort as it allows me to dig up only the vigorous plants. It also saves me a lot of time babying pepper and eggplant seedlings during spring and instead focus on other aspects of gardening.

The permanent greenhouse has been valuable in saving eggplants, peppers and tomatoes. I had several yard long beans growing inside the greenhouse which continued to produce heavily until the end of November, whereas the ones planted outdoors died by October. We continued to get good quality tomatoes and an abundance of eggplants and peppers and even basil for pesto! Several tender plants such as tulsi, mango, papaya and ginger thrived in the humidity in the greenhouse with protection from the cold rains and dry air. Tulsi in the unheated greenhouse did a lot better than the ones I had moved indoors. Overall, I am very pleased with the success this year. I had some issues with aphids on peppers and eggplants, for which I sprinkled some diatomaceous earth. Neem spray should help in controlling aphids as well.

Here’s a collection of plants thriving in the greenhouse through the winter:

  • 25 pepper plants – ghost pepper, habanero, serrano, black cobra, pusa jwala, birds eye, hawaaiian pepper, japapeno and several other varieties
  • eggplants – japanese eggplants, ratna eggplant, and thai eggplant varieties doing very well and producing continuously
  • tomatoes – Nivenha, Shorba, san marzano and get stuffed varieties
  • yard long beans – they survived until early December and produced reliably
  • cilantro – self seeded and continuously producing
  • malabar spinach – extended the growing season
  • ginger, turmeric – continued to thrive in the humid greenhouse in the raised bed
  • other plants – papaya, mango, tulsi, brahmi, jasmine, crossandra, ixora survived well. Pandan however did not make it. Note for next year to bring this baby indoors.

Since we can start seeds for peppers, eggplants, tomatoes right around now, I hope you check out my blog post on a good setup. Its fairly easy and can be completed in a couple hours. Once the plants are about an inch tall, I move them over to the greenhouse and they continue to grow with sunlight.

In my experience this past year, I found that Greenhouse can very well be useful for folks in the Bay Area for all-year plant growth. I hope you found this post useful. Please drop in your comments and do share your experiences.

Happy Gardening!


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