Avid gardeners dream of growing local, organic produce year-round. A greenhouse makes this possible. Known variously as a hothouse, cool house, potting shed, nursery or glass house, greenhouses come in all shapes and sizes. Tentlike, do-it-yourself versions sport PVC or metal pipe skeletons draped in UV-resistant greenhouse plastic. Garden supply stores offer greenhouse kits in every conceivable price range and style.
Like cloches and cold frames, greenhouses trap solar radiation to create a warm, humid microcosm where plants can thrive, bloom and grow past their natural, outdoor growing season. For maximum sun exposure, choose an open spot to locate your greenhouse -- one where the structure will never be shaded, even when the sun is at its lowest point in the sky.
The two types of greenhouses most accessible to home gardeners are cold houses and cool houses. Cold houses provide warmth and protection, but in really cold conditions, temperatures inside can still dip below freezing. Cool houses maintain temperatures of at least 40 degrees. A cool house will extend the growing season longer than a cold house, but both varieties offer much more harvest flexibility than the average outdoor garden bed.
Be sure to shake a fork at old man winter when you dive into the spoils from your winter garden. Cool and cold house crops that can grow between December and March include beets, broccoli, green onions, radishes and a various salad greens.
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