Construction is underway for our Couch Mountain community greenhouse! The Greenhouse will serve as a large community gathering space where residents can lounge by the wood-burning stove, read a book at the community library, do a bit of work at the potting station, or tend to their garden plots. This addition will foster the relaxed community lifestyle we promote here at Couch Mountain, and our residents’ ability to grow fruits, vegetables, and herbs will help reduce their produce budgets. The greenhouse will have both indoor and outdoor seating where residents can gather, and will additionally be surrounded by the Neighborhood Gardens, which provide extra space and raised beds for seasonal gardening. An apiary is also being built to house multiple bee hives that will aid in pollination and yield honey for residents.
Now that the preparations are underway for the community greenhouse, how do you decide what to grow? Here are a few things you might want to consider before buying your seeds:
What do you like?
It’s a good idea to think about what your family eats on a regular basis. If you’ve got kids, brussels sprouts might not be the best idea, since you’re not likely to use them once they’re ready to harvest. If you don’t eat a lot of salads, choose something other than lettuce, spinach and leafy greens. Once you take your family’s personal tastes into account, you’ll have a better idea of what crops might work for you.
How much space do you have?
Since you will probably have your own limited plot, you’ll have to make that amount of space work for all of the things you’d like to grow. If you don’t have a ton of space, consider planting root vegetables like carrots, beets, and potatoes, or plants that can grow up on a vine or trellis. Tomatoes, beans, and even some melons are great for this. Make sure you’re doing your best to optimize the space you have. There are all kinds of tricks to get more plants in without sacrificing quality!
What temperatures are you dealing with?
Even though greenhouses seriously extend the growing season, you’ll want to take your greenhouse’s average temperatures into account. Some plants require warmer temperatures, while others need it a bit cooler to grow properly.
- Warm season plants – tomatoes, peppers, summer squash, cantaloupe and beans will all require daytime temperatures higher than 60º F and nighttime temperatures at a minimum of 55º F. Any lower and they won’t produce as well as you’d like.
- Cool season plants – cauliflower, broccoli, beets, carrots, turnips and leafy greens.
How much variety do you want?
If you’re looking for a lot of variety, but don’t have a lot of space, you might consider succession planting. This means, after you harvest one plant, you grow another in its place. For example, if you first grow spinach and harvest it by its roots, you can then grow lettuce. Since lettuce goes to seed quickly, you can plant something like beets directly after you’ve harvested your lettuce. Depending on the plants you choose, you can get 2-3 different crops from your space in one growing season.