Preparing for Sucessful Greenhouse Gardening from Fall to Winter
Fall brings more than changing leaves and crisp air. It also brings changes in your Dome, switching out summer fruits for winter leaves and roots. Summer fruits require heat, light, and longer days to produce optimally. This continues in lower latitudes but varies dramatically for higher latitudes like Pagosa Springs, where our home office is. For zone 6 and lower, the day length decreases, nights get colder, and clouds and storms often return, creating far less light.
Some Dome Owners choose to leave certain summer fruit crops in their domes like tomatoes and peppers. Lots of Growing Dome gardeners report growing tomatoes into November. Although they do not grow quite as much during the winter months, they can be nice for fresh winter salads. Each gardener can choose when growing in a dome, what balance of winter and summer crops they want.
However, it is important to trim or remove plants like tomatoes that vine up and create shade. You will want every bit of sun and heat you can get in the winter!
Winter plants grow well through the winter (hence the title winter plants) and optimize your space in your Grow Dome® for higher production per square foot. This is especially ideal if you have a smaller Dome, like the 15′ or 18′ Growing Dome Greenhouse. Many winter crops continue to grow well all the way down to temps in the high 20’s and do not require extra heat or covering through much of the winter in many places. Thus making winter gardening more manageable, less worrisome, and more rewarding.
It is always smart to soil test after growing heavy feeding summer crops and amends your soil accordingly before planting fall and winter crops. Nitrogen is especially beneficial for the many leaf crops of winter.
Plants to Grow in the Fall and Winter:
Early Fall Plants
These are your longer season greens that will grow best in the coldest months when given a few months to mature in the fall before the coldest months of winter. Typically these are your brassicas and leafy greens.
The leafy vegetables can be sown in flats, which we would advise you to place on the crossbar of the Growing Dome pond feature. This space not only gives you extra room to start seeds, but it will also keep your seeds warm and moist compared to placing them around the periphery of the dome. These seeds will be ready for transplanting to their final location, about mid-October. This will ensure a timely supply of veggies all winter.
These plants grow and mature quickly and like cooler days and less sun. Root vegetables and herbs that can be grown any time in the cooler months.
– Lettuce north pole winter density
– Pak Choy
Fall Planting Outside the Dome
Don’t give up on your outside planting yet! There are still some crops you can plant outside in the fall. Raised perimeter beds on then outside of your dome will also help protect your inside raised perimeter beds from frost.
– Onions chives and bunching
– Jerusalem artichoke
– Fruits trees
For directly sown seeds use starter domes, plastic, tarp,… to increase soil temp for a couple of days, helping seeds to germinate. Keep trays of starts near your tank to protect their roots with its more steady temps.
Use an oscillating fan/fans near your tank to help regulate temps throughout your dome and create moving air to support healthy strong plants during the months your vents don’t open.
As always, we are here to help. We love to hear from you and help you enjoy your dome greenhouse year-round. Also, refer to our Growing Dome Greenhouse Planting Schedule for year-round greenhouse gardening success!
Written By: Heather Gray
I am a gardener and educator here at Growing Spaces. I have farmed and gardened for 27 years in clay, loam, and sand in many different environments. I’m certified in Permaculture design and have taught college courses in agroecology. My focus is on Organic, Holistic, Sustainability.