Winter Greenhouse Gardening in a Growing Dome

The joy of winter gardening in the best year round greenhouse for cold, wind and snow

Lush green garden on the inside snowy winter greenhouse on the outside

Winter gardening in your Growing Dome greenhouse is an amazing experience. Walking in your dome from the lifeless vegetation outside into a thriving garden is both enlightening and empowering.

The ability to grow fresh produce year-round is a significant benefit of the Growing Dome geodesic greenhouse kit. Furthermore, winter greenhouse gardening is possible without supplemental heat, as long as you grow cold-tolerant plants.

The Growing Dome Greenhouse is designed as a self-sufficient, net-zero energy structure.

It can grow food year-round in most climates of the United States, without additional heating systems, even in the heart of winter.

How does it work?

Through the design of its systems, the Growing Dome Greenhouse comes equipped with its internal heaters…the above-ground pond thermal mass, and the solar-powered central air system.

See what winter crops Claudia Stover grows in her Growing Dome Greenhouse in the winter without heat.

Furthermore, given the amount of insulation, heat sinks, and the inherent energy efficiency of its geodesic shape, it requires a third less energy than a traditional greenhouse. It can withstand winter temperatures down to zero outside while not freezing inside.

With over 30 years of experience, we know that the design is sound and practical, which means that we have confidence that you can grow winter frost-hardy plants without additional heating of your Growing Dome  Greenhouse.

To Heat or Not to Heat?

There are still a few reasons why you might want to heat your greenhouse in the winter.

  • You are growing tropical plants, tomatoes or plants that like warmer temperatures year round
  • You live in a zone that gets <50% sunlight per day in the winter
  • Temperatures consistently get into the single digits or below at night in the winter
  • You live in a northern climate, USDA planting zone 4 or lower

Growing Dome Heat Loss Calculation Spread Sheet

snow covered 18' dome greenhouse kit

This article shows what plants thrive in the winter without supplemental heat, but we will also recommend when and what type of heaters you should use in your Growing Dome Greenhouse.

Calculate precisely how much heat is required to reach the desired temperature inside your Growing Dome

Click Here For The Heat Loss Spread Sheet

Heating Your Growing Dome Greenhouse In Winter Falls Into Three Main Levels Of Heating

First Level: No heating.

Second Level: Heating if the temperature gets into the single digits.

Third Level: Never letting the Growing Dome freeze.

winter greenhouse gardening no heat required
Udgar Parsons Growing Dome garden is filled with frost-hardy plants. He doesn’t use any heat in this greenhouse.

No Heating

“I have a number of friends here in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, who have chosen not to heat their Growing Dome greenhouses.

I have only heated my personal 22′ Growing Dome for one week in 15 years. That was after a week of no sun, followed by temperatures in the -20s! A little ice forming on the tank inspired me to heat it.” – Udgar Parsons, Growing Spaces Founder.

Heating When Temperatures Drop Into Single Digits

winter gardening heating example

At Growing Spaces®, we tend to heat our Growing Domes when the temperature dips into single digits. We want to encourage growth throughout the winter, maintain winter produce for our staff, and present an inspiring environment for our customers to see.

“Today’s high was 21 degrees Fahrenheit, and tonight will likely be in the minus teens tonight. If we didn’t heat, the fig trees would survive and maybe some plants in the central bed like our cold-hardy vegetables but, all pond plants would die.” – Heather Gray, Growing Dome Gardener and Educator (February 3rd, 2022)

We currently heat our Growing Domes in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, with small ceramic and radiant heaters. Electricity has been the more efficient option for us on account of our new solar panel additions. We also have Dyna Glo Tank Top heaters as a backup in our larger domes for when nights get into the sub zeros as small ceramic heaters don’t put out a lot of heat. 

Never Letting The Growing Dome Freeze

A lot of people have frost-sensitive plants, including citrus and subtropical varieties of shrubs.

Growing Spaces recommended a Southern Burner heater in the past, but they have since gone out of business.

winter gardening heating example

For our smaller Growing Dome greenhouses, we highly recommend a Mr. Heater from 9000 BTU to 14,000 BTU in the winter. For our larger Domes, in addition to the Dyna Glo Tank top heaters, we have found success with a 30,000 BTU Propane Vent-Free Blue Flame Wall Heater from Mr. Heater. It also has an excellent thermostat.

If you use a heater of this kind, there will be more condensation on the polycarbonate, which drips down inside. Some people have thought their dome was leaking, but this is usually not the case. 

Aside from our recommendations, we highly suggest hearing from other winter greenhouse gardeners in our private group Growing Dome Owners. There you will find stories from dome gardeners using tank heaters, electric heaters, gas heaters, and even pellet or wood-burning stoves.

Here is another article on Heating the Growing Dome during the winter months and a post written by a customer on Heating, Building, & Enjoying the Growing Dome.

Winter Gardening in a Growing Dome greenhouse: No Heat Required

Frost Hardy Vegetables for Successful Winter Greenhouse Gardening

Growing Dome winter greenhouse gardening
Winter greenhouse gardening in a Growing Dome

The best time to start your winter growing season is in late August or early September, but we have had success with fast-growing crops as late as October. Most perennial crops, like oregano, will live happily in the geodesic greenhouse year-round, but it is best to start them in the spring, so they have plenty of roots and shoots before winter.

The following cold-hardy crops are categorized by their scientific family names focusing on edible herbs, leafy greens, various lettuces, and root vegetables. This list is by no means exhaustive. Fruiting crops like tomatoes or cucumbers are best started in late winter or early spring and grown all summer long. Tomatoes can make it through the winter and live for years if properly maintained and fed, but it takes extra effort, time, and energy, depending on your climate.

These winter vegetables and medicinal crops have been grown successfully through the cold season in our Growing Dome greenhouse kits without supplemental heat. For a full planting schedule for all times of the year, click here.

Amaranthaceae Family

purple Swiss Chard in our winter greenhouse garden (leaves and stems edible)

Beet
Spinach
Swiss Chard

Amaryllidaceae Family (aka. Amaryllis Family)

Chives in the winter Greenhouse

Chives
Garlic
Garlic Chives
Green or Bunching Onions
Leek
Onion
Shallot

Apiaceae or Umbelliferae Family (aka. Carrot, Celery, or Parsley Family)

Curled Leaf Parsley (Herb) growing in a greenhouse in winter

Carrots
Celeriac
Celery
Chervil
Cilantro (aka. Coriander)
Dill
Fennel
Lovage
Parsley
Parsnip

Asteraceae Family (aka. Daisy Family)

Calendula Flower (Herb) in a winter greenhouse

Burdock
Calendula
Chamomile
Chicory (Endive)
Lettuce
Radicchio
Salsify
Stevia
Tarragon

Boraginaceae Family

Borage Plant and Flower Buds (edible leaves and flowers) can grow in a greenhouse in winter

Borage
Comfrey

Brassicaceae Family (aka. Cabbage, Cruciferous, or Mustard Family)

Baby Mustard Greens in a greenhouse

Arugula
Bok Choy
Broccoli
Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Collards
Kale
Kohlrabi
Komatsuna
Mizuna
Mustard
Raddish
Rutabaga
Tatsoi
Turnip
Watercress

Fabaceae Family (aka. Bean, Legume, or Pea Family)

Young Sweet Pea Plants growing in a greenhouse in winter

Fenugreek
Sweet Pea or Sugar Snap Pea
Snow Pea

Lamiaceae or Labiatae Family (aka. Mint, Sage, or Deadnettle Family)

Culinary Sage in the Winter Greenhouse

Bee Balm
Bergamont
Catnip or Catmint
Lavender
Lemon Balm
Marjoram
Mint
Oregano
Rosemary
Sage
Savory (winter)
Thyme

Tropaeolaceae Family (aka. Nasturtium Family)

Nasturtium Plant (Edible Peppery Leaves and Flowers) in the winter greenhouse

Nasturtium

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you’d like to get more information on Growing Domes. Or, to receive more informative gardening and Growing Dome articles, please sign up for our monthly newsletter, “The Happy Grower”.

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