The case for a year round greenhouse
So many people dream about having a greenhouse and growing plants, but the idea of a year round greenhouse, one that can thrive during our long winters often doesn’t even enter into the thinking for so many in the Northeast. We constantly encounter this mindset, which assumes that the choices for a greenhouse are either an inexpensive plastic structure that is temporary, fragile, high maintenance and nearly impossible to heat or a glass structure that is expensive but also fragile, high maintenance and expensive to heat. As we go across New England sharing our experience and the good news for a winter greenhouses, we have seen just how ingrained and difficult that mindset is. The reality is that new inventions have made it possible to create a new living space that should be considered an essential part of a functioning house of the 21 century.
Historically, the challenge for greenhouses in Vermont and the Northeast has been our extreme weather conditions. The vibrant small residential, greenhouse culture in England, for instance, has been possible because the milder winters and summers matched up well with the age old single pane glass greenhouse. Single pane glass in Vermont, only provide 0.8 in rvalue, can completely frost over during our long cold spells, and generally are housed in an exterior frame that is exposed to the weather and can collapse under our heavy snows. Double or triple pane glass with a greater rvalue is the rule in the Northeast, but adapting this to a greenhouse is expensive, high maintenance, and still not the best glazing for plants. Along comes polycarbonate. First invented in the mid fifties by scientists at Bayer and GE, it wasn’t until much later that the Israelis created a double wall material with UV protection that could be used in greenhouses. Today’s polycarbonate greenhouse panels are truly a game changer for greenhouses in the Northeast. Plants absolutely love the light and protection offered by these modern greenhouse panels. This new generation of polycarbonate greenhouse panels are nearly indestructible, shatter and impact proof, emit 80% light with an rvalue of 1.89, have built in condensation control, low flammability, are easy to work with and rigid, yet capable of cold-forming to an arch, and come with a 10 year limited warranty from the American manufacturer.
Modern polycarbonate greenhouse panels are not the only new development that has made the winter greenhouse feasible in the Northeast. High energy rigid insulation, solar fans, battery operated low cost drip irrigation systems, thermal controlled wax cylinder vent openers, biological pest controls, and even new plant and vegetable varieties that are adapted to the cool temp, low light conditions of greenhouses in a Northern climate all add up to making your winter greenhouse successful.
We at Vermont Victory Greenhouses believe that the technology is ahead of the culture. Its taken many of our brave neighbors who possess the Vermont pioneering and entrepreneurial spirit to step out and purchase some of our original designs during our early years. Each year and with every greenhouse built, we have improved our designs and systems. Today we feel confident in offering a greenhouse that has stood the test of the Northeast weather and provides years of trouble free, year round enjoyment to our many customers.