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Why a Desert Greenhouse?

Why a Desert Greenhouse?

Yes, I live in the desert.  Yes, I have a greenhouse.  Yes, there are a few differences to running a desert greenhouse as opposed to a traditionally located greenhouse.

Here in the Mojave Desert, there are drastic temperature fluctuations from the daytime to evening.  It could be ninety degrees Fahrenheit at two o’clock in the afternoon and bottom out in the high forties in the middle of the night.

I keep my greenhouse for one reason: temperature stability.

During the month of August, temperatures are well into triple digits and humidity is very low.  Outdoor vegetable gardens suffer in the extreme conditions.  With a ventilation fan, misters and shade cloth, my indoor greenhouse maintains a daytime temperature around ninety degrees and my tomato plants love it.

In fact, I love tomatoes.  During the crazy outdoor temperature swings of spring and fall, my tomato plants just keep on producing.  I have picked my first ripe tomato of the season in the beginning of March.

Wintertime operates in the greenhouse differently for me than other climates.  I use thermal mass instead of a heater.  For the thermal mass, I use large containers of water placed throughout the space.  During the day, the thermal mass absorbs heat from the ambient air and direct sunlight and at night as the temperature drops, the heat is released back into the space.  Even though it can be below freezing at night, inside the greenhouse the temperature is right about fifty degrees which is perfect to keep my heat-loving plants going though the three cold months.

A big difference between my desert greenhouse and other greenhouse locations is that cool season vegetables to not do very well in my space.  On a sunny forty degree day in the winter, my greenhouse could be ninety degrees inside - not exactly hospitable for lettuce.  Well, unless you like bitter lettuce, but who does.

Just like traditional greenhouse gardeners, I use my greenhouse to start seeds for outdoor gardening.  However, what my desert greenhouse does for me is to give me the ability to grow plants that have a difficult time growing in the intense heat and drying wind of the Mojave.  I love my vegetables and flowering bulbs, the greenhouse gives me a way to enjoy them.

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