Your greenhouse can produce ample amounts of crops to buffer your grocery bill year round. The types of plants you can successfully cultivate depend on your ability to create the right growing conditions. With a little forethought, it is possible to keep your greenhouse growing fruits, vegetables and flowers throughout the fall and winter months. To do so, consider the following ideas for prep and continued care.

Preventive Measures

If you are planning to grow plants throughout the fall and winter months, prep your greenhouse beforehand for the temperature changes. Start by fitting your metal greenhouse frame with a double layer of thick plastic. Use a small air blower to send air flowing between the plastic sheets. The air layer adds a bit of insulation to the greenhouse, which keeps warm air inside and cold out. Check the plastic every occasionally for rips or tears that could let the air out.

Substrate Selection

Plain soil does not have the right drainage and insulation properties for growing during the cold season. You will need to dress up your soil with natural additives to keep your plants’ roots from freezing. Mix perlite, and vermiculite throughout the soil to create a substrate that filters water through the pot quickly. In addition, add some gravel or peat moss to the bottom of each pot to provide the plant with plenty of warmth. The combination will ensure the roots do not sit in icy cold water for an extended period after watering.

Temperature Watch Your Greenhouse

Keep a digital thermometer in your greenhouse, so you can watch for severe temperature fluctuations. You can sync advanced thermometers to your phone or computer to receive an alert when the weather dips below a certain temperature. Once this happens, you will want to go out and cover up the plants to prevent damage from the frost. You can cover either the roots or the entire plant with a sheet or wool blanket, depending on the low for that night. Be sure to come back out and pull the covers in the morning to avoid damaging your plants.

Humidity Check

Although greenhouses make the best use out of high humidity levels, it can be dangerous in the cold season. High humidity runs the risk of creating frost on the leaves and fruits during the cold nights. If this happens, the leaves could shrivel up and turn brown nearly instantly. Many plants struggle to recover from frost damage, leaving their harvests lacking for that year. If you are concerned during a drastic temperature drop, dial the humidity down to 50% to protect your plants.

Finding Balance

Since all plants differ in their optimal growing needs, you will need to keep a close watch on your greenhouse to determine what works. If you are struggling to help your plants thrive, make small changes and observe the outcome for a few days. You should see the plants respond positively to the change if you are moving in the right direction.