With only about 100 frost-free mornings per year, but also very long summer days, many Calgary area plant lovers are contemplating building their own greenhouse. Advances in design and materials, along with some peculiar features of our weather, have been making greenhouses more popular in Calgary.
At Mirage Landscaping in Calgary, your premier residential and commercial full-service landscaping design and maintenance firm, we have seen a few nifty greenhouses some of our clients have installed. There are lots of reasons as to why you might want to consider a greenhouse here in Calgary.
Why You Want A Greenhouse
There are two primary reasons to desire a greenhouse, and those reasons are just as viable here in Calgary as they are in more temperate climes further south. The foremost reason serious gardeners have a greenhouse in northern countries like Canada is to artificially extend the growing season. Despite the arctic cold spells we get, Calgary is still in the “rain shadow” of the Rockies, and we still get as many sunny days as, say, Miami. It just so happens that many of our sunny days are touch more “crisp,” as it were.
By building a greenhouse, the avid gardener can give all of his or her annuals, perennials and/or vegetables to get a serious head start. Rather than wait on the thaw and the lengthening days to have the plants get going, a greenhouse gardener can have a massive quantity of transplant-ready starters ready to go for the moment that the weather finally cooperates. Rather than watch the forecasts with a worried eye, the artificial environment of the greenhouse affords the luxury of precisely timing when to install various plants so that they aren’t overly stressed by still near freezing nights or heavy daytime cloud cover.
Another major reason to have a greenhouse in Calgary is as a “zone shifter,” or in plain English, the ability to grow what otherwise wouldn’t grow here. With a large enough space, you could grow a date palm in Calgary as long as your greenhouse remained intact, and warm through the winters. As we have shown you before on our Mirage Landscaping blog, most of Calgary is a very chilly Zone 3 for plant hardiness. With a greenhouse, you can create the perfect growing conditions for any zone.
Calgary Greenhouses Are More Sophisticated Than You Imagine
When we think of greenhouses, our thoughts turn to glass paned English-style botanical gardens of the Victorian Era, or the modern and expedient tubular arches suspending metre after metre of translucent plastic sheeting. These are both “passive heat” designs. Neither of the expanses of glass or plastic make a terrible amount of sense with the frighteningly low temperatures we experience. For a passive solar greenhouse to work in Calgary, the walls have to have to be tremendously thick, or incredibly well insulated.
A fiscally sensible greenhouse in Calgary is of a more focused Northern European design. The principle remains the same—passively capture solar light and heat and retain it—but the execution of that idea is different. A “northern” greenhouse has a transparent south-facing half roof surface that captures the light, but the rest is built with insulated materials so that if the sun itself cannot keep the inside warm through a deeply frozen night, a thermostatic controlled electrical heater, or other efficient heat source can.
An insulated greenhouse need not be an expensive affair. You can build an effective greenhouse for surprisingly little money. The frame can even be made from PVC pipe so long as the walls are made with highly insulating materials, such as styrofoam sandwiched between structural panels. If you need a spring clean up to have a good site for a greenhouse, give us a call for a free quote.