On summer greenhouse crops

img_0579This small bag should be enough to grow lots of out-of-hand snacking this autumn

I got a little bit of legume love in the mail this week:  Peanuts!

The envelope was sorely needed, too:  dirty, green thoughts on a cold and snowy day.  Winter still holds us in her sharp teeth, though daily, that sun gets stronger.  Birdsong is more varied, and loud.  And I heard and saw my first migrating cranes yesterday.

These greenhouses really do bump your zone numbers up by 1-1/2 or 2, depending on the season.  (Seriously:  go check out that link to find out what you are.  I\’m 6b here.)  So last spring I realized I needed a radical rethink on the types of crops grown in the HOThouses they become during the summer.  I thought:  well, heck.  My model is a bit further south than a Michigan summer.

Yes, I am thinking Georgia/South Carolina/Tennessee/Alabama/Louisiana: an 8a/8b.  Someplace hot and steamy!  SO this summer season\’s crops include peanuts, sweet potatoes, okra and tomatillos…all joining the tomatoes, eggplant and peppers that grew so spectacularly well under that greenhouse plastic last year.  So here’s part of my order of Tennessee Valencia peanuts from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.  I can’t wait.

23 responses to “On summer greenhouse crops

  1. You are gonna love homegrown peanuts. Seriously. Night and day taste-wise.

    Being here in hot-as-hades coastal Virginia, I’m supposedly a 7b zone, but the summer gets so hot that care has to be taken with even those heat loving crops.

    Good luck and I’ll be anxiously awaiting updates on your experiment.

  2. What a fun adventure. I’m curious to see how they turn out!

  3. 6b!!??? jealous. We’re lucky if we get to a 6b inside the greenhouse. When I saw you picture of peanuts, I thought to myself, wouldn’t that be nice. But I didn’t realize you start out so much warmer than we do.

    And we are in the bottom of the valley, down near the river. One of the warmest areas around us. My brother, only 50 miles north and a 1000 feet higher, is a zone behind us.

  4. Pingback: On summer greenhouse crops « fast grow the weeds

  5. Were 9b in Phoenix, and people think, oh that’s great, you can grow (insert anything here)! We just planted our tomatoes last week, but we have to hurry up and get them in because in less than 90 days it will be in the mid 100’s and the pollen dies, as do a lot of the plants especially around the 110-115 mark. 😉

  6. I was thinking the same thing…about growing super hot loving stuff in my greenhouse. So now a question, how do you get your pollinators in there? Do you leave the ends open or just a door? my sides don’t roll up so I haven’t quite worked out the bugs for that yet (pun unintentional, but cute nonetheless).

    • Tameson: a quick answer: most of these things are self-pollinating so I’ve got no worries! The only things I didn’t mention but might still try in there are some greenhouse-type self-fertile cucumbers. Bees can still fly into the greenhouse through the netting (3/4″x3/4″) but bigger things can’t and it still works out fine.

  7. oooo, I’ve always wanted to do peanuts! How fun that will be for your daughter to help you harvest! Someday I will have a greenhouse!

  8. Interesting note: as temperatures climb, most areas are beginning to move into higher-numbered zones. In central Wisconsin, we are putatively in zone 4, but actually we are probably on the southern fringe of that zone (or maybe the northern fringe of zone 5).

    With a hothouse, the zone will be much higher of course. That had not occurred until you mentioned it. What a smart girl you are…I’m really going to have to put in a hothouse this summer.

  9. Well, blow me down! I thought peanuts came from ballparks.

  10. I want a greenhouse (whine) please I do. Oh! My husband says maybe next year!

    You make all of this so much fun. Thanks for posting (I still want a greenhouse)


  11. That is so cool! On our list is tomatillos too. We made this awesome green chili with some last week and now want them in our garden. We’ll be planting soon I think. My sugar snap peas have come up and our lettuce, chard, and beets are going strong still.

  12. Oh my! The list of my jealousies grows! Farm, chickens, eggs, greenhouses, and now… PEANUTS! Come on!

  13. I love your blog. It is so gosh darn inspiring. Thank you for writing!

  14. I’m 6b too, and the thought of being able to grow those really warm crops is enticing. I just don’t have the space for a greenhouse though – unless there is a small-scale way to have something similar? Do you know of anything?

  15. Christy, thanks for the info.! I am looking forward to it surely. I think the freshest nuts I ever ate were at a roadside stand for boiled nuts in Georgia, and THOSE were mighty good. With the two roll-up sides and with two 6′ wide doors, I am hoping the new greenhouse cools off a bit more than the old one did.

    Me too Gardenmama! It’s too bad I don’t have enough space to be self-sufficient in peanut butter though 🙂

    MMP, yeah, it’s that crazy huge freshwater lake a mile to the west of us. Go 5 miles east it’s 6a then another 5 miles it’s zone 5. Microclimates, man. You wanna trade this nasty clay soil for a warmer zone?

    Rachel, huh, I actually noticed my peppers stopped blooming once it regularly got to 100 in the greenhouse during the day. I would imagine you employ all kinds of shade cloth and the like to help you out? And tons of mulch? I guess the great thing is most of the things we like to eat will still grow for us whatever our summers are like.

    Anyway, Tameson, your question occupied my mind when I first thought about the greenhouse period. For 60% of the year I am eating roots and leaves out of it, but for the 40% that is fruit (tomatoes, eggplant, etc.), MOST, fortunately, have perfect (self-pollinating) flowers. Not all stuff requires a pollinator, as wind does the job for lots of things. So the only ones I am left wondering about will be the sweet potatoes and the peanuts. When we put the roll-up sides on the new greenhouse, we’ll be putting chicken wire in that void so that really should allow lots of good pollinators in there still.

    Amanda!! You have hit the nail on the head. I think all true underground crops are amazing, and things like peanuts, potatoes and sweet potatoes (unlike carrots and turnips and beets, which you kind of see) have the gift of surprise attached to them, which are fun for the five year old in all of us, I think!

    Dennis, please do, and tell us about it. I of course hope everyone starts making their own bread and saving their own seeds but if I could get more people to consider having a greenhouse, then, well, mission accomplished!

    CC, and bars, don’t forget peanut bars.

    Linda! See my note to Dennis. I think your husband will be quite amazed by how much fun it all is. And unlike, say, fixing a tractor, putting up a greenhouse is a piece of cake.

    Jules! PEAS! I am 3 weeks from even planting them which means a month and a half from even seeing their leaves. SIGH. That chili sounds delicious. Thanks for giving me a dinner suggestion!!!

    Compostings, I am here to serve up ideas! Get doodling on where you’re going to site your greenhouse, okay? I can help you with a coop too.

    Milkweed, shucks, you’re no slouch either though!

    Hiya MC. Go check out my “Greenhouses Etc.” tab above and there are a couple of links for some D.I.Y. hoophouses you can make out of stuff at any hardware store. Really easy to do. Otherwise, you can google “cold frames” and see how to extend the harvest a few weeks either side of the frost dates. But stay tuned: I do have a mini-greenhouse scheme that I will whip up this weekend, weather permitting.

  16. oh… this is fun! I am sure you know, but you can eat “new” potatoes too, don’t have to wait for all of them to get big: take a few baby tubers like you would for new potatoes. and the leaves are edible… and for the sweet potatoes, since they are generally propagated by tuber, I don’t think you need to worry about pollinators (in the North, they don’t always bloom anyway, but they still produce tubers)

    • Thanks, Sylvie. Of COURSE I steal new potatoes (grabbling), beginning in June. And two years ago I grew sweet potatoes and they bloomed like crazy, beautiful blossoms too. Unfortunately I only got a tiny harvest of them as the voles seemed to find them delicious too. They won’t find them in the greenhouse so help me though!!!

  17. Here in Europe, we mostly consider the winter hardiness when talking about zones, not about summer temperature.
    Here we are in zone (7)-8, but I can’t imagine to be able to grow peanuts, not even in our greenhouse. In our greenhouse we grow tomatoes, eggplant, basil, peppers… and last year we tried a melon, and that went well too.
    But I think that over here, you need a artificially heated greenhouse to grow peanuts.
    (In summer, temperatures are usually between 70° F and 85° F, When we go above 85° for more than a few days, it’s a heatwave, but there may be days below 70°)

  18. I’m glad you explained that. I was having this huge disconnect, wondering where you were from that you thought peanuts would grow in Michigan.

    Looking forward to see how well they do for you. Brilliant idea!

  19. Annetanne, you are absolutely correct and perhaps I should have been more clear when mentioning the zone thing as to plant hardiness. What I meant was having greenhouses in the WINTER here one’s zone gets bumped up. But last spring I noticed the temps. starting in April really began climbing high during the day (to the 90s) so I knew 1. my salad greens were toast and 2. I had better rethink what I would grow in there in the summer! We really must be further south than you for my greenhouses to get so much hotter than yours: we’re at the 42nd parallel (which is equal to Rome). I have been following a gardener with greenhouses in southern England and he’s definitely able to grow a lot of things in his but…if I tried, they’d fry. Thus, the peanuts!!

    Jenn, hi! Yeah I didn’t mean to trick you. These puppies really get hot, but it’s that steamy hot not commonly found in your new home 🙂 I am looking forward to their progress, too. Of the two greenhouses I think the newer one might be the cooler one, frankly, because there’s more opportunity for cross-ventilation. That’s where the peanuts might go. Yes, it’s all a fun experiment!!

  20. El, you had me hooked a long time back on greenhouses. After years of dreaming, I finally have everything ready to go and the “solar pit” greenhouse (a.k.a sacred pit) should be complete by the end of April. (need it dug with a friends back hoe.)
    So i thank you for the inspiration and fantastic information you do share here.
    I just received our Spanish peanut seeds in the mail and since no greenhouse yet, I am starting them indoors.
    I ordered a 1/4 pound. Do you have any idea on what the output would be per plant in pounds? i am already dreaming peanut butter….

  21. Tammie, how exciting! So, a pit: like, one deep walking path in the center and two long higher beds flanking it? Well, whatever it is, I am excited for you!! I have no idea how much a quarter pound will do: this is the first time for me too. I can’t say I have dreams of peanut butter, just dreams of snacking for my peanuts! Check with the bag; maybe it will give you a clue to yields.

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