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17979 State Route 536
Mt. Vernon, WA 98273
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Untitled Document

By Carol Yaw
Winter-Wise Maintenance
  1. It's a perfect time to give your greenhouse a good cleaning this month before the cold weather sets in:
  1. Remove and store any shading.
  2. Clear the greenhouse of plants.
  3. Hose it down and disinfect inside and out.

Physan 20
is a very economical, safe cleaner to use on your glazing, benches, tools and even your orchids!

  1. Start heating again. Keep your night temperature at the recommended suggestion for what you want to grow this winter —

Cool Greenhouse:
(Night temp. 40°-50° F.) At this temperature range, you can actively grow many leafy and root crops; e.g., lettuce, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, beets, carrots and coffee. Meyer and Ponderosa Lemon, Washington Naval and Valencia Oranges, limes and other citrus fruit, and grapes can be wintered over.

  Moderate Greenhouse:
(Night temp. 55°-60° F.) Insulated glazing is recommended. Many options are available, and some plants will propagate. Possibilities include cucumbers, beans, bibb lettuce, herbs, strawberries, mushrooms, cool variety tomatoes, dwarf peach and other fruit trees, figs, grapes and nectarines.

Warm Greenhouse:
(Night temp. 65°-70° F.) While more expensive to heat (we recommend insulated glazing), the sky is the limit! There are many unusual and tropical plants you can grow easily; e.g. lemons, bananas, melons, dwarf corn, peppers, eggplant, and a wide variety of tomatoes. (A grow light may be necessary in winter.)


  1. As day length shortens, enough light to continue plant growth becomes critical. Check that your grow lights are working properly and replace any defective tubes.

To accurately measure the amount of light your tubes are giving off, use a light meter
  1. Most indoor plants need between 10-12 hours of light for best results. Extend their existing daylight with an Equipment Timer.
  1. Ventilate mid-morning to mid-day on warm days and maintain good air circulation. Fresh and moving air discourages disease and condensation.

If you have an existing air circ fan, but need a bit more supplemental air circulation, a small air circulation fan is compact and easy to move wherever you might need it.
  1. Continue to reduce watering. Water before noon and only plants that require it. Try not to splash water on leaves, crowns, floor or benches.
  1. Deadhead flowers, remove any wilted or diseased foliage, and check for disease on plants regularly - especially on bottom side of leaves.
  1. Bait for any slugs.
  2. Spray for gray mold, whitefly and others pests in the mornings.
  1. Bubble Insulation can reduce your heat costs up to 45%! Have it ready to install this month or next depending on your climate zone.
Greenhouse Growing Fun!
  1. Over-wintering outdoor containers and favorite plants in your greenhouse —
  1. Most container plants need to be cut back by about one-third before you move them in.

  2. Check for pests carefully and treat as necessary.

  3. Place incoming plants in a light, cool area like under benches. Water them sparingly. Avoid water-logging, which can cause root rot damage

An isolated "hospital area" is helpful to watch any suspicious plants until you are sure they are healthy.
  1. Cuttings -
  1. Pot up rooted cuttings taken in August and September.
  1. Take cuttings of evergreens and other shrubs.

Evergreen cuttings can often be slow to root, use a professional rooting stimulant like Hormex or Clonex. A No Holes Flat with a Humidity Dome on a a propagator Heat Mat speeds up the success rate enormously.
  1. Bulbs -
  1. Finish potting up spring flower bulbs for forcing in January and February - like Narcissus, Crocus, Tulip, Snowdrop, Hyacinth, Muscari. Store in a cold, dark, protected place.
  1. Bring in tuberous begonias after the first frost and store in a cool, dark place.
  1. Harvest -
  1. As your summer tomato and cucumber season comes to an end, finish picking them and remove spent plants, leaves and debris.
  1. As ripened, pick any fall fruit, including grapes.
  1. Veggies -

Dig up and bring in any favorite biennial vegetables from your outdoor beds to your cool greenhouse - like Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, endive, leeks, etc. for over-wintering.

  1. Growing On -
  • After digging up summer bulbs, let them dry in the greenhouse before cleaning and storing.
  • Pot up the last of the bulbs to be forced in Jan-Feb.
  • Pot up annuals. Keep in good light and give them minimum water.
  • Pot up mint, chives, tarragon, basil and rosemary for inside the cool greenhouse.
  • Sow winter lettuce, chicory, endives and Chinese greens.
  • Hardy shrubs, trailing ivies, winter bulbs, small-leaved evergreen azaleas and mums do well in the cool greenhouse this time of year, and add variety and color.

  1. Extend your outdoor garden harvest with a cold frame. Later use it to store bulbs, grow lettuces, root crops, and harden off plants next spring.