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What are the Best Greenhouse Vegetables?

By B. Schreiber
Updated May 16, 2024
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Good greenhouse vegetables are usually vegetables that don't freeze or keep well over winter and that can be grown close to their usual growing season in the greenhouse. Also, the most common greenhouse vegetables can usually be harvested quickly. For this reason and because they are usually somewhat cold-resistant, one of the most popular choices is leafy greens. Some examples include lettuce, Swiss chard, and a great deal of other leaf vegetables. Other good greenhouse vegetables include tomatoes, eggplant, and cucumbers.

Lettuce has most of the traits of the best greenhouse vegetables. It can be difficult to find good fresh lettuce during the winter, and garden lettuce doesn't keep long or freeze well. Leaf lettuce grows quickly in the greenhouse and can be planted weekly to make for a regular harvest. Greenhouse lettuce is usually planted in September through October or in January through February in later winter.

There are numerous other greens that, like lettuce, make good greenhouse vegetables. While it requires some space, spinach can mature in about 30 days. Swiss chard also does well and offers a unique and different taste. Salad greens like mesclun or arugula are good choices, as they are fast-maturing and can be quite expensive to buy out of season. Greenhouse bok choy, an Asian cabbage relative, can be harvested when it is immature or fully grown.

Tomatoes are often started indoors as greenhouse vegetables in order to be transplanted outdoors in May or June. Some gardeners start greenhouse tomatoes in January, while others may wait until February or March. Peppers and eggplant, which are related to tomatoes, are treated somewhat similarly. If these plants blossom indoors, the flowers will probably need help being pollinated in order to bear fruit. Gently shaking the plants may be enough to help them self-pollinate.

Cucumbers are also grown in greenhouses, but getting cucumber fruits requires transferring pollen from male blossoms to female blossoms. This can be done with a cotton swab or a small paintbrush. Some squash varieties can be started in a greenhouse for transplanting outdoors in early to midsummer. Radishes are another popular choice because they are easy to grow and can mature in about four weeks. Other crops to try include turnips and green beans.

The greenhouse is also a good place to try new varieties and practice growing vegetables. Some other plants are sometimes started as seedlings to be transplanted outdoors when the ground thaws. This could include seedlings for hardy plants such as cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.

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Discussion Comments
By whiteplane — On Jun 25, 2012

I just bought a house that has an old greenhouse attached and I am really excited about restoring it. The problem is that I don't really know much about the subject and I have no idea where to buy replacement parts. Is there such a thing as a greenhouse supply store? This place needs a lot of work. I am sure I could get some of the stuff at a garden store but other things are pretty unique to the greenhouse. Where do you go to buy stuff like that?

By backdraft — On Jun 24, 2012

People always talk about the vegetables that you can grow in a greenhouse but what kinds of fruit can you grow? Strawberries, melons, what about tropical fruits that need a hot moist climate?

I would really probably be more inclined to grow fruits than veggies because most veggies I can grow in my backyard. But the green house presents a unique opportunity to create a whole new climate, something that will sustain crops that it would otherwise be ipossible to grow here.

By gravois — On Jun 24, 2012

You can make a really simple and cheap greenhouse by building a small frame out of pvc pipe and then covering it with a polyurethane sheet. It will not work in all climates but in some you can use this simple design to grow lettuce, spinach and other green crops throughout the winter.

This is not my own clever invention unfortunately. People have been using this design for decades because it works. You can find lots of different plans online that will fit a variety of different lawns and soil types. It is a fraction of the cost of building a traditional greenhouse and it can be easily dismantled in the summer.

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