We don’t have a greenhouse. That’s not a problem for the fall gardens–in the summer we can start seeds outside for transplanting later. But spring and summer transplants have to be started in the winter, when it’s too cold to start the seeds outside. That’s when a greenhouse would come in mighty handy.

For a lot of what we need I can buy plants locally. But some of the varieties we grow aren’t available from local sources. We have to start those ourselves, greenhouse or not.

So we set up shelves beside a window and hang growlights over our seed trays. It’s important to suspend the growlights as close to the top of the seedlings as possible. But even then the amount of light the plant gets is far less than natural sunlight. As a result, our seedlings almost always get “leggy.”


So this year, like every other year, when we began transplanting it was easy to tell the seedlings we started from those started in commercial greenhouses. Ours were spindly and leggy, theirs were stout and strong.

But, as is the case every year, once in the ground our skinny leggy plants soon catch up. Thanks to an unusually cool and wet May our spring gardens are thriving, and the plants we started in our makeshift amateur set-up look just as good as the ones we bought from nurseries.

I still have a greenhouse on the farm wishlist, but it’s good to know we can manage without one.