Green / Eco-Friendly

Greenhouse vs hydroponics?

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  • Jan 14th, 2020 5:55 pm
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[OP]
Newbie
Jun 11, 2019
79 posts
9 upvotes

Greenhouse vs hydroponics?

I can grow veggies in the summer but our winters are half the year and I'm wondering if it's more effective/cost efficient to grow veggies via hydroponics if I have space in the basement or to build a greenhouse attachment vs separate unit in the backyard if I have space?

Thanks
10 replies
Deal Addict
Dec 25, 2007
1091 posts
549 upvotes
GTA
I have a greenhouse. It's useless in winter without insulation, lights and supplementary heat.
Deal Addict
Jul 7, 2017
4653 posts
2022 upvotes
SW corner of the cou…
Depends on where you are. I know someone who has a big, potted lemon tree in an unheated plastic-enclosed green house. He uses thermal ballasting (lots of bucket of water) to keep the tree from freezing during our relatively-few cold days.
Cream rises to the top. So does scum.
[OP]
Newbie
Jun 11, 2019
79 posts
9 upvotes
I'm in the GTA, where winter occupies half the year.

If I have to keep adding water, heat and light to keep it operational, isn't it better just to grow things hydroponically during the winter? It seems expensive to keep a greenhouse behind glass, constantly heated. Thanks
Deal Addict
Dec 25, 2007
1091 posts
549 upvotes
GTA
leafsnation98765 wrote: I'm in the GTA, where winter occupies half the year.

If I have to keep adding water, heat and light to keep it operational, isn't it better just to grow things hydroponically during the winter? It seems expensive to keep a greenhouse behind glass, constantly heated. Thanks
Grow indoors during the winter.
Use the greenhouse in winter for storage.
Deal Addict
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Oct 9, 2010
2724 posts
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Windsor
leafsnation98765 wrote: I'm in the GTA, where winter occupies half the year.

If I have to keep adding water, heat and light to keep it operational, isn't it better just to grow things hydroponically during the winter? It seems expensive to keep a greenhouse behind glass, constantly heated. Thanks
The sun does provide substantial heating, even in the winter, and provides "good" light for your plants. Now, there's also a lot of heat loss as well, but it can be mitigated to a manageable level, at least outside of the coldest months. You can also store some "tropical" plants; I have cactus, a lemon bush, a palm tree, avocado, and some herbs.

As for hydroponic: the power requirements are not insignificant there either, namely light. Also, lights, pumps, aerators, plant food, growing apparatus, etc ... not exactly cheap either, but you will get better yields if you know how to do it right.

However, without growing expensive veggies, it will never pay itself off ... not even close. Now, if you just like "real" veggies, or just enjoy the idea of gardening (this is my reasoning for doing it), then by all means, but it's not going to save you cash. If you grow some cannabis, you can break even for sure; my plants are making lovely Xmas gifts for basically everyone I know.

I have a small greenhouse that I use ~late April to mid June ... then again ~September to late October; in spring I use it to start my plants/flowers from seed ... in the fall I use it to extend the production of some plants. Outside of that, it stores my snowmobile.
One who is offended by truth, has no place among those who seek wisdom.
Newbie
Oct 16, 2017
7 posts
Get a good commercial LED grow light. The one I run is made by Fluence Bioengineering and it draws 85W, so the electricity costs aren't too bad. You can do just fine growing veggies in a soilless potting medium and feeding with a balanced fertilizer solution.
Deal Addict
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Jan 4, 2007
1372 posts
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GTA
i have grown indoors multiple times.. do it for the joy of gardening when its freezing outside.. NOT for value cause it not there :)

Id stick to leafy greens in DWC setup as a first grow + LED lights. set up timers.. get your PPM testers and PH testers and a good Hydro book from the library. Rock and ROLL!
Deal Guru
Feb 7, 2017
14564 posts
11773 upvotes
Eastern Ontario
We over winter an assortment of semi tropical plants inside our house
Examples
https://balconygardenweb.com/cold-hardy ... d-climate/

And have decent success.

The smaller plants survive thru the use of traditional grow lights
And the bigger ones in a sunny two storey south facing window

In the Spring we start some seeds indoors for our annual Herb & Veggie Garden

We start them primarily using a hydroponic system
When we first began this exercise ... we started out using a Miracle-Gro Aerogarden
I suggest if you are new to winter indoor garden ... it might be a good place to start

We found that the hydroponic garden worked well...
Maybe too well, as the plants can quickly overwhelm the space they reside in

Which is why ... we now use this as a seed starting system in late Winter
Before moving the seedlings into individual Peat pots in planting soil specifically designed for seed starting / seedlings
Once the daytime temps improve ... everything gets moved outside to harden off during mid-day hours

IF we had a greenhouse (Even a small portable one) ... it would provide additional protection for our plants
Earlier & later in the season
Something we are certainly considering now we are retired and have more time to pursue our gardening hobby

But ya ... short of living in Southern BC or around Niagara
It’s pretty difficult to get anything to winter over in an outside greenhouse
And even in those “banana belt” locations ... it still requires a lot of time & energy to ensure things do survive

For us ... the savings are definitely recouped by not having to rebuy seedlings each Spring to get our outdoor garden going every year
Where seedlings / bigger plants / or semi tropicals can run anywhere from $ 2 per pot (a herb) ... thru to up to $ 12+ a pot (established peppers) ... on to $ 20 - $ 50 per tropical
The other benefits are well established plants that produce herbs / fruits / veggies both sooner & longer thru our otherwise short Cdn Growing Season would allow
I have had for example Tomatoes as early as April / May ... and as late as October / November
To me that’s more than worth the effort / cost
[OP]
Newbie
Jun 11, 2019
79 posts
9 upvotes
PointsHubby wrote: We over winter an assortment of semi tropical plants inside our house
Examples
https://balconygardenweb.com/cold-hardy ... d-climate/

And have decent success.

The smaller plants survive thru the use of traditional grow lights
And the bigger ones in a sunny two storey south facing window
do you mean upstairs? I wonder if a basement room would be too cold because I'm building a house and hopefully the structure for the south facing window will be in place.

I'm not so concerned re the cost of the gro lights etc but more about the environmental impact I have.
Deal Guru
Feb 7, 2017
14564 posts
11773 upvotes
Eastern Ontario
leafsnation98765 wrote: do you mean upstairs? I wonder if a basement room would be too cold because I'm building a house and hopefully the structure for the south facing window will be in place.

I'm not so concerned re the cost of the gro lights etc but more about the environmental impact I have.
Sorry, guess I wrote that assuming it’s would be understood that the 2 storey window was upstairs
It’s our family room ... which is open concept
So tons of light

The majority of our indoor gardening though happens in a finished area in the basement (utility room / storage room)
Under grow lights
Cuz it’s designed as useable living space it never is too cold in the winter (we keep upstairs at ~20 C / 70 F )

Environmental impact ... in this situation is debatable (a trade off)
Growing plants (especially food) is always good for the environment
You’ve got the positives that they bring to the air
As well as the fact that by growing your own food you know it’s more healthy / organic / limited chemicals
Plus ... the lesser footprint cuz you are not buying as many veggies that are trucked far & wide
The downside though is the electricity it takes to keep an indoor winter garden going
Just a fact of life though here in Canada with our short outdoor growing season
You can offset some of the negatives by using LED Fixtures & Timers
I still strongly believe the positives win in this equation
But maybe not everyone does

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