Category Archives: Year-Round Growing Guide

What to do right now for a better garden tomorrow

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow,” was famously said by Audrey Hepburn. But what can you do right now for a better garden tomorrow? All too often, it can be easy to focus all of your gardening hopes on what you do outdoors.

Did you know that reducing waste, reusing, and repurposing are practices that can help with your growing efforts? Today, I’d like to share some simple things you can do in your everyday to enrich your garden and help it to flourish.

For Soil Enrichment:

Saving and separating things that typically get tossed away can be a huge help to your soil condition. Some simple recycling steps can enrich your soil and grow heartier, healthier plants.


A simple method for turning kitchen scraps into garden gold is with a simple composter. I use a large, lidded, rubberized tub that sits outside of my kitchen door.

In addition to the dry leaves I sweep from my porch, I throw in potato peels, scraps from herb and vegetable chopping, corn cobs, dropped house plant leaves, et cetera. I flip it occasionally upside down or side to side to mix everything well.

Compost is bursting with beneficial microorganisms for your growing plants.

Egg shells

Keep egg shells separate from your other compost (I reuse deli containers to hold them). Rinse and crush them to add calcium to support plants that often need it, like tomatoes.

Coffee grounds

Used coffee grounds have calcium, potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus content.

Because coffee grounds acidify soil, they can be useful for acid-loving plants, or can be mixed in with the rest of your compost.

Banana Peels

Chopped banana peels can be buried in your soil when planting tomatoes or peppers. The potash and phosphorous content in the peels will enrich the soil and strengthen your plants.

Wood ash

Wood ash has high alkaline content, which makes it great for neutralizing acidic soil. If your growing beds have acidic pH, use cooled fireplace ash to balance.

Tea leaves

Used tea leaves, sprinkled liberally at your plants’ bases, can give the same boost as a good fertilizer. Nitrogen, potash, and calcium will enrich the soil and lead to healthier plants.

Grass clippings

Grass clippings can be used in two ways. If your lawn is free of weeds, use your grass clippings directly over beds as a mulch to prevent moisture loss and inhibit weed growth. If your clippings contain weed content, add them to your compost. The heat from a well-maintained compost will kill any weed seeds.

For seed starting:

You can save many common household items to repurpose as seed trays, microgreen and sprout trays, and even as mini greenhouses. Plastic deli containers, such as croissant boxes and rotisserie chicken containers are excellent for this purpose, as are egg cartons, yogurt cups, and margarine tubs.

For the Garden:

  • Popsicle sticks make excellent garden markers.
  • Wire dry cleaner coat hangers can be used as garden stakes
  • Plastic bottles can be cut to make vertical garden containers
  • Glass wine bottles make excellent auto-waterers for container plants
  • Rain water collection is always a great way to conserve water. You can also retain and cool water used to steam or boil vegetables to water your plants. Nutrients lost in cooking can go back into your vegetable beds!
  • An old, leaky hose can be made into a soaker for watering your garden.

Some further ways to plan for tomorrow’s garden:

The ‘Plan for later’ growing method

Choose vegetables that can be preserved, stored, or frozen. By selecting vegetables that can be easily canned, pickled, or frozen, you stretch resources and can plan to eat produce from your garden throughout the year.
Cool-weather vegetables like onions, potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, and winter squash can be easily stored. Tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, corn, peas, and beets can be canned or frozen. Okra, green beans, asparagus, beets, and cucumbers can be pickled.

The Succession planting method

Plant your vegetables to produce in stages. Rather than planting an entire crop of seeds at once, plant them in stages over the course of several weeks. This enables you to harvest time and again. Succession planting allows a constant harvest in your garden, reducing the chance of produce waste.

Start a garden savings plan

If your goal is to buy or expand your dream greenhouse, add irrigation to your space, try an aquaponic growing system, or any other long term growing goal, start a garden savings plan! As you harvest more food from your growing space, a portion of your food budget savings can be set aside to help attain long term goals.

Happy growing!

More ways to increase your food production

Tips to increase your food security

In our last blog, we started with a few tips about creating the best environment for quicker food production. In this issue, we’ll cover watering, air circulation needs, and growing methods that make the most of your space. We plan to follow up soon with a list of quickest growing fruits and vegetables, and recommendations on companion planting for increased yields. Stay tuned to our blog– you won’t want to miss an issue! Helping everyone to have their own food security is at the top of our list during this time of such uncertainty.

Watering for food production

Water is vital for fast plant growth. Water transports vital nutrients from the root system throughout the plant. Different plants and even different varieties of the same species can have different water requirements. When planning your garden, grouping plants with similar watering needs can save time and energy spent tending your crop.

Outdoor conditions sometimes cause root and vine diseases during rainy weather. Containers, raised beds, and prepared soil for planting in rows should have adequate drainage to avoid root rot and other diseases that can damage plants.

In the greenhouse, drip irrigation, misting systems, and even ebb and flow hydroponic benches can boost your growing efforts by bringing water to your plants on a regular schedule. You can also utilize these same systems to deliver nutrients and to control temperature and humidity.

Air Circulation for faster growth

Plants need air for proper photosynthesis. Above soil level, leaves convert carbon dioxide in the air into sugars and starches, which feed the plant. Good air circulation means a well-fed plant. Below the surface, roots gain oxygen from watering, and send nutrients to the main body of the plant.

In a greenhouse, circulation fans for proper airflow are vital to increasing growth and producing healthy plants. Properly placed fans will eliminate hot and cold spots in the greenhouse, keep humidity levels low and even, and keep gasses in the air more homogenized.

During the process of photosynthesis, carbon dioxide is depleted in the air nearest to plant leaves. With proper air flow, new carbon dioxide is moved to each plant with regularity, ensuring continual growth.

Growing methods for increase food production

Typical planting methods are tried and true, but changing the way you grow can have a big impact on your overall production.

Vertical Growing

Vertical growing is a very easy way to make the most of your gardening space, whether you have a greenhouse, a balcony full of containers, a full garden plot, or even a corner of your sunroom to grow in.

There are many benefits to growing food vertically. In addition to increasing your valuable garden space, you’ll reduce common pests and decrease the instance of disease. Harvesting is easier (more veggies at eye level instead of on the ground!), and your plants can thrive closer together, which can significantly increase your yield.

Vining plants like tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, pole beans, and smaller squashes and melons are wonderful choices for vertical growing. A trellis or a teepee- like supporting structure works well for these. There is even a variety of climbing spinach you can grow this way, called Malabar spinach!

Spreading vine plants like sweet potatoes, grapes, kiwis, larger melons, pumpkins, and other large squashes can be grown in containers or bags, and trained up and out over arbors. This will also help with plants prone to vine rot. You can plant herbs and veggies that prefer less sun underneath these arbor, to receive more filtered sunlight.

Peppers and most cruciferous vegetables do well in vertical garden walls, and fast-growing microgreens are extremely easy to proliferate in vertical shelves. Microgreens, indoors and out, will produce over and over in a matter of weeks with full sunlight or supplemental lights.

Hydroponic and aquaponic growing

Hydroponic and aquaponic growing methods are also excellent choices for rapid fruit and vegetable production. Nutrients are delivered directly to the roots of your growing plants, water is delivered and circulated for immediate use, and pests and disease are rare with these set-ups.

Intensive Planting

With a method called intensive planting, rather than growing in spaced rows with walkways between, the garden is divided into rectangles as wide as your reach is from each side. The plants are sown very close together. Every square inch of growing space is covered by a canopy of plants, with walking space only around the outside edges.

With foliage shading the soil, weed growth and moisture evaporation are slowed. Avoid over-crowding; ideally you want leaves of each plant to just barely touch when they reach harvest size. Be sure each plant gets sufficient sunlight, nutrients, and water. This method is effective both in raised beds and in traditional in-ground gardens.

Feeding Your Family from Garden to Table

Planning food production for your family is a big undertaking, but armed with knowledge and tools for success, growing fruits and vegetables can be a fast and fulfilling endeavor. Stay tuned to our blog series, as we aim to increase your know-how and grower confidence. Happy growing!

Growing Potatoes in February

Year-Round Growing- Potatoes- February Planting Guide

Year-Round Growing Guide- February

As we leave the January chill behind, the days are starting to lengthen. Moving towards the equinox, many US zones now have enough daily sunlight to start crops without the use of supplemental lighting. February marks the return of roughly 10 hours of daylight, and is a great time to start your year-round growing plan. This month, we start growing potatoes and sage- no seeds involved!

Potatoes can be started outdoors under cover or indoors in containers soon. Potatoes like full sun and fertile, well-drained soil. To prepare for outdoor potato planting, you’ll want to ready your garden plot by digging the site thoroughly and incorporating plenty of well-rotted organic matter and high-potash fertilizer. A slightly acidic soil is best but not essential; potatoes can thrive in a wide range of soils. If your soil is more alkaline, a light application of sulfur will help establish healthy plants.

Growing potatoes in containers

Best varieties of potatoes for container growing

For indoor planting, you’ll want to select and order your containers. Each plant will need 10 liters, or just over 2.5 gallons, to grow into. A standard household garbage can-sized container can hold around four plants, and there are grow bags of various sizes that are handy to use as well. Whatever container you use, be sure there are adequate drainage holes to allow excess water to freely drain away.

As important as the container, choose what type potato to grow. First and second early varieties are best for container growing, and harvest before most diseases can take hold. Salad potatoes, ‘Charlotte’, ‘Lady Christl,’ ‘Rocket,’ and nutty-flavored ‘Anya’ are great selections that do well both in and out of the ground.

How to chit potatoes

For early potato crops, we recommend chitting from seed potatoes. Start with seed potatoes and sprout them for planting to encourage a head start. Place them in a shallow container, such as an egg carton or seed tray, blunt end up, in a cool, bright window. Some growing guides recommend chitting in a dark place at room temperature, but we have found that thicker shoots sprout when there is more light and the temperature isn’t too high.

When the shoots are near a half-inch long, cut your seed potato into chunks containing at least 1 thick, sturdy shoot (preferably two) and lay them on racks to heal and dry. Once a skin has formed over the cut parts, usually in 3 to 4 days, the potatoes are ready to plant.

Growing Potatoes Outdoors

Growing potatoes guide

Early potatoes are easy to start in February

Once your chitting process is complete, you’ll be ready to plant outdoors or in containers. Potatoes prefer fertile, loose, well-drained soil at a soil pH of 5.2-6.0.

For growing potatoes outdoors, dig a 4-inch depth trench and place your seed potatoes with the shoot pointed upwards. Fill the trench, and fertilize as recommended above.

To protect young potatoes from frost, which can blacken tender shoots, recover with soil as soon as stems emerge above ground. When the stems reach a height of approximately 5-inches, mound more dirt over them again to stop tubers near the soil surface from turning green. This is called hilling, and helps to keep sunlight from reaching the tubers. Hilling in the morning, when plants are at their tallest, will help support the plant and keep your growing potatoes from getting sunburned. Sunlight on the tubers causes them to turn green and produce a chemical called solanine, which is bitter and toxic.

Growing Potatoes in Containers

A deep container is ideal for growing potatoes year-round, particularly early potato varieties. Drainage will be helped by adding some material such as a pot, broken brick or ceramic, or even polystyrene to your container then fill with about 4 inches of soil or medium. Standard multipurpose potting soil works well, but can be expensive. A mix of soil from your garden, potting mix, and compost will save money and stretch your resources.

Space your seed potatoes, with sprouts upright, evenly in the container. Cover with 4 inches more if soil mix, and begin to tend as you would outdoor potato plants. As the shoots grow, continue to add layers of potting medium to shield tubers from the sun.

Watering Potato Plants

Container growing potatoes

A healthy harvest of early potatoes

Unless there’s plenty of rain, outdoor potatoes will need to be watered well while tubers are developing. An even amount of moisture is important. Too much water right after planting and not enough as the potatoes begin to form, can result in misshapen tubers. From the time when sprouts appear until several weeks after they blossom, the plants will need approximately 1 to 2 inches of water per week. Irrigate thoroughly when needed, allow the soil to dry out somewhat before watering again.

Growing potatoes in containers will also require an even watering schedule. While outdoor plants can reach down to chase valuable soil moisture, their container plants are dependent upon your care. See to hand watering the plants as they grow, and particularly once the foliage has filled out. Actively growing plants will also benefit from liquid nutrients during their growing time; we like organic fertilizer such as seaweed extract.

Health Benefits of Potatoes

Potatoes are a healthy diet staple, in spite of current trends towards low-carb eating. They contain dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals which support immunity, lower inflammation, and help maintain bones.

Potatoes are rich in iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, and zinc. These aid in building and maintaining bone structure and strength. Iron and zinc also play crucial roles in the production and maturation of collagen.

Potassium, calcium, and magnesium are also found in potatoes. These are key to decreasing blood pressure. Potassium encourages vasodilation, or widening of the blood vessels. The potatoes’ significant fiber content helps lower the total amount of cholesterol in the blood. Vitamin C and vitamin B6 content also help decrease the risk of heart disease.
Antioxidants, choline, and folate are also present in potatoes, and affect the body’s DNA repairing abilities, muscle movement, mood, learning, memory, and nerve impulse transmission.

How to Grow Sage

Growing Potatoes and Herbs

Fresh herbs year-round

Both of our suggestions for this week’s year-round growing plan are best not grown from seed. Sage can take over a year to establish from seed, so we instead suggest propagation by layering or cutting from a mother plant.

To layer sage, you need mature plant. Bend a side branch down to the soil, then attach with a landscape staple, allowing air to circulate. The branch will soon develop roots, and can be severed from the mother to transplant.

To grow sage from a cutting, use an actively growing branch. Cut a piece 3 to 4 inches from the tip and strip off the leaves. Insert your cutting into a growing medium, and keep the cuttings moist. You’ll have established roots when your cuttings start to develop new leaves.

When rooted, plant sage in full sun outdoors, or in your sunniest container location. Plant in well-draining soil. Sage won’t tolerate sitting in wet soil, so soil type is extremely important. Young plants enjoy frequent watering until they are fully grown. They’ll need a consistent moisture supply until they start growing quickly. Soil temperatures should be between 60º and 70ºF.

Sage companion plants well with rosemary, cabbage, and carrots, but keep sage away from cucumbers.

Health Benefits of Sage

Growing sage in winter

Health benefits of sage

Sage is one of many herbs with extremely high antioxidant capacities and anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antimicrobial effects. Recent studies have also shown promise that sage could positively impact cognitive skills, improve memory, and protect against neurological disorders.

Sage may reduce the amount of glucose in the blood. A 3-month study of diabetes patients with high cholesterol had the results of lower fasting glucose, lower average glucose levels, and lower total cholesterol, triglyceride, and levels of harmful cholesterol. However, the participants had increased levels of HDL or “good” cholesterol.

Researchers also conducted a double-blind clinical trial on 80 individuals with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes. This trial found that sage caused a positive effect on blood sugar levels, and suggests sage leaves may have anti-hyperglycemic and lipid-profile-improving effects.

Finally, sage and other flavorful herbs are an easy way to season a healthy meal. By replacing salt with fresh herbs, you can easily make a lifestyle choice that lowers your sodium intake. Growing fresh food year-round will give you access to the freshest herbs and ingredients. This makes healthy life choices easier than ever.

Furthering your growing season

Spring is coming soon! Now’s the time to stock up on supplies for spring and summer. Gothic Arch Greenhouses is ready to help, with ground cover, containers, shade cloth, irrigation, benching, and of course, greenhouses for growers of every sort. Give us a call today if we can help you get ready for this growing season, 1-800-531-4769. Happy growing!

Grow Carrots in Winter

Grow Carrots in Winter

Grow Carrots in Winter

This week, our year-round growing guide will focus on one superstar superfood: the versatile carrot. To grow carrots in winter, more preparation is needed than for other vegetables, but they adapt easily to rows, containers, under a cloche, or in a hoop house.

Many varieties of carrot do well for cold-weather growing; with the proper planning, these can thrive when temperatures drop. Carrots offer so many nutrients that having a crop ready for harvest year-round will give you a wealth of health benefits. Read on to discover the perfect carrot choices for planting in winter.

Soil Preparation for Carrots

Soil Prep for Carrots

Best Soil for Winter Carrots

If the soil outside if not frozen, or if you are growing in a greenhouse, covered raised beds, or planters, you can start carrots as early as January. Carrots do not like to be transplanted, so they will need to be planted where you will harvest them, but they can do well in 12″ to 18″ depth containers. For growing outdoors without shelter, we recommend waiting to plant until around 5 weeks before your expected last frost.

Carrots are easy to grow year-round, but must have proper soil conditions to thrive. Average soil temperature should be around 40 degrees to start your carrot seeds. They like loose, sandy soil to allow plenty of room for root development. If the soil has stones or clumps, carrots can become stunted or misshapen.

Avoid fertilizing with nitrogen-rich materials, which can cause forking and off-shooting of roots. Old coffee grounds work well for carrots. Sand and peat moss are also good soil additives to encourage the light, airy soil carrots prefer.

Make sure you have proper drainage. Carrots dislike too much moisture, and will generate thin, hairy roots, destroying their texture, if not well-drained. Raised beds and containers  generally drain well but allow for plenty of watering during root development. This makes the deep, loose soil of a raised bed or planter a great choice for growing carrots in winter.

Carrots can tolerate frost and like cool temperatures. Carrot seeds are slow to germinate in the cooler weather, but they need cool temperatures for developing sweet, well-formed roots. A 40-degree average temperature is perfect for carrots! Depending on which variety you are growing and your local growing conditions, carrots may take anywhere from 2 to 4 months to mature.

Best Practices to Grow Carrots in Winter

Carrots for Winter Growing

Best Carrot Varieties for Winter Growing

First, choose your seed variety. Good choices for winter carrots grown in containers or grow bags are Little Finger heirloom, a small carrot only 4 inches long and 1-inch thick, and Thumberline heirloom, a round carrot, good for thicker soil.

If you’re planting in a hoop house or in the ground in a greenhouse, Chantenay carrots develop stocky roots that become sweeter in cool soil. Rondo and Early French Frame are also good choices to sow around the interior edges of your greenhouse.

Sow carrot seeds ¼” deep, and 3” to 4” apart in an area that gets full sun to partial shade, at least six hours of sun per day. Carrots don’t take up much space, averaging six carrots per square ft, and can be sown every three weeks for multiple harvests throughout the winter.

Mulch or cover with vermiculite during the germination period. Carrots take a long time to germinate, and prefer moist soil for the first ten days. To reduce evaporation and warm the soil, try covering your carrot bed with old blankets for the first five to six days.

Water carrots to at least one inch per week to start, and then two inches as roots mature. Make sure that soil remains airy and easy to drain with the added moisture.

Carrots take a long time to grow to maturity, up to four months. The best reason to grow carrots in winter is that carrots taste better after few frosts, due to the accumulation of sugars in the roots. Generally, the smaller the carrot, the better the taste; most carrots are at their best flavor and texture when they reach finger size.

Health Benefits of Carrots

Carrots have an impressive array of health benefits. They’re very nutritious; one carrot, whether raw or cooked, will provide more than double one day’s worth of Vitamin A. This cell-protective antioxidant supports lung and skin health, and has been shown to protect against cognitive decline. Along with the additional antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, Vitamin A is important to vision and eye health. Compounds found in carrots protect the retina and lens, and deficiencies can lead to visual impairment.

Anti-cancer studies with carrots show promise

Anti-cancer studies with carrots show promise

Carrots contain high levels of several carotenoids, plant compounds that may protect eye and cardiovascular health, and reduce the risk of certain cancers. The American Institute for Cancer Research found in 2016 that foods containing carotenoids lower the risk of mouth, pharynx and larynx cancers. Additional 2017 studies found that dietary intake of carrots lowers the risk for breast cancer for women of all backgrounds.

This is possibly a result of other bioactive phytonutrients called polyacetylenes. In carrots, the polyacetylenes falcarinol and falcarindiol have shown anti-tumor activity.

Ways to Add Carrots to Your Diet

If you grow carrots in winter, you can add a pop of flavor and nutrition to every meal, snack, and even dessert! Grate carrots into your favorite bran muffin recipe, or puree them with a bit of ginger for a delicious morning oatmeal. Roast them along with eggplant, zucchini, and red onion for a lunchtime pita sandwich with hummus. For dinner, think beyond salads and sides—carrot soup is a warm treat for a cold night, and pairs well with the spices of a carrot cake dessert! Our favorite carrot soup recipe is easy to make into a family favorite!

Mediterranean Carrot Soup

Carrot Soup

30 Minute Mediterranean Carrot Soup


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 C finely chopped sweet onion
  • 1 Lb large peeled carrots, with 1/2-inch dice (about 2-2/3 C)
  • 2-1/2 C low-salt chicken broth
  • 1-1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp raw honey
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 C plain yogurt, whisked


  • Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • Add onion; sauté 1 minute.
  • Mix in carrots and lightly sauté 2 minutes.
  • Add broth; bring to boil.
  • Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until carrots are very tender, about 20 minutes.
  • Stir cumin seeds in small skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes; cool.
  • Finely grind cumin in spice mill.
  • Remove soup from heat, then puree in blender or with immersion blender until smooth.
  • Return to same pan. Whisk in honey, lemon juice, and allspice.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Ladle soup into bowls. Drizzle yogurt over; sprinkle generously with cumin.

To Further Your Growing Efforts

If sustainable, healthy eating is part of your plan for 2020, a greenhouse can expand your growing options, extend your growing season, and provide you a space to put your hobby into practice. Our experts can guide you towards the perfect growing solution that fits your budget and your space. We hope you’ll look to Gothic Arch Greenhouses for the very best greenhouses for sale anywhere.

Growing Year-Round Resource Guide

Growing Year-Round Resource Guide

Resources for Growing Year-Round

Growing year-round can be as much of a challenge as it is a joy.  We are here to help you make the most of your resources and our week-by-week guides. This blog installment will outline many resources you can use to tweak your planting. With some planning, you can easily achieve great harvests!

Gothic Arch has customers from Key West to Canada and beyond. We know that people with a passion for plants grow indoors, outdoors, on farms, on rooftops, in greenhouses, in raised beds, on balconies, community plots, window sills, school gardens, and anywhere else they can. To grow your best in any climate and conditions, a little knowledge can go a long way.

A key to growing year-round is understanding the plant you are growing, and what it needs to flourish. Important things to consider when growing outside of the usual season are: Can it survive frost? Does it like rich soil or an airier type? How long will it take to germinate? What soil temperature is best as it matures? If you are not growing in a heated greenhouse or indoors, these resources can help you to adjust our planting guide to your zone, local climate, and regional weather patterns.

Best Local and Regional Planting Information

USDA Planting hardiness map:
For outdoor growing, the USDA’s zone map is based off of the average annual minimum winter temperature. This is the standard by which most growers base their yearly planting. Low tunnels, high tunnels, and row covers can all help extend your zone’s season.

When to expect your last spring freeze:


Growing Maps     and
The National Centers for Environmental Information have two helpful maps that show historical data and averages for the last spring freeze for your area.

The last spring freeze date gives growers an idea of when they can plan to sow seeds outdoors. It also helps you to choose when it’s best to move seedlings started indoors to beds outside. Transitioning plants outdoors can give you more indoor seed-starting space when growing year-round.

Soil temperature maps: Average soil temperature is extremely important to consider when starting plants or when transplanting.

The NRCS has this wonderful interactive map,which gives air temperature, soil temperature, and soil moisture:

Historic temperature and precipitation maps: Rainfall can affect the viability of new plants. When growing year-round, check the local rainfall patterns. You might wait a week or two to sow, in some cases, if heavy rains are a yearly pattern. Check your area’s historic temperature and precipitation at this National Climate Data Center site.

Soil Health Information: The USDA has some helpful soil health infographics, which can help you determine any steps you may need to take to ensure a fertile garden.

Additional Growing Tools

One thing all of us at Gothic Arch Greenhouses enjoy is sharing knowledge. We have compiled a few additional gardening and growing resources below that we thought you may enjoy.

If you’re sharing our growing year-round guide with your students, check out the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services educational growing resources site. You’ll find their evidenced-based curricula for educators to use to integrate garden-based nutrition education lessons into core educational subjects, such as Math, English Language Arts, and Science.

Thinking of starting a community garden? The NRCS has some great advice here:

And if you’re a city-dweller, the USDA can advise on getting a great start with urban agriculture:

Their resource for information on non-traditional growing methods, such as hydroponics, aquaponics, aeroponics, and vertical growing can be found at this link:

Have you looked for specific advise about growing conditions, pests, or invasive species in your area but haven’t found answers? Your local farm services office may be able to help!

The National Garden Center has many apps, maps, calculators, and advise pages here:

And finally, our favorite: the National Agricultural Library’s digital exhibit includes many guides and pamphlets created by the USDA over the years. The information on how to start your own backyard Victory Garden (as they were called in the WWII era) is as valid now as it was in the 1940s!

You will also find this groovy, illustrated Growing Your Own Vegetables, circa 1977

Growing Year-Round in 2020

We hope that with these resources, our guide to growing year-round can help you to achieve a healthy and happy year of harvests. Gothic Arch Greenhouses is dedicated to helping our customers grow their dreams; if our team of experts can help you with a greenhouse, equipment, growing supplies, or any horticulture need, we’d love to hear from you. Reach us by phone or email today!

Planting calendar for year-round growing

Year-round Growing Guide, January Week 2

Though many people don’t think of January as a prime time for growing, here at Gothic Arch Greenhouses, we know that planning for a full year of fresh food means making the most of your time. For our third installment in our year-round growing guide, we’ll focus on more herbs, veggies, and fruits you can start growing in January.

For most of us, the harshest weather of the year is just ahead. If you’re growing in a greenhouse, or on an enclosed balcony or window sill, consider adding some insulation. A cheap but effective way to increase your frost protection is to use bubble wrap or plastic sheeting to cover your glass. This will allow sun-loving winter veggies to still get plenty of diffuse light while being protected from cold.

To keep plants at their healthiest during winter when growth is slow, monitor them for signs of disease, and remove to prevent spreading. In winter, water your plants sparingly to avoid possible problems with molds, mildew, and bacterial growth.

Growing Salad Greens Year-Round

Winter salad greens

Grow nutritious greens year-round

Fresh salads are a healthy side to your typical hearty soups during the winter months. Many varieties of lettuce are too sensitive to grow in January, but others are perfect for year-round growing. Look to heartier plants such as ‘Imperial’ lettuce, endive, chicory, and radicchio, which are rugged enough to tolerate an unheated greenhouse in colder weather. Kale, arugula, Swiss chard, and cabbage can also grow quite vigorously in winter as well.

For leafy greens to germinate, they prefer soil temperatures of 50 to 75 degrees, and well-drained soil. Plant at a 1/2” seed depth with 2-3” spacing. Avoid over-watering, and ensure adequate plant spacing to reduce pest and disease issues. Greens can be sensitive. Seedlings typically emerge in 5-20 days. Harvest leaves from the outside, and be careful of damage to the growing point. Harvest greens frequently, when young, and rinse in cold water to preserve flavor and texture.

Some other winter salad options include radishes like ‘French Breakfast’ and ‘Saxa’, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli.

Health Benefits of Winter Greens

Greens are always a solid choice to pack in nutrition when eating from your garden year- round. Fast and easy to grow, all types of greens are excellent sources of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. They are a vital part of a healthy diet, and add nutritious, low-calorie flavor to whether raw, steamed, roasted, or added to soups and stews.

Swiss chard is in the same vegetable family as the beet; however, rather than the root, it is Swiss chard’s flavorful leaves that are eaten. It is second only to spinach as world’s healthiest vegetable. It is full of anthocyanins which can lower blood pressure, improve vision, inhibit tumor growth, and lower risk of developing diabetes. Swiss chard is also fiber-dense and has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial activity.

Medicinal Plants

Fresh-grown Health Benefits

You’ve probably heard kale called a superfood Rich in carotenoids and flavonoids, these powerful antioxidants protect cells from free radicals and have shown promise in fighting the formation of cancerous cells. One cup of kale has just 36 calories, zero grams of fat, 684% of RDA of K, 206% of A, and 134% of C vitamins.

Growing Thyme Year-Round

There are more than 50 varieties of thyme, however the most commonly grown edible herb types are English, French, lemon, and caraway. Culinary thyme is a hardy perennial evergreen and will thrive in your sunniest indoor window this winter. Outdoors, it will enter a dormant state in winter, with new leaves emerging in spring, similar to rosemary, making it a great herb for year-round growing.

Grow Herbs year-round

Herbs add flavor and beneficial phytochemicals to your diet

Thyme loves full sun, and will benefit from additional compact fluorescent light. We recommend light, fast-draining soil. Seeds can be slow and difficult to start, so you’ll probably prefer to buy a plant from a garden center or to propagate by cuttings. Avoid over-watering; thyme hates “wet feet,” so wait until soil is completely dry.

For the best, most potent flavor, harvest thyme just before the plant flowers. Regular trimming encourages vigorous growth, and a more bushy, rounded shape. Cut early in the day, and leave at least five inches of growth beyond the tough, woody portions. In the spring prune back by one third, cutting above points where you can see new growth, never below into the leafless woody stem.

Health Benefits of Thyme

Thyme is loaded with vitamin C and is also a good source of vitamin A. It’s a good source of copper, fiber, iron, and manganese. It has long been used in natural remedies, and is helpful with common cold symptoms, coughs, and bronchial infections.

Thyme is a strong antiseptic. Topically, it can treat cuts, scrapes, acne or sore muscles. It contains thymol, carvacrol, borneol, and geraniol, which are a naturally occurring class of compounds known as biocides. These substances can destroy harmful, infectious bacteria. In fact, one study from 2010 suggests that thymol can reduce bacterial resistance to common drugs, including penicillin. Another test-tube study found that thymol and carvacrol inactivated 90% of the herpes simplex virus within just one hour.

Healthy Thyme

Thyme is a powerful antibacterial you can grow year-round

Thyme’s many volatile oils have strong antimicrobial properties. A 2011 Polish study reported that thyme oil, even at low concentrations, was effective against resistant strains of Staphylococcus, Enterococcus, Escherichia, Pseudomonas bacteria, and deadly Shigella sonnei. These bacteria and fungi cause foodborne illness in humans.

Other benefits of thyme include its ability to significantly increase healthy fats throughout cells, and to increase DHA content in kidney, heart, and brain cell membranes. This omega-3 fatty acid is essential to cellular health. Thyme’s rosmarinic and ursolic acids are powerful terpenoids, which have shown promise as a cancer preventive. Recent Turkish research has found that thyme caused cell death in breast cancer cells. Ursolic acid is being researched due to its potential to reduce the expression of markers of cardiac damage in the heart.

Further Year-Round Growing Options

Your path to a fresh, nourishing new year can be as large or as small of an undertaking as you choose. Whether your growing space, budget, and time allow for a full garden plot to feed your entire family, for a window sill of herbs, or anywhere in between, we hope to show you that there are benefits you can reap at any level.

If you’re making a long-term commitment to more sustainable living, also consider planting citrus for next year. Grown indoors, you can pick your own fresh citrus year-round. January is also a good time to plant peaches. You might consider starting a permanent asparagus bed this year. Asparagus can take a few years to establish, but soon you’ll have a winter vegetable crop every year thereafter.

Whatever your growing plans, Gothic Arch Greenhouses offers the best greenhouses and growing supplies for sale anywhere. We’d love to be part of your journey to a healthy and happy new decade. Happy Growing!

Year-Round Growing Guide, January

Year-Round Growing Guide, January

Welcome to week 1 of our January year-round growing guide! For those with established gardens, now is a time of rest and dormancy for most of your vegetable beds. Your might still be slowly harvesting last seasons mature plants, digging carrots and beets, or cutting back kale and spinach while you browse seed catalogues and dream of spring.

If you’re beginning your 2020 garden with our handy growing guide, our recommendations to start this week are bok choy and basil. Growing information and health benefits for these delicious greens are below.

Growing Bok Choy

Growing Guide 2020

Bok Choy is an excellent cabbage to start in January

A hearty cabbage you can start now is the wonderfully flavored Chinese vegetable Bok Choy. Bok Choy is a shade-loving, cold-hearty cabbage cousin that can reach maturity in as little as 45 days.

For bok choy to germinate, it prefers soil temperatures of 45 to 70 degrees, and well-drained but moisture retentive soil rich in organic matter. Plant at a ¼” seed depth with 1” spacing. Seedlings emerge in 2-15 days.

If growing in a heated greenhouse, protect from temps above 70 degrees and long supplemental light exposure. Bok choy will bolt and go to seed in warm temps and long day conditions.

Lightly steamed, stir fried, roasted, or added to egg-rolls, the flavor is milder than many other cabbages, and is full of health benefits.

Health Benefits of Bok Choy

Bok choy contains folate, which aids in production and repair of DNA. Cancer cells form due to mutations in DNA, which indicates a possible link in lowering instances of cancer. Further research is needed, but studies have shown that some people who eat more cruciferous vegetables have a lower risk of developing lung, prostate, and colon cancer.

Bok choy contains vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene. These antioxidants help protect cells against damage by free radicals. Bok choy also provides dietary fiber, needed for a healthy digestive system.

Unlike most other fruits and vegetables, bok choy contains the mineral selenium. Selenium prevents inflammation and decreases tumor growth rates. It also boosts immune response by stimulating production of T-cells, which identify and kill invading bacteria and viruses.

Healthy 2020 winter greens

Growing beneficial foods promotes health and well-being

Iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin K in bok choy all contribute bone density, and iron and zinc play crucial roles in the production of collagen.

Potassium, calcium, and magnesium are all present in bok choy, and can help decrease blood pressure.

Vitamin B-6 and folate in bok choy prevent the buildup of a compound known as homocysteine, with affects heart health.

Growing Basil

Basil is a fast-growing herb that will produce year-round. Start indoors in a sunny window sill, keeping the soil temperature at above 50 degrees until emergence. Seeds should sprout in 5 to 14 days, planted at a ¼” depth with 12-18” spacing.

Basil will have a set of true leaves in 2-3 weeks from emergence, then will rapidly reach 6 inches tall and be ready to transplant to the garden when outdoor temps are above 60 degrees nighttime low.

Basil is a flavorful herb that comes in many different varieties that add wonderful complexity, freshness, and aroma to meals in many different cultures. Italian and Thai dishes often include basil, and the many types of basil make it appealing for everything from appetizers to after-dinner drinks.

Health Benefits of Basil

Basil is rich in vitamin K, A, potassium, and calcium. It can help to reduce inflammation, which can help with arthritis. Basil also contains antioxidants and has antibacterial properties, improving cardiovascular health, and helping to prevent infection.

Sustainable 2020 eating

Quick-growing basil is a perfect herb to start inside

Preliminary studies suggest sweet basil may also be beneficial in reducing duce memory loss associated with stress and aging, reducing depression related to chronic stress, and reducing stroke damage whether given before or right after a stroke.

Basil is also reported to improve fasting blood sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides, reduce blood pressure, and protect against ulcers.

Basil oil is reported to increase mental alertness when inhaled as aromatherapy, and repel insects, such as mosquitos and ticks.

Year-round growing in a greenhouse

If you’re starting your winter garden in a heated greenhouse, you have many options for January planting. Squash, leeks, eggplant, and asparagus are hearty and will not require heating to tropical levels. Keeping the soil above frost point will start these veggies well, even as the temperature drops outdoors.

Gothic Arch Greenhouses provides the best winter shelters to help you grow all year round. If you’d like to explore your options, please give us a call today. 800-531-4769.

Year-Round Growing Guide

2020 year-round growing guide

2020 year-round growing guide

As 2019 winds to a close, here at Gothic Arch Greenhouses, we are making a new commitment to embrace a healthier, more environmentally-conscious lifestyle. With our new 2020 year-round growing guide, we aim to make the most of our greenhouses and boost our health and wellness through sustainable, clean eating with home-grown, farm-fresh food. We want to share this journey with you, through our upcoming blog series! We’ll share our growing calendar, cultivation tips, recipe ideas, health benefits, vitamin and mineral information, and more! We hope you’ll be a part of our journey!

Planning ahead: Preparing for year-round growing

Vegetables from a winter garden

Cool weather vegetable harvest

One of the first considerations is how much greenhouse and garden space you will have. If you are a city or apartment dweller, don’t assume this question will keep you from being able to grow fresh food! Many cities now have community garden areas for people to share public space for growing. Other options include rooftop greenhouses, growing on your balcony, or even on your windowsill.

If you are a homeowner, when choosing how much space to dedicate to food you should consider how many vegetables does your family eat? Do you also want to grow and dry herbs? Will you be planting rows, using a greenhouse, or both? In each blog installment, we’ll give recommended spacing per plant and time to harvest to help you plan your estimated yield from the space you have available.

If you already have a greenhouse, is it heated? Your planting choices are more extensive if you can keep your overall temperature above 65 degrees day and night. If you have an unheated hoop house, our planting guide will give you options as well.

Will you be adding supplemental lighting? Most leafy greens and root vegetables do well in a winter greenhouse with a little added light. Our 2020 year-round growing guide includes plants that do well in winter shade as well as those that prefer some sun in the winter.

What to plant in Winter for year-round growing

Vegetable garden dinner

Sustainable food from your edible garden, year-round

As early as January, frost-tolerant plants such as spinach, bok choy, many lettuces, kale, swiss chard, and broccoli can be started in an unheated greenhouse. They are tolerant to lower temperatures and can be transplanted outdoors 3-4 weeks before your expected last frost.

If you have a heated, sunny garden space, now’s the time to start other cabbages, carrots, turnips, beets, winter squash, garlic, and asparagus.

More Winter year-round growing by zone

In Zones 6-10, indoor vegetables and herbs to start now are notoriously slow-to-grow celery, parsley, leeks, and onions. Celery and parsley will need several weeks to germinate, and onions can take several months to be viable to transplant outside.

In Zones 1-5, overall colder temperatures may limit your growing choices, but nutritious microgreens such as arugula, beet greens, mizuna, and pea shoots are a good choice for January.

Healthy eating 2020

Sprouts can thrive indoors whatever the weather

Growing sprouts is another option.

They germinate quickly and are packed with nutrients. For example, one cup of bean sprouts contains more than the daily RDA of Vitamin C, and broccoli sprouts have high levels of phytochemicals, causing nutritionists to consider them a “cancer-fighting superfood.”

Unusual varieties like radish, peas and even sunflowers are also healthy and fun to try.

Greenhouses for year-round growing

No matter if you’re a new gardener or an life-long pro, a greenhouse can expand your growing options, extend your growing season, and provide you a space to enjoy a fruitful hobby with benefits that go on and on. If a greenhouse fits your future plans, give our experts a call. We can guide you towards the perfect growing solution that fits your budget and your space.

We look forward to a healthy, nutritious, earth-friendly 2020, and from all of us at Gothic Arch Greenhouses, have a wonderful new year!