Health Benefits Conservatory Greenhouse

The Many Health Benefits of a Conservatory Greenhouse

Throughout history, people have added conservatories to homes, schools, health facilities, and botanical centers to bridge the gap between indoor and outdoor spaces. These beautiful additions are usually buildings or rooms encased in glass walls and roofs. And while the decorative, sometimes ornate, structures add style and value to properties, did you know that there are also health benefits associated with conservatories?

health benefits of a conservatory

Because of the health benefits of sunlight, doctors recommend that we get between 10-15 minutes of sunlight every day. This helps lessen a variety of health risks and helps increase our overall physical and mental health.

Vitamin D Creation

Conservatories are often used as sunrooms, or “solariums.” Latin for “place of sun[light],” these rooms permit abundant amounts of sunshine to enter into the building while also providing shelter from adverse weather. Sunlight is one of the best sources for keeping our Vitamin D levels at a healthy level. When exposed to sunlight, our skin creates Vitamin D. Healthy levels of Vitamin D can help prevent bone density loss, muscle weakness, cancer, and other health risks.

Blood Pressure

We all have something called nitric oxide in our skin and blood. Nitric oxide reacts with sunlight by widening blood vessels. Therefore, regular sun exposure can lower your blood pressure which can help decrease the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Mental Health

Have you ever wondered why you seem happier in the spring and summer than you do in the winter? This is a common mental health issue that many people face called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Doctors believe that sunlight increases the amount of serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is the hormone we associate with feelings of happiness. The shorter days of winter paired with people being indoors because of the cold weather can cause serotonin levels to fall. This often means that you feel less happy. Having a solarium is an ideal way to spend time in the sun year-round.

What about Too Much Sun?

Using a conservatory to reap the many benefits of sunlight is also a way to combat the dangers of overexposure to the sun. We know that too much sun exposure can cause skin damage and an increased risk of skin cancer. Because sunrooms are made with glass that prevents harmful UV rays from seeping indoors, the sun’s rays filter through in a less harmful way. You can have a sunny, beautiful area to enjoy all the benefits of sunlight without the fear of overexposure.

For more information on how you can experience the health benefits of a conservatory, visit us at

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!

National Carrot Cake Day Recipe!

It’s National Carrot Cake Day! Our favorite recipe is gluten-free and is vegan if you skip the cream cheese frosting!

Yield: 8-12 servings

  • 1-1/4 packed cup shredded carrot
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1- 2/3 cups Bob’s Gluten-free flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice blend
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Best Carrot Cake recipe

Our best carrot cake recipe is gluten-free and vegan!

Preheat oven to 350 F, and line an 8-inch square or round pan with parchment.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the first 5 ingredients and let sit at least 10 minutes or fridge overnight.
In a separate bowl, stir together all remaining ingredients.
Pour wet into dry, then stir until just combined. Do not overmix.
Pour into the prepared pan, and smooth down evenly.
Bake 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
When cooled, frost with your favorite cream cheese frosting

Adapted from:

Guide for choosing grow lighting

Shedding “Light” on Grow Lighting

Shedding “Light” on Grow Lighting

Whether you cultivate plant clippings inside a greenhouse, are starting plants from seeds, or are turning an indoor corner into an area to grow herbs, supplemental grow lighting can have enormous affect on your success as a gardener. In this issue, we will shed some “light” on the ins and outs of grow lighting to help you understand the science behind and the benefits of supplementing the sunshine in your garden spot.

What We Know About Plants and Light

Most of us remember learning sunlight is important for plant growth because of photosynthesis. Plants derive energy from sunlight in order to create their own food to survive. And yet, there is much more to this process than we learned in the third grade! Understanding some of the science behind lighting will help you choose the right grow lighting, and create the best lighting conditions for your plants.

Light and Plant Cells

The science of growth and light

Plant leaves contain cells called photons. Photons are important because, using chlorophyll, they create the energy necessary for plants to grow, make food, flower, and produce seed and fruits. The number of photons each plant depends on the amount of light it has been exposed to. Photons rely on light to grow and reproduce. The more light exposure a plant has, the more photons are produced. More photons mean faster photosynthesis, which in turn means more energy for growth functions. Grow lighting can help spur plant growth, even in gloomy winter conditions.

Different plants require a different quantity of photons to perform at optimum levels. Peas, parsnips, and violets love regular shade. Marigolds, lavender, and peppers require full sun. It’s all about the rate at which each plant produces photons, and how many photons the plants need to grow to their fullest potential.

Understanding Spectrums

You may also remember “ROYGBIV” from your third grade science class. It stands for the color spectrums that humans can see- Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet. This is called the visible spectrum. But, did you know that there are other spectrums that can’t be seen by us?

Grow Lighting growth chart

Changing the amount of red to far red exposure versus blue exposure can affect plant growth factors

Let’s start with the basics. We know that chlorophyll gives plants their green color. We also know that chlorophyll is vital to photons producing energy during photosynthesis. Now we get a bit more technical. Chlorophyll absorbs light that is part of the PAR spectrum. PAR stands for photosynthetically active radiation. This spectrum contains light that benefit plants, but can’t be seen by humans.

One common type of grow light produces perceived “white light.” These lights actually cast off the full range of both the visible and PAR spectrums, which looks ” white” to the human eye. These lights can vary from very stark, meaning there are higher percentages of blue frequencies, to very warm, indicating higher levels of red waves. Because these lights contain the full spectrum, they are very useful in promoting plant growth. However, isolating the colors that plants respond to the most, red and blue, can help promote faster, healthier plant growth.

Research shows that blue spectrum lighting, or cool lighting, is beneficial to help leaves and stems grow. Red spectrum lighting has been found to assist in flowering and root growth. Grow lighting that casts a pink or purple glow are giving off a blend of red and blue wave colors. These lights are known as dual band lights. This type of grow lighting is particularly helpful in shaded spaces, light deprivation greenhouses, and in medical growing.

How Much Light?

So, if the human eye can’t see the whole spectrum, how do we know if the lighting we provide our plants is bright enough (or too bright) to be efficient? Simple answer, we don’t. Which means that it is vital to learn about the plants you’re raising.

Grow Lighting Requirments

Knowing about plants’ native conditions can help to know how much light to supplement


A great place to start is to ask, “What are the conditions like in their natural habitat?” Cactus prefer dry, very sunny conditions that mimic their desert homes. Tropical plants like warm, humid environments with longer periods of day light. Knowing your plant’s “roots” will point you in the right direction in terms of their lighting requirements, and you can then optimize the growing conditions you are providing.

Large scale and commercial growers use expensive instruments called quantum flux meters. However, these can be expensive for home gardeners. More affordable  (though less elaborate) light meters can help give an idea of how much light is in each area of your garden at a given time. With this information, and a careful eye to plant responses, additional tweaks to your grow lighting plan can usually be easy to discern.

What About Darkness?

Some plants cannot complete their growing cycles unless they spend a substantial amount of time in the dark. Plants like mums, hemp, and zinnias all respond to the lack of light by putting more of their energy into flowering or fruiting. Knowing whether you are growing “short-day” or “long-day” plants will help you create the best lighting conditions, as well as the best periods of darkness, for your plants.

This is why light deprivation greenhouses have become so popular in recent years. Knowing your plant’s growing cycle combined with being able to manipulate lighting to “trick” plants into cycling through their growing processes more quickly, is ideal for producing larger yields, more frequent harvests, or flowering on your schedule (such as poinsettias at the holidays).

Which Grow Lights Are Best?

Grow Lighting

Some of our lighting options

There is no simple answer when it comes to choosing grow lighting. Taking into account the natural lighting available, the orientation of your growing space, the types of plants you are growing, and many other factors. For example, seedlings require a much higher volume of light to thrive. They are trying to develop healthy root systems, stems, and leaves full of those all-important photons. This requires a lot of light energy. Once your plant matures a bit, it probably won’t need as much light to grow. The best way to know exactly what kind of lighting your plants need is through observation, trial and error, and patience. Observing your plants regularly will help you adjust your grow lighting if they are getting too much light (brown, singed leaves) or not enough light (pale leaves and elongated stems).

Though there’s no one answer to the question of which grow lights are best, we do have some guidelines and recommendations for where to start when choosing supplemental lighting and fixtures.

We recommend:

Container plants

Indoor container plants can benefit from even a little extra light

• At least four 54-watt fluorescent tubes for seed starting; full spectrum vs. blue or red spectrum is up to you.

• If you choose full spectrum bulbs, look for “cooler” lighting that has a higher percentage of blue waves. These bulbs will be marked as 6500K (kelvin) and promote better foliage.

• MH, or metal halide, lamps provide more of the blue/green spectrum, are great for growing leafy plants like cabbage or peppers.

• HPS, or high-pressure sodium, lights are recommended to promote flowering in plants because of their higher red wave intensity

• Seek guidance from an experienced greenhouse expert whenever possible

We want you to know:

Herb lighting needs

Indoor herb plants love sunny spots, and benefit from more light after pruning

T5 grow lights are high output lights that are affordable and readily available. They commonly used in both hobby and commercial greenhouses.

LED bulbs are more energy efficient than fluorescent lights.

• Quality is important. Spending a little extra on lighting now, will save you a lot of money (and frustration) in the future. Invest in high-quality grow lighting and fixtures whenever possible.

• Don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of lighting and lighting combinations. Just make sure to observe your plant’s reactions to the lighting changes.

• We are available to help you choose the best grow lighting to meet your growing needs.

Now that you know a little bit more about how plants are affected by light and spectrums, you may be ready to add some supplemental grow lights to your growing space. If we can help, give us a call at 1-800-531-4769, or visit our website, and let our team help you find the right grow lighting to create an ideal environment for your plants.

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!

Success in a Farmers Market

5 Steps to Success in a Farmers Market

5 Steps to Success in a Farmers Market

Growers of all levels, from hobby gardeners to commercial producers, can often find themselves with a crop even more abundant than they had hoped for. While interest in good farmers markets has surged in recent years, so has over-saturation and competition. The number of farmers markets in the U.S. has grown from 1,755 in 1994 to more than 7,850 in 2012, according to the USDA. Yet NPR reports that 2018 saw our then 8,600+ farm markets start to fail.

For small-business owners, farmers markets can provide easy and affordable opportunities to reach new customers, test new products, and supplement their incomes. Careful planning and forethought can help growers to succeed in a competitive farmers market.

1- Target Fresh Produce Markets

Farm Market Fresh

Farm Market Fresh

Establishing your target consumer and selecting the right way to reach them is one key to your success in a farmers market. Your ideal consumer can vary depending on what you offer and how it relates to the audience you hope to attract.

If your specialty is affordable fresh staple grocery items, consider markets and cooperatives that serve the local residents of a food desert.

If you’re an organic grower, consider targeting upscale “foodies” who are concerned about nutrition and locally grown produce.

And if you produce local or regional produce or botanicals, you might most appeal to out-of-town visitors who are looking for something out-of-the-norm. Tourist locations and markets near local attractions should bring ideal customers to your booth with regularity.

2- Plan Your Farm Market Strategy

The pressures of growing and farming can cause established market vendors to drop out regularly. This can leave market managers eager to find new vendors to fill those spots. Be selective in choosing a venue. If there are several established in your area, make sure to visit each to see how your offerings equal success in each farmers market.

In most places, it’s no longer necessary to be a farmer to become a market vendor. Many markets allow vendors to sell prepared goods, arts and crafts, clothing, etc. How well do your items fit in with the overall feel of the market?

If there is a lot of competition with your products, or if there is too much diversity away from your focus,  it may be difficult to find success in that farmers market.

Consider the spectrum of what you can offer. Fresh produce pairs well with local honey, dried herbs, cured meats, fresh cut flowers, artisan-made vases and pots, seedlings, nuts, baked goods, hand-made soaps and candles—you may find an outlet for many of your home-grown hobbies!

3- Evaluate Community Support for Farmers Markets

Farmers Market Success

Farmers Market Success

Community support is necessary for a strong farmers’ market. Local residents, government, and area businesses help a market to contribute to the community. Without community resources, a market and its vendors may struggle. In addition to the number of farmers, also look at participation from local gardeners, craftsmen, chefs, artists, and community garden organizers to give an indication of interest.

If there are too few farmers and too few customers to make a market viable, look for a single, stronger farmers market, even if it is a farther distance. Several communities partnered in one market can be a more exciting venue for customers and a more profitable market for farmers.

4- Check Market Rules and Bylaws

Most farmers markets have rules, and many operate as cooperatives with bylaws. Be aware of your responsibilities as a part of the farm market community. In addition to fees for your space at the market, you may also be expected to participate a certain number of times per month, to provide your own displays, to secure your merchandise when the market is closed, or purchase a vendor license. Some markets may even require a buy-in for advertising dollars, or require sales tax accounting.

5- Decide on Payment Options

Fresh Grown Goods

Fresh Grown Goods

Plan ahead to determine the best payment options to prepare for farm market sales. If you’ll be a cash-only operation, you’ll want plenty of small bills to use for change. Many people now also offer credit card processing via their cellphone, for those spur-of-the-moment buyers who may not have cash on hand. Paypal, Venmo, ApplePay and the like are also options to consider.
Another option that helps your local community is to participate in government programs, which can help local economies by increasing sales, while helping those in need.

  •  Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program–administered by USDA Nutrition Program
  • Farmers Market Women Infant Children (WIC) Program–administered on a state level by the Department of Agriculture
  • Senior Farmers Market Prog– administered on a state level by the Department of Agriculture

As with any business decision, there are many things to consider when entering the direct-to-community farmer’s market arena. With wise choices, a little planning, and a crop ready to sell, you can have great success in a farmers market. Ready to get growing? Shop Gothic Arch Greenhouses today for everything you need to ensure a bumper crop and a happy harvest!