Yesterday Chris had a question about growing with a greenhouse:
“I was searching your site for greenhouse growing in the winter and wasn’t finding too much. I am building a hoop house over a permanent garden bed (1/2 garden and the other 1/2 for my potted tropicals (bread fruit, starfruit, tropical almond, cinnamon, neem, a bunch of unknown seeds I brought from overseas, etc.). My question is: do you know what is good (vegetables) to plant in a greenhouse in the permanent garden bed here in north Florida? Is there enough light in the day to start and grow Cayenne or other peppers? What else besides greens?”
The reason there isn’t a lot on greenhouse growing on my site is that in Florida’s climate I mostly just grow what’s in season and use my greenhouse as a way to protect my rare tropical plant collection and start some sweet potato slips.
I have kept cayenne peppers growing through the winter in pots in the greenhouse, however, and they will bloom, flower and fruit – though the growth rate is much slower than in the warm spring. You can keep peppers for a few years as perennials, with the exception of bell peppers.
Pretty much any greens will thrive, though the best greens really are the cold-hardy ones anyhow. I often grow lettuce without protection in my gardens; however, if you’re worried about a real cold snap, throw some in the greenhouse. Bush beans would likely work, though they’ll probably sit for quite a bit without growing much when the days are cool. You can also keep tomatoes going pretty well, particularly the cherry types and the Everglades tomato.
I have made some crazy plans to build a mini-food-forest inside a greenhouse, but never put it together since I was making more money off propagating rare plants from my greenhouse and selling them than I would from using the space to grow food.
Stick to smaller trees such as starfruit and “condo” or “patio” mangoes, coffee (I have grown that with greenhouse protection in a big pot for a long time), miracle fruit, etc., then you can surround them with other edibles such as katuk, chaya, Surinam purslane, black pepper, etc.
Here’s more on the possibilities of growing tropical edibles outside the tropics… including how to grow coconut palms!