A year ago, we assembled a kit greenhouse inside the farm shop out of the wind. Even when it blew off the trailer as it was hauled around to its site, it was quite an experience. I had no illusions that despite having electrical power, running water and a heat sink
that we could maintain a temperature that would sustain tropical plants in bloom except at a price we can ill afford for heating bills. This morning when we got up, the outside temperature was 26 and inside the greenhouse had fallen to freezing.
Once the sun came up, the outside temps have reached 35 and the greenhouse has zoomed to 45. I checked the plants and nothing looks harmed so far. One bright pink pentas still has a little blossom; the snapdragon and dianthus cuttings are perky as before. Even the big pots of night blooming cereus persist. I had sense enough not to start tender plants too early, but I did experiment with Iceland poppy seedlings. They grew, as have other poppies, violas, larkspurs and petunias in the cold outside.
Little labeled cups are lined up in trays to accept soil and seeds, soon. In the house, I sort through purchased envelopes of seeds and shake containers of saved seeds like castor bean and candlesticks, zinnias and tithonia -- summer seeds who need more heat than I can provide right now to cause them to sprout. Violas, snapdragons and other hardier plants will go in soon in anticipation of perhaps an earlier spring. They'll be safe in the cold greenhouse from frosts.
As the temperature rises outside, the greenhouse temperature will soar to perhaps 80 degrees. I can play in there as I played in playhouses of childhood, pretending that I'm in a tropical land, dreaming of the bright blossoms of summer as I shed layers of jackets and sweaters and scarves and dribble water on poppy seedlings and into pots of begonias.