Humans are Omnivores. That means that we need meat and veggies to be healthy. Fresh vegetables are tough to find during a Montana Winter. This means either we eat the sad produce shipped in from thousands of miles away or grow your own.
A Greenhouse is a perfect solution but … It gets damn cold in Montana! Unless you have an electric heater, wood stove, or other heat alternative, you could lose your greenhouse over a cold night. Using more efficient and passive alternatives help.
There are tons of smart heating solutions available on YouTube. Simply do a search and see how folks that live off the grid manage to grow crops all winter long. Homesteader sites are full of great ideas.
First, make sure that your greenhouse aligns with the sun. You need to receive sun from sunrise to sunset for the best results. If the greenhouse is in the shade for too long, it gets cold.
You need to build a heat sink in your greenhouse. This means that yu need to trap heat during the day so that you can keep the plants warm at night. Insulation certainly helps when it comes to losing heat but does not store it.
Water is the perfect solution. Add several black barrels or tubs to your greenhouse. I use black trash cans that come with lids. During the day, a greenhouse will heat up to 100 degrees or more if in direct sun. This heat is absorbed by the water. When the sun goes down, the barrels of water are still at a higher temperature. The greenhouse will not be a sauna, but it will keep plants alive.
Select a cold weather crop to grow. Salads, cabbage, broccoli, and berries will do well. Research your area to get an idea of what grows best in a cooler greenhouse. My goal is to grow a ripe tomato in the middle of winter. Towards the Spring, you can start your Spring garden plants and flowers. February is when most commercial greenhouses begin to plant and grow seeds.
Heated Black Barrels will trap the heat and keep your greenhouse comfortable for your plants.
For more Montana Grant, find him growing at www.montanagrantfishing.com.