Hi Clint-- My growing area started out as a concrete backyard patio, just outside the back door of the house. It's about 14 x 14 feet square, and was never used for barbecues or backyard picnics because of all the flies around here (this dry region of eastern New Mexico has turned into a major dairy area--not that my VFTs complain).Originally Posted by [b
So, we (the retired professor I live with and I) decided to frame in the patio and make it into a "sun room" or some such. The west wall is the outside brick wall of the house, the north wall has one window and an outside evaporative cooler ("swamp cooler," which works well in this arid region), and the east and south walls are all glass doors and windows.
The peaked roof has a north and south slope, with the ridge running east-west. The north slope is metal panel and the south is multiwall polycarbonate sheets (like the brand Lexan).
So the room gets plenty of sun, but by careful arrangement of the growing tables and plants, anything from almost constant full sun to bright complete shade can be accommodated.
The room is a tremendous solar mass, so even on the coldest days of winter it builds up a lot of heat, so on those days we just open the back door of the house and let the sunroom heat the house.
I have a Modine gas heater in the sunroom for chilly nights, and during the winter I set the thermostat for the mid to low 50s.
I place my VFTs and other plants that need winter dormancy on the floor during winter, next to a floor-to-ceiling south window that constantly sheds a sheet of cold air that washes over the plants when it's cold outside, but gives them light for photosynthesis during their dormancy. This way, the greenhouse is coldest on the floor, moderate 50s where the orchids and other non-dormancy-requiring plants grow, and warmer toward the top of course.
VFTs will happily accept a dormancy in which they get no colder than the low 50s to the 40s Fahrenheit, so long as most (but not necessarily all) of the hours of the day are in that temperature range. Typically our greenhouse heats into the 70s or even lower 80s on sunny winter days, but the VFTs don't break dormancy so long as they are kept in the coolest area (the floor), and so long as it gets chilly at night (40s - low-or-mid 50s).
Anyway, that's a description of my growing area. I grow a few orchids (which remind me of the rainforest of Peru, where I grew up), and Venus Flytraps and a few other CP, as well as our yearly vegetable seedlings which are later transplanted into the garden.
It works nice. The only plants that don't like the mid-to-low 50s temperatures in the greenhouse during the winter are the phalaenopsis orchids, which I bring into the house on a sunny windowsill or something for the winter.
Steve / xscd