I talked with Michele Keith about her greenhouse in Wyoming. Michele’s property, which is close to the eastern edge of Yellowstone, is 6,000 feet above sea level and in hardiness zone 4, so it gets very cold in winter. She had 36” of snowfall a week or so before our talk. But cold is not her main problem. More problematic is the wind, which can blow at up to 100 mph across the range, requiring a very sturdy greenhouse. That’s why Michele lists strong construction as one of the reasons she chose a Forest Green Hartley greenhouse. Another reason is that the greenhouse design very much suits her log-style home. This home blends right in with the landscape, and Michele wanted a greenhouse that did too.
Michele has owned her greenhouse for almost three years. “I absolutely love it,” she says. “I always wanted a greenhouse but was not very experienced as a greenhouse gardener when I first started. During my first year, insect pests took over the greenhouse, and I lost most of my plants. But now I’ve learned how to control these pests organically using lacewings, lady bugs, and other natural methods.” One remaining challenge is making sure she’s adequately supplied with pest-devouring insects before winter sets in because if they are shipped to her when there is frost, they’ll arrive frozen.
Michele attests to how warm a wintertime greenhouse gets, even in Wyoming. When we talked, she had just transplanted tomatoes, having spent most of the previous day in her greenhouse. “The sun was out and it was almost 80 degrees in there,” she said. “I had to take off some layers of clothing in order to work.”
Michele’s greenhouse contains a mix of plants besides tomatoes. She has some orchids that she purchases from a local grower. These she keeps under the Hartley bench she bought with her greenhouse so they won’t be exposed to excessively bright light. Michele also grows David Austin roses, all of them in pots. “I absolutely adore these roses,’ she says, “and they do well in my greenhouse.” In addition, she has a passion-fruit vine, a few citrus trees, and a tiny plant that looks like an orchid but “eats” fungus gnats. She told me that her greenhouse is currently so full that she’d buy another one just to house all her tomato plants if only she could persuade her husband. She’d choose a Hartley greenhouse again, of course.