10 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Your Greenhouse

1. Fresh, Organic Veggies and Flowers Year-Round -- Without Having To Shop. Grow your grandmother's heirloom tomatoes for marinara sauce in the middle of winter. Bring exotic and difficult to find plants and flowers into your home any time of the year and let them happily continue growing in the greenhouse. Watch plants thrive that wouldn't otherwise grow in your climate. -- In general, it's a good idea to nix the pesticides and other harmful chemicals. Greenhouses give you more control over your microcosm of the world, so you'll naturally have fewer pesky visitors of the entomological variety anyway. Use natural solutions to prevent mold and fungus to maintain healthy air. All of this also goes for the tips to follow.

2. Make It A She Shed. He has his Man Cave, she should have a She Shed. Your greenhouse is the perfect destination to take a break from the frenetic pace of life and just b r e a t h e. Ahhhhh.... Now, isn't that better?-- And, it's right in your own back yard. Dorothy never had it so good.

3. Cover A Pool. Create an indoor pool by covering it with a greenhouse. -- Beautiful surroundings and more privacy for your swim. Genius.

4. Hold High Tea. Whether you're having friends over for brunch, celebrating a graduation or entertaining your grandchildren, a greenhouse makes a stunning venue. The flourish is already there, so you save time decorating and cleanup is a breeze. Make your high tea the event of the season. Let them eat cake!

5. Make A Mint, And Grow Some, Too. Adventurous souls are up for sleeping in a greenhouse. Whether you rent it out or spend the night there yourself, you'll want to make it sleep-friendly. Go organic especially for this use of your greenhouse. No one wants to breathe chemicals, especially at night. Nighttime air quality is better when you surround yourself with plants that release oxygen, rather than carbon dioxide in the dark. The snake plant, also known as mother-in-law tongue, does just that. So does the areca palm. Growing mint can keep your greenhouse smelling fresh. You'll also want to have proper ventilation for a comfortable stay. In a greenhouse with higher humidity, bedding might be a bit much. Try a hammock for an island feel.

6. Yoga Or Meditation Space. Now that you're in the know about greenhouse air quality, just breathe. Ommmmm....

7. Raise Money For A Good Cause And Maybe Get a Tax Break. Not-for-profit organizations have been known to grow and sell plants to support their efforts. Rally a group to do the same or sell what you grow to friends and neighbors and donate the money to your favorite cause. You may be able to write it off on your taxes. Check with your accountant or C.P.A. for this win-win.

8. Have A Hang-Out Room. As long as you follow the tips above to ensure good air quality and ventilation, why not make your greenhouse an extra room? Even if it rains, you can still have everyone over for that backyard barbecue. Snow on Super Bowl Sunday? No problem. Bring in the big screen and cheer on!

9. Unplug. Enjoy time away from screens and get grounded -- in a good way. Show your kids the down to earth fun of connecting with nature and grow even closer to them.

10. Mangia! In late summer and early fall when the harvest is in and humidity is lower, you may not be relying on your greenhouse as much as in the rest of the year. This is the perfect time to dry herbs. Just cut them, wash them thoroughly and dry them, then hang them upside down, preferably in full sunlight. A paper bag placed around them will keep insects away and catch any bits that fall from the stems. Air drying preserves color and flavor. After five to ten days you'll have herbs that will last for two to three years. This method works best with herbs that have long stems. Garlic and Italian herbs are ideal for drying this way. Dry oregano and basil to use in that marinara -- you have all those heirloom tomatoes, after all. Your grandmother would be so proud.