Winterizing the sun porch

After a morning trip to the Botanical Garden, we spent a good chunk of Sunday afternoon winterizing our sun porch.

When we found this apartment, we were really excited about the south-facing sun porch, since it would get lots of sun (and solar heat) in the winter, meaning we could leave a lot of our potted plants out there instead of crowding them inside with us.  And while the porch did get fairly cozy last winter (except on the cloudy days), the heat dissipated all too quickly once the sun went down, leaving our plants vulnerable to freezing temperatures.

Our first step was to buy a small space heater.  It’s a milk house heater, and it has a setting where it will only kick on when the temperature dips below 32°F (this feature is not perfectly reliable, but it worked alright last year).


We realized that even on the lowest, “prevent freeze” setting, this thing was going to be running all. the. time. on our drafty, uninsulated porch.  So at some point in the middle of last winter, we bought one of those window plastic kits in an effort to seal things.

It really made a difference in how much heat the porch retained, especially on windy days.  When spring arrived, we peeled off the plastic and realized it was in good enough shape that we could probably fold it up and reuse it.

The double-sided tape, however, definitely needed to be replaced.  The big box home improvement store we visited only sold the entire kit (which meant new plastic that we didn’t need), but we found a small hardware store that sold just the double-sided tape.  Of course buying the tape alone cost more than buying the kit — argh!

In the end, we had enough tape leftover from the two kits last year, and our reused plastic sheets worked quite well.  We rearranged the tables and shelves to maximize sun exposure and cleaned up a bit, while we were at it.


You can’t really see the plastic in the photograph, but it’s there.  This arrangement leaves enough space at the table for me, so I can spend some time out there on the warmer days.  We got this up just in time for the cold weather tomorrow.

On the one hand, it seems a little crazy putting the various resources (our time, electricity, plastic and other materials) into keeping some potted plants alive, but the fact that a number of them are edible (herbs, lemon and key lime trees) justifies our efforts a bit, and it really is a lovely space now.  With the exception of very cold, cloudy days, the heater will only run at night, and perhaps not every night, depending on the severity of our winter.