If you have a green thumb, it doesn’t matter where you live in – a greenhouse will be able to provide you year-round growth and crop production for your family or business. Having an own greenhouse is a gardener’s dream come true. But as any experienced gardener or horticulturist may say, not all greenhouses are made equal. Many first-time greenhouse gardeners make the mistake of rushing towards buying new greenhouse materials without doing enough research. Depending on your intended use, climate, budget, and commitment to gardening, you’ll need some extra legwork before making a decision when it comes to buying or building a greenhouse structure.
Benefits of Having a Greenhouse
There are many significant advantages to having your greenhouse. With it, you can start seeds earlier, extend their growing season, expand the variety of your crops, grow consistent-quality produce, protect plants against pests and animals, and harvest produce with a higher nutrient count.
Features of Greenhouses
Greenhouses come in different forms and sizes, from simple cold frames to full-size glass structures. Depending on the actual model that you want to purchase or build, a greenhouse may include heating, electricity, shelves, lighting, and benches. Every amenity you add gives you more ways to make use of your greenhouse.
For instance, providing light inside means you can visit your greenhouse during the night and work on planting seeds, cuttings, and performing other gardening tasks.
If you have a heating system, it means you can grow almost anything throughout the year, even if the climate outside is not favorable for the plants.
How do Greenhouses Work?
The greenhouse effect as it relates to actual greenhouses works this way: a greenhouse reduces the rate at which temperature flows out of its structures, and it does by obstructing heat that has been absorbed from leaving its confines through convection. The sunlight has a crucial role in making the greenhouse warm since it heats up the ground inside the greenhouse. Plus, it’s made of plastic or glass, so sunlight can easily pass through. In return, the warm soil warms up the air inside the greenhouse and keeps on heating the plants inside because the air is confined.
Best Plants for Greenhouses
If you want to know what plants grow on greenhouses, the simple answer is everything. However, some plants thrive easier than others, such as:
- Leafy greens like lettuce
What to Know before Going Greenhouse Gardening
You will face fewer difficulties if you have the necessary and vital knowledge about greenhouse gardening. Here are the things you may need to master as you go on your gardening journey:
1. Starting seeds
Planting the seeds usually happens in plain level seed trays, single plug trays, or hydroponic trays. These must be prepared depending on your particular needs; for instance, they may be immersed overnight, stratified, and then set in trays inside the greenhouse.
If you’re a beginner, it’s important to identify the label and date per seed planted, then record entries on the seed packets to easily recognize the plants. Review the germination rate on every seed pack to decide how many seeds will provide your seedlings.
For seasonal crops, here are some basic and helpful tips you need to take note of:
- List what you wish to plant
- Get sterile soil to prevent plant diseases and infestation
- Invest in containers
- Fertilize your soil
- Water plants as recommended for each plant; don’t water everything the same amount
- Check if the climate can handle the plants
- Know how much sunlight you are getting
2. Temperature control
An important lesson that greenhouse gardeners must learn is temperature control. What’s happening regarding the temperature of your greenhouse must be precisely identified. If you already have a head start with controlling your garden’s temperature by using the greenhouse, you may also consider getting an electric or gas heater to extend your growing season during winter. You may also want to get an evaporative cooler to prevent wilting of plants during the harsh summer months. An evaporative cooler can help regulate temperature and add moisture back to the air. It works great for places with hot and humid temperatures, such as California, Arizona, and Colorado.
Sometimes, it’s important to convince your plans that they are in a different climate. If the temperature isn’t modified, the warmth that the plants needed will keep on rising or falling depending on the weather.
A heating system needs to be effective so you can sustain the desired temperature during daytime and nighttime. You may not always be able to keep the room on its desired temperature, so a programmable heater with automated timer is required if the temperature drops typically below a particular period.
3. Ventilation and heating
Inside the greenhouse, the ideal temperature must always remain to about 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, so the first and most important lesson is for you to keep the internal temperature steady. As mentioned earlier, a heating or cooling system can significantly help.
A greenhouse must also include vent – either side vents and fans that push out hot air and bring in cooler air, or a top vent that opens a hatch in the ceiling. There are vents that operate manually or automatically. Manual vents are cheaper, but you have to make it a routine to open it during the day and close it during the night. Meanwhile, automatic vents may be more expensive, but it can open or close on itself if the temperature rises or falls below the thresholds you have programmed into the system.
4. Controlling humidity
The inside of the greenhouse must be kept humid unless you are growing cacti and other succulents. Humidity offers a lot of benefits to plants, particularly tropical plants.
There are some ways in which you can increase humidity to the air without adding a humidifier. You can place the trays of pebbles underneath the plants, then fill the tray with water, so the pebbles are covered with water. The water will evaporate, thus adding humidity near the plants.
5. Using light
There are some things that a greenhouse can’t achieve. One of them is making the days last. Most plants need light to flourish, but it’s not available all day. Plants react differently to the intensity and span of natural light. As they develop and grow more leaves, their demand for light rises because it’s vital for photosynthesis. This light can be provided by sunshine or white light.
During the summer and late spring, the greenhouse can receive adequate light from sunlight, but if you want to plant and germinate seeds during the winter and late autumn, you may want to invest in an additional lighting system. LED lights and fluorescent light strips can serve you well for the greenhouse.
6. Watering plants
There are some watering systems and techniques you can use for the greenhouse, but the basic rules of greenhouse gardening dictate that you must understand the water requirements for every plant you plan to grow. Instead of watering plants using a general time table, learn what is required for every plant, and use a watering logbook, so you can ensure that you won’t over or underwater your crops.
If the plant looks light, or if the compost is dusty and dry, it means that the plant needs water. Remember that the roots need access to water and not the leaves. Sprinkling the leaves is a waste of water, and may even increase the risk of plant disease.