Gardening is an excellent way to interact with nature. It’s supposed to be a stress reliever, but sometimes, it’s the other way around, especially when growing plants with specific growth requirements.
Some plants grow best during winter, while others grow best during the off-season. This means you won’t be able to harvest garden produce anytime you want. That was before, but now, you can! This is where a greenhouse comes in.
A greenhouse is designed to grow and protect out-of-season plants from excessive cold and heat. You can grow different kinds of fruits and vegetables anytime, whether in winter, spring, summer, or fall.
On top of that, a greenhouse promotes consistent gardening. Its walled structure protects plants from harsh weather conditions like drought, storms, and hurricanes, allowing them to grow healthy, beautiful, and abundant.
However, to reap the benefits of a greenhouse, you want to ensure that it’s built for optimum plant growth. But how? This post will teach you how to build a greenhouse that promotes healthy and lively plants. So, read on to learn more.
Choosing The Right Location
Before deciding where to build a greenhouse, there are two things you must consider: the plants you want to grow and the type of greenhouse you want to erect.
A smaller greenhouse would be ideal for home growers who grow plants as a hobby. But a larger one would be better if you plan to use it for business purposes. Here are some types of greenhouses you may consider:
- Lean-To: This is a greenhouse attached to a side of an existing structure (e.g., a house). It can fit 10-20 pots of plants inside, with a couple of hanging plants.
- Ridge-And-Furrow: This type of greenhouse resembles an A-frame structure. It’s easy to construct due to light materials, but it’s expensive and may require bigger land.
- Gothic Arch: If you know what gothic is, then you know what this type of greenhouse looks like. It’s appealing to look at but lacks proper air circulation.
Now, it’s time to determine what plants you want to grow. Do you want to grow plants that require plenty of sunlight or plants to grow best in shady locations?
For sun-loving plants, set up your greenhouse on the side of the house that receives the most sunlight, especially during fall and winter. This is usually the south or southeast side, and if it’s not available, the east side of your house may suffice.
Heating Your Greenhouse
A greenhouse requires functional heating equipment to create and maintain an optimum growing environment. Heaters are especially useful when growing warm-loving plants during the cold months of November to January.
You can pick from different types of heaters—convection tubing, hot water heaters, convection tubing, oil heaters, electric fan heaters, and more.
South West Greenhouses recommend using an electric fan heater as a more eco-friendly and efficient way to heat your greenhouse, as they are known to circulate heat more effectively (but you will need an electrical outlet in your greenhouse).
Cooling Your Greenhouse
Like heaters, installing cooling equipment is essential to a greenhouse. It helps maintain optimum growing conditions during the warm months of June to August.
Here are some tips to keep your greenhouse cool and comfy:
- Keep your doors and windows open to promote natural ventilation and allow fresh air to enter.
- Install greenhouse fans to lower the temperature a little.
- Install exhaust fans to help hot air escape. This helps prevent stagnant air, which can affect the growth of your plants.
- Install an evaporative cooler to cool your greenhouse by 15-20 degrees. But keep the humidity levels low for the best results.
- Install a misting system. It’s like an evaporative cooler but more powerful. It can lower the temperature at a faster rate by emitting water droplets.
- Damp your greenhouse. This is similar to misting and keeps your greenhouse cool during intense heat.
You can also keep your greenhouse cool by installing an air conditioner. It might be more expensive than others, but it’s effective in maintaining optimum growing temperatures.
Installing Control Systems
To create and maintain an energy-efficient and functional greenhouse, it’s important to establish absolute control over the entire structure. You’ll need a few devices to achieve complete control over your greenhouse. These include the following:
- pH Meters: pH is crucial for plant growth because it affects the amount of soluble nutrients plants can absorb. pH meters allow you to measure the pH of soil and water used for irrigation. The ideal pH range for plant growth is within the range of 5.5-6.5.
- Soil Moisture Meter: Moisture is essential for plants. However, too much moisture in the soil can cause more harm than good to your plants. Soil moisture meters allow you to measure the moisture content of your plant’s root zone.
- Thermostat: So, you’ve installed heating and cooling equipment, but how can you manage the climate of your greenhouse? Thermostats are the answer. Thermostats enable you to adjust the temperature of your greenhouse.
- Relative Humidity Meter: Lower or higher levels can slow down the physiological processes of your plants, preventing their growth and compromising the quality of their produce. Humidity meters allow you to monitor your greenhouse’s humidity levels.
- Light Sensors: Some plants thrive in shady areas while others under intense sunlight. Light sensors can help you measure light intensity in a greenhouse, helping you achieve and maintain the optimum growth conditions your plants need.
- CO2 Meters: CO2 levels can affect plant growth. Low levels of CO2 can decrease photosynthesis, restraining plant growth. CO2 meters allow you to measure and control CO2 levels in a greenhouse, creating optimal environmental conditions for plant growth.
Insulating Your Greenhouse
Insulating your greenhouse can help you save money and energy in the long run. This is especially true when it comes to colder regions.
Insulation traps heat inside the greenhouse, reducing heater use and energy consumption a little. You can use a bubble wrap or layer of plastic to close every air gap in your greenhouse and decrease the amount of heat escaping.
A greenhouse helps you create an optimum environment for plant growth. When you build a greenhouse, you need to choose the right location, install heating and cooling equipment, and add insulation to save energy. Also, you need to implement control systems to monitor and adjust the condition of your greenhouse. These include pH meters, soil moisture sensors, etc.
Good luck on your green journey, and happy planting!