Brought to you by Custom Made
A home garden greenhouse may seem like a daunting item on a gardener’s wish list. It comes in the form of a pipe dream or is shuffled into the “one of these days” category.
Greenhouse dreams typically resurface when coming home from a weekend adventure to find freshly emerged seedlings on their deathbeds. Sometimes they can be coaxed back to life and other times they are beyond revival, but these young phyto-children could have been saved with a simple DIY greenhouse.
A greenhouse provides plants with a head start by sheltering them from whatever the weather is up to outside. Greenhouse gardeners can sow seeds weeks before the topsoil is warm enough for outdoor germination. And late-season producers can keep fruiting beyond their outdoor counterparts. With a temperature-controlled environment, a wider variety of species, which would otherwise be intolerant of the climate on site, are available. In addition to supreme growing conditions, herbivory and parasites are less of an issue in a greenhouse, since neighborhood deer or a swarm of locusts can’t get to the protected plants.
Greenhouse Success: The Basic Requirements
A greenhouse is a climate control box for your plants. You can get as simple or as fancy as you’d like, depending on how much you’re willing to spend. This guide will focus on the bare bones method of taking it from foundation to a permanent structure, and then explore some of the many available greenhouse styles.
A greenhouse should have:
- Proper location
- Air circulation
- Watering system
- Temperature control
The location of your greenhouse determines your plants’ success. Do your best to position the greenhouse where it will receive morning sun during the summer and winter months. Afternoon sunlight can be intense on its own, but in a greenhouse the light may be magnified by the glass and in turn burn plants. The ideal effective shading includes deciduous trees to the west to provide dappled shade in the intense summer months, and winter sunlight when the trees drop their leaves. If the ideal shading is unavailable, use an opaque roofing material to help disperse sunlight.
Ventilation provides gas exchange. Plants inhale the carbon dioxide we exhale, and exhale the oxygen we inhale, so provide openings in the house to facilitate these exchanges. Natural ventilation is easy to accomplish with side vents and roof openings at the highest point in the structure. This takes advantage of convection currents, where heated air rises through the top and pulls cool air in through the sides. (This is the same mechanism that explains wind currents on Earth.)
Air circulation keeps the gases moving throughout your climate box. Proper circulation helps maintain a consistent temperature throughout the greenhouse; otherwise cool air sits at the bottom near the plants and warm air is trapped at the top of the structure. The best way to mix it up is to install small fans at opposite ends of your greenhouse to create an oval pattern of air circulation.
Plant watering depends on the habits of the overseer. Hand watering crops works well if you are available on demand. However, it only takes a warm weekend of slacking off to put plants under water-stressed conditions. Automatic watering systems, on the other hand, are a plant saver. Whatever plants’ needs are, there is a watering system to meet those requirements.
There are two basic types of watering systems that control the frequency of your watering schedule. One is an automatic timer that turns the water on at a pre-programmed time and duration. The other system is controlled by evaporation sensors that determine when greenhouse conditions are too dry. Water emitters come in all shapes and sizes, from misters to drip, soakers and fog. Whatever conditions plants require, there are watering systems available to emulate everything from an equatorial rainforest or a red rock desert.
All plants have temperature requirements, and if conditions become too warm or cool, they will suffer. A Los Angeles greenhouse in February has much different requirements than the same greenhouse in Denver. Depending on the climate and the parameters of a greenhouse, a heating or cooling system may be beneficial. Your local garden experts can provide more info on this.
Continue reading about the different types of Greenhouse structures, Pros and Cons, etc. here