Growing inside of a greenhouse can totally change the way you garden. You have full control over the environment, you can grow pretty much anything, and you can create your own little world where you can escape to tend to your plants and enjoy your garden. There are many reasons to grow in a greenhouse and plenty of different ways to go about it. Regardless of how or why you garden, there are a few tips that can help you get the most from your greenhouse environment.
Why Grow Inside a Greenhouse
If you have an outdoor garden, using a greenhouse can extend your growing season by letting you start your seedlings earlier in the season or by providing you with a protected space to bring your plants to when the season grows a bit cooler. A greenhouse can be used as an extension of your outdoor garden to give you an edge against Mother Nature.
You can also use a greenhouse to grow fruits and vegetables year round. Maybe you don’t have a suitable yard for outdoor gardening or maybe you live in an area that is simply too harsh to maintain any kind of outdoor garden. There’s no need for your plants to even go into the ground if you have a greenhouse where the climate can be regulated throughout the year.
You may just simply want a quiet, peaceful space for your and your plants. A greenhouse is not only the perfect environment to grow gorgeous flowers and plump vegetables, it’s also a great space for you to prune, repot, pamper, and observe your plants. For true gardening enthusiasts a greenhouse can be a sanctuary that’s as much for the gardener to escape into as it is a controllable environment to raise your plants in. There are many reasons to start a greenhouse and everyone has their own unique goals and motivations to get theirs started.
Starting Your Plants
The first step in caring for your plants is to get them started. You may choose to skip this step and buy adult plants from a nursery or local gardening center but if you do want to start your plants from seeds you’ll need to obtain some quality seeds for the specific plants you’d like to grow. It’s a good idea to browse a few different seed catalogs to compare prices and plant varieties if you aren’t sure exactly which plants you’d like to grow. The Old Farmer’s Almanac website provides a list of companies that will provide free seed catalogs upon request.
There are a few important tips for starting seeds that should be kept in mind. You’re likely to have a few seeds that never sprout or possibly die off as a seedling. Plant a few extra seeds for every crop to allow for some of these losses.
It’s also a very good idea to label your seed planters and identify the type of plant as well as the date you planted it. If you’re planting a few different species it’s so easy to get your seeds and seedlings mixed up before they’re fully grown.
Lastly, keep your seeds and seedlings warm and adequately moist. You don’t want to drown them but it’s important that the soil doesn’t try out. A greenhouse is the perfect place to start your seeds because you can easily keep the enclosed space warm and humid. You can even add heating mats, a greenhouse heater, or an irrigation system if needed. Covering your seeds with plastic wrap or a plastic lid can also really help to keep the soil warm and moist.
Controlling the Temperature
Once your plants have grown they will still require the perfect temperature if you expect them to flourish to their full potential. The entire design of the greenhouse pulls in light and heat but sometimes leaving your greenhouse to its own devices doesn’t produce the perfect atmosphere. You may need to cool the area off, warm it up, or do a little of both throughout the day and night.
Roof vents are the simplest and cheapest way to allow your greenhouse to cool off if it gets too hot and they will also provide a little bit of airflow. Many greenhouses have vents built in but if yours doesn’t you can also crack the door to let some cool air in.
Open vents and doors can only cool your greenhouse off if it’s not sweltering outside. When temperatures rise too dramatically in the summer a cooling system can be very helpful to prevent your plants from overheating, drying out, and possibly scorching to a crisp. A portable cooling fan can let you lower the temperature in an overly hot greenhouse and will save your plants from an unfortunate death.
A shade cloth can also help to block out some of the rays that will blast through during the peak of the summer season. If you want to save on your electric bill, shade cloths are an excellent way to keep your greenhouse a little cooler without running any electric fans or water misters. You can simply set it up over the windows where the sun shines the brightest and you should see a significant drop in the temperatures inside your greenhouse.
An electric heater may be necessary if you plan to continue growing into the winter months. It may even be necessary during the spring, summer, and fall if your area gets very cool at night. Many heaters allow you choose a desired temperature for the heater to shut off or turn back on at so your space never gets too hot or cold when you aren’t there to monitor the environment.
Controlling the Lighting
As long as your greenhouse is situated in an area that receives ample sunlight and isn’t subjected to large amounts of shade throughout the day, you should be able to provide plenty of light to your plants. However, if you’re growing in the winter months, the shortened daylight hours may not be enough to keep your flowers blooming and your vegetable garden producing. Grow lights can be a huge help when you need to provide a few extra hours of light per day for your plants.
As mentioned earlier as a way to help control temperature, shade cloths can also be very helpful when you’re growing plants that are sensitive to too much sunlight. If you have a few different species that can’t handle as much direct sun as the rest, put them all in one section and put a shade cloth over the nearest window. Shade cloths are available in a variety of different thicknesses, allowing you to choose exactly how much sunlight will reach your plants.
Providing Water and Humidity
All plants are different and not every plant in your greenhouse is going to enjoy the same level of humidity. Using irrigation or drip systems can let you keep your moisture loving plants hydrated throughout the day while the rest of your plants enjoy a slightly drier climate. These systems can be used for your entire garden but each nozzle can be set to provide only as much water as each individual plant requires.
Let Your Garden Flourish
Greenhouse gardening can be delightful when your plants are thriving, flowers are blooming, and fresh produce is being grown for you and your family to enjoy. However, when plants are dying in your greenhouse the entire experience can be very frustrating and might seem like a waste of time. There’s no reason you can’t create the perfect environment for you plants, but you may need to add a few tools and accessories to your setup to ensure your atmosphere is perfect for every plant you’re trying to grow. A few tweaks to your greenhouse environment can let you grow plants year round, whether it’s being blasted with sunlight or pelted with snow.