Solve short growing seasons or the inability to grow warm-weather plants with a greenhouse. These climate-controlled facilities are easy enough for a beginner to construct, but can take years to master the art of using. If you want to get into gardening, a greenhouse is a perfect addition to your backyard.
How a greenhouse works
If you’ve heard about the greenhouse effect on the planet, you have an idea of how a garden greenhouse works. Like the way the sunlight hits the Earth and heat gets trapped by the atmosphere, the same happens in a greenhouse. The sides and walls are either glass or transparent plastic. This design admits the sun’s rays into the greenhouse, but the sealed environment traps heat.
Unlike some people, many plants love heat. If it gets too chilly, the growth of some plants slows down or stops. For instance, bananas grow best at temperatures higher than 77°F. Even in cold Northern states, a greenhouse can achieve such conditions with the right design and use.
The success of your greenhouse depends on where you build it and how clean you keep it. Ideally, find a spot on the south or southeast side of your lawn. It should get full sun in the morning and afternoon shade from trees. In winter, the trees will have lost their leaves, allowing more sunlight to warm the greenhouse long into the colder months.
Keeping your greenhouse clean is equally important because it helps promote healthy plant growth. Diseases are common in greenhouses, especially poorly managed ones. Since high humidity provides the optimal condition for bacteria and fungus, neglect can lead to dying plants. If you rotate plants out on a seasonal basis, make sure to spend time cleaning up your greenhouse to provide the best growing environment for your new plants.
Build to suit
If you have limited space in your yard and a wall of your home that receives morning sun, you may want to install an attached greenhouse. These greenhouse designs use one of the walls of your home, which reduces the amount of sunlight that enters. Compared to freestanding greenhouses, connected varieties are smaller and cheaper. For growing many plants, find a freestanding greenhouse kit.
Greenhouse kits are the ideal solution for beginners wanting to build one of these structures. A kit includes everything you need, and you can find designs online and in stores to suit all budgets. The cheapest covering is plastic sheeting, but a strong wind can tear this material. At the other end of the cost spectrum is glass, which is the most expensive material. Polycarbonate offers a good balance of cost and durability. If you are trying out gardening and want a temporary greenhouse, choose cheaper plastic sheeting or polycarbonate. For a permanent structure, use glass.
Feeling hot, hot, hot
A greenhouse mimics summer weather as early as January. At night, temperatures should be between 55°F and 65°F, whereas day temperatures should be no more than 85°F. To achieve these temperatures, you’ll need vents to allow excessive heat to escape. Installing both thermometers and hygrometers, which measure humidity, will supply you with the data you need to adjust the temperature and humidity.
Install shade cloth on the outside of the greenhouse to keep it cool during scorching summer months. Open vents in the greenhouse, too, to release excess heat. If you live in a cold climate or want night temperatures to be above 60°F, you will need a heater for your greenhouse. A space heater will suffice for small greenhouses. Alternatively, you can bring your plants inside at the first frost, rather than heat the greenhouse.
Maintain humidity levels above 50 percent. It will feel too humid for you, but your plants will love it. Put pebbles under your plants in trays. When you water your plants, water the rocks, too. As moisture from the trays evaporates, it’ll add moisture to the air in the greenhouse.
Greenhouses are great for gardeners
When you build your greenhouse, you’ll discover why these are favorites of gardeners all over the world. You don’t have to be a horticulture expert to use one. Just start your plants a few months earlier in the greenhouse and transfer them outside when temperatures reach appropriate levels for the plant. It’s no surprise greenhouses are great!
This article was written by Megan Ray Nichols. If you enjoyed this article, please visit her website Schooled by Science.