Spring is in full swing and you’ve likely been starting plenty of seeds inside for your garden. About this time year, I always wondered if I should start greenhouse gardening rather than covering my guest room with tables and piles of start seed boxes.
Once I made the move to greenhouse gardening, I was ridiculously happy I did! Not only does it make seed starting easy-peasy, but I can grow lots of herbs and veggies all year long on my patio.
A greenhouse can be surprisingly easy to set up. Once you have it set up though, what then? The following greenhouse gardening tips will help you out:
Check your temperature
A greenhouse has two basic functions. It keeps warmth in and cold out. Most people already know this, but it is worth mentioning because often we make using a greenhouse far too complex. If it becomes complex, it becomes difficult to do, so always keep it as simple as possible.
The key is to maintain a steady temperature. This can be done by using a thermometer in the greenhouse and venting the structure if it becomes too hot. Around 80 degrees F. (about 26.6 degrees C.) is usually close to ideal. Too much warmth in the greenhouse will kill the plants.
Keeping the greenhouse warm enough is less of a problem in Spring, Summer and Fall. Winter can be a bit trickier. As easy way to generate additional heat even during times of cooler outdoor temperatures is to spray paint four 55-gallon barrels black, then place them in the four corners of the greenhouse. Fill them with water. This will act as a thermal heater. On overcast days, sunlight filtering through the clouds will heat the water in the barrels, and the heat will then be radiated out into the greenhouse. The number and size of the barrels can be varied according to the size of the greenhouse.
It’s like a sauna in here
Humidity is also an important consideration in a greenhouse. Most plants grown in a greenhouse need to have lots of moisture in the air. Otherwise, the plants can whither and die.
Placing containers filled with water around the inside of the greenhouse is a great idea. This increases the humidity. Be sure to check them from time to time to see if more water needs to be added.
No, this is not an excuse to be a plant hoarder
Setting up the plants and giving them enough breathing space is important. If the greenhouse is disorganized or over-crowded, it is going to be hard to check or water the plants.
If the plants are directly on the ground, they’re inviting infestations by insect and other pests. Setting up boards on bricks can be ideal, because they not only keep the plants off the ground, they can also be set in rows to allow you plenty of room to move between them. Doing this can remove a lot of the bending and stooping you would otherwise be doing, too.
Don’t treat your greenhouse like a storage shed
Make sure you don’t store dried fertilizers, potting soil, or chemicals in the greenhouse. The reason for this is that if the greenhouse is properly humid, these items are going to become moist, which makes them less usable. Some chemicals can even become mixed with moisture and air, making it dangerous to work in the greenhouse.
It’s also best to keep the tools and other supplies outside the greenhouse until they are needed. Some of your tools will rust in high humidity situations.
Establish daily rituals
It’s a good idea to check the plants daily for insect damage or insects. Even an aphid infestation, caught early, can be overcome. A small number of ladybugs or praying mantises can also help with infestations when turned loose in the greenhouse.
Daily checks on the water supply for the plants are also important. Even in high humidity, the soil can dry out. The plants in the greenhouse need to have water, just like any garden plant. If you neglect to do so, the plants are almost certainly doomed.
Using a greenhouse is incredibly easy. If you consider the needs of the plant, and take the time to properly set up and check the plants, you are on your way to success. Greenhouses don’t even need to be expensive, since you can build your own. In the process though, you save yourself time, money and effort.