Outdoor Living

The Beginner's Guide to Greenhouses

Jan 5, 2023

Hi I'm Tricia, an organic gardener I grow organically for a healthy and safe food supply for a clean and sustainable environment for an enjoyable and rewarding experience Greenhouses are a great asset they're great for growing all year round for propagating and for tender plants Today we're going to talk about greenhouse types so that you can make the best decision First step is to pick your location The best location for a greenhouse is a southern exposure the next best location is the southeast or east exposure followed by a southwest and west exposure a northern exposure is the least desirable exposure Greenhouses that are oriented east-west get less light than those oriented north-south Afternoon shade from deciduous trees can be really desirable in the summer they can shade the greenhouse over the hottest part of the day and during the winter the leaves will fall and the greenhouse will get extra light it needs during the winter Other considerations include providing some afternoon shade the possibility of storm damage good drainage accessibility and access to water You also need to decide whether you're building a free-standing or a lean-to greenhouse A free-standing greenhouse gives you more options on placement an attached greenhouse however can be easier to build it'll require fewer materials and can be heated by radiant heat from your house especially when built on a southern exposure Now that you've picked your location how big do you want to build a greenhouse? First decide how wide of a greenhouse to build you wanna allow nineteen inches for pads if it's just you walk in the greenhouse and more like twenty four inches if you'll be bringing in equipment & visitors Benches should be as wide as you can reach across comfortably if you can access them from one side and they should be twice that width if the benches in the center of the greenhouse.

The length of your greenhouse should be based on how many plants you want You'll want one square foot of space for every six inch pot a word of advice make sure that your greenhouse is twenty five to fifty percent bigger than you think you'll need because if you're anything like me your plant collection gets bigger not smaller Glass is the classic option it's the longest lived and it can be a very sustainable option This greenhouses is built out of upcycled single pane windows The downside to glass is that it's heavy it can be expensive if purchased new and it requires the most sturdy framework also can be damaged by storms Polycarbonate panelling or fiberglass is the next option It's lighter cheaper easier to fabricate and with higher impact resistance then glass The downside is that has a shorter life span at about seven to twelve years instead of about twenty-five years life expectancy for glass They'll also eventually yellow and have a high expansion contraction rate Polyethylene film is the cheapest option easiest to install and is readily available the downside is that it only has a four-year service life.

The next concern is heating and ventilation and a lot of that will have to do with what kind of plants your growing inside check out our blog for a calculator that can help you determine your heating needs About twenty-five percent of the heat is gonna come from the sun You'll need about sixty degrees for active growing and about forty degrees for season extension Typically greenhouses are heated by oil gas or electricity this can be forced air steam are even radiant heat from water Some alternative heat sources are heat by compost and passive solar greenhouses Manual temperature control is really tricky automatic vent openers like these that work with a wax cylinder can mean the difference between happy plants and dead ones If you want to use your greenhouse in the summer a fan will be necessary in the peak heat of the summer your going to need to cycle the air about once per minute You can either do-it-yourself or you can buy a greenhouse kit like this redwood greenhouse kit with polycarbonate sides So get started with the greenhouse and grow organic for life

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