A Simple Guide to Running a Greenhouse
Survival Kit for First-Time Greenhouse Owners
Running a greenhouse requires multi-tasking; you need to be a grower, buyer, assessor, and manager to ensure everything is working smoothly. The following are some practical tips you need, because running a greenhouse is a lot more than growing turf.
Learn everything there is to learn about running a greenhouse.
There are plenty of available reading materials on gardening from books to magazines. Those with step-by-step instructions and good pictures are especially helpful. You can also do research online. The internet is a library open to first-time and seasoned greenhouse owners alike.
Sharpen your judgement skills.
Good assessing is critical in greenhouse management. Knowing how to evaluate if your plants already need or still don’t need to be watered will save them from either wilting or getting overly soaked. Evaluation tasks are not limited to the moisture level of the soil in pots. You need to assess the heat, the cold, the particles in the composts, and a lot more interesting aspects of life inside a greenhouse.
Have a plan and a budget.
Except in cases of pure luck and unexpected breaks, endeavours carried out without a plan are usually doomed to fail. Have a good plan. Stick to it. Prepare your budget. Unless you are extremely resourceful, you can never completely escape shedding some money to set up and run a greenhouse. Watering cans, after all, are not free. Even soil is sold nowadays. If you love to tinker and invent, you might be able to reduce your spending to a minimum. But if you have the money, you don’t only get to address your plants’ basic needs for survival, you get to pamper them.
Get the right equipment and materials.
First, acquire things a greenhouse owner genuinely needs. If you have the money to spare, you can spend it on gadgets that claim to do it all. But it makes sense to ask yourself if you really need those automatically adjusted blinds, or if net curtains are just fine. You might need to shed some money to cover the cost of building materials like wood, cement, and glass.
It is a known fact; to facilitate good plant growth, you need to have a stable supply of water. Even during winter and rainy days, your plants still need to drink. Supplying your plants with the right amount of water is important. There is a thin line between addressing your seedlings’ thirst and drowning your seedlings. Get a good watering can or a sort of irrigation system in place.
- Soil and composts
Unless you are planning to venture into hydroponic gardening, soil is the salt of your greenhouse. You can dig some in your backyard or buy some from your favourite gardening tools supplier. Interestingly, you can always make your own preferred recipe, tailored according to your plants’ needs. You can also enrich your mix with compost made from kitchen scraps and dried leaves. Compost is organic and nutrient-rich recycled matter which acts as a supplement for soil.
Although you can do gardening without pots, they are still among the most indispensable gardener’s tools. Pots come in many sizes and materials. They may be made from clay, plastic, or can be recycled cans, bottles and jars. Pots are ideal for propagating seedlings. A good thing about them, as opposed to beds, is that they are portable and can be conveniently moved from one place to another.
Staging is the process of placing your plants strategically so that they get the most from the sun. Fixtures include aluminium or wooden benches, single-tiered or multiple-tiered. Plants which need the most sunlight are placed on top. The use of staging fixtures also saves space in the greenhouse.
You can’t allow your plants to be exposed to too much heat, especially during summer and hot spells. You might want to apply a thin coating of paint on your windows to create some shade. But this can be a hassle; that is if painting and removing paint at least once a year don’t appeal you. This approach is also semi-irreversible.
- Blinds or curtains
A greenhouse is essentially about keeping a warm environment for your plants, but having them scorched is not an option. Blinds and curtains are ideal because they help to provide shade for your plants.
- Heating and ventilation system
You need to have some sort of system in place to create the perfect condition for your plants, which is essentially a warm and ventilated environment. Heating systems include hot pipes, electric heaters, paraffin burners, and soil warming cables. Ventilation systems include fans which create moving air.
One of the main functions of a greenhouse is to provide the right temperature for plants. To make sure you are on the right track, you need a good thermometer. It measures how well your ventilation or heating systems are working. It allows you make necessary changes before you see the effects of poor ventilation and unstable temperature on your plants.
- Simple things like brush, broom, sponge, spade, and string
These ordinary things get the little glitches right in your greenhouse. They should always be present in your gardener’s cabinet or box.
Know the needs of your plants.
Some plants do just well in the simplest conditions. Some varieties are delicate and demand extra attention. Different plant types have different requirements. A drop of water for a bougainvillea might be a flood for a cactus. Across seasons, the needs of your plants can change. Have a list of the types of plants you grow, and take note of their requirements. Pay attention to their responses with respect to the seasons and the weather.
Keep your greenhouse clean and tidy.
Have a cleaning regimen. Give your greenhouse a good wash. Greenhouse owners are obviously nature lovers. You might want to use a plant-based or organic detergent to avoid exposing your plants to unnecessary harsh ingredients found in most cleansers. Exercise precaution regarding your use of the water hose when you have electricity installed inside your greenhouse.
Eliminate pests. Prevent damping off or accumulation of too much moisture. Diseases thrive in a damp environment. Throw out things you don’t need or those which are potential breeding grounds for pests, like old jars, cracked pots, and bottles. Recycle salvageable stuff. Remember to clean your equipment and tools as well. Do your best to make your greenhouse run smoothly like a well-oiled machine, in this case, thoroughly-cleaned.
Spend time in your greenhouse.
Dedication and commitment are a necessity. You have to check on your plants on a regular basis. Greenhouse management is not something you can turn on and off when you want to, dropping by once in a while to check on your plants. But if gardening is a genuine hobby, you may be spending even a lot more time in your greenhouse than required.
It makes sense to keep a gardener’s notebook. Jot down the effects of the seasons on your plants. Take note of changes in the weather. Write down anything that pertains to your gardening tasks. Put your tools in the right places. Keep your greenhouse tidy.
Enjoy the fruits of your labour.
Literally, enjoying the sweetness of your crops is a reward in itself. But the rewards of keeping a greenhouse transcend tastes and aesthetics. It actually has scientific basis. Gardening is beneficial for your health. Taking care of your plants is also taking care of your body.
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