Introduction to Sustainable Greenhouse Gardening Growing Plants in Your Greenhouse
When I was young and had just begun to take an interest in gardening, the only information I could get about Greenhouses in gardens was a very patronizing sneer, “a greenhouse? Oh, this is a fad of rich people, who want to show off.”
“Serious” gardeners did not bother much about expensive greenhouses at that time. Possibly they had reason because we were living in a climate where one did not need a greenhouse in order to grow everything we wished growing in our garden.
We had plenty of sunshine, air, and rich organic soil. We did not have harsh winds and snowy winters. We did not need to pamper our plans so much, praying that they would survive in inclement weather. When I grew up and began to look at the gardens in other climates and in different corners of the earth, I began to understand and estimate the quality and value of a good greenhouse.
So for all those people who are still under the impression that greenhouses are expensive to make and maintain, well, the answer is no! You just need to have some space in your garden. This is not only going to increase the interest of your garden, but is also going to add in its utility. Also, it is going to extend the range of plants, which you can cultivate to a very large extent, and if some of the glass is heated then your cultivation range is almost limitless.
Why Make a Glass Green House
On the usefulness side, a range of glass is going to offer you many facilities for increasing your outdoor crops. You can force certain things into early and useful maturity long before their time. You can raise tender plants like flowers and vegetables for use outside in their season. You can do earlier propagation of these plants and get a harvest, much earlier than what you would get if you had planted them outdoors.
Also, if you are concentrating on flower gardening as a hobby or as a business, you can get an unending sequence of flowers, for your market or for indoor or conservatory decoration, if you want, all the year through.
It is a great mistake to attempt to grow plants that require a moist atmosphere with those plants which would be far better off in a dry atmosphere. Make sure that this pitfall is avoided at all costs.
Types of Greenhouses
In size, a typical greenhouse is going to range from a large, high roofed market type – perhaps 400 feet long and 30 feet high! On the other hand, you have miniature 10 or 12 feet greenhouses in a normal suburban back garden. So size does not matter, it is the use to which you put the greenhouse, which is going to make all the difference between a successful harvest and prospective business.
Actually, the main principles which are governing the running of such houses are the same –ventilation, cleanliness, watering, heating, and the right growing plants, with which you are going to fill your greenhouse.
Span Roofed Greenhouse
The most popular house in greenhouse designs is the span roofed type. That means that the roof is going to be of two equal parts. It has a central ridge board. The two sides are going to slope at an angle approximately between 30 and 40° to the eaves. They are going to be far enough from the ground to allow comfortable working conditions inside the greenhouse.
As the conditions are going to vary according to the position, locality and sight of the greenhouse, I am not going to be talking about any hard and fast rules about measurement. If you are a DIY type of person, you may want to look at greenhouse building plans on the Internet, or ask the recommendation of a good technical greenhouse building firm.
Why I recommend the latter is because greenhouse construction is the work of such a nature that only an expert can give you the best advice.
Caring of Your Greenhouse Plants
Seed sowing is one of the tasks which every gardener is going to practice, continuously throughout the year. This important operation has to be done with care, because greenhouse seeds are going to require much more heat during the period of germination, then they need afterwards.
Because of this necessary heat needed, have a propagating frame ready. You can secure a generous amount of heat here, and keep it that an even temperature.This can be a properly built structure, placed on a bed immediately over the hot water pipes, or as referred to above, it may simply be a box which is about a foot deep. This box is covered with glass set either over the pipes or in the warmest part of your greenhouse staging.
In both cases, three or four inches of sand, coconut fiber or peat moss should be placed in the bottom to ensure a regulated temperature all the time.
As a general rule about 60 degrees Fahrenheit – 16 degrees centigrade is going to be right for most plants, but you should remember that this also means that the coldest part of your nights in your area.
Even with the temperature about 10 degrees lower, a warm frame in your green house is going to allow you to raise many choice greenhouse plants.
Making Propagating Frames
If you are a DIY type of person, here are some ways in which you can make the frame.
You may want to ask why I did not give you a list of the numerous plants and vegetables which can be grown in a greenhouse throughout the year. That is because I want you to ask the advice of your local kitchen gardeners telling you all about the native plants, which can easily be grown outdoors and the plants which you would want to grow in your greenhouse, depending on the climate and the locality.
Much of your harvest is going to depend on what temperatures are available. So there is going to be a natural variation in any gardening list which you make. Ask for suggestions for a house, with a temperature of 50°F [10°C as the lowest night temperature.] Then ask for suggestions for a house with a much lower temperature, but with enough of artificial heat, which excludes frost.
With so many facilities offered for heating your greenhouses, it is going to be wise on your part to consider the question of making all your structures frost proof at the first instant itself. This means that you as a responsible gardener can grow a far greater range of plants with a certain amount of safety.
If your house is kept at 10°C at night during winter, you can consider this to be a very useful structure. Such a temperature provides the ideal means for raising seeds of all kinds, especially during very early spring and for growing of the seedlings.
There are also a large number of plants, which are sold as houseplants and they can do very well in your house, indoors, or in your greenhouse. These include Dracaena, Chlorophytum Philodendron, Ficus, foliage plants, Begonia rex, Anthurium etc.
You can also add ferns, chrysanthemums, Coleus, lilies, Cannas, Fuscia, Petunias, Heliotrope, Hydrangeas, etc. to your collection.
So, step into the world of a greenhouse, Live Long and Prosper!