The benefits of greenhouse gardening
If you have the space, investing in a greenhouse will add immeasurable value to your gardening endeavors. A greenhouse allows you to garden in all four seasons no matter what the weather is like outside, and you can grow practically anything.
A greenhouse extends your growing season by allowing you to sow seeds and harvest crops much earlier than other gardeners. A wider variety of plants can be started from seed, and the germination rate will be higher. Starting plants from organic seeds ensures that you'll produce the healthiest, most nutritious food.
A greenhouse can also let you grow plants you normally couldn't due to your climate, such as citrus trees. You can use a greenhouse to over-winter tender perennials. Transplant them into containers and they'll live happily in your greenhouse until spring, and then they can be moved back outdoors.
Greenhouse gardening provides an endless harvest
Mastering the art of year-round planting does take planning, but will provide you with fresh produce months longer because you're not at the mercy of the weather. Instead of sowing seeds directly into the garden, you can sow them in your greenhouse in flats, then transplant robust seedlings once the danger of frost has passed. Use the "Days to Germination" information on your seed packets to determine when to start seeds.
In early fall, when nights get cool and days are shorter, transplant some seedlings growing outdoors into containers. Move them into your greenhouse where they'll provide you with their bounty long after most gardeners have abandoned their outdoor garden. In many areas of the country, salad greens and crops such as kale, chard and spinach can be grown all winter in a properly maintained greenhouse.
Greenhouses come in all shapes and prices, and there is no "best" size. The amount of available space you have, combined with your budget considerations, is ultimately what determines the best size for you. Even a small greenhouse is better than no greenhouse, and will prove to be a valuable asset to your garden. If you have to start small, consider getting the kind designed to be extendable, so you can add sections as needed.
You can build your own greenhouse, buy prefabricated kits to assemble yourself, or have one custom built. The best material for a greenhouse frame is aluminum. It's low maintenance, doesn't deteriorate, and allows in more light than a wood frame.
Greenhouse supplies and requirements
It's vital to know what temperatures your greenhouse plants are experiencing. A min/max thermometer records daily high and low temperatures, which tells you if your heating and cooling equipment is working properly. Some thermometers also record humidity levels, which can be helpful.
A good ventilation system is important for successful greenhouse gardening. It provides cooling for the greenhouse along with fresh air and carbon dioxide to plants. Without proper ventilation, cooling a greenhouse on a hot day is difficult.
Fine-nozzle misting systems are good to have, because smaller water particles evaporate quickly. Most plants need a humidity level of 50-70%, which helps reduce watering frequency and cools the air.
Shade covers block a percentage of the sun's rays from entering the greenhouse, which can reduce the temperature during hot summers.
Daytime heat is typically provided by the sun, but to keep your greenhouse warm during the night, you'll need an additional heat source. Choose a heating system by evaluating what is available locally, the fuel cost, and your individual preference.
Successful greenhouse gardening requires plenty of sunlight. Choose your location carefully, and don't forget to consider future expansion. If your climate or greenhouse location doesn't provide sufficient light, you may need to provide artificial lighting for your plants.
The greenhouse floor should provide a firm nonskid surface to walk on, be easy to clean, and able to withstand moisture and dirt. Common materials are concrete, brick, gravel, wood slats, and bark. Don't forget to lay a weed barrier first!
When you consider the money saving and health benefits of greenhouse gardening, this could well be the ultimate gardening tool.