How to Control Temperature and Air Circulation in Your Greenhouse

greenhouse-temperature-air-circulationA greenhouse can let you to extend the growing season and cultivate plants year-round. A greenhouse allows you to control the temperature and ventilation in an enclosed space, which is essential to have healthy plants. Here are some tips to help you regulate the environment in your greenhouse.

Regulating the Temperature in Your Greenhouse

The amount of light will affect the temperature in your greenhouse. Summer crops grow best when the temperature is between 75 and 85 degrees during the day and less than 75 at night. During the winter, the temperature should not be more than 65 degrees during the day and can get down to 45 degrees at night.

Check the temperature requirements of the plants you want to grow in your greenhouse. If you want to grow plants in a greenhouse in the winter, you may need an auxiliary heat source. The cold outdoor temperatures can make it difficult to keep a greenhouse warm, even if it gets a lot of sun. Several types of greenhouse heaters are available, including propane and electric.

In other cases, you may need to cool your greenhouse to avoid overheating your plants. A greenhouse in a sunny area can get too hot, even in the winter. If your greenhouse is attached to your house, you may be able to move the warm air to your home.

How to Promote Air Circulation in a Greenhouse

Good air circulation is necessary to grow healthy plants in your greenhouse. Air circulation strengthens the woody tissue in plant stems and makes it harder for fungi to attack plants. Leave spaces between plants so they are not touching each other to allow air to circulate.

Plants need carbon dioxide in air to produce sugars for food. Carbon dioxide can be depleted in a closed greenhouse. Change the air supply at least once a day, even if that means you will need to add extra heat.

An easy way to increase air circulation in your greenhouse is to install screened windows and doors. You can open a window on one side and a door panel on the opposite end to create cross-ventilation. Warm air can rise and exit through high windows, and colder air can enter through lower windows.

If you have a free-standing greenhouse, you can use passive vents and thermostatically-controlled exhaust fans and intake vents. Manually-operated vents are inexpensive but need to be checked at least twice a day and opened or closed. An automatic ventilation system is more expensive but can save time and do a better job of regulating the temperature.

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Controlling the temperature and air circulation in your greenhouse can help you successfully grow plants in any season. Follow these tips to maintain a healthy growing environment in your greenhouse.

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How to Choose the Right Site for Successful Greenhouse Growing

greenhouse locationChoosing the right location to set up your greenhouse is essential to its success. Selecting a location with good soil and the right amount of sunlight can allow you to grow plants and vegetables throughout the year. If you have a choice between multiple locations, here are some things you should consider to help you decide which is the best spot to set up your greenhouse.

Pick a Location with the Right Amount of Sunlight

Think about the types of plants you want to grow in your greenhouse. If you want to grow plants all year, overwinter tender plants, or raise seedlings, you will need to choose a location with a lot of sunlight that is protected from frost and cold winds.

You want to choose a location where the greenhouse will get plenty of sun. It should not be put directly under trees. They will create shade that can encourage the growth of green algae, and branches and leaves can fall and block gutters. Honeydew from insects can make the outside of the greenhouse dirty or sticky so it allows in less light. Roots from nearby trees can also affect the foundation and make it difficult to plant directly in beds.

If you want to grow plants throughout the year, you should orient your greenhouse so the ridge runs east-west to allow as much sunlight as possible in during the winter. If you only want to grow in the summer, align the ridge north-south to allow equal amounts of sun on each side and prevent overheating.

Choose a Location That Is Level and Has Good Soil

Select a location that is level for your greenhouse. Setting up a greenhouse on a slope can make growing difficult. You should not put your greenhouse at the bottom of a hill because those areas tend to get colder at night.

If you want to grow plants in beds inside your greenhouse, make sure the location you choose has good soil. You can improve the quality of soil by adding organic matter. You can also use raised beds. Avoid setting up your greenhouse in a place with rocky soil.

Make Sure the Site Is Convenient

You want to choose a location that is convenient. It should be relatively close to your house to make watering, ventilating, pruning, and picking flowers or vegetables easy.

Make sure there is at least a few feet of space all around your greenhouse. This will make it easier to set up the greenhouse and to clean it or make any necessary repairs. This will also prevent shade from other structures from blocking sunlight.

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Shelters of America offers greenhouses in a variety of sizes that are made from durable materials. A greenhouse can help you extend the growing season and enjoy the joys of gardening throughout the year. Order a greenhouse today.

How to Keep Insects and Mites out of Your Greenhouse

insects mites greenhouseInsects and mites in a greenhouse can eat your plants and cause significant damage. Pests can be carried into the greenhouse on your plants, on people, and on pets.

One way to keep pests out of your greenhouse is by screening the air intake. A thrips screen or another very fine screen can keep most insects and mites out. You should build a box so that air can flow through a larger surface area and airflow will not be restricted. Put a screen door on the box so you can hose down the screen.

If you put insect screening on the air intake, you should also have double entry doors. This will prevent the wind from blowing into the greenhouse when you open one door and letting pests in. Close one door before opening the other.

Do not grow any plant beds, potted plants, or weeds outside the greenhouse. These can allow pests to get into the greenhouse.

Caterpillars are larval butterflies or moths that hatch in greenhouses. The best way to deal with them is to keep adults out with a double entry door and a fly swatter.

Aphids, or plant lice, suck juices from plants. Most are wingless, but some have wings. The kind that live in a greenhouse depend on the type of crops being grown. You can get rid of them by using insecticides.

Several types of whiteflies can live in greenhouses. It can be helpful to identify the type you have. They are difficult to control because they reproduce quickly. You can put yellow sticky cards on plants to monitor whitefly populations.

Spider mites are very small and hard to see. They suck juices from plants and create webs like spiders. They tend to prefer cucumber and squash plants. Spider mites are related to spiders, not insects, so insecticides will not work. You need miticides to get rid of spider mites.

Adult leaf miners look like small flies. You can control them by introducing beneficial parasites. Greenhouses with concrete floors are less likely to have problems with leaf miners.

Gnats are more of a nuisance than a serious threat to your plants. They usually live in dead organic matter and may fly in your face when you are working in your greenhouse. You can control fungus gnats by introducing beneficial nematodes.

Slugs are not insects or mites. They chew on leaves at night and hide during the day, which makes them hard to find. Slugs leave a silvery trail on areas where they have crawled. They hide under dead leaves, pieces of wood, or pots. You can get rid of them by eliminating their hiding places.

How to Make Sure Your Greenhouse Gets the Right Amount of Sun

greenhouse sunlightA greenhouse can let you enjoy growing flowers, fruits, and vegetables at any time of the year. In order for plants to thrive, they need to get the right amount of sunlight. Where you set up your greenhouse and how it is organized will have a dramatic effect on the amount of sunlight your plants receive. Here are some tips to help you get the right amount of sunlight in your greenhouse.

You want to set up your greenhouse in such a way that the plants will get even sunlight and there will not be any hot spots. If light strikes one end of the greenhouse and the other end is in shadows, the temperature will be inconsistent within the greenhouse. Plants need diffused light so that all of their leaves receive the same amount of light and the plants grow well.

If you put your greenhouse on the southeast side of your property, it will get the maximum amount of sunlight, particularly early in the day. Morning sunlight is less intense, which is helpful to sensitive plants. Having the greenhouse located in the south will also ensure that your plants get enough light even when the sun is low on the horizon in the winter.

The way your greenhouse is oriented will affect the amount of sunlight it receives. A north-south orientation will result in less shading than an east-west orientation. If you put tall plants near the northern end of the greenhouse, they will not shade smaller plants in the southern end, even in the winter. You can take advantage of the angle of the sun in the various seasons to help your plants grow.

Sunlight is more intense in the afternoon during the summer. Planting deciduous trees on the western side of the greenhouse can allow sunlight to filter through the canopy. In the fall and winter, light will shine through the leafless limbs and warm the greenhouse. This can help you make sure your greenhouse gets the right amount of sunlight throughout the year.

How to Grow Plants from Seeds in Your Greenhouse

grow plants in greenhouseGrowing plants in a garden can be difficult if your region experiences frequent changes in temperature, moisture, and weather. Changing conditions can make it especially hard to get started growing plants from seeds. A simple solution is to grow plants, flowers, and vegetables in a greenhouse, where you can control all of the climate conditions to provide plants with the optimal temperature and moisture they need to thrive. Once they have hardened off and acclimated, you can transfer the plants to your garden.

You can sow seeds in your greenhouse in any season. Plant seeds in your greenhouse about six to eight weeks before your last frost so they will be ready to be transplanted in the spring.

If you are planting large seeds, such as beans or tree seeds, soak them in a bowl of warm water overnight before you plant them. Put moist potting soil in seed-starting trays with one seed per tray. If you are planting very small seeds, spread a few across the surface of the soil and press them down.

You can sprinkle a very thin layer of vermiculite or sphagnum moss on top of the soil, unless the seeds need light to germinate. Petunias, lettuce, and small herbs require light to grow. Spray a fine mist of water over the surface of the soil. Water the seeds as necessary to keep the soil moist. If the seeds need constant moisture or high humidity, put the seed trays in a clear plastic bag until the seeds germinate.

Maintain a temperature in the greenhouse of about 70 degrees during the day and 50 degrees at night. If you need to run a heater, open a door or window for ventilation. If the greenhouse gets less than 16 hours of sun every day, put hanging fluorescent lights about six inches above the seed trays.

You can put the seed trays on a heating mat to make the seeds germinate faster. Try to keep the soil between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. A mat with a thermostat can keep the soil from getting too hot.

When the first true leaves appear, apply an all-purpose, soluble fertilizer at half strength. Thin the seedlings so there is one healthy plant in each tray cell and transplant them to larger containers when they have two or more true leaves. Leave enough space between the containers to allow for proper air flow. Keep a fan on at all times to provide a gentle breeze and help the stems grow strong and thick.

Start to harden off the plants two weeks before you transplant them to your garden. Do this in early spring or after your last frost. Put the plants in a shady outdoor area for a few hours every day, gradually increasing the length of time they are outdoors. When the hardening off is complete, you can move the plants to your garden.

How to Keep Your Greenhouse Warm in the Winter

greenhouse warm winterGrowing plants in a greenhouse is an excellent way to have fresh vegetables and flowers throughout the winter. Plants need relatively warm temperatures to grow, and heating a greenhouse all winter can be costly. Here are some tips to keep your greenhouse warm and lower your energy bills.

Clip a layer of bubble wrap to the inside of your greenhouse frame to reduce heat loss and block drafts. This can help even if your greenhouse is not heated. Use horticultural bubble wrap from a garden center because it is toughened and UV-stabilized. Larger bubbles will allow in more light. You can also wrap outdoor pots to protect plants from freezing and pots from cracking.

An electric fan heater can be helpful if you have a mains power supply. A fan heater can circulate air to prevent cold spots and reduce the chance of your plants getting diseases. Put an electric fan heater in an open, central area at one end of the greenhouse where it will not come into contact with water. You might need to angle it slightly to direct the airflow above nearby plants. If your greenhouse does not have mains power, try a paraffin heater.

You can save energy and money by only heating your greenhouse when necessary. Use a thermostat to make the heat come on only when the temperature drops below a certain point. You can avoid frost by keeping your greenhouse at least 36 degrees Fahrenheit. Some plants need higher temperatures.

Install a thermometer with minimum and maximum readings and check it every day to see how the temperature fluctuates. This will help you know when to adjust your heater.

If your greenhouse is not full of plants, you might not need to heat the whole thing. Group your plants together and put up a partition or curtain of bubble wrap to divide the greenhouse into smaller areas that are easier to heat.

On very cold nights, use a layer or two of horticultural fleece to protect your plants without having to turn up the heat. You can protect plants in border soil with a fleece cloche. Remove it during the day so the plants can get enough light and ventilation.

Heating a greenhouse can increase humidity. Ventilation can prevent fungal diseases and create a healthy environment. Water plants sparingly in the morning. Open vents on warm, sunny mornings to clear condensation and close them before the sun sets to trap heat in the greenhouse.

Use a heated propagator to help seeds germinate. If you only sow a few plants, a windowsill propagator might be enough. Use heated propagation mats for rooting cuttings and keeping seeds warm after they germinate.

Things to Consider If You Want to Grow Plants in a Greenhouse This Winter

greenhouse winterIf you enjoy growing plants and flowers but live in a cold climate, maintaining a garden throughout the winter can be difficult. Another option you may have considered is growing in a greenhouse during the winter. Before you decide to buy a greenhouse, here are some important things to consider.

A cool greenhouse is the easiest type to maintain because it does not require you to provide heat. A cool greenhouse is protected from the elements and can absorb a great deal of heat from the sun if it is positioned correctly.

You can grow cool weather plants in a greenhouse in the winter. A greenhouse that is below 50 degrees at night will still be warmer than the outside air during the winter. Many types of vegetables and plants can be grown in a greenhouse in the winter, including beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, leaks, lettuce, radishes, spinach, turnips, and several species of herbs and flowers.

Growing in a greenhouse during the winter offers several benefits. It can give a gardener the satisfaction of growing plants and vegetables and being able to enjoy them year-round. Walking into a greenhouse filled with vibrant plants on a cold winter day can be enough to lift anyone’s spirits. A greenhouse can also let you get started early on preparing bedding plants for spring.

A greenhouse can be expensive, so it is a significant investment. However, many people believe the money saved by growing plants themselves and the joy they get from it is worth the cost.

If you choose a warm, or heated, greenhouse, it can raise your winter heating bills. However, you can get around this by attaching the greenhouse to your house so heat can be transferred from the house to the greenhouse and vice versa.

It is important to choose the right site for your greenhouse. Pick a location that is level and has good exposure to the winter sun. Put it far enough away from trees and other buildings so it will not get unwanted shade. Try to put the greenhouse in a location where the long side will have a southern exposure.

Choose a greenhouse that is large enough to grow your plants and also to give you enough space to work. You will need a bench for potting and enough space to store tools, seeds, and other items. Think about how to arrange your plants to make the best use of the space.

What Vegetables Can Be Grown in a Greenhouse in the Winter?

vegetables greenhouse winterIf you enjoy gardening, you don’t have to give up your hobby and the ability to enjoy fresh vegetables you grew yourself during the winter. You can grow many types of vegetables during the colder months in a greenhouse.

A cool greenhouse does not need to be heated. It absorbs heat from the sun and is protected from outside weather. A cool greenhouse stays below 50 degrees Fahrenheit at night.

Many types of vegetables can grow in a cool greenhouse during the winter. You can try growing beets, broccoli, garlic, kale, Brussels sprouts, carrots, radishes, celery, turnips, cauliflower, spinach, cabbage, lettuce, and herbs. A very minimal amount of weeding is required when growing these vegetables in a greenhouse during the winter.

If you choose to heat your greenhouse, you will have more options in terms of vegetables you can grow. Heating a greenhouse can be costly during the winter. You can save money by attaching the greenhouse to your house so they can share heat.

When growing vegetables in a greenhouse during the winter, you need to treat the soil the same way you would if you were growing in a garden. You need to choose the best location where the greenhouse will receive an optimal amount of sunlight but will not be in danger of overheating. Overheating can damage plants even more than frost. If the temperature in the greenhouse gets over 75 degrees Fahrenheit, you should open the windows a few inches so it can cool off.

Growing vegetables in a greenhouse is an excellent way to extend the growing season. With proper preparation and care, you will be able to enjoy many of your favorite vegetables all winter long.

How to Fix a Tear in a Polyethylene Greenhouse

fix tear in greenhouseA greenhouse can protect plants and vegetables from the cold, making it possible to grow them year-round. Greenhouses are made from clear glass or plastic to allow radiant energy from the sun to enter and keep plants warm. Plastic is lighter than glass and is durable, but it can occasionally tear and will need to be repaired in order to keep cold air out and maintain a consistent temperature inside the greenhouse.

The first step in repairing the plastic in your greenhouse is to measure the size of the torn piece. Note both the length and the width of the tear.

Once you know how big the tear is, you will need to purchase a piece of polyethylene large enough to cover it. You can buy polyethylene sheeting at a home improvement store, garden center, or hardware section in a department store.

Use a utility knife to cut two patches from the sheet of polyethylene. They should be ¼ inch larger than the hole in terms of both length and width.

Mix one tablespoon of liquid soap and one quart of water. Wash the damaged area of the greenhouse plastic and then pat the area with a paper towel to dry it. The surface must be clean and dry on both sides for the adhesive to stick.

Use one patch to completely cover the tear and then use strips of packing tape to secure it in place. Cover the patch with pieces of tape. Work from top to bottom and place them so each piece of tape slightly overlaps the one before it. Repeat on the other side of the film and press any air bubbles out from between the patches.

Seasonal Greenhouse Maintenance

greenhouse maintenance tipsIf you grow plants in a greenhouse, you need to perform routine maintenance to keep it clean and keep your flowers and vegetables healthy. Maintenance should be done throughout the year. Here are some tips on what you should do in each season.

In the spring:

  • Remove any weeds or algae from walkways, shelves, and benches.
  • Clean up dirt and leaves on a regular basis.
  • Check to be sure the heating system works properly.
  • If you turned off the irrigation water during the winter, turn it back on.
  • Remove the winter cover to allow more light to enter.
  • Clean the inside and outside of the glazing.

In the summer:

  • If the greenhouse has a wood frame, summer is the best time to repaint or stain it. If it has an aluminum frame, check for corrosion and perform any necessary repairs.
  • Check to make sure the windows open and close properly and seal tightly.
  • Make sure the door seals tightly and the lock works.
  • Make sure the glazing is not loose and the caulking that seals it in place has not dried or cracked. If the glazing is held in place by metal clips, clean them and check to make sure they are not broken. If the greenhouse has a wooden frame with putty or glazing strips, check to see if they are broken and make any necessary repairs.
  • Clean and check the glazing for breakage and make any needed repairs.
  • Clean the greenhouse and disinfect all surfaces, including shelves.
  • Make sure the heat mat and propagation trays work.
  • Check screens and make any necessary repairs.
  • Refresh any hot beds.
  • Check the foundation to make sure animals cannot get into the greenhouse.

In the fall:

  • Turn on and inspect your greenhouse’s heating, watering, lighting, and drip irrigation systems. You might need to unclog drip emitters and clean filters or pipes. If you need to order parts, do it before cooler weather arrives.
  • If you heat your greenhouse with propane, check to make sure insects have not clogged the lines, the igniters work correctly, and the fuel lines are not leaking. Be sure to have a regular supply of propane available.
  • If you use electricity to heat your greenhouse, check to make sure the power lines are not chafed or worn and the switches, breakers, and GFIs work properly.
  • If you have a backup generator, be sure it is in good working order.
  • Spray any outdoor plants that you plan to move into the greenhouse with an organic pesticide at least a month before the first frost. Try it on a few leaves before spraying the entire plant. Spray again 10 days later to kill any insects that might have hatched.
  • Before you move pots into the greenhouse, check them for slugs and snails.
  • Wash empty pots and trays with a solution of 1 cup of bleach and 10 gallons of water to kill bacteria and organisms.
  • If you plan to install greenhouse film or bubble wrap as a winter cover, do it before you put plants in your greenhouse.

In the winter:

  • Check the cover regularly to make sure it is not leaking and no animals have crawled under it.
  • Use a fan to circulate air in your greenhouse.
  • Clean up fallen leaves and deadhead flowers regularly.
  • Keep air circulating and increase the temperature if necessary to prevent botrytis (gray mold).
  • Open the door on mild days to allow air to circulate and close it at night.
  • Clean, disinfect, and sharpen your gardening tools.
  • Order potting soil, fertilizer, seeds, and seed trays.
  • Make sure your germination chamber lights work properly and replace any fluorescent lights that have faded or that have black at the ends.