greenhouse maintenance tips

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.