Greenhouses 101

So you want to become a greenhouse grower?

Buying a greenhouse can be a daunting process, but the results are well worth it. I hope the following greenhouse buying guide helps you with your choice. Greenhouse growing is not just for the professional these days. With the high cost of food and the increased use of pesticides, backyard hobby organic growing is becoming increasingly popular. In my case, winter temps below 30 degrees F, coupled with the winds, and chill, is a citrus fruit killer.

What level greenhouse grower are you?

Are you a beginner, hobbyist or professional grower? This is probably the most important question. The answer to this question will help determine size, cost and complexity of assembly of your greenhouse. The number one regret of most beginners is they did not buy a bigger greenhouse. Once you add plants, greenhouse benches and garden accessories your greenhouse quickly becomes very crowded. As you become more advanced and successful, you will want to increase the volume of your growing space. Upgrading to a larger greenhouse can be more costly down the road. Professional growers may require much larger, durable structures and complex environmental controls to better extend their growing seasons and production.

Should I build my own or buy a manufactured greenhouse?

While building your own greenhouse can be rewarding, it may not always be more economical. Greenhouse plans may be inexpensive, but the materials needed for the construction can be expensive or hard to find. Should you however choose to construct your own greenhouse, you can find suppliers online that will provide plans, polycarbonate panels, greenhouse film, ground cover, shade cloth and a wide assortment of greenhouse accessories. If you’re like me and you have no construction skills, just purchase a complete kit, within your budget, and have someone assemble the puzzle for you.

Where do you live?

You will need to consider your growing zone and your local weather. Factors such as snowfall, wind, rainfall and temperature may help you determine which greenhouse to select. High snow and wind regions may require a more structurally sound greenhouse such as our roll-form models. In areas with extreme heat, you may want to consider a greenhouse with increased ventilation such as roll-up and drop down curtains or shading options. Colder areas may require additional heat sources to extend the growing season.

What will you grow in your greenhouse?

Year-round growing requires a more insulated, tightly sealed greenhouse. Seed germination or early season plantings do not always require the same integrity. Take some time to research the climate requirements for the plants you wish to grow. Heat-sensitive plants may require extra ventilation and shading.

Do I need to heat or cool my greenhouse?

Commercial Greenhouses - FarmTekThe success of your growing depends on how regulated you keep your greenhouse climate. Most plants have specific climate requirements and will die if they are not met. One of the biggest misconceptions is that a greenhouse will protect all your plants from the elements. You need to determine how hot or cold your region can get and make the necessary environmental changes using additional heaters, fans, shade cloth or vents. Keep in mind some of these accessories may require electricity or a fuel source such as propane or natural gas.

What are the different types of greenhouses?

Greenhouses come in various shapes, sizes, materials and complexity of assembly. If you have limited space, keep in mind how your new greenhouse fits into your yard or garden. For areas with limited space, you can use smaller grow houses or mini-greenhouses. If you have a larger yard or business, you should research your local zoning requirements. Some towns may require a building permit for larger buildings.

The idea that a greenhouse is an eyesore is a thing of the past. A new greenhouse may make you the envy of the neighborhood. Just keep in mind your space restrictions and local zoning codes when making your decision.

Commercial greenhouses typically come in two different styles — gothic (house) and round (Quonset) style. Professional gothic and round style greenhouses tend to be built with functionality in mind and require more yearly maintenance than hobby greenhouses. These structures usually consist of frames covered with greenhouse film or polycarbonate panels. With increased usage and weather conditions, coverings may need to be replaced as needed. Cold frames (the basic frame structure) and various greenhouse coverings can also be purchased separately.

Commercial Greenhouse Styles
Gothic style Greenhouse - FarmTek
Gothic-Style Greenhouse
Round style Greenhouse - FarmTek
Round-Style Greenhouse
What are the different materials used in greenhouse construction?

Starter Greenhouses - FarmTekGreenhouse frames can be constructed of aluminum, galvanized steel, real and synthetic woods and PVC. If you are looking for years of use from your greenhouse be sure to choose one that is made of materials that stand up to the elements. While wood might look more appealing, it may be more prone to rot and insect damage. If you choose a wood frame, make sure it is cedar or pressure-treated lumber. PVC may be more economical and lightweight but is not as structurally sound as the other materials and should not come into contact with greenhouse film. Aluminum or galvanized steel is a better choice for longevity and strength. 

Greenhouse coverings, or glazing, can consist of various millimeter poly films, polycarbonate, glass and shade material. Coverings play a key role in the retention of heat. Poly films and polycarbonate come in various thicknesses. The thicker the better! Some poly films use a double-layer construction with an air pocket for insulation. Polycarbonate panels can increase the cost of the greenhouse, but will last longer and offer more protection against wind and snow. Polycarbonate panels also come in various thicknesses and single or twin-wall construction. Glass can be the most attractive and is clear, but is also the most costly and least effective in retaining heat.

What are the different greenhouse accessories that I may need?

To make your greenhouse purchase complete, you will need to consider some accessory options. As mentioned earlier, your local climate is a key factor in the type of accessories you will need. Listed below are some of the basic accessories you may need. Keep in mind, some accessories may require an electrical or fuel source so plan the placement of your greenhouse accordingly.

Greenhouse Anchoring Systems & Bases

Your new greenhouse should be anchored to the ground to prevent against injury and damage. Bases can also be constructed from pressure treated wood or synthetic lumbers. Larger professional greenhouses or greenhouses in high-wind areas may require a stronger anchoring system consisting of ground augers. Your greenhouse should always be built on level ground with adequate drainage.

 
Greenhouse Fans

Areas with warmer climates may require additional circulation or venting of internal air. Plants will die if the heat inside the greenhouse becomes too excessive. We offer optional circulation and exhaust fans for any size greenhouse. Automatic intake and exhaust shutter systems are available and can be controlled by thermostat. Use of a standard thermometer will help to monitor the internal temperature of your greenhouse.

Greenhouse Heaters

For colder climates, an alternate heat source may be needed. Heaters can be electric, propane or natural gas powered. The size of your heater depends on the size of the greenhouse, the volume of its contents, hours of sunlight and the outside temperature. In milder climates, water bags or barrels can be used to retain heat.

Greenhouse Thermostats & Monitors

Keeping your greenhouse at the optimal temperature does not have to be a chore or worry. There are a wide selection of thermostats to help you automatically control your heaters or fans. 

Greenhouse Benches & Display Racks

Now that you have your new beautiful greenhouse you will need to fill it with your plants. Adding functional benches will help you make the most of your growing space and make watering a breeze. Benches come in many sizes and can be made of different materials like galvanized steel or aluminum. Hobby growers may also like to use a planting or work bench for potting and plant care. You can also fabricate your own greenhouse benches using common building supplies, but be sure to use materials that will not be affected by moisture.

Greenhouse Irrigation & Misting Systems

Make daily watering and irrigation easier with the addition of a misting or watering system. There are a wide variety of systems and components on the market to manage watering. Should you choose to do it the old-fashioned way, as I do, make certain that you purchase the best watering hoses on the market. Cheaper hoses will kink, leak, and make you life totally miserable.

About me

I’m a full-strength Realtor in Southern Nevada. I look forward to answering your questions about our real estate market and, better yet, representing you. I can be reached at (702) 358-7075 or RonaldSellsVegas@gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter @ronfeir and Ronald Feir on Facebook. Meet me at http://www.Pinterest.com/RonaldKFeir/pins to see my virtual home/rooms. To learn more about me, go to Linkedin.com and enter my name in the search bar.

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