What to Consider With Greenhouse Ventilation

Greenhouses are designed to trap heat, so learning to properly manage temperature inside helps create the ideal environment you want.

Ventilation is key in this process, specifically understanding the system that works best for you and how to most efficiently set it up.

Two types of greenhouse ventilation systems are available: natural and mechanical. Both work by using cold, dense air to push warmer air up and out of a building.

Mechanical systems consist of fans and louvers to press hot air out and pull cool air in. Natural systems simply employ a series of roof and sidewall vents to accomplish the same thing.

Both types of systems are comparable in terms of initial cost and installation. Natural ventilation systems are more energy efficient and cost-effective over the long term, but they will require more of an investment of your time because they aren’t electric.

Most growers take cost into consideration when selecting a ventilation system for their greenhouse. It’s important to evaluate the size of the greenhouse compared to the cost to operate it.

For example, a mechanical system would be too costly for a small greenhouse, less than 40 square feet. And for a larger structure, more than 100 square feet, a mechanical system wouldn’t have the power to help maintain optimal temperature at both ends.

Take into account the seasons where you are located. During winters cold enough to bring snow, automated systems are ideal when you can open vents due to ground cover build-up. But in really hot summers, you also don’t want to run fans when natural ventilation will do.

With natural systems, you are not simply at the mercy of the seasons. There are extra steps you can take to help reduce excess heat. One of the best ways to do that is by covering your greenhouse with shade cloth, which will significantly reduce temperatures.

If you are looking to install a mechanical system, do evaluate the structure frame to determine if it can support a fan. Ideally, exhaust fans are installed near the roof or at the highest point possible. The size of the fan you will need will be dependent on the size of your greenhouse.

Have questions about which ventilation system is right for you? Call us at 1-800-531-4769, and one of our friendly representatives will help you select what you need! You can also check out selection of ventilation equipment at www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com any time

6 Ways to Use Shade Cloth

Gothic Arch Greenhouse Shade Cloth UsesShade cloth is invaluable—particularly in the warmer months—to help manage the temperature in your greenhouse.

By keeping heat and humidity under control, that can not only result in a more ideal environment for your plants so they thrive, but also it can make your greenhouse more energy efficient.

Available in various densities and made of different materials, shade cloth is most commonly used in greenhouse applications.

But did you know it can have a wide variety of uses? As you can see on the list below, you can get creative with shade cloth while using it to reduce the intensity of sunlight!

Greenhouse. Again, shade cloth is most widely used to reduce the intensity of sunlight (and therefore heat) in greenhouses. Different densities (indicated by percentages) and materials may be recommended based on what or where you’re growing.

Garden Shade. If there aren’t a lot of tall trees in your garden to provide natural shade, you can use shade cloth to help prevent your plants from getting too much sun. Shade cloth is also available in many colors, so you are sure to find one that will complement your garden.

Patio, Pergola, Deck, Swimming Pool Cover. Adding extra protection from the sun can extend well beyond plants. These outdoor areas can get hot fast in the heat of summer. Shade cloth can help make entertaining or enjoying the outdoors a little more comfortable.

Carport/Shed Protection. Consider protecting your carport cover or outdoor shed or storage with shade cloth. This can add an extra layer (literally) of protection for the exterior from the harsh heat of the sun.

Livestock Shading. Shade cloth can help provide easy and cost-effective respite from the sun for outdoor animals, such as livestock and horses. It can also be used to improve the movement of penned animals, as well as for the protection of the handler.

Tennis Courts and Ball Diamonds. Installing shade cloth on tennis courts and ball diamonds can add privacy and wind protection to the field of play. It also provides a contrasting background so balls are more easily visible, and it upgrades the look of chain link fences.

Unsure if shade cloth is right for the application you have in mind? Let us know, and we’ll be happy to assist you! Our friendly representatives are available by calling 800-531-4769, or you can find more information on our website, www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com.

 

Summer Greenhouse Maintenance Checklist

Summer Greenhouse Maintenance Gothic ArchPlanning a deep greenhouse cleaning may be challenging, depending on the seasons you use it most.

But whether you use the greenhouse year-round or in the spring and fall, summer may likely be the best time to give it the most in-depth attention as it may house fewer plants then.

While greenhouse upkeep throughout the year is important, following a thorough cleaning and maintenance checklist in the summer can help set you up for growing success for the next season—or seasons!

Follow this step-by-step checklist to prep your greenhouse this summer:

Remove everything from the greenhouse. This includes all plants, all benches, all tools, all debris—get it as empty as possible.

Clean from the top down. Start up high with the roof and windows so the water drains down to the floor. Pay special attention to cleaning around windows, screens and vents where dirt tends to hide in crevices.

Get the floor as clean as possible. Use hot water and soap, focusing especially on the corners, under benches and other dark places to remove algae. Take a hose to cracks in concrete floors and grout lines, and pull weeds in soil and gravel floors.  

Sterilize the inside naturally. Especially if you are concerned about ridding the greenhouse of pests, maybe because of a recent infestation, consider “baking” the inside. Seal off any openings, vents, windows and doors, and let the temperature rise for about a week. This will kill anything that may be growing, especially insects you can’t see.

Inspect greenhouse framing. For wood frames, summer is the best time to repaint or stain. Check aluminum frames for signs of corrosion or wear and repair as needed.

Check the integrity of all openings. See that windows function properly and seal tightly when closed. Same thing for greenhouse locks, doors and screens. Examine the foundation to ensure small animals can’t get in.

Disinfect benches, shelves, containers and other surfaces. Clean all greenhouse surfaces to remove dirt buildup in corners and other hard-to-reach areas. For raised beds in the greenhouse, remove all soil and replace with a fresh supply.

Wash and inspect glazing. Check to see that the glazing is not loose or broken, and repair if needed. Replace any panes of glass or polycarbonate if they are cracked or damaged.

Test equipment. Put your fans, heaters, heat mats, propagation trays, thermostat and irrigation systems to the work. Inspect cords, turn them off and on, and have extra of the supplies that most often need replacement on hand.

Are you missing an item after you’ve gone through your summer maintenance checklist? Call us today at 800-531-4769 or visit us at www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com today so we can help you get your greenhouse in excellent shape for growing!

 

Greenhouse Supplies to Get Now

Gothic Arch Greenhouse SuppliesPreparing for the current season by stocking up on necessary supplies is an efficient approach to your growing efforts.  

More than likely, you may think of having such supplies on hand should an emergency crop up during the winter, but being prepared is smart all year long!

Of course, your needs will be different in the colder months, but these are some supplies you should think about getting before the weather starts heating up.

Containers. As your plants grow, you may need to move them into larger containers or pots—which will mean they will need more space to continue to thrive. To accommodate these larger containers, you might have to rearrange your greenhouse or move plants outside.

Oil. When warmer weather arrives, you’ll probably open and close vents more often. Notice whether they show signs of sticking or wearing, and oil as necessary. Vents that aren’t properly functioning can cause air leaks or allow the temperature inside to get too hot.

Fan. Based on the climate in your region, having an extra circulation fan at your disposal might be helpful. Keeping fresh air moving and evenly reaching every part of your greenhouse is important for the optimal health of your plants, so it’s worth it.

Thermostat. Don’t leave monitoring the conditions in your greenhouse to chance. If your thermostat goes out, you won’t be able to control temperature and humidity, which will put your plants at risk for overheating or worse.

Shade cloth repair kit. Ensure your shade cloth can continue to filter the desired amount of sunlight that flows into your greenhouse by being prepared to fix any tears. A shade cloth repair kit is ideal for correcting minor and even major rips that can protect your plants until or if a replacement is needed.

Need assistance getting these greenhouse supplies or advice on making the right selections? Call us today at 800-531-4769 or visit us online at www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com. We can help you get prepared for summer!

5 Strategies for Controlling Greenhouse Humidity

Control Humidity Greenhouse Gothic ArchWhen managing the environment in your greenhouse, don’t overlook the importance of controlling the humidity.

Just-watered plants do have a satisfying look, but be warned that moisture build-up from overly humid conditions can be dangerous.

For starters, bacteria, mold and other fungi love humidity, which leads to the proliferation of pests and disease if unmanaged.

Humidity can also affect how well plants absorb nutrients, which can pose a threat to overall health.

Properly managing humidity in your greenhouse is actually fairly easy. Follow these five strategies to help your plants thrive and ward off diseases and pests!

Increase Ventilation. The simplest step to controlling humidity is to ventilate, especially since most greenhouses have some ventilation equipment. That could mean everything from opening doors, vents, running fans, etc.

Control Temperature. Another easy option is to control the temperature because that influences relative humidity, the rate of moisture present and the total moisture-holding capacity at that temperature and pressure. Don’t rely on thermometers alone; humidity meters can add an extra layer of accuracy.

Proper Watering. Take care not to overwater. As the water evaporates, more moisture is released into the greenhouse. Water just enough so there is no excess on the floor, as well as water enough during the day so plant surfaces can dry before evening.

Plant Spacing. Give plants room to thrive! Moisture and humidity can easily be trapped where plant canopies form. And that’s often where the highest relative humidity is in a greenhouse, all because of insufficient air movement. Create more space between plants or use mesh benches to improve circulation.

Air Movement. You won’t be able to rely on natural forces to help circulate the air in your greenhouse. Heaters and fans will sometimes need to be used to help you control humidity. Important considerations with whichever combination or type (fan-jet system or horizontal air flow (HAF) system) is that the air is always circulated evenly and enough (as in the leaves should move slightly).

Questions about what you need or how to address the humidity in your greenhouse? Let us know! Call our friendly representatives at 800-531-4769 or visit www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com today!

How to Choose Your Growing Containers

Growing Containers Gardening Gothic ArchSelecting what you want to grow is often just one step in your gardening adventures. Choosing the containers to sow your plants in, for example, is as an important of a decision you should make before you begin.

While the size of the container and the material of which it’s made are significant characteristics to consider, it’s wise to understand three key factors before getting into those details.

In general, drainage, porosity and weight are the fundamental features to keep in mind when selecting a growing container. A pot with proper drainage, such as holes in the bottom, provides plants the needed room to grow and allows adequate oxygen to reach the roots. If water has nowhere to drain off, plants will drown.

The porosity of a container is another important consideration. Look for unglazed terracotta, clay, wood and other natural materials, as these will also allow air to circulate around the plants and moisture to evaporate. The disadvantage that comes with this is that these containers dry out faster so plants need water more frequently.

If you want to move containers or place them on a weight-bearing surface, such as a deck, take into account the total weight—soil, pot, plants and water—of each container. Lightweight containers allow for more mobility, or you can place heavier containers on casters. Tall or top-heavy plants may call for sturdier containers to provide stability from wind.

As far as specific container material recommendations, terracotta remains a popular favorite of many gardeners, though it can easily dry out, or break if dropped or exposed to freezing temperatures. Large containers can be heavy and costly.

Glazed ceramic—also heavy and costly in larger sizes—can add a personal touch to your garden, as they are available in various designs and colors. They can handle the winter fairly well too, but are ideal for indoors.

Though not a “natural” material, plastic pots have their place. They are durable, lightweight and affordable, and you can find them in plenty of colors, textures and designs. Plus, they allow you to test out plants and even locations before committing to more permanent containers.

Wooden containers provide a natural rustic look, but be aware they will break down over time. They can be heavy, so put them in place first before adding soil. Wooden containers are best for outdoor settings.

Concrete containers are the most durable, but very often the heaviest and most expensive. Outdoor use is suggested.

Need more guidance in selecting containers? Please let us know! Call us at 800-531-4769 or visit our website, www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com.

5 Hydroponic Crops You Should Be Growing

Of the many benefits of hydroponic gardening, one of the most exciting for entrepreneurial growers is higher crop yield.

Hydroponic plants grow at a rate 30 percent to 50 percent faster than a soil plant under the same conditions.

Hydroponics is well-known for conserving water. But the set-up allows more oxygen in the root system, helping plants absorb nutrients faster.

And because plants don’t have to use energy to search for nutrients, that allows them to channel that into growing faster and producing more. In short, it makes them happier and healthier plants!

For the budding business-minded gardener, that can translate into higher profits, especially if plants that respond well to hydroponic mediums are selected.

If you are considering hydroponic gardening as a means to make some money, consider these five types of plants to get started.

Lettuce. First-timers in hydroponics should start with lettuce. The shallow root system is ideal for this system, so it requires little more than changing the nutrient solution regularly. Romaine, iceberg, Boston, Buttercrunch and Bibb lettuce are recommended varieties.

Spinach. This leafy vegetable thrives in a hydroponic system, particularly when techniques are used to keep the nutrient solution highly oxygenated. For sweeter spinach, grow at temperatures between 65 and 72 degrees. Savoy, Bloomsdale, smooth leafed and Tyee are suggested.

Strawberries. Love this fruit? Now you can enjoy it all year long with hydroponic gardening. These do best in an ebb and flow system, but nutrient film technique can work for smaller crops. To get started, purchase cold-stored runners that are berry-ready. Look for Brighton, Chandler and Douglass varieties.

Bell Peppers. These colorful veggies flourish in a hydroponic system, but they require a little more attention and care. For starters, they need a lot of light—18 hours a day. As plants grow, raise the lights to give plenty of room, but don’t let them grow to full height. Prune them as a means to encourage growth. Try Ace, California Wonder and Vidi types.

Herbs. Basil, chives, cilantro, dill, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme and watercress are just some of the herbs that prosper in hydroponics, and they make another great option if you’re just getting started. Studies have shown that herbs grown in a hydroponics system are more aromatic and more flavorful. Just more reasons to get growing!

Not sure where to begin with hydroponics? Let us know! Call us at 800-531-4769 or visit www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com, and we can help you get start with systems or crop selections.

Most Effective Cold-Frame Applications

Cold Frames Best Cold Frame ApplicationsGreenhouse or cold frame? Both are used to help commercial operations and hobby gardeners extend the growing season, but they have distinct differences.

Unlike greenhouses, cold frames extend the growing season by only a few weeks, and they just use heat generated by the sun—no controlled sources.

Given these unique features, cold frames are recommended for the following applications in which they are most effective.

Overwintering Plants. Fragile or tropical plants that may not flourish in the fall may benefit from being carefully tucked into a cold frame. This will give them enough protection in the cooler months to eagerly thrive in the spring. To adequately prepare them for a long winter’s rest, cut them back before the first frost. Place them in a container with enough soil to insulate the plant, and pack containers tightly into the cold frame. Water them enough to keep the soil moist, and protect them from sunlight so as not to encourage growth.

Starting Seedlings. Whether you plan to transplant seedlings from the greenhouse to the cold frame or start seedlings in the protection of a cold frame, it’s recommended that you have the portable structure in place for at least two weeks to help warm the soil you’ll be using. Unlike when overwintering plants, you’ll want to welcome sunlight into your cold frame to help encourage active growth. Transparent covers, such as clear plastic or glass, are recommended.

Hardening Off Young Plants. The transition of seedlings from the greenhouse or indoors to your garden can be a delicate one. You may opt to move plants out, then back in over a period of time. Or you may want to utilize a cold frame to help. Ideally, you want to wait until the temperatures have stabilized so your plants don’t experience shock in their new environment. Cold frames allow you to open and close to gradually help your plants acclimate to the outdoors. Check for new growth and thick, dark foliage—these are good signs!

Extending the Growing Season. Regardless of when the first fall frost arrives, you can use a cold frame to protect your plants. Because cold frame options are portable, you can take the coverage to the plants even if you can’t move them. Constructing hoop tunnels, then stretching plastic over the frame is a simple way to protect plants from cooler weather and frost. During the day, it’s recommended to pull back the cover as plants are well-adjusted to the outdoors, provided temperatures don’t drop below freezing.

How can you use a cold frame to your best advantage? Contact us and let us know if we can help! Our friendly representatives are available at 800-531-4769, and our website, www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com, is always open.

 

Tips for Organizing Your Greenhouse

Organize Greenhouse Gothic ArchPutting some thought into the interior layout and design of your greenhouse once it’s assembled can have an impact your gardening success.

Not only can you boost your productivity by organizing your supplies and tools, but also you can affect the health of your plants by considering their placement—in relation to each other or to the sun—in your greenhouse.

Whether you’re just getting started or you want to optimize your greenhouse organization, consider the following tips so you get the most out of your gardening efforts!

Divide your greenhouse into zones. Establish designated areas for planting, tool storage, potting plants and even storage for often-used supplies, such as watering equipment, plant food and more.

Design your interior around your potting bench. Arguably the most important area of your greenhouse, the potting bench should be placed against a wall with access to plumbing. Purchase new or upcycle secondhand furniture.

Acquire shelving that will increase growing space. The addition of tiered benches or shelves can help you use floor space in your greenhouse wisely. Be mindful of where you place plants in relation to light sources. Adjustable shelving is preferred for its versatility.

Utilize space underneath benches. While this is an option for making the most of your greenhouse space, this suggestion comes with some concerns. Low-light crops may be suited for this area, but watering can be a problem, which may increase the likelihood of disease.

Under-bench storage is also an option. A central workbench can have dual functional purposes—a space to work, as well as space to store tools, pots, soil and fertilizer. Consider stacking bins and sealable containers to protect items from insects and rodents.

Maximize the upper areas of your greenhouse. Hanging plants to fill empty ceiling space can not only help increase your productivity, but also can provide welcome shade depending on the season. Take note of your plants’ needs and their light requirements when considering this.

Create a labeling system for your plants. Simple, inexpensive supplies can be used to label your plants, but more importantly, color-code your system based on where plants should be placed, considering needs for sun and water or as edible and non-edible.

Working on your greenhouse organization and need supplies to help? Let us know! Call our friendly representatives at 800-531-4769 or visit www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com for assistance.

Common Seed-Starting Problems and Solutions

Common Seed Starting Problems and Solutions Gothic ArchDuring the days leading up to spring, you may be anxiously awaiting the sprouting of new seeds you’re starting.

But, as with any gardening endeavor, things don’t always go exactly as expected.

If you’ve started your seeds and you’re experiencing less than successful results, don’t worry.

There are several common problems gardeners encounter when starting seeds.

The good news is that there are just as many seed-starting solutions and, in some cases, you may be able to save what you’ve started.

Take a look at the most common seed-starting problems and solutions below to help improve your gardening results.

Problem: Seeds Won’t Germinate
Solution: To prevent this problem, pay attention to what your seeds need when you plant them. Incorrect temperature, too much or too little watering, and planting depth and availability of light can lead to seeds not sprouting. Improperly stored seeds can also reduce their germination rate.

Problem: Seeds Sprout, But Die
Solution: Sometimes seedlings start out strong, but then just as quickly may die. This happens in a process called “damping off,” caused by a common soil-based fungus. To prevent this, start with clean soil, and use clean pots and trays. Overwatering can cause mold, and overcrowding can restrict airflow, which can contribute to this problem.

Problem: Seeds Sprout, But Growth Is Stunted
Solution: If you’re having this issue, consider that your sprouting seedlings have different needs as they start to grow. Again, incorrect temperature (usually cooler temps) and overwatering can result in stunted growth. If you’re seeing discolored foliage, your seedlings may be experiencing nutrient deficiencies, often a lack of phosphorus.

Problem: Seedlings Are Tall and Spindly
Solution: This is commonly caused by plants having to compete for light, whether because they’re indoors or overcrowded. A few simple ways to address this are to rotate your seedling trays, give them more space, invest in a grow light or even move your plants outside on warm, sunny days.

Have other seed-starting problems and need solutions? Let us know by calling 1-800-531-4769 or visit www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com for the gardening supplies you need!