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!

Plants That Attract Beneficial Insects

Best Plants to Attract Beneficial InsectsNot all insects in your garden indicate a threat. In fact, strategically including plants in your garden that attract beneficial bugs helps reduce the need to treat pest outbreaks with chemicals.

Cutting down on the amount of pesticides used in your garden can contribute to your overall success.

While such chemicals can be effective in getting rid of pests, they can also kill beneficial insects. This can create a lasting negative impact that extends for the rest of the season.

But you can help create a balance by incorporating plants in your garden that attract and support beneficial insects that keep the bad ones away or even naturally remove them.

To welcome the following helpful insects into your garden, consider planting the suggestions below:

Lacewings. These green or brown insects with large lacy wings dine on aphids, mites and insect eggs. Their larvae, shaped like small alligators, actually destroy most of the pests. They seek out dill, caraway, coriander, fennel, Queen Anne’s lace and dandelion.

Ladybugs. Most gardeners don’t take notice of ladybugs until they become adults, but it’s the young larvae that help manage harmful insects. Their eggs, yellowish in color, are usually laid in clusters on the undersides of leaves. Plants that draw ladybugs include: yarrow, dill, butterfly weed, coriander, Queen Anne’s lace, buckwheat, fennel, prairie sunflower, marigold and tansy.

Hoverflies. Also known as flower flies, these insects resemble small bees that hover and quickly fly away. They don’t sting, so don’t be alarmed. Their eggs, which are white and oval and are laid singly or in groups, hatch into small maggots that look like caterpillars. In that state, they feed on aphids and mealybugs.

In addition to plants with small flowers and lacy foliage that attract these insects, consider also perennial and annual herbs and flowering native plants that entice bumblebees, native bees and other pollinators.

When planted, bunch grasses also provide food and shelter to the larvae of ground beetles. They are helpful as predators of snails, slugs and other ground-based pests.

If you are planting your garden to accommodate helpful insects, let your garden also stand through the winter so they have a place of sanctuary during the winter.

Have more questions about creating a natural habitat for attracting beneficial bugs to your garden? Let us know by calling 800-531-4769 or visit www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com.

 

Seed-Starting Must-Haves

Seed Starting Must Haves Gothic Arch GreenhousesIf you’re anxious about the start of spring, there’s no better way to prepare than to focus on starting seedlings for a new crop of plants right now!

To ensure your success from the beginning, use quality supplies that are designed for the seed-starting process. Not only will you see results from your efforts, but also your enthusiasm and passion for gardening will continue to grow.

As you’re getting ready for the spring, keep these seed-starting must-haves in mind as you start this rewarding, yet sometimes challenging task.

Seed. Begin the process by selecting quality seeds that are fresh or have been stored properly, such as in a cool, dark location with low humidity. If you have questions about seed viability, you can soak them in water. Generally, living seeds will sink, while dead ones will float. Of course, it goes without saying that you should choose seeds that thrive in your region’s general growing conditions.

Seed-starting pots or flats. Plastic pots or containers are preferred over clay because they allow for retaining moisture seedlings need. Flats, larger, rectangular containers that hold many seedlings, can also be used. It’s important to start with clean, dry containers, especially if using empty yogurt containers and margarine tubs. Be sure to add holes in the bottom of recycled pots for drainage. Wide, shallow containers are preferred because they prevent overcrowding and prevent too much moisture build-up around young roots.

Seed starting mix. Give your seeds the support they need with peat moss, compost or a designated seed-starting mix. Plain garden soil is not recommended, but as plants sprout their first leaves, they should be transferred into a nutrient-rich potting mix. Commercial brands (as long as they don’t contain synthetic chemical fertilizer) can be used, or you can make your own organic mix.

Label plants and take good notes. Track your (and your plants’) progress by properly labeling your seedlings and taking notes about their journey. Especially if this is your first time starting seedlings, be sure to take good notes so you can make improvements the next time around. The Center for Historic plants recommends recording when the seeds are sown, the germination date, the success rate and when seedlings are ready for transplant. Not only can you evaluate the timing of your production schedule, you can also track the quality of the seeds used. Be sure to make note of that as well!

Light and supplemental lighting. Seedlings need a lot of light, in terms of intensity and time—as much as 16 hours a day. While you can invest in a grow-light system, you can also use the long fluorescent lights available at hardware stores. Keep the tubes clean so there is nothing that impedes the intensity of the light. It is recommended to start with fresh new bulbs when starting seedlings as the light does become dimmer over time.

Heating mat. Most seedlings thrive in warm soil. In that case, setting your containers on top of heating mats allows the seedlings to get the heat they want and need. Using a heating mat also gives you the control of the temperature, such as if a control unit is attached or it is equipped with an automatic thermostat. Keep an eye on the seedlings, though, because as soon as they sprout their first leaves you will want to remove the use of the heating mats, as then they plants will grow better in a slightly cooler environment.

What seed-starting supplies do you need? Call one of our friendly representatives a 800-531-4769 or visit us at www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com, and we can help you get ready now for spring!

 

Common Greenhouse Maintenance Issues and Solutions

What’s the best way to prevent common maintenance issues in your greenhouse? Well, there’s good news and bad news. The good news? Simply keep it clean. The bad news? It’s an ongoing task, and the more consistent you are, the better.

Most common maintenance problems can be traced back to one of two things: a lack of cleanliness or faulty equipment. But cleanliness is one that can easily be overlooked.

To be most effective at preventing maintenance issues in your greenhouse, you’ll want to create a schedule of cleaning tasks and frequency. While you’re at it, include inspections and tests of your equipment, so it’s possible to address problems before they become more serious.

When making your list of essential greenhouse maintenance tasks, keep the following in mind:

Everything gets dirty. Soil gets everywhere, condensation can cloud up glass and the structure will need repairs. With these in mind, regularly clean floors, wipe glass and inspect the greenhouse for areas that allow pests or (even more) dirt inside. Between seasons when the greenhouse is more empty, plan a deep clean of the inside (including the frame where possible) and clean out the gutters.

Equipment gets weathered. Regardless of season, check your doors, windows, seals and other ventilation equipment. Frequent use and the elements can cause them to break down. Make any necessary repairs or replacements before the cold weather sets in and you need to count on this protection.

Test temperature control equipment. Whether it’s fans in warmer weather or heaters during the colder months, maintaining the temperature in the greenhouse is key to your success. Give your heater a test run, inspect the components and have extra fuel on hand before the coldest weather hits. Clear both heater and fan components of any dirt build-up and lubricate moving parts.

Keep irrigation systems running. Examine tubes, hoses and other water carriers for any leaks or cracks. Make sure water can flow freely through nozzles, checking for any dirt or debris build-up. Allow yourself some extra time when looking over your irrigation system. Sometimes leaks can be hard to detect, but you’ll want to be thorough for your peace of mind and for your plants’ sake.

Shine a light on everything else. Yes, it’s time consuming, but inspecting every single inch of your greenhouse will pay off. Test your lights and have replacements on hand. Run your backup power supply (if you have one) to make sure it works. Take a look at wires for any type of damage or deterioration, and make necessary repairs or replacements.

Do you already have a maintenance checklist? If there’s anything you need, let us know! Call us at 800-531-4769 or visit www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com.

How to Make a Fresh Start in Your Garden

Make Fresh Start in Garden Gothic Arch GreenhouseNew years are about new beginnings, and on the cusp of 2018, you might be looking ahead and thinking about making a fresh start in your garden.

Whether you’ve got an existing garden or whether you’re planning to start one, a new growing season holds the promise of beginning—or beginning again.

In either case, keep the following tips in mind and stock up on growing supplies to make a fresh start in your garden in the new year!

Start small. If you’re making the leap into gardening, take smaller achievable steps. Maybe a small herb garden on your kitchen window sill, a few potted plants or even a small plot of land for growing vegetables will give you the gardening experience—and the rewards—before you think big.

Grow started plants. If starting from seedlings seems too overwhelming, get your gardening fill by tending to started plants. This will get help you manage the all-important factors like watering, light exposure, temperature and more.

Grow what makes sense in your area. Regardless of your gardening experience, take a fresh look at what thrives in your part of the world. Do you have a short growing season? If so, your plants will need more sunlight. If it’s more hot or humid, give your plants partial shade.

Grow what you like to eat. Are you eating the fruits of your labor? That’s one way to get invested in your work. So rethink what you’re planting if needed and start with the intent of eating fresh. Think various greens, vegetables, herbs and even fruits that are specific to your region.

Be organized. If you’ve tried your hand at gardening and gotten discouraged, you’ve got to know how to correct your mistakes. The best way is to label your plants properly and keep records related to watering, temperature, season, etc. And that’s a great best practice if you’re just getting started!

Have fun! Gardening can be a lot of work, yes, but it can also be a lot of fun. There is great reward in watching a plant bloom from a seed, all because of your efforts And if that translates into providing fresh food for your table, then all the better!

Experiment. What is the saying? Try, try, try and try again. Every mistake you make along the way is just a new lesson that you can work toward correcting tomorrow, the next season or even next year!

Want more information on how to get started—or make a fresh start? Let us help! Call one of our friendly representatives at 1-800-531-4769 or visit our website at www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com today!

Gardening Gifts for Every Budget

Gifts for Gardeners Gothic Arch Greenhouse‘Tis the season to spend, spend, spend, it seems.

But if your finances can’t accommodate all the shopping you’d like to do, it’s still possible to find great gifts at prices that won’t break the bank or create a mountain of holiday debt you may soon regret.

If you’ve got a gardener on your list—whether a seasoned expert or a budding novice—we can recommend some thoughtful selections that fit any budget!

Before you buy this season, review these suggestions to fill out your list or to be inspired to make your own choices, personalized for the green thumbs in your life!

 

Gifts Under $15

DIY Garden Gifts: Strapped for cash doesn’t mean you can’t participate in exchanging gifts. Turn to Pinterest for a wide range of DIY gifts that you can tailor to your gardener’s interest, and the best part is that it comes from the heart!

Decorative Vases or Baskets: Depending on whether you know a flower grower or a vegetable gardener, these are appropriate to show off the efforts of their labor. A nice vase can be filled with colorful blooms, and baskets can be used to gather fruits and vegetables.

 

Gifts Under $25

Garden Tools Starter Set: Help the new gardener on your list get growing by selecting a few hand tools and maybe a pair of gardening gloves. Even experienced hobbyist may feel renewed motivation with some new accessories!

Get Growing Kit: Making your own gift bundles is nice because you get to control the price! Combine a few growing pots and some seeds to get a novice started, or to introduce a seasoned gardener to a new crop.

 

Gifts Under $50

Greenhouse Shelving Units: Help your favorite green thumbs create more space in their greenhouse as their love for gardening grows! Shelving units can stand alone or be connected to other units as space is needed and allows.

Circulation Fan: Distributing the heat evenly in a greenhouse is important for healthy plant growth because stagnant air can contribute to disease. Circulation fans help promote a uniform environment that is crucial to gardening success!

 

Gifts Under $100

Control Wizard Soil pH and Moisture Meter: Keep tabs on soil and moisture conditions with this high quality meter. Relatively inexpensive and manufactured to superior standards, this invaluable tool is one no gardener should be without!

Heating/Cooling System Thermostat: Managing greenhouse temperature is key to gardening success, so give your gardener this tool to help control ventilation. Maintaining a healthy balance between the heat and the cool results in thriving, healthy plants!

Need more suggestions? Have a different gift in mind? Call us at 800-531-4769 or visit www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com for more ideas!

Best Flowers to Grow in Your Winter Greenhouse

Winter Flowers for Greenhouse Gothic Arch GreenhouseGardening in the winter can help give you a boost during the sometimes dreary days, and focusing on flowers can have an especially positive effect by adding lots of color.

To varying degrees based on your growing zone, a greenhouse can help you achieve these brighter, mood-boosting blooms because of the controlled environment it allows the grower to manage.

Whether you’re simply starting seedlings in anticipation of spring or hoping to grow cut flowers for your own enjoyment or to sell, a greenhouse makes it possible!

Flowers grown in a greenhouse grow taller, bloom earlier and have fewer imperfections thanks to the greenhouse’s protection from pests and the elements. Bulbs generally do well in the winter and will yield blooms by February.

For some flower options that thrive in winter, consider these and their planting recommendations below:

December: Plant iris, calla lilies and freesia.

January: Plant daffodils, iris, tulips and hyacinth.

February: Plant orchid, iris and lilies.

Other flowers that can be successful in your greenhouse in winter include:

Amaryllis: This tropical flower is the easiest of all flowering bulbs to bring to bloom. Available in solids, such as red, white, pink, salmon and orange, as well as striped and multicolored varieties.

Christmas Cactus: This overlooked holiday bloom does need water, though less during the winter—even none after its flowering. Christmas cacti need a balance of light, but less light if you want more blooms.

Impatiens: These flowers, available in red, orange, purple, peach, pink and white, do best in a greenhouse temperature maintained at 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Susceptible to cold, impatiens seeds germinate in 10 to 14 days.

Pansy: The rich blues, yellows, reds and purples of pansies thrive in the cool of the winter, both withstanding and performing better in the lower temperatures. When finished in the low 50s to upper 60s, they are tougher with thick, dark leaves.

Snapdragon: The tall blooms of the snapdragon add a touch of spring to your greenhouse or even as cut flowers in your home. The prefer mid 60s to low 70s temperatures, with more light as they grow to encourage flower production.

With a greenhouse, it’s not too early to start dreaming of spring. If you want to enjoy the year-round joys of gardening, we can help. Just call us at 800-531-4769 or visit us at www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com to get started!