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!

 

Understanding Greenhouse Lighting Options

Plants need light to grow and thrive, but how much and when can be affected by factors such as the age of the plant and the season of the year.

In the controlled environment a greenhouse provides, growers set themselves up for success simply by understanding the basic needs of plants and the lighting options available.

Depending on the season of the year and the greenhouse location—particularly freestanding structures—plants may get sufficient natural light. However, supplementing that may be beneficial or even necessary to support plant growth or to extend exposure to light.

While plants don’t need much light when they are in the seedling stage, getting sufficient light as they grow can increase health, strength, growth rate and yield.

This is what you need to know about the four basic greenhouse lighting options:

  • Incandescent: Smaller and less expensive than other greenhouse lighting choices, incandescents still can have a purpose. They are best served to provide supplemental light to single plants. But because of the intense heat they emit, they shouldn’t be placed too close to foliage.
  • Fluorescent: Preferred over incandescents, fluorescent lighting—compact fluorescent lighting or CFLs—can be more cost effective and can provide what is closer to natural sunlight. This full-spectrum lighting is a grower’s best choice, particularly for extending the season into the winter. It’s also a good choice to help nurture seedlings. Be mindful when selecting the temperature range of CFLs to suit your growing needs.
  • High-Intensity Discharge: The high pressure sodium lamps and metal halide lamps that fall under this category can be very beneficial to plants at various stages of growth. Metal halide lamps are a preferred source where there isn’t much natural light, while high pressure sodium lamps provide a warm, but less intense light that promotes budding and flowering. Because of their strength, these can’t be placed close to plants, and they are more expensive to operate compared to other options.
  • Light-Emitting Diode (LED): While these may require more of an upfront investment than some other options, LEDs offer an excellent return on investment. Some can last up to 10 years before needing to be changed! Considered the most energy-efficient choice, LEDs are ideal for traditional greenhouses and hydroponic applications. They are easy to install and tend to run cooler that some other lighting systems.

Wondering what lighting system your greenhouse calls for? Let us help! Please call us at 800-531-4769 or visit our website at www.GothicArchGreenhouse.com.

Advantages of Cold Weather Hydroponic Gardening

Just because the weather gets colder, that doesn’t mean you have to go without fresh vegetables. With the help of hydroponic gardening, you can enjoy salads, cucumbers and tomatoes even though winter might traditionally dictate those crops are out of season.

Many growers prefer to turn to hydroponic gardening in the cooler months, with sales starting to climb in August and extending through April as they help fill the void of what’s usually available.

Generally, this method of gardening is regarded for its environmental friendliness—it uses less water and doesn’t erode topsoil. The growth rate is faster, so the yield is higher. Plants absorb more oxygen, which helps stimulate root growth and take in more nutrients. Some even say hydroponically-grown produce is packed with more nutrition and it tastes better.

But why winter hydroponic gardening? Of course, it helps provide fresh vegetables year-round, so you can enjoy the straight-from-the-vine taste of cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce and other greens—all ideal for throwing together a salad that takes you right back to the fondness for summer.

To get to that point, you have to actually do some work in your garden, and that can be helpful in fighting the seasonal blahs. In other words, you don’t have to wait for spring, and you don’t have to wait a while for crops to grow since everything grows faster using the hydroponic method.

Additional options for winter growing in your hydroponic garden are carrots, broccoli, spinach and herbs, such as oregano, parsley, rosemary, cilantro, thyme and chives, to add even more flavor to your foods.

To successfully pull off hydroponic gardening in the winter months, you will have to take into account several things. You may need to supplement less natural light during the shorter days with artificial options, and that means higher energy costs.

Drier air in cooler weather means having to add humidity with a humidifier or even misting the plants. Along with managing light and humidity, it’s important to keep the temperature in check. Swings in temperature can send plants into shock. It’s recommended to maintain a 60 degrees Fahrenheit environment.

How can you get started on your hydroponic garden this winter? Call one of our friendly representatives at 800-531-4769 or visit us at www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com, so we can help you get growing!

 

Calculating How Much Heat Is Needed for Your Greenhouse

greenhouse heater calculator Gothic Arch GreenhouseProperly heating your greenhouse is important as the warmer weather of autumn gives way to the cooler climate of winter.

But if your goal is to heat it efficiently, you’ll want to take these steps to more accurately determine how many BTUs are required to maintain the temperature you want.

To make your calculations, you’ll want to begin with precise measurements. Measuring tape, a calculator, and pencil and paper are requirements to gather this information. But depending the size of your greenhouse, you may also need a ladder or some additional help.

Record the following measurements to help you determine the total square feet of your greenhouse’s surface area:

  • Measurement 1: Height of the greenhouse sidewall from the ground to the lowest roof point.
  • Measurement 2: Length of the longest greenhouse wall.
  • Measurement 3: Length of the shortest greenhouse wall.
  • Measurement 4: Height from the ground to the highest point of the greenhouse roof.
  • Measurement 5: Length from the highest to lowest roof point along one eave.

To calculate the total surface area, add measurement 1 and 5 and multiply the total times 2, then add the number from measurement 2. Then add measurement 1 and 4, and multiply times measurement 3. Add these two numbers together, and you have the total surface area in square feet.

Next, record the desired temperature in Fahrenheit that you wish to maintain in your greenhouse. Subtract the coldest temperature your greenhouse experiences from this number—or add the two if it is a negative reading.

Make note of the heat loss value of your greenhouse covering. With these three calculations, you can determine the number of BTUs required to heat your greenhouse by multiplying the square feet by the temperature difference by the heat loss value. Or you can apply your measurements to our online greenhouse BTU calculator.

When shopping for a greenhouse heater, keep this number in mind. Purchase a unit that meets this minimum BTU output, but not much higher than what your calculations have suggested.

If you need assistance determining your heating needs for your greenhouse, please call one of our friendly representatives at 800-531-4769 or visit our website at www.GothicArchGreenhouse.com. We’ll be happy to help you get your greenhouse prepped for winter!

 

5 Benefits of a Gothic Arch-Style Greenhouse

The Gothic-arched greenhouse design is, as our name implies, our signature product. In the 1950s, relationships with the many ornamental nurseries in the Gulf Coast area helped steer the company’s initial import/export focus toward horticulture.

But it was through the eventual association with the agricultural colleges in Alabama that the Gothic arch became Gothic Arch Greenhouses’ flagship design.

While university programs could boast higher-end greenhouses featuring aluminum, steel or glass, secondary and post-secondary vocational ones could not. From that need for affordable, yet durable greenhouses, the Gothic-arch style became our initial focus.

Now decades later, we still stand behind this design for all of these reasons a Gothic-arch style greenhouse is a great choice for growers today.

Durability. The Gothic-arch design is well-regarded for its ability to withstand strong winds and heavy snowfall. The half-teardrop shape of the roof is ideal for allowing snow and rain to easily run off and preventing damage from substantial accumulation of precipitation or debris.

Efficient Construction. The arched roof of the Gothic Arch Greenhouse eliminates the need for structural trusses. This technique requires less construction material, which not only helps reduce costs, but also makes construction faster and easier.

Flexible Design. Because of the Gothic Arch Greenhouse design, you have some options when it comes to the installation. Whether you mount the greenhouse at grade level or higher on a foundation wall, you can decide how high you want to locate the structure.

More Overhead Space. The Gothic arch features more height from the high profile of the ridge in the center, which creates space for growers who specialize in or want to try their hand at taller specialty crops (like tomatoes and cucumbers), as well as many tropical trees.

Aesthetics. Many growers appreciate the simple beauty of the Gothic-arch design. A variation of the Quonset style—which features a semicircular frame—the Gothic arch, as its name implies, gets its graceful curve from the walls being bent from the base, making a graduating curve that peaks at the roof. 

Is the Gothic-arch style greenhouse right for you? If you still have questions, please contact our friendly representatives at 800-531-4769 or visit www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com, and we’ll be happy to assist you with your purchase!

The Future of Greenhouse Irrigation

Greenhouse Irrigation New Technology Gothic Arch GreenhouseIrrigation is a common problem for greenhouse growers, from large-scale nursery operations to hobby gardening enthusiasts. Ensuring that your plants get the right amount of water—without overdoing it or underdoing it—requires attention to detail.

With precision of water application in mind, technology that improves efficiency of delivery and conservation of this resource has driven advancements in the field of greenhouse irrigation systems. These options are just a few options for growers with conservation in mind.

Drip Irrigation. These automated systems, once primarily used by large-scale growers, are now also favored by small- to medium-sized operations as well. Drip systems can cut water use in half, while also yielding superior crops (in terms of size and root length, among other characteristics) than traditional methods, like overhead sprinklers. Drip irrigation systems are widely considered to be affordable and easy to install.

Fertigation. Combining precise fertilizer application with efficient irrigation is a process known as fertigation. Not only does this help conserve fertilizer and water, but also can improve crop yield and quality. In a greenhouse setting, fertigation can increase production by almost 60 percent. Often set up in conjunction with a drip tape irrigation system, fertigation helps deliver nutrients more directly to plants’ roots.

Hydroponics. Prized for its efficiency and environmental friendliness, hydroponics is often considered the future of growing. Waste is at a minimum, as water is recycled and reused. A hydroponic system requires less than 10 percent of water to grow a similar crop in soil. And it takes 60 percent less fertilizer to nourish crops. In addition to these sustainability benefits, hydroponic systems yield larger, more nutritious produce.

Sensor-Based Irrigation. Sensor technology has led to even greater accuracy in water application. Using sensor-based systems allows growers to precisely measure irrigation timing and application rates. This has proven to reduce use of irrigation water, labor, energy and fertilizer. Some studies have shown that the use of sensor-based irrigation systems can accelerate production of container and greenhouse plants, which results in increased profitability.

Are your plants getting the water they need efficiently and effectively? We can help you make improvements to your irrigation system! Call us at 1-800-531-4769 to speak with one of our friendly representatives or visit our website www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com.