Pollinator bees

Everything you ever wanted to know about Pollination, but were afraid to ask

All vegetable crops that produce a fruit need pollination to produce food. In contrast to leafy greens, legumes, roots, and tubers, fruit-bearing plants require pollen to produce an edible crop.

If your vegetables are not yielding fruit, or the flowers are not developing healthy, maturing fruits, it could be due to poor pollination. Some typical causes of poor pollination are late frosts, prolonged rain, unseasonable cold, lack of humidity, or no access to pollinator insects.

Pollination in a greenhouse

When growing inside a greenhouse, the ability to completely control your growing environment is always your greatest asset. When it comes to pollination and growing food crops, there are elements of that environment that need special consideration.

A dry atmosphere can lead to poor pollination, and malformed fruits, berries, and vegetables. Be sure that your indoor environment is humid enough to encourage healthy pollination and growth. For larger greenhouses, a mist irrigation system can be a great solution.

Insects can be scarce in a greenhouse environment. It is easy to forget that insects do the important job of pollination, and if you are rid of them completely, your plants can suffer. One solution is to leave your greenhouse door open on days with favorable weather. Pollinator-friendly companion planting can be done around the perimeter of your greenhouse to encourage the insects you want to visit.

Another solution is to pollinate by hand. Self-pollinating plants (those which have both male and female parts within the same flower), can be gently shaken to loosen pollen and encourage fertilization. A more reliable way to pollinate is by using a soft paint brush to brush the inside of each flower, moving pollen from the stamens to the stigma.

For plants that produce both male and female flowers, pick a male flower, which will have three to five stamens with pollen- producing anthers. Strip back the petal to rub the stamens against the stigma of a female flower. Female flowers have a swollen ovary or fruit at the base of the petals, which male flowers lack.

For some plants, you’ll want to avoid pollination. Vegetables that are produced for their greens, bulbs, or roots, should not flower and seed. Once plants have flowered, they produce fewer leaves and concentrate their energy on seed production. This can make the leaves taste tough and bitter, or reduce the size of the edible root or bulb.

Companion planting for pollination

To encourage pollinator insects to visit your garden, plant flowers nearby to your food crops. or outside of your greenhouse area. Some flowers that encourage a broad range of helpful insects are comfrey, geranium, lupin, cosmos, borage, buddleia, lavender, and sunflower.

Basil, if left to flower, attracts several types of bee and improves the flavor of tomatoes and lettuce. Dill, oregano, sage, and thyme planted throughout the garden and allowed to flower can also brighten the flavor of many vegetables.

Trellis climbers and hanging potted strawberries benefit from hummingbirds. You can attract them with large, colorful flowers such as zinnias.

Calendula grows well with summer squash, and cosmos companion with cucumbers. These attract not only bees but also garden flies. Their larvae are predatory to aphids, leafhoppers, and other garden pests. Stone fruits, grapes, fennel, carrots, and beets are beneficial fly favorites. Plant alyssum, buckwheat, chamomile, and parsley to increase their numbers.

Butterflies love zinnias, batchelors button, coneflowers, daisies, marigolds, and wildflower mixes, but will visit any brightly colored flower they can perch on. They are passive pollinators, transferring pollen as they look for nectar.

Flowers that are open during the night will attract pollinator moths. Try Evening Primrose, Moonflowers, Four O’Clocks and Gourds.

Bats are excellent garden companions!

Bats also enjoy night-blooming flowers. Bats passively pollinate, and will also eat small flying pests, including mosquitoes. If you add a bat house to your garden area, you will likely notice a drop in mosquitoes as soon as a bat takes residence. A single can eat up to 1200 mosquitoes per hour, and will usually dine on 6000 to 8000 insects per night!

For self-pollinating plants, repelling damaging insects can be more important than attracting pollinators. Marigolds are one of the most effective repellents, and can be combined with all of your garden vegetables. Geraniums, lavender, and mint also repel damaging insects.

Ensuring Gardening Success

Whether you’re growing inside a greenhouse or outdoors, Gothic Arch Greenhouses has a wealth of products to help you along the way. Our top-quality equipment, supplies, and greenhouses will stand the test of time! Call our friendly staff today for help selecting the tools you need to fulfill your gardening goals. 800-531-4769.

Advantages of Growing in a Greenhouse

Though we may be a little bit biased, here at Gothic Arch Greenhouses, we believe that growing in a greenhouse is the best way to ensure success, no matter what your gardening or farming goals. Greenhouses can help you get bigger blooms on your prize-winning flowers. You can harvest more fresh veggies year-round. With a greenhouse, you’ll have fewer pests and disease issues. You can even grow plants that wouldn’t thrive under outdoor conditions in your climate.

If you’re considering a greenhouse, or even if you already have a greenhouse but haven’t yet unlocked its full potential, then read on! We’ve compiled the best reasons to grow in a greenhouse, and we’ll even address a few potential drawbacks (though, really, we think the benefits far outweigh them). We hope we’ll have you growing in a greenhouse the second you finish reading!

Extend Your Growing Season

One of the best reasons for growing in a greenhouse is the potential to extend your growing season. The controlled environment inside a greenhouse keeps air and soil temperatures stable, allowing earlier planting and later harvesting. You can also delay planting, or plant to harvest repeatedly, in cycles.

Stable temperatures cause less stress to the plants and promote strong growth throughout the year. With a greenhouse, you are truly in control of your cycles and growing seasons.

Even in an unheated greenhouse, many greens and vegetables will not only survive the cold, but require a cold period for maximum flavor. Some plants started in fall will not grow much, if at all, when it’s cold. For those cold-hardy varieties, they will continue the growth cycle, even in freezing temperatures, and be ready for harvest when the temperatures rise.

Starting seedlings early in a greenhouse to later move to an outdoor bed will give you a great advantage when planning your gardening calendar. A greenhouse gives a great start to your plants at their most vulnerable stage.

Eating from your greenhouse year-round is a great benefit for growers!

Create a Consistent, Protected Environment

Growing in a greenhouse allows you to create a consistent environment for your plants, safe from weather extremes. Excessive rains, withering heat, sudden frosts or temperature drops, drought, and high winds will not affect your crops.

You can get more consistent results from your crops in a consistent environment. You can also grow plants not native to your climate. As long you understand the ideal conditions your crop requires, a greenhouse allows you to adjust your climate to produce a perfect harvest.

Bigger, more rapid blooms or harvests come with the ability to increase the humidity and temperatures to the levels plants love. Not only can you increase surface transpiration rates, but you’ll also conserve water while doing so!

Catch the Sunshine!

Our Gothic Arch Greenhouses motto is, “Catch the Sunshine!” Growing in a greenhouse truly gives you the ability to capture the sun’s energy, heat, and light spectrum. You can diffuse the harsher, withering summer rays effectively, keeping plants healthy while stimulating growth.

A greenhouse gives you the ability to control light with the use of shade and blackout cloths, so you can also control flowering, seeding, and fruiting cycles of your plants. Proper shading can also help avoid heat stress and burns from powerful summer rays.

Capturing solar heat energy rather than using traditional manufactured heaters is a great greenhouse technique. This involves creating thermal solar mass, using natural materials that readily absorb, store, and release thermal heat.

The powerful, full light spectrum of the sun feeds plants during the photosynthesis process. With proper ventilation plus plenty of sunlight and water, plant growth can be dramatically increased in a greenhouse due to diffused full spectrum light reaching the surface of the leaves.

Protection from Pests

Outdoors, crops are often at the mercy of common insects and other pests. Indoors, it is much easier to manage seasonal pests like caterpillars, locusts, mites, and many more.

Predators like moles, deer, rabbits, and birds won’t be able to eat or attack plants growing in a greenhouse. This reduces the need for toxic pesticides or chemicals, and gives you the advantage of being able to keep a close eye on your plants.

Best Use of Growing Space

Greenhouses allow growers to make excellent use of their available growing space. Planning your planting space in a greenhouse gives the advantage of growing tall along sidewalls, and trellising crops easily. You can grow on multiple levels in-ground and with benches and baskets.

Being able to grow out of season plants also makes your greenhouse a year-round rather than only a seasonal growing space. Rather than having a garden plot that lies dormant half the year, your greenhouse can produce throughout the seasons.

When growing in a greenhouse, you have the added benefit of variety. You can plant anything that you like in it! From vegetables & fruits to flowers & herbs, even cactus and bonsai can grow in harmony. Without planting directly onto your garden soil, many varieties can co-exist easily.

Disadvantages of Growing in a Greenhouse

There are some possible “cons” in a list of many “pros” when deciding on a greenhouse purchase. We’ll discuss a few of those now.

Upfront Cost of a Greenhouse

The primary disadvantage for many people looking into a greenhouse for the first time is upfront cost. A solid, well-built structure that will stand the test of time is an investment, and operating costs for heating, cooling, and air circulation can seem daunting.

The good news is that Gothic Arch Greenhouses has financing options for qualified commercial growers and residential growers alike. A greenhouse can increase your long-term property value, and in the short term can save you money, by supplementing your food stores and reducing your grocery bill, and by saving money on spring plants and decorative landscape items.

Tough economic conditions cause higher costs for vegetables, flowers and fruits. Growing in a greenhouse can provide you and your family with a consistent supply, year round. Many growers recoup their costs on a greenhouse with the savings from planting their own crops within one year or two.

Lack of Know-how

Another consideration is that you may feel you don’t have the know-how to get started with growing in a greenhouse. The cost involved may cause you to feel that it is not justified for a “hobby” level grower to build something substantial and permanent, or you may be a long-time outdoor commercial grower who is not comfortable moving into a more technical growing set up.

A wonderful thing about the gardening and growing community is the willingness to share their knowledge. Modern greenhouses have been in use for hundreds of years, and the wealth of information for tackling most any type of problem is astounding!

How to handle whiteflies, identifying disease early, planning for a particularly harsh winter– these are questions every gardener faces. Proper air exchange for best plant growth, when and how to add supplemental lighting, and when to add nutrients are similar challenges that are more specific to growing indoors, but all of these are topics which have great solutions online and in gardening publications. You can get more precise advice by calling your local agricultural extension office or your greenhouse supplier. We here at Gothic Arch Greenhouses are always happy to help.

Get Growing in a Greenhouse!

As news of supply chain challenges, farm labor difficulties, and unusual patterns of fresh produce demand have become part of our daily lives, greenhouse growing is getting more and more consideration. From farmers who want the ability to automate their harvest to homesteaders wanting to decrease their dependence on grocery stocks, a greenhouse can help keep a steady supply of healthy nutrients ready for harvest year-round. If you’re ready to plan the best greenhouse for you, get in touch with Gothic Arch Greenhouses today.

Happy Growing!

Greenhouse Growing Saves Water

With the economy on everyone’s minds, finding ways to cut expenses as well as converse precious resources is good for both the earth and for your bottom line. Water is vital to plant growth, but in many areas can be in short supply and high in cost.

Greenhouse growers use as much as 61% less water than outdoor farmers. This is due to reduced evapotranspiration rates, drip and flood irrigation methods, closer crop spacing, and shorter crop cycles. Growers also cite sustainability, more frequent harvests, ease of pest control, and more control over their growing environment as additional reasons they are choosing to move crops traditionally grown outdoors in. Water-borne disease is also easily reduced.

Just within the United States, 38 percent of our fresh water consumption used for crop irrigation. Worldwide, 80 percent of our fresh water supply goes to crops. Irresponsible watering practices can create a huge strain on water supplies, can contribute to disease, and can affect the quality of the water supply.

Growers with an eye towards the future are more and more turning to greenhouses to protect their crops, protect our natural resources, and protect future generations’ world. As many areas face water shortages, decreasing water loss when tending for crops is vitally important.

A recent study of tomato growers showed, pound for pound of yield, greenhouse producers used approximately 61% less water than an open-air farm. Additionally, frequently cycling crops gives more harvests, while having fewer heavy-watering days within each cycle.

Within the greenhouse, water quality can be managed with ultraviolet light purification, which reduces instance of disease and pathogens. Water filtration can also help growers in areas where groundwater has increased salt intrusion or heavy mineralization.

Growing Hemp in a Greenhouse

Gothic Arch Greenhouses has everything the commercial grower needs to start saving resources and bring bigger yields. From greenhouses to equipment, we can help you move your crops indoors, while still catching sunlight for healthy plant development. Call our experts today to see what we can do for you. 800-531-4769.

What to do right now for a better garden tomorrow

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow,” was famously said by Audrey Hepburn. But what can you do right now for a better garden tomorrow? All too often, it can be easy to focus all of your gardening hopes on what you do outdoors.

Did you know that reducing waste, reusing, and repurposing are practices that can help with your growing efforts? Today, I’d like to share some simple things you can do in your everyday to enrich your garden and help it to flourish.

For Soil Enrichment:

Saving and separating things that typically get tossed away can be a huge help to your soil condition. Some simple recycling steps can enrich your soil and grow heartier, healthier plants.

Compost

A simple method for turning kitchen scraps into garden gold is with a simple composter. I use a large, lidded, rubberized tub that sits outside of my kitchen door.

In addition to the dry leaves I sweep from my porch, I throw in potato peels, scraps from herb and vegetable chopping, corn cobs, dropped house plant leaves, et cetera. I flip it occasionally upside down or side to side to mix everything well.

Compost is bursting with beneficial microorganisms for your growing plants.

Egg shells

Keep egg shells separate from your other compost (I reuse deli containers to hold them). Rinse and crush them to add calcium to support plants that often need it, like tomatoes.

Coffee grounds

Used coffee grounds have calcium, potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus content.

Because coffee grounds acidify soil, they can be useful for acid-loving plants, or can be mixed in with the rest of your compost.

Banana Peels

Chopped banana peels can be buried in your soil when planting tomatoes or peppers. The potash and phosphorous content in the peels will enrich the soil and strengthen your plants.

Wood ash

Wood ash has high alkaline content, which makes it great for neutralizing acidic soil. If your growing beds have acidic pH, use cooled fireplace ash to balance.

Tea leaves

Used tea leaves, sprinkled liberally at your plants’ bases, can give the same boost as a good fertilizer. Nitrogen, potash, and calcium will enrich the soil and lead to healthier plants.

Grass clippings

Grass clippings can be used in two ways. If your lawn is free of weeds, use your grass clippings directly over beds as a mulch to prevent moisture loss and inhibit weed growth. If your clippings contain weed content, add them to your compost. The heat from a well-maintained compost will kill any weed seeds.

For seed starting:

You can save many common household items to repurpose as seed trays, microgreen and sprout trays, and even as mini greenhouses. Plastic deli containers, such as croissant boxes and rotisserie chicken containers are excellent for this purpose, as are egg cartons, yogurt cups, and margarine tubs.

For the Garden:

  • Popsicle sticks make excellent garden markers.
  • Wire dry cleaner coat hangers can be used as garden stakes
  • Plastic bottles can be cut to make vertical garden containers
  • Glass wine bottles make excellent auto-waterers for container plants
  • Rain water collection is always a great way to conserve water. You can also retain and cool water used to steam or boil vegetables to water your plants. Nutrients lost in cooking can go back into your vegetable beds!
  • An old, leaky hose can be made into a soaker for watering your garden.

Some further ways to plan for tomorrow’s garden:

The ‘Plan for later’ growing method

Choose vegetables that can be preserved, stored, or frozen. By selecting vegetables that can be easily canned, pickled, or frozen, you stretch resources and can plan to eat produce from your garden throughout the year.
Cool-weather vegetables like onions, potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, and winter squash can be easily stored. Tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, corn, peas, and beets can be canned or frozen. Okra, green beans, asparagus, beets, and cucumbers can be pickled.

The Succession planting method

Plant your vegetables to produce in stages. Rather than planting an entire crop of seeds at once, plant them in stages over the course of several weeks. This enables you to harvest time and again. Succession planting allows a constant harvest in your garden, reducing the chance of produce waste.

Start a garden savings plan

If your goal is to buy or expand your dream greenhouse, add irrigation to your space, try an aquaponic growing system, or any other long term growing goal, start a garden savings plan! As you harvest more food from your growing space, a portion of your food budget savings can be set aside to help attain long term goals.

Happy growing!

Quick Growing Fruits and Vegetables

Waiting for a garden crop to produce its first edible reward can seem to take an eternity. If your aim is a quick harvest, consider growing these fruits and veggies. You’ll have a bounty in no time flat!

Microgreens

Microgreens can go from seed to harvest within 2 to 4 weeks. Microgreens are young and nutritious vegetable and herb plants, packed with vitamins and flavor.

Popular microgreens include radish, chard, kale, endive, mizuna, basil, amaranth and cilantro but you can use anything that has edible leaves and stems.

They are best grown in shallow trays or containers, making them a great choice for people with limited space.

Sprouts

Sprouts, similar to microgreens, grow quickly in a sunny spot with a shallow container and plenty of moisture.

Beans, broccoli, alfalfa, lentils, and even almonds can be sprouted, and are packed with vitamins and minerals. They produce quickly, and can add punch to your salads and sandwiches.

Radish

Radishes are one of the fastest growing plants you can grow.

They go from seed to harvest in just 22 in most climates, though some varieties can take up to 50 days.

They are easy to grow, and add a kick of peppery flavor to your fresh salads and sides.

Green onions

Delicious green onion stalks can be harvested just 3 or 4 weeks after planting. After planting onions as bulbs, in around 6 months they will produce full-size onions.

Lettuce

Leaf lettuces such as Romaine or Cos can begin to be harvested in as little as 30 days after planting.

Pick lettuce leaves when the leaves reach at least 3 inches, rather than harvesting the entire head.

Other lettuce varieties mature in 45 to 60 days.

Carrots

Delicious, tender baby carrots can be harvested after about 30 days. Other carrot varieties take between 50 and 80 days to mature

Spinach

Spinach is easy to grow and requires little care aside from watering. It is versatile and is ready in as little as 4 to 6 weeks after planting.

Cucumbers

Cucumbers are delicious fresh or prepared, in salads, on sandwiches, and pickled.

Cucumbers vine and run, so trellising with plenty of space to grow is the best way to raise them.

Baby cucumbers for pickling can be harvested as early as 50 days after planting. Well-cared for cucumber vines will produce again and again throughout the season.

Leafy Greens

Kale, mustard greens and watercress are super healthy greens that are fast growers. Most take about 50 to 65 days to mature, but baby leaves can be picked as early as 25 days.

Arugula can be grown annually in nearly all zones and can be harvested after 30 days.

Bok Choy grows well in moderate climates, and the individual leaves can be harvested after 21 days. The whole head is mature in 45 to 60 days after planting.

Peas

Snow peas take only about 10 days to germinate and are ready for harvest in about 60 days. Plant more than you think you will need, though– they can be tricky!

Bush beans

Most varieties of bush beans are ready to harvest within 40 to 65 days from planting.

Summer Squash

Yellow summer squash can be ready in as few as 35 days from planting.

Many varieties of squash, including zucchini, are ready in 60 to 70 days.

For best flavor, harvest squash when they are still small. They will reproduce so quickly that you should have daily harvests all season long.

Broccoli

Broccoli is a hearty veggie, and can withstand a dip in temperatures better than most in the garden.

It is a good choice for very early season planting.

It can generally be harvested in 7 weeks time.

Ever-bearing strawberries

This variety of strawberries will fruit well in containers or hanging baskets. They produce several medium harvests over the course of the season, the first in roughly 50 days.

Strawberries will produce runners, which look nice when cascading down the side of a pot, but take energy away from the plant, reducing yield.

Snip runners with sharp hand pruners as they appear to encourage maximum fruit production.

Raspberries and blackberries

Cane fruits like raspberries and blackberries have a tendency to take over the garden with their aggressive growth.

New compact cultivars, like Raspberry Shortcake raspberries and Baby Cakes blackberries, have changed that.

They reach a maximum height of roughly 3 feet, and have thornless canes. They will produce in approximately 50 days.

Encouraging faster growth

To see results even faster, the controlled environment of a greenhouse can do wonders to your food production. Supplementing light, keeping weeds from stealing valuable nutrients, controlling pests, and having optimum conditions night and day helps plants to reach their full potential quicker.

If a greenhouse sounds right for your growing endeavors, our greenhouse experts are here to help. Call or email today for answers, advice, and experience to help you find the perfect greenhouse to suit your needs.

More ways to increase your food production

Tips to increase your food security

In our last blog, we started with a few tips about creating the best environment for quicker food production. In this issue, we’ll cover watering, air circulation needs, and growing methods that make the most of your space. We plan to follow up soon with a list of quickest growing fruits and vegetables, and recommendations on companion planting for increased yields. Stay tuned to our blog– you won’t want to miss an issue! Helping everyone to have their own food security is at the top of our list during this time of such uncertainty.

Watering for food production

Water is vital for fast plant growth. Water transports vital nutrients from the root system throughout the plant. Different plants and even different varieties of the same species can have different water requirements. When planning your garden, grouping plants with similar watering needs can save time and energy spent tending your crop.

Outdoor conditions sometimes cause root and vine diseases during rainy weather. Containers, raised beds, and prepared soil for planting in rows should have adequate drainage to avoid root rot and other diseases that can damage plants.

In the greenhouse, drip irrigation, misting systems, and even ebb and flow hydroponic benches can boost your growing efforts by bringing water to your plants on a regular schedule. You can also utilize these same systems to deliver nutrients and to control temperature and humidity.

Air Circulation for faster growth

Plants need air for proper photosynthesis. Above soil level, leaves convert carbon dioxide in the air into sugars and starches, which feed the plant. Good air circulation means a well-fed plant. Below the surface, roots gain oxygen from watering, and send nutrients to the main body of the plant.

In a greenhouse, circulation fans for proper airflow are vital to increasing growth and producing healthy plants. Properly placed fans will eliminate hot and cold spots in the greenhouse, keep humidity levels low and even, and keep gasses in the air more homogenized.

During the process of photosynthesis, carbon dioxide is depleted in the air nearest to plant leaves. With proper air flow, new carbon dioxide is moved to each plant with regularity, ensuring continual growth.

Growing methods for increase food production

Typical planting methods are tried and true, but changing the way you grow can have a big impact on your overall production.

Vertical Growing

Vertical growing is a very easy way to make the most of your gardening space, whether you have a greenhouse, a balcony full of containers, a full garden plot, or even a corner of your sunroom to grow in.

There are many benefits to growing food vertically. In addition to increasing your valuable garden space, you’ll reduce common pests and decrease the instance of disease. Harvesting is easier (more veggies at eye level instead of on the ground!), and your plants can thrive closer together, which can significantly increase your yield.

Vining plants like tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, pole beans, and smaller squashes and melons are wonderful choices for vertical growing. A trellis or a teepee- like supporting structure works well for these. There is even a variety of climbing spinach you can grow this way, called Malabar spinach!

Spreading vine plants like sweet potatoes, grapes, kiwis, larger melons, pumpkins, and other large squashes can be grown in containers or bags, and trained up and out over arbors. This will also help with plants prone to vine rot. You can plant herbs and veggies that prefer less sun underneath these arbor, to receive more filtered sunlight.

Peppers and most cruciferous vegetables do well in vertical garden walls, and fast-growing microgreens are extremely easy to proliferate in vertical shelves. Microgreens, indoors and out, will produce over and over in a matter of weeks with full sunlight or supplemental lights.

Hydroponic and aquaponic growing

Hydroponic and aquaponic growing methods are also excellent choices for rapid fruit and vegetable production. Nutrients are delivered directly to the roots of your growing plants, water is delivered and circulated for immediate use, and pests and disease are rare with these set-ups.

Intensive Planting

With a method called intensive planting, rather than growing in spaced rows with walkways between, the garden is divided into rectangles as wide as your reach is from each side. The plants are sown very close together. Every square inch of growing space is covered by a canopy of plants, with walking space only around the outside edges.

With foliage shading the soil, weed growth and moisture evaporation are slowed. Avoid over-crowding; ideally you want leaves of each plant to just barely touch when they reach harvest size. Be sure each plant gets sufficient sunlight, nutrients, and water. This method is effective both in raised beds and in traditional in-ground gardens.

Feeding Your Family from Garden to Table

Planning food production for your family is a big undertaking, but armed with knowledge and tools for success, growing fruits and vegetables can be a fast and fulfilling endeavor. Stay tuned to our blog series, as we aim to increase your know-how and grower confidence. Happy growing!

Growing Food At Home

Grow Your Own Sense of Food Security

Food Security

Amid the global crisis of staying healthy as a pandemic threatens our daily lives, food security is more on our minds than ever. Having access to your own supply of fresh, nutritious food when stores and supply chains are unreliable can give you peace of mind, as well as a healthy diet.

This year, we began a blog series to promote year-round growing, not knowing what would lie ahead. Many of our recommendations have given advice on how to grow food not just in a large garden or greenhouse, but also utilizing containers indoors, balconies, raised beds– really anywhere you can add a little green to your life. Now, with quarantines and supply chain disruptions, we understand that growing food for yourself may soon be more than a hobby, and might impact your overall food security. With that in mind, please enjoy our top recommendations for quick starting your food production and getting your plants to start producing ASAP.

How to Stimulate Quick Plant Growth

Farmland

Like all living things, plants will thrive in an environment that is suited to their needs. Nourishment, light, water, and optimal temperatures are needed for seedlings to develop into healthy, bountiful crops. The absence of any one of these components can disrupt the plant’s ability to grow. Practicing good gardening methods and creating the healthiest environment for your plants will result in hearty yields and increase your own food production.

Soil for quick plant growth

Soil is the best place to start when planning your planting. Different plants have different soil requirements, so plan your in-ground bed arrangements to be able to separate your soil additives. If you are growing in containers or in a greenhouse, this becomes much easier to plan.

Start with a soil testing kit to determine what your soil is composed of, and what it may lack. Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, organic matter, and other soil additives can enrich your plant’s soil and nutrient profile.

Your seedlings may prefer rocky or sandy soil, or richer, more dense soil, so be sure to check a Farmer’s Almanac or other sources for your specific plants’ needs. Your local Ag. Extension Service an excellent resource to assist in your gardening endeavors.

Lighting for quick plant growth

A plant’s primary food source is light. Whether natural or artificial, without adequate light, plant growth can be stunted and slow, due to limited photosynthesis. Plants use all spectrums of light to create sugars for their survival, as well as to trigger growth responses.

A greenhouse is the best way to capture the sun’s power, promoting growth while keeping your plants protected from pests and adverse conditions. Greenhouses can also be outfitted with supplemental grow lights, or with blackout tarps and covers, both of which can be used to affect plants blooming, flowering, and fruiting cycles.

When growing outdoors or inside your home, planting on a south-facing slope, or in a southern exposed window where the sunlight pours in will generally speed up growth and fruiting. In any growing environment, if you can give extended light periods (in your greenhouse or under lamps) that will boost production immensely and reduce both weed and pest invasion.

As with soil, different plants also have different lighting requirements, so check online for the best advice for each crop you are growing. Researcher partners from the John Innes Centre, the University of Queensland, and the University of Sydney found that using lights that are optimized for increased photosynthesis in specific plants increased crop production threefold.

Temperature for quick plant growth

Best Lean-to Greenhouse kits
Greenhouse attached to the building

Maintaining the perfect temperature for your plants can be difficult. Making use of hoop houses, covering when there is a cold snap, and adjusting watering schedules can help, but more perfect control can be obtained within a greenhouse setting. Maintaining the correct temperature for specific plants encourages growth and prevents damage. Know which temperatures your plants thrive in to encourage faster and healthier growth, and plan your planting calendar to take the best advantage of natural weather patterns if you are not growing inside of a greenhouse.

Increasing Food Security in Your Community

An idea that is taking hold in many communities is cooperative growing. Friends and family plan their crops together to take the best advantage of their own resources and can grow a greater variety of foods to share together. If you have a greenhouse full of juicy tomatoes, but your neighbor’s sandy soil is more suited to cilantro and root vegetables, then cooperative growing might be a great solution to increase your food security.

Staggering plantings and harvests with friends and neighbors will also help decrease your labor. If you plant two crops with similar light, soil, nutrient, and watering needs, and your co-op partner plants two different crops, then you can both optimize your feeding and watering efforts yet still have a variety of fresh, healthy food sources.

More Growing Tips for Maximum Food Security

Farmers Market Success

In the coming weeks, our blog will focus on more growing tips, on seed starting, on crops that grow quickly, on different growing methods, and on different types of greenhouses and the best crops for them. We hope you all stay well and continue to support your health with the best from your edible garden.

If you’d like to discuss how a greenhouse can support your food security, our experts would love to speak with you! Call 1-800-531-4769 or send us an email today. Happy Growing!

Careers in Horticulture

Careers in Horticulture

Horticulture has been around since the beginning of mankind. Either as a hobby or as a profession, horticulture spans all aspects of growing, producing, and using plants to their maximum capabilities. Therefore, careers in horticulture will always be a necessary and continuous part of modern society. Whether we are using beautiful ornamental plants as decorations or benefiting from the nutrition that home-grown fruits and vegetables offer, horticulture touches our lives, in some aspect, every single day.

Growth in the Horticulture Industry  

In recent years, the horticulture industry has been in growing in popularity. In fact, a recent report published by the horticulture industry’s leading analysts stated that they forecast the Greenhouse Horticulture market to grow at a rate of 10.79% between 2018 and 2022. This expected growth will likely contribute to more job opportunities all over the world. Since horticulture is always in demand, careers in horticulture will always be available.

So, what jobs does the horticulture industry offer? Whether you love working with your hands, have a love of nature, or even a keen eye for salesmanship, there is probably an employment opportunity waiting for you inside the vast, versatile field of horticulture.

Landscaping Jobs

Production Nursery

Production Nursery workers grow plants from seedlings or cuttings to sell, usually at the wholesale level. Fruit trees, berry plants, deciduous trees, and evergreens are some common types of plants grown in production nurseries. There will always be a high demand for food, therefore,

Landscape Nursery

Landscape Nursery employees help prepare sites for landscape projects. Everything from new neighborhoods, shopping centers, hospitals, and schools require landscaping that not only beautifies, but that also meets the codes and requirements of the area.

Landscape Maintenance

Landscape Maintenance involves the upkeep and wellness of landscaped areas. Whether you are helping your community maintain beautiful lawns, or you work with a large team to maintain the landscape of an industrial complex, this job is always in demand. It is also a great opportunity for starting your own business or creating side jobs as a means for extra income.

Garden Centers

Garden Centers are retail shops and nurseries that sell to the public. These businesses often become a central source for gardening supplies, landscaping materials, tools, and equipment for hobby growers and larger growing operations.

Arboretums & Botanical Gardens

Botanical Garden

Arboretums & Botanical Gardens are popular community attractions in most big cities. Often centered on local flora, guests can learn about what grows in their area while enjoying a self-guided tour throughout the collections of plants. These types of gardens often use conservatories and greenhouses to protect delicate and endangered plant species from the elements. Students, scientists, and growers use these gardens to research plants and the environments.

Each of these landscaping related careers in horticulture can offer a variety of employment opportunities, including:

  • Propagators
  • Inventory and Control Personnel
  • Field Forepersons
  • Field Supervisors
  • Managers and Salespeople
  • Shippers and Traffic Managers
  • Brokers
  • Buyers
  • Landscape Designers
  • Plant Doctors
  • Writers
  • Researchers
  • Educational Directors
  • Librarians
  • Superintendents of Operations
  • Curators
  • Greenhouse Managers

Floriculture Jobs

Plant & Flower Production

Flower Production

Plant & Flower Production is an opportunity for small hobby growers to earn extra income, and an opportunity to expand to or work within a large, wholesale growing operation. Catering to florists, greenhouse managers, grocery stores, garden centers, & many other customers in the horticulture industry means that plant and flower producers will stay in high demand.

Wholesale Florists

Wholesale Florists usually handle the cut plants and flowers that garden centers and grocery stores often rely on to stock their own floral departments. These careers often also handle the distribution of dry goods such as growing containers, and other florist supplies.

Retail Florists

Retail Florists often own, manage, or work in florist shops. These shops are the most common retail outlets for the public purchase of fresh flowers, houseplants, wedding bouquets, bereavement arrangements, and many other every day and special occasion flower needs.

Garden Centers

Garden Centers and other retail stores often have smaller areas within their departments that sell fresh-cut flowers, gardening supplies, houseplants, and other horticulture equipment. Discount stores usually have garden centers that offer competitive pricing on everyday gardening needs.

Employment in the floriculture field can offer a wide variety of career opportunities, including:

  • Growers
  • Production Superintendents
  • Marketing Managers
  • Inventory Controllers
  • Buyers
  • Salespeople
  • Designers
  • Propagators
  • Greenhouse Managers

Working with Fruits and Vegetables

Production of Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and Vegetables

Production of Fruits and Vegetables can involve working in smaller, independent orchards, and vineyards, or in large commercial operations. These careers are sought out by college-trained horticulturists because of the highly mechanized, technological aspects of producing these plants. Whether you are looking to start a family farm, or work for an established, corporate-owned business, fruit and vegetable production careers will always be available.

Marketing

Marketing careers have become some of the most highly sought after jobs of the modern era. The marketing of fruits and vegetables is no exception. Informing customers of improved growing practices, safe alternatives to pesticides, organic techniques, nutritional values, and sustainability of fruits and vegetables takes considerable effort and finances. These careers attract employees who want to use their creativity and people skills, while also potentially earning a high salary. 

  • Manager
  • Field Workers
  • Sales Agencies
  • Managers
  • Factory & Warehouse Supervisors
  • Salespeople
  • Buyers
  • Brokers
  • Marketing and Promotional Organizers
  • General Managers & Executive Directors

Education & Research

Horticulture Specialists

Horticulture Specialists

Horticulture Specialists work for the government usually or on college campuses. Specialists often work in all aspects of horticulture and agriculture. However, they can also have a more focused specialty wherein they work with a specific plant, habitat, ecosystem, etc.  These jobs involve getting outreach groups, 4-H clubs, student communities, and other youth-driven organizations involved with horticulture training programs.

Consultants

Consultants are self-employed horticulturist who offer help and advise individual growers, federally regulated farms, and anyone else who needs help with their operation. Private consultants apply their knowledge to help educate growers about pest and disease issues, soil nutrition, and economical control methods.

Communicators

Communicators help organize and present seminars, webinars, educational meetings, and other group events wherein the attendees will learn about horticulture. They often also write blogs, articles, and columns for horticulture publications.

Teachers

Teachers of horticulture are working from preschools grades through doctoral programs. Certified teachers can work in private or public schools as either full-time teachers, part-time lab teachers, or adjunct professors. Non-certified teachers can often work in public gardens, early childhood development centers, nature reserves, and community centers.

Research Scientists

Research Scientists are an important part of horticulture. Studying, breeding, and developing new techniques for growing plants helps keep the horticulture industry effective and profitable. These scientists can work as independent consultants in the private sector, or for federally funded schools and programs. Therefore, the knowledge of how to use the latest sophisticated technology usually makes this career a high earning one.

Plant Inspectors

Plant Inspectors work at the federal and state levels, ensuring that facilities are up to code and implementing best practices. Some inspectors from private companies perform independent testing to combat bias.

While the list of career opportunities connected to Education and Research facet of the horticulture industry is vast, some jobs available include:

  • Teacher or Professor
  • Assistant Teacher
  • Lab Technician
  • Lab Assistant
  • Independent Consultant
  • Corporate Consultant
  • Botanist
  • Arborist
  • State or Federal Inspector
  • Researcher
  • Research Assistant
  • Fundraiser
  • Promoter or Presenter

There’s no doubt that horticulture is a huge part of our everyday lives and careers in horticulture are readily available. So, if you are interested in starting a horticulture training program in your area, call us today at 1-800-531-4769 to discuss your goals.

Health Benefits Conservatory Greenhouse

The Many Health Benefits of a Conservatory Greenhouse

Throughout history, people have added conservatories to homes, schools, health facilities, and botanical centers to bridge the gap between indoor and outdoor spaces. These beautiful additions are usually buildings or rooms encased in glass walls and roofs. And while the decorative, sometimes ornate, structures add style and value to properties, did you know that there are also health benefits associated with conservatories?

health benefits of a conservatory

Because of the health benefits of sunlight, doctors recommend that we get between 10-15 minutes of sunlight every day. This helps lessen a variety of health risks and helps increase our overall physical and mental health.

Vitamin D Creation

Conservatories are often used as sunrooms, or “solariums.” Latin for “place of sun[light],” these rooms permit abundant amounts of sunshine to enter into the building while also providing shelter from adverse weather. Sunlight is one of the best sources for keeping our Vitamin D levels at a healthy level. When exposed to sunlight, our skin creates Vitamin D. Healthy levels of Vitamin D can help prevent bone density loss, muscle weakness, cancer, and other health risks.

Blood Pressure

We all have something called nitric oxide in our skin and blood. Nitric oxide reacts with sunlight by widening blood vessels. Therefore, regular sun exposure can lower your blood pressure which can help decrease the risk of heart attacks and strokes.


Mental Health

Have you ever wondered why you seem happier in the spring and summer than you do in the winter? This is a common mental health issue that many people face called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Doctors believe that sunlight increases the amount of serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is the hormone we associate with feelings of happiness. The shorter days of winter paired with people being indoors because of the cold weather can cause serotonin levels to fall. This often means that you feel less happy. Having a solarium is an ideal way to spend time in the sun year-round.


What about Too Much Sun?

Using a conservatory to reap the many benefits of sunlight is also a way to combat the dangers of overexposure to the sun. We know that too much sun exposure can cause skin damage and an increased risk of skin cancer. Because sunrooms are made with glass that prevents harmful UV rays from seeping indoors, the sun’s rays filter through in a less harmful way. You can have a sunny, beautiful area to enjoy all the benefits of sunlight without the fear of overexposure.

For more information on how you can experience the health benefits of a conservatory, visit us at https://www.gothicarchgreenhouses.com/custom-greenhouses.html.

Growing Potatoes in February

Year-Round Growing- Potatoes- February Planting Guide

Year-Round Growing Guide- February

As we leave the January chill behind, the days are starting to lengthen. Moving towards the equinox, many US zones now have enough daily sunlight to start crops without the use of supplemental lighting. February marks the return of roughly 10 hours of daylight, and is a great time to start your year-round growing plan. This month, we start growing potatoes and sage- no seeds involved!

Potatoes can be started outdoors under cover or indoors in containers soon. Potatoes like full sun and fertile, well-drained soil. To prepare for outdoor potato planting, you’ll want to ready your garden plot by digging the site thoroughly and incorporating plenty of well-rotted organic matter and high-potash fertilizer. A slightly acidic soil is best but not essential; potatoes can thrive in a wide range of soils. If your soil is more alkaline, a light application of sulfur will help establish healthy plants.

Growing potatoes in containers

Best varieties of potatoes for container growing

For indoor planting, you’ll want to select and order your containers. Each plant will need 10 liters, or just over 2.5 gallons, to grow into. A standard household garbage can-sized container can hold around four plants, and there are grow bags of various sizes that are handy to use as well. Whatever container you use, be sure there are adequate drainage holes to allow excess water to freely drain away.

As important as the container, choose what type potato to grow. First and second early varieties are best for container growing, and harvest before most diseases can take hold. Salad potatoes, ‘Charlotte’, ‘Lady Christl,’ ‘Rocket,’ and nutty-flavored ‘Anya’ are great selections that do well both in and out of the ground.

How to chit potatoes

For early potato crops, we recommend chitting from seed potatoes. Start with seed potatoes and sprout them for planting to encourage a head start. Place them in a shallow container, such as an egg carton or seed tray, blunt end up, in a cool, bright window. Some growing guides recommend chitting in a dark place at room temperature, but we have found that thicker shoots sprout when there is more light and the temperature isn’t too high.

When the shoots are near a half-inch long, cut your seed potato into chunks containing at least 1 thick, sturdy shoot (preferably two) and lay them on racks to heal and dry. Once a skin has formed over the cut parts, usually in 3 to 4 days, the potatoes are ready to plant.

Growing Potatoes Outdoors

Growing potatoes guide

Early potatoes are easy to start in February

Once your chitting process is complete, you’ll be ready to plant outdoors or in containers. Potatoes prefer fertile, loose, well-drained soil at a soil pH of 5.2-6.0.

For growing potatoes outdoors, dig a 4-inch depth trench and place your seed potatoes with the shoot pointed upwards. Fill the trench, and fertilize as recommended above.

To protect young potatoes from frost, which can blacken tender shoots, recover with soil as soon as stems emerge above ground. When the stems reach a height of approximately 5-inches, mound more dirt over them again to stop tubers near the soil surface from turning green. This is called hilling, and helps to keep sunlight from reaching the tubers. Hilling in the morning, when plants are at their tallest, will help support the plant and keep your growing potatoes from getting sunburned. Sunlight on the tubers causes them to turn green and produce a chemical called solanine, which is bitter and toxic.

Growing Potatoes in Containers

A deep container is ideal for growing potatoes year-round, particularly early potato varieties. Drainage will be helped by adding some material such as a pot, broken brick or ceramic, or even polystyrene to your container then fill with about 4 inches of soil or medium. Standard multipurpose potting soil works well, but can be expensive. A mix of soil from your garden, potting mix, and compost will save money and stretch your resources.

Space your seed potatoes, with sprouts upright, evenly in the container. Cover with 4 inches more if soil mix, and begin to tend as you would outdoor potato plants. As the shoots grow, continue to add layers of potting medium to shield tubers from the sun.

Watering Potato Plants

Container growing potatoes

A healthy harvest of early potatoes

Unless there’s plenty of rain, outdoor potatoes will need to be watered well while tubers are developing. An even amount of moisture is important. Too much water right after planting and not enough as the potatoes begin to form, can result in misshapen tubers. From the time when sprouts appear until several weeks after they blossom, the plants will need approximately 1 to 2 inches of water per week. Irrigate thoroughly when needed, allow the soil to dry out somewhat before watering again.

Growing potatoes in containers will also require an even watering schedule. While outdoor plants can reach down to chase valuable soil moisture, their container plants are dependent upon your care. See to hand watering the plants as they grow, and particularly once the foliage has filled out. Actively growing plants will also benefit from liquid nutrients during their growing time; we like organic fertilizer such as seaweed extract.

Health Benefits of Potatoes

Potatoes are a healthy diet staple, in spite of current trends towards low-carb eating. They contain dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals which support immunity, lower inflammation, and help maintain bones.

Potatoes are rich in iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, and zinc. These aid in building and maintaining bone structure and strength. Iron and zinc also play crucial roles in the production and maturation of collagen.

Potassium, calcium, and magnesium are also found in potatoes. These are key to decreasing blood pressure. Potassium encourages vasodilation, or widening of the blood vessels. The potatoes’ significant fiber content helps lower the total amount of cholesterol in the blood. Vitamin C and vitamin B6 content also help decrease the risk of heart disease.
Antioxidants, choline, and folate are also present in potatoes, and affect the body’s DNA repairing abilities, muscle movement, mood, learning, memory, and nerve impulse transmission.

How to Grow Sage

Growing Potatoes and Herbs

Fresh herbs year-round

Both of our suggestions for this week’s year-round growing plan are best not grown from seed. Sage can take over a year to establish from seed, so we instead suggest propagation by layering or cutting from a mother plant.

To layer sage, you need mature plant. Bend a side branch down to the soil, then attach with a landscape staple, allowing air to circulate. The branch will soon develop roots, and can be severed from the mother to transplant.

To grow sage from a cutting, use an actively growing branch. Cut a piece 3 to 4 inches from the tip and strip off the leaves. Insert your cutting into a growing medium, and keep the cuttings moist. You’ll have established roots when your cuttings start to develop new leaves.

When rooted, plant sage in full sun outdoors, or in your sunniest container location. Plant in well-draining soil. Sage won’t tolerate sitting in wet soil, so soil type is extremely important. Young plants enjoy frequent watering until they are fully grown. They’ll need a consistent moisture supply until they start growing quickly. Soil temperatures should be between 60º and 70ºF.

Sage companion plants well with rosemary, cabbage, and carrots, but keep sage away from cucumbers.

Health Benefits of Sage

Growing sage in winter

Health benefits of sage

Sage is one of many herbs with extremely high antioxidant capacities and anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antimicrobial effects. Recent studies have also shown promise that sage could positively impact cognitive skills, improve memory, and protect against neurological disorders.

Sage may reduce the amount of glucose in the blood. A 3-month study of diabetes patients with high cholesterol had the results of lower fasting glucose, lower average glucose levels, and lower total cholesterol, triglyceride, and levels of harmful cholesterol. However, the participants had increased levels of HDL or “good” cholesterol.

Researchers also conducted a double-blind clinical trial on 80 individuals with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes. This trial found that sage caused a positive effect on blood sugar levels, and suggests sage leaves may have anti-hyperglycemic and lipid-profile-improving effects.

Finally, sage and other flavorful herbs are an easy way to season a healthy meal. By replacing salt with fresh herbs, you can easily make a lifestyle choice that lowers your sodium intake. Growing fresh food year-round will give you access to the freshest herbs and ingredients. This makes healthy life choices easier than ever.

Furthering your growing season

Spring is coming soon! Now’s the time to stock up on supplies for spring and summer. Gothic Arch Greenhouses is ready to help, with ground cover, containers, shade cloth, irrigation, benching, and of course, greenhouses for growers of every sort. Give us a call today if we can help you get ready for this growing season, 1-800-531-4769. Happy growing!