How Light Color Affects Greenhouse Plants

How Light Affects Plants Greenhouse Gothic ArchLight is essential for plants to survive, but the color of that light can have a significant impact on how they develop.

With the help of LED grow light technology, multiple experiments have been conducted to determine how plants react to light when exposed to different colors of the spectrum in terms of height, weight, color, texture and more.

Additionally, colored shade cloths can have the same effect on plants, and colored films are being used on the growing areas of the International Space Station as well!

Below is the general performance of plants when exposed to a particular color of light:

Ultraviolet: Prolonged exposure to UV light can be harmful to plants, just as it is to humans. A study confirmed that when UV light exposure is eliminated, plants experience enhanced growth.
Violet: Violet light exposure has been found to intensify the color, aroma and taste of plants. It also improves the antioxidant functions of plants, which naturally helps prevent cell damage.

Blue: The most influential of all hues, blue light has the most powerful effect on plants. It encourages plants to accept more energy, reduces their water loss, and increases their growth and maturity rates. At least a minimal intensity of blue light is needed indoors for normal plant growth. In general, plants grown under blue light are shorter and have darker, thicker and greener leaves than those not exposed to blue light. These attributes may be desirable when growing ornamentals, for example.

Green: Not surprising, since most plants are green, this color has the least effect on a plant’s growth. Green light does, however, enhance the production of chlorophyll and gives plants a greener color. Yet, some research indicates green light can have positive effects on growth and flowering. That is impacted by the intensity of the green light, whether any other colors and intensities are present and the type of crop.

Yellow: Because yellow isn’t far off from green in terms of wavelength, it also doesn’t have much effect on plants. It has no influence on photosynthesis and, as a result, growth is reduced.

Red: By itself, red light can help plants yield more leaves than blue light alone. But together, the combination of red and blue significantly improves plant growth, making it an optimal choice for development.

Far Red: Like red light, far red light plays an important role in plant development. Specifically, far red light affects germination and flowering. Essentially, this light encourages flowering because plants require less time in darkness.

Green light does play an important role in gardening, particularly as it relates to people. Without the presence of green light, plants do not appear green to the naked eye. Not only is green light needed to reduce eye strain for employees, but also it helps more easily detect any problems or pest issues. The good news is that white LEDs combine green, red and blue light, which provides the benefits of all three colors.

Questions about light in your greenhouse or other growing settings? Let us know! When you call Gothic Arch Greenhouses at 800-531-4769, you’ll always get a friendly representative ready to help you. You can also visit our website at www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com for more information as well.

How to Make Natural Ventilation Work in Your Greenhouse

Natural ventilation has become a preferred option for larger growers, in particular, as energy costs of fan cooling rise.

Natural ventilation works by supplying cooler air, such as through vents or an open-roof design, to allow the lighter, warmer air to be pushed out. All greenhouses built prior to the 1950s featured a system of louvers and vents to help allow excess heat to escape by pulling cooler air in.

More and more, new greenhouse construction is utilizing these same methods, but retrofitting an existing greenhouse is not significantly more than installing fans and shutters. In many cases, it can be about the same or even less.

Relying on natural ventilation alone will not work if the quantity of heat to be removed is too great. In that case, evaporative cooling systems are a simple and relatively inexpensive alternative.

Both, however, will require mechanical ventilation through the use of pads and fans, or a fogger system utilizing nozzles through the greenhouse. Mechanical systems may be employed in smaller greenhouses, but the larger structures will benefit from natural ventilation methods as much as possible.

Besides the energy efficiency and reduced costs it offers, natural ventilation allows for more even crop cooling. Crops can be spread evenly throughout the greenhouse, and the grower can adjust the vent openings as needed. This will result in a more consistent crop, which in turn can improve sales and the bottom line.

Naturally cooling large gutter-roof greenhouses has traditionally been a challenge in Southern climates, specifically due to lack of sidewall space and relying on roof vents alone can result in uneven cooling.

Open-roof greenhouse designs eliminate this issue, though to combat the heat on particularly hot, sunny days, a shade system can help control the amount of heat that can escape can be controlled.

A few additional considerations to keep in mind with new greenhouse construction or retrofits:

Size of Vents. The total combined area of roof and sidewall vents should be the same and should be at least 15 percent to 20 percent of the floor area. Gutter-connected designs will need larger roof vents or otherwise an open-roof cooling option.

Location of Vents. Sidewall vents are recommended to be located above bench height to allow outside and inside air to mix before it reaches plants. Again, for gutter-connected designs, roof vent location is more important.

Greenhouse Height. The trend toward taller greenhouses helps improve natural ventilation. Not only does this create the buoyancy effect, where lighter, hotter air rises, but also it helps keep this air well above plant level.

Greenhouse Orientation. If possible, greenhouses should be located where the summer wind follows along the sidewall. That helps utilize the natural flow of air. To make that more effective, ensure that trees, buildings and other greenhouses obstruct it as little as possible.

Have questions about your greenhouse’s ventilation system? We can help! Call us at 1-800-531-4769, and you’ll reach a friendly, knowledgeable representative every time.

Seed Starting Tips for Greenhouses

Taking the first steps in the seed-starting process tends to mean spring is not far away. But with greenhouses, growers can start that process any time.

Thanks to the controlled environment they offer, greenhouses not only extend the growing season, but they also offer the right conditions for starting seeds in them year round.

If you plan to transfer seeds to an outdoor garden, for example, start this process about six to eight weeks before the first frost in your growing region.

Get your seed-starting supplies together and follow these tips to prepare your plants for success!

Seed. Beginning with fresh seed is the simplest way to get started. You can use leftover seeds, but you’ll want to test them for germination. To do so, place a specific number on a wet paper towel. Fold it over the seeds and place it in a plastic bag in a warm place. Inspect the seeds and add moisture as needed. After the germination period, count the number of germinated seeds to determine the percentage of germination.

Growing Media. Balance the amount of air and water content in the mix you use. While air space is important to create healthy seedlings, too much water can create swelling and result in too much air when your mix is dry and not enough when it settles. Avoid compacting your mix by lightly filling trays with your growing medium and brush the excess away. To ensure the right amount of hydration, add water to your mix before adding it to your containers. It’s just right when it is damp to the touch, but not wet.

Containers. Trays and cell flats make ideal seed-starting containers—particularly for large vegetable growers—because they can be filled quickly, are easily moved and are reusable. But they do need to be cleaned before use the next season, and if the plant becomes root-bound in the container, it can lead to transplant shock when transferred. Biodegradable containers eliminate this concern, but they do need to be restocked every season and take up more space in the greenhouse. For hobby gardeners, commercial trays (if that is your preference) are recommended because they are more durable and available in more options than what you might find at a local garden center. They cost more, but last longer.

Sowing. When planting your seed, please note that the placement of it is important to its success. For example, if planted too close to the edge of the tray, it is likely to dry out. Typically, it is recommended to cover the seed once placed (ideally in the middle of the container) with a light layer of soil. Others suggest simply pressing the seed down into the soil without an extra covering. Either way, once the seeds are planted, water them evenly and gently. Plan to group your seedlings by their temperature needs, so you can use mats if needed to efficiently provide heat if required.

Ready to start your seeds? We’ve got the supplies you need—containers, trays, propagation mats and more! Call us at 1-800-531-4769 or visit our website at www.GothicArchGreenhouses for more information.

How to Control Pests in Your Greenhouse

Gothic Arch Greenhouse SuppliesManaging the environment in your greenhouse is crucial, but just as important is keeping pests out of it.

The warm, humid conditions of a greenhouse help extend growing seasons or create an ideal setting for plants to thrive. Unfortunately, those same conditions make for the perfect breeding ground for pests.

Because they can flourish without the presence of their natural predators inside the greenhouse, pests can inflict severe damage very quickly if not detected and controlled early on.

Fortunately, before it gets to that stage, there are many things you can do to minimize the threat of pests in your greenhouse. Prevention is the best way to control pests in your greenhouse, so keep these helpful tips in mind.

Thoroughly inspect new plants introduced in the greenhouse. This is the most common way pests get in your controlled space, and if they go undetected, they have the potential to create devastating damage.

Check and secure all greenhouse openings. That means doors, screens and vents. Repair any holes or tears, replace seals, etc. Proper maintenance now can prevent bigger problems later.

Always use clean equipment and materials. Everything in the greenhouse must be free from the threat of pests. Make sure potting material, containers, tools and other equipment are clean or sterile.

Prevent pools of standing water. The resulting algae and moss growth can lead to development of pests. Avoid overwatering, ensure proper drainage and good ventilation in your greenhouse.

Keep the greenhouse area clean. Remove all trash and plant debris regularly, and give your greenhouse a thorough cleaning after each production cycle. Also mow the area around the outside of the greenhouse to control weeds.

Taking these steps can set you up for growing success in your greenhouse, and we are your source for all the supplies you need. Please call us at 800 -531-4769 or visit www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com, and we’ll be happy to help!

Growing for Efficiency: Potting Technology

Potting Technology Soil Mixing Gardening Containers PotsPotting your plants is time-consuming, but manageable if you are a hobby gardener.

But as an operation increases, improving efficiency of labor and controlling costs takes on greater importance.

Depending on the size of your operation, a potting machine may be the answer.

This technology enhances productivity and helps achieve greater uniformity (which also impacts efficiency and quality) of your plants.

Manufacturers of these machines suggest them for operations that grow 100,000 planting flats per year. With that volume, the ROI comes in two to three years.

Potting machines work by holding gardening containers in place, filling it with soil and punching a hole for the plant. Workers may simply replenish the pots and refill potting mix to keep the streamlined operation moving.

Though machines can automatically fill a range of pots, it’s best for consistency to do a large run of the same size pot. This uniformity allows each container to be filled with the same amount of potting soil, compressed to the same level and for the plant to be centered. This not only allows for plants to have the same food and water requirements, but also the fact that they are centered ensures there is ample space between them on growing benches so they can equally thrive.

Machines can typically handle a range of container sizes. Some are easily adapted to accommodate these sizes, while others may need the whole set of of pot holders to be replaced to meet your operation’s needs.

Keep in mind that the potting machine should be able to manage your soil mix. For example, it should be light, moist and free of clumps so it can move through the machine with ease.

Various accessories are available to enhance productivity, such as increasing output or to accommodate different container sizes.

Maintenance typically requires no more than lubricating bearings, tightening belts or cleaning. It’s recommended to keep spare parts on hand so when needed your operation doesn’t suffer from much downtime.

Need supplies for your operation? Whether you pot your plants manually or using automation, we can help outfit you with what you need. Give us a call at 800-531-4769 or visit www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com.

 

How Hydroponic Gardening Works

Hydroponic Gardening Gothic Arch Greenhouse Hydroponics, a soil-less form of gardening, has grown in popularity in recent years. But it dates back to the famous Hanging Gardens of Ancient Babylon, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, which are believed to have been maintained through a hydroponic system.

In more modern times, hydroponic gardening has gained favor for their many benefits—one of the most important being that it’s a viable conservation alternative to shrinking supply of agricultural land. This system of gardening is also well-known for producing higher yields (up to 25 percent more) and higher quality vegetables that grow faster and are considered tastier than those grown in soil.

But how does it work? If you’ve ever placed a plant clipping inside a glass of water, that will give you a basic visual of how hydroponics works. Take that image and imagine a system of anywhere from a small number of plants to a large-scale hydroponic farm. The plants within the system don’t rely on soil as their growing medium, and instead the nutrients they need are in the water that recirculates among them.

The absence of soil in a hydroponic system means there is no danger of disease or pests, so pesticides can be cut back or eliminated altogether. It also means that plants have smaller root systems, yet greater flowering potential, which leads to that increased yield.

Hydroponic systems can function passively or actively, which refers to how the water and nutrients are supplied to the plants. Each have their advantages based on the scale of plants grown, types of plants grown, etc.

The underlying theory behind hydroponics is to remove as many barriers as possible between a plant’s roots and oxygen, water and nutrients—everything it needs to thrive. Various herbs, leafy vegetables, tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries and peppers are best suited for hydroponic systems.

Hydroponic growing has wide applications, including urban areas where there is little land for agricultural use, remote areas where residents or business can grow their own vegetables without having to import them or any areas where water supply may be scarce. Some even call it the gardening of the future!

Interested in hydroponic gardening? We have a number of systems available. If you have questions about what you need or which one may be right for you, just give us a call at 1-800-531-4769 or visit www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com.

The Impact of Urban Farming

Urban Farming Impact Gothic Arch GreenhousesUrban farming is not a new concept, but it has gained renewed attention in recent years. Once, this practice of producing food in heavily populated areas was driven by water shortages and scarcity of agricultural land.

Though that is not the case in the United States, urban farms are on the rise, even in unexpected places. Think rooftops, abandoned buildings and neglected plots of land.

Restaurant rooftop gardens have become a recent trend. By growing herbs and vegetables literally steps away from their customers, chefs can provide some of the freshest locally-sourced dishes.

But more than maximizing space or giving new life to abandoned areas, urban farming has environmental, economic, social and health benefits.

Environmental. Urban farming is good for the environment. Because food can be produced closer to home, it doesn’t have to be transported from thousands of miles away. Rooftop farms can also help cool buildings. Both of these can help reduce carbon emissions. Additionally, rooftop farms can help enhance the urban landscape and improve well-being. They can literally help cities go greener.

Economic. Keeping food production local can help stimulate the economy. According to the Community Food Security Coalition, every $1 invested in a community garden generates $6 worth of vegetables. Through the help of urban gardening, localizing production can help stabilize food costs.

Social. Urban farming can help strengthen the bonds of the community. Through establishing or working in the garden, people become more involved in their neighborhood and each other. Through the attention and care the garden receives, the appearance of the neighborhood improves.

Health. Nurturing a garden can help those who work in it eat healthier because of their close contact with production. In urban areas, such gardens can provide some families with an additional source of low-cost produce. Studies have confirmed that exposure to nature and vegetation can help reduce anxiety and increase productivity.

Want to start your own urban garden? Whether it’s in a container, a greenhouse or you need the tools to support an outdoor garden, call us at 1-800-531-4769 or visit www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com, and we can help!

How to Heat a Greenhouse on a Budget

Gothic Arch Greenhouse snow runoffWorried about the cost of heating your greenhouse this winter? Rising fuel prices and extreme cold weather can add up quickly if you don’t know how to maximize every strategy that could help you cut your energy bill.

Depending on your zone, you may be able to employ some of these options longer than others. But with their help, you may only have to supplement with heaters rather than solely relying on them.

These are some of the best low-tech tips available to help you heat a greenhouse while trying to reduce your energy costs.

Paint It Black. Paint the outside of 55-gallon plastic containers with flat black enamel. Fill them with water and locate it in areas where they can absorb the most sunlight throughout the day. When the temperatures fall at night, heat emitted from the water will help keep your greenhouse warm. This technique—whether for growers with little extra space or those with smaller greenhouses (they can use gallon jugs and paint buckets)—can maintain an average of 20-30 degrees warmer in your greenhouse than outside temperatures!

Gimme Compost. Get the most out of your organic waste by creating a compost pile. Tea bags, fruit and vegetable scraps, dryer lint, newspaper, grass clippings and more can help not only provide essential nutrients to your plants, but also they can provide heat that is released during their chemical breakdown. Place your scraps and trimmings in 55-gallon drums or a ring of wire mesh. Be warned that they can create immense amounts of heat—well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit—so be aware that you use this option with safety in mind.

It’s All Over Row Covers. Garden fabric, also known as row covers, is a simple way to help turn up the heat when the weather outside demands it. Not only can row covers protect plants from cold and wind, but also they shield them from insects and prevent overheating in the summer. This fabric can be draped over hoops or secured to the ground. Row covers can be reused if handled with care, though certain styles can last much longer. Even if yours last one or two seasons, row covers are easily repurposed as weed barriers or covers during milder weather.

Seal It Up. Retain as much heat in your greenhouse by preventing as much warm air as possible from escaping. Seal all joints and gaps in the greenhouse with silicone caulking or installing weatherstripping around doors, seams of glass and at the foundation. Repair any tears in film, coverings or cracks in glass to hold on to all of your hard-earned heat! Regular maintenance like this is one of the simplest ways to help you improve the energy efficiency of your greenhouse.

Heat What You Need. Particularly for larger greenhouses, heating the entire space can get expensive quickly, but the good news is that it might not all be necessary. Separating plants into zones inside the greenhouse with partitions makes it possible to heat the needed space more efficiently. Not only is this a more economical approach, but also it provides the grower with more control over the temperatures, which helps create a more ideal environment for each plant that is grown.

Got questions about preparing your greenhouse for the winter or what works best in your zone? Let us know! Call Gothic Arch Greenhouses at 1-800-531-4769 or visit www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com.

Best DIY Gifts for Gardeners

Gothic Arch Greenhouse greenhouses durable affordableGardeners can be some of the best do-it-yourselfers around, so they of all people would appreciate a considerate DIY project—or gift—during this time of year!

If you’re not crafty, creating a DIY gift can seem pretty intimidating, but we’ve put together a list of what we think are the best do-it-yourself gifts for gardeners out there.

The best part? They span all crafting abilities so anyone can give their favorite gardener a thoughtful gift this year.

Here are seven DIY gifts for gardeners that made our “best of” holiday wish list:

Antique Spoon Plant Markers: Any gardener could use a little signage in his or her garden, putting plant markers at the top of our recommendations. Using antique spoons—whether culled from your extra stuff or a secondhand store—can add a vintage flair to any garden. Stamp them or paint them with plant names; you can even create a collection!

Decorative Watering Cans: Functional and fun, personalized watering cans can add a bright spot to an otherwise everyday gardening accessory. Make your selection from dollar stores or thrift stores, if you like. Create or use a stencil if you don’t consider yourself much of a painter, and paint your design. Your gardener can use your gift to water plants or even as a planter.

Gardeners Gift Basket: If crafting isn’t your thing, you can still put together a thoughtful and useful gift by collecting gardening essentials and presenting them in a unique gift basket. Find a pot (you can go the inexpensive route and paint it), then fill it with small tools, gloves, seed packets and more! The bonus is that you can truly personalize it to your recipient.

Seed Tape: What’s a great do-it-yourself gift for a gardener to DIY? Seed tape! Again, if you know your gardener well, you can use the seeds of plants you know he or she will love. Especially if you have a budding gardener on your shopping list, seed tape is a great way for them to get started because it’s so easy to plant and get practice nurturing the sprouts.

Fresh Garden Gift Tags: Is your gardener one to share his or her bounty? If so, you can help them customize their gift with these Fresh From The Garden gift tags. Ideal for the person who preserves their harvest by canning or making jams, these homemade gift tags make a great gift for gardeners who use the fruits of their labor to keep on giving.

Gardener’s Soap: Gardeners are known to get their hands dirty, so it helps to have an extra bar of soap around. But you can make it extra special by making it yourself! This orange and clove recipe makes several bars that you can give to one lucky recipient or split it up among several gardeners on your list. Ideal for cleaning dirt of your hands and keeping them moisturized too!

Garden Glove Rack: If you’ve got some time but maybe not much of a budget, transform leftover plywood and metal clips into an upcycled garden glove rack. It’s a great way for gardeners to keep track of their gloves, plus you can paint it and customize it. This one will take a couple of hours to complete based on how detailed you might get with the painting.

Gothic Arch Greenhouse: Get your gardener what he or she really wants—a greenhouse! So maybe it’s not a traditional DIY gift project, but for your favorite grower, it just supports their own DIY efforts in their garden. Just in time for the holidays, our signature greenhouse is on sale, so you can get a great deal on a great gift!

If you’ve got a greenhouse or greenhouse supplies on your shopping list this year, let us know! Our friendly representatives are happy to help you. Call us at 1-800-531-4769 or visit www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com.

 

How to Improve Commercial Greenhouse Operations

Optimize Commercial Greenhouse Operations Gothic Arch GreenhouseThe greenhouse industry in the United States has steadily grown—and is expected to reach $4 billion in sales by 2020. The increased demand for production is challenged by limited resources, namely labor, land and water.

With a greenhouse operation, commercial growers can manage and optimize this supply and demand dilemma with the help of automation, conservation and efficiency.

For commercial growers to improve upon and streamline their operations, they need to be especially mindful of the following:

Energy Efficiency: Help improve the energy efficiency of your commercial greenhouse simply by minimizing leaks to the structure. That means: weatherstripping doors, windows and ventilation openings; sealing the foundation—a major source of air loss; and ensuring windows and doors close and fit properly. Additionally, exhaust devices should be shut off when not in use, and automated device openings should be adjusted and lubricated.

Ventilation: Creating an ideal environment starts with proper greenhouse ventilation. Smaller greenhouses can get adequate ventilation with passive means, but larger commercial operations depend on mechanical systems to help regulate temperature and humidity. Bigger structures face a challenge in ridding excess water, which can mean higher humidity. To best address this challenge, commercial greenhouse combine dehumidifiers and fans to pull excess moisture out and replace it with cooler, drier air.

Lighting: Commercial growers should be aware that the lighting options they use meet the needs of their plants at every stage. For example, younger plants thrive under higher intensity light, which creates greater photosynthesis. Plants that don’t require full intensity light can provide an energy-saving advantage by reducing the use of artificial light and substituting inefficient incandescent lights with compact fluorescent lights.

Sustainability: Moving commercial crop production indoors is one way to reduce an operation’s environmental footprint. By giving growers more control over the conditions inside, they can maximize what Mother Nature is providing—natural light and heat, for example. Hydroponic gardening is another way to reduce soil use and water for the same sustainable effect.

Maintenance: Due to their size, commercial greenhouse operations rely more heavily on mechanical equipment, which requires routine maintenance and repair. Proper and regular upkeep of pumps, heaters, fans and ventilation systems can not only extend their life span, but also improve the efficiency of the operation.

For the best equipment for your commercial greenhouse, call us at 1-800-531-4769 or visit us at www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com today!