Category Archives: Greenhouse Supplies

Gothic Arch Greenhouses provides quality greenhouses kits and supplies designed to meet the requirements of the most demanding gardeners. Learn more about our Greenhouse supplies here!

What You Need to Know About Caring for Hydrangeas

Caring for Hydrangeas Gothic Arch Greenhouse Mobile ALHydrangeas are prized for their big, colorful blooms, and if cared for properly, they will thrive, and their natural beauty will be enhanced.

Even if you don’t have much space, you can still enjoy these flowers. Hydrangeas are suited to be grown as shrubs, in containers and in gardens. Just make sure they get enough morning sun (afternoon sun is too hot) and shade (but not too much). Base the amount of sun they are exposed to be where your garden is located. For example, hydrangeas that are further north need more light than those in the south.

If you understand the unique needs of hydrangeas, you can help nurture beautiful, healthy flowers that come back year after year.  

General Care for Hydrangeas

Though hydrangeas may appear delicate, they don’t require a lot of specialized care. They need plenty of water, one inch per week during their growing season. Deeply watering the plants is recommended three times a week to help encourage root growth. Be sure not to get moisture on leaves or the blooms. Providing this much water will protect plants from wilting on hot days.

Adding mulch to the base of the plant will also help keep the soil cool and moist. Plus, as the mulch breaks down, it will provide nutrients and boost the soil texture, especially if it is organic mulch. Finding the right fertilizer for your hydrangea variety will also boost growth and promote the health of the plant.

Hydrangeas tend to be pretty resistant to pests, but inspect your plants often. Typically, the best defense against aphids and red spider mites (pests that can infect hydrangeas) is giving them the proper care.

Hydrangea Pruning

Pruning hydrangeas properly can result in a more plentiful plant. Routinely trimming back dead leaves, flowers and branches will allow enough room for new growth. If your hydrangeas have enough room to grow, your only concern is to prune to remove dead wood and spent flowers. If a whole branch is dead, be sure to cut it off at the base of the plant.

With regular dead-heading, a hydrangea plant can be encouraged to produce more and bigger blooms. But pruning is important too. There is a growth-inhibiting chemical released by terminal buds at the tips of stems, so without this maintenance, fewer flowers are produced.

Dead-heading will help your plants bloom into the fall. Avoid pruning past August. By then, any new growth may be cut short by an early fall freeze. Allow any early fall blooms to simply fade away on their own, but feel free to cut your blooms and enjoy them! Hydrangeas make beautiful arrangements in bunches on their own or with other plants and flowers.

Changing the Color of Hydrangeas

You can change the color of your hydrangea blooms, but don’t expect it to happen right away. The process can take weeks or months! It’s recommended to wait at least two years before trying to make any change, so the plant has enough time to recover from the shock of its initial planting.

Please note that not all varieties can change color. The color of the flowers is influenced by the acidity of the soil—acidic soils (less than 5.5 pH) produce blue flowers; soils with a pH above 5.5 produce pink flowers. Changing the color from blue to pink is easier than changing pink to blue. Also white hydrangeas are unaffected by the pH level of the soil.

If your goal is getting pink hydrangeas to turn blue, don’t be discouraged. It can be done! One recommendation is to cover the base in pine straw, which adds a natural acidity. Other options to lower the pH and increase acidity include adding coffee grounds, eggshells and other compostable items, such as citrus peels. The addition of sulfur or peat moss to the soil can also result in blue flowers, whereas ground limestone can bring forth pink blooms.

To accurately determine which direction to go in, conduct a soil pH test. As you make changes to the soil, continue to test it. A pH level above 7.5 can cause damage to the plant. When fall starts to close in, all hydrangeas start to fade, but don’t worry! The plant’s bright, colorful blooms will return in the spring.

Need hydrangea help? We offer containers, nutrients and supplements, benches, carts and more. Please let us know if we can support your gardening efforts! Call us at 800-531-4769 or visit www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com.

How to Use Ground Cover

Transitions between seasons can be a challenge for gardeners who aren’t prepared for a late cold snap or an early heat wave, for example.

But fortunately, ground cover fabrics and high tunnels make it easier to manage these changes, as well as offer other benefits.

Ground covers and high tunnels can easily be used to extend growing conditions for warm or cool season crops.

If you need more time for warm season crops, heavy weight row covers designed to trap heat will protect plants, but be aware of how you use them.

For example, short-term protection may simply require you to loosely cover plants (so they have room to grow) and secure the perimeter of the fabric using anchors, such as staples, soil or rock.

But if long-term protection is needed, a supported structure is recommended. This will allow for optimal air flow and room for your plants to thrive. In this case, pull the cover tautly over the hoops to keep fabric secure. That will also help reduce damage that can potentially be caused by unsupported fabric blowing in the wind.

When using ground covers and high tunnels, check in on your plants often to ensure they aren’t overheating. If you see signs of wilting, leaf damage or blossom drop, remove the covering or open the ends to help regulate the microenvironment you’ve created.

Some plants require insect pollination, so that may be another reason to temporarily lift or completely remove the covering to allow nature to do its work. Hand-pollination is an option, but can be time-consuming.

Lighter weight fabric can be used to protect your plants from insects until they are ready for harvest. But the use of such garden fabrics will require monitoring as well. If insects or their eggs become trapped inside, the cover can provide an environment for them to spread and concentrate damage to plants underneath.

Inspect the leaves of plants for any signs of insect activity. If insects are present, treat the plants with pesticide or remove infected ones. It’s recommended to also replace your covers. When used properly, garden fabrics can break insect life cycles and prevent infestations.

Row covers are available in multiple widths, lengths and thicknesses to suit a variety of needs. Many last one to two seasons depending on how often they are used. They can last longer if their edges are properly secured.

To help extend their life, store them when dry up away from the ground. This will also discourage rodents from making nests in them.

When stored, take a little extra time to make notes about each piece of cover that includes lengths, widths and other details, such as their condition or level of wear. Before discarding well-used covers, consider repurposing them as weed barriers or to protect newly seeded lawns from erosion.

Whatever your reason for using ground cover, we can help! Contact us at 1-800-531-4769 or visit www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com so we can assist you with your order.

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.

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 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!

Selecting Fans for Optimal Air Flow

Greenhouse Fans Gothic Arch Greenhouse Selecting FansThough your greenhouse will help you extend the growing season, you’ll still have to monitor and maintain optimal growing conditions inside as the temperatures change outside.

Your plants will thrive in an environment where the temperature, humidity and air quality is controlled, and that starts with proper ventilation, both natural and automatic.

Fans are a common automated ventilation option. But using them to help create an ideal environment isn’t as simple as just installing them and turning them on.

To create the most successful conditions for your plants, you should keep these suggestions in mind when selecting fans for optimal air flow.

Choosing a Fan Type

When selecting fans, consider their efficiency. For example, circulating fans with blades that operate against zero static pressure are more efficient than exhaust fans designed to force air. Look for high-efficiency fans because they will be carrying a heavy workload. Fans with efficiencies of 14 to 16 are about average; better fans have efficiencies of 18 or higher. Tall plants and hanging baskets will reduce air flow, but fans with shrouds will help spread the flow of air over a greater distance.

Selecting Your Fan Layout

There are two types of layouts you can choose for your greenhouse fans, parallel or series. In a parallel layout, all fans are located at one end of the greenhouse and the air is pulled back, creating a loop. A series layout features fans in an alternating pattern, moving in toward the center. Because greenhouses may vary in size or located on uneven land, a series layout prevents fluctuations in heat or cold collecting in the higher or lower points.

Determining Fan Location

Locate fans near the center of the air mass that they are helping to move. For example, in greenhouses with floor or bench crops, place fans seven feet to eight feet above the floor. If there are hanging baskets in a greenhouse, fans should be located above or below basket level, where the air circulating will meet the least resistance. This will also prevent foliage from drying out by getting too much direct air.

Controlling Air Flow

Ideally, fans move air evenly throughout the greenhouse to help create the controlled environment you want for your plants. To do this, avoid erratic bursts of speed, such as when plants are “moving” as a result of the flow of air. Instead, generate a momentum of flow with the installation of multi-speed fans that are managed by a thermostat.

Directing Air Flow

Achieving horizontal air flow has long been a popular concept in greenhouse management. In recent years, vertical fans have gained more interest. Though they do level out temperatures from top to bottom, vertical fans don’t have the same effect across the entire growing area, which creates inconsistencies in plant growth. Horizontal fans are still prized for their ability to move air evenly and promote the movement of water through plants for their optimal health. 

Maintaining Your Performance

Simple preventive maintenance can help improve the flow of air in your greenhouse. Clean fan blades and the motor frequently to reduce dirt and dust buildup and prevent overheating. Inspect belts, particularly if you hear squeals and squeaks on startup. Replace belts with any cracks or frayed edges. Also check to see that fans are held securely in place with brackets or chains to keep them from moving out of place.

We can help you select the fans you need for your greenhouse application. Call us at 1-800-531-4769 or visit www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com!

What to Consider With Greenhouse Ventilation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6 Ways to Use Shade Cloth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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