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How to Design Your Greenhouse to Your Climate

How to Design Your Greenhouse for Your Climate Gothic Arch Greenhouse Greenhouse for Dry Climate Greenhouses forGreenhouse design is definitely not one-size-fits-all. What’s best suited for a cold climate characterized by low sunlight and a lot of snowfall isn’t effective for a tropical climate marked by periods of high heat, humidity and varying light levels.

By understanding their local climate, gardeners and commercial growers of any size can make fundamental decisions about their greenhouse setup. Doing so will allow their plants to thrive and also extend their growing season.

Because a greenhouse provides protection from external elements, determining how the weather and climate in your area affects your plants is essential. Ultimately, the design of the structure is influenced by whether it is shielding them from wind, rain, heat, snow, etc.  

Whether you’re considering a new greenhouse or want to optimize an existing one, these design suggestions—based on the four major climate types—will help you maximize production year after year. 

Greenhouses for Dry Tropical or Desert Climates

For climates marked by extremely high temperatures (well over 100°F year round), low humidity and high winds, a minimalist greenhouse design works best. A simple shade structure using insect screen as sidewall protection is the most practical option to manage costs. A misting or fogging system can help increase humidity inside the greenhouse, while also helping to reduce temperatures well below the arid conditions outside. This economical design can be upgraded to include automated cooling systems for even more control over the greenhouse climate.

Greenhouses for Humid Subtropical Climates

Hot, muggy conditions day and night, coupled with heavy rains, require flexible greenhouse designs, as simple as a plastic roof with roll-up sides covered with insect mesh for protection against pests or a more substantial greenhouse that can withstand higher winds and scorching sunny days. Even larger greenhouses may feature open-roof construction to allow for natural ventilation. Heating systems and insulation aren’t much of a concern in this climate, but rather misting systems, circulation fans and movable screens can help manage temperature, air flow and light intensity.

Greenhouses for Temperate Climates

Temperate climates exhibit seasonal variations in temperature and moderate rainfall year round. An optimal greenhouse design features fully clad walls, roof and sides with large areas to encourage ventilation. A double layer of insulation can significantly reduce heating expenses. Commercial growers in these conditions may find it most efficient to manage heating, ventilation, irrigation and lighting with automated environmental controls to easily maintain optimal greenhouse conditions despite the changing weather. 

Greenhouses for Cold Temperate Climates

In cold, snowy climates, greenhouse designs should be sturdy enough to handle heavy snow. Polycarbonate walls and a steep roof pitch will help prevent snow from collecting on top of the greenhouse. Adding supplemental lighting and keeping vents closed will help keep the greenhouse warmer, particularly during colder months.

Choosing a greenhouse for your type of climate can be complicated, but the experts at Gothic Arch Greenhouses are here to help! Please call us at 1-800-531-4769 or visit www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com to view our selection of greenhouses.

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.

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!

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!

Greenhouse Innovations You Need to Know About

Greenhouse Innovations Gothic Arch GreenhousesFor larger operations, automation can significantly improve efficiency and reduce the cost of labor—which is the biggest production concern. Thanks to innovations, from software and sensors to robotics, water and lighting, greenhouse gardening can be more efficient and effective.

These technological advances in gardening tend to have their roots in Europe before they make their way to North America. Based on what was featured in one of the latest greenhouse technology showcases this year, this is what U.S. growers have to look forward to.

Pointed Microclimate Sensor: Wireless sensor that captures dew point, vapor pressure deficit, temperature and humidity to help monitor heating needs. This tool helps growers cut unnecessary energy costs and reduces the risk of plant disease.

Service Engine (Royal Brinkman): Software that helps managers identify everything in the greenhouse that requires service or maintenance and keeps those tasks on schedule. Streamlines management of greenhouse upkeep and provides up-to-date and easily accessible maintenance records.

Moisture Balance Module (Priva): Automated module that constantly monitors water evaporation and plant water usage, then schedules irrigation and duration that automatically adjusts based on the environment and plant needs. Encourages not minimal, but optimal amounts of water usage.

SmartPAR Wireless Control System (Lumigrow): Wireless platform that can be used to automate lighting zones and adjust LED lighting remotely. Adjustments can be tailored to crop types and growth stages. Lighting modes can be changed between grow and view modes.

IRIS! Scout Robot (Metazet FormFlex): Robotic system detects crop stress, so pest, diseases or other deficiencies can be treated early on. This robot is is also equipped to measure humidity, temperature and carbon dioxide levels to assist growers in managing an ideal environment in their greenhouse.

Wondering how to innovate your greenhouse? Let us help! Call our friendly staff at 1-800-531-4769 or visit www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com to learn more.

Why Choose a Luxury Greenhouse

Luxury Greenhouse Gothic Arch GreenhouseNot all greenhouses are created equal. While all serve the same purpose, greenhouses range from very simple structures to very elaborate, high-end models.

Luxury greenhouses carry a higher price tag, but they are a great way to add a touch of elegance to your yard. They are a great choice if you want to do something to set yours apart from the greenhouse many gardeners or homeowners usually have.

Beyond being beautiful to look at, luxury greenhouses do serve many purposes. So if you are considering making the investment, you will not only get an aesthetically pleasing, but also a functional greenhouse structure.

To begin, you’ll want to be sure that your yard is large enough for a luxury greenhouse. You may want to consult a landscape architect to help you decide where to position it, as it will likely be the centerpiece of your yard.

But even if you don’t consult a professional, do put some thought into where you place it. Luxury greenhouses typically are permanent structures that come with the benefit of increasing your property value.

So just what functions do luxury greenhouses serve?

Horticultural Greenhouse: Just like typical greenhouses, luxury models can be used by avid gardeners. They are ideal if you want to grow a wide variety of vegetables and flowers. Very often, these structures are tall enough and big enough to house full-grown trees that can thrive inside them.

Luxury Sun Rooms: Extend your living space into the great outdoors, enjoying all of the things you love about it—the stars, the moon and the sun—and none of the things you don’t, like insects or too-cool weather. You’ll get the benefits of enjoying entertaining, reading, napping and more year ‘round.

Custom Pool Enclosures: These are yet another way to take advantage of the beautiful outdoors. Like other luxury greenhouse options, these can be heated, cooled and ventilated, allowing you to use your pool or spa throughout the year. Great for summer pool parties and entertaining, they also help with the upkeep of your pool, keeping it clean and debris-free.

If you’re considering a luxury greenhouse, give us a call at 1-800-531-4769 to speak with one of our friendly representatives or visit our website, www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com, to learn more. We are available to put our experience and expertise to work for you