Tag Archives: greenhouse gardening

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.

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!

7 of the Most Profitable Greenhouse Crops

Best Vegetables to Grow in a Greenhouse for ProfitYou don’t have to be a commercial grower to turn your gardening endeavors into profit. From the cities to the suburbs to the country, your passion for gardening can help you generate extra income if you do it right.

With a growing demand for fresh locally-sourced herbs and vegetables, a greenhouse grower of any size can capitalize off this trend.

One of the most important steps is to select what you want to grow. Some suggest sticking with a single crop that you can pour your efforts into, rather than an assortment of plants that may have different needs in terms of water, fertilization and shade.

Then you should realistically try to evaluate the volume of what you have the space and time to grow. From there, estimate plant production costs in relation to market prices to determine your profit margin.

Back to crop selection, if you’re just starting out, it’s best to begin with something that will set you up for success. These plants thrive in a greenhouse environment, and they are some of the most profitable crops you can grow.

Tomatoes. The most common greenhouse crop, tomatoes can also be quite prolific and, thus, profitable. Many varieties—cherry, grape, beefsteak and tomatoes on the vine—are available, and are popular as locally sold vegetable.

Lettuce. This hardy vegetable is available in many colors and varieties, ranging from cut to head lettuce, is relatively easy to grow, and is most profitable in local sales directly to the consumer.

Peppers. Maybe just as popular and with even more varieties than tomatoes, peppers do pose some challenges, as they are described as the most difficult greenhouse crop to grow. But they can be quite profitable nonetheless.

Cucumbers. The versatility of the cucumber makes it a popular crop, which makes it profitable for the grower. However, some cucumber varieties pose a challenge in keeping them fresh after a harvest. Still, organic and off-season cucumbers can draw higher prices.

Spinach. This is another leafy green that thrives in a greenhouse environment. Spinach has a tendency to grow quickly, depending on growing conditions. When grown and sold locally, it’s prized for its freshness and taste.

Herbs. Easy to start your growing (and selling) efforts with, herbs are in demand by grocery stores and restaurants. Some of the most popular are basil, chives, oregano, cilantro and parsley, and they can be packaged and sold dried or undried.

Strawberries. These berries can be another lucrative option for greenhouse growing. In-season strawberries are relatively inexpensive, but gardeners who can master some of the challenges of growing them—pest management and pollination, for example—can command high off-season prices.

Need supplies to get your gardening business going? Not sure where to begin? Call us at Gothic Arch Greenhouses today at 1-800-531-4769 or visit www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com to learn more. We can help!

How to Get Started After Buying a Greenhouse

Getting Started With A Greenhouse Gothic ArchInvesting in a greenhouse is an exciting first step to take your gardening efforts to the next level. But once you’ve bought your greenhouse and set it up on your property, what next?

Of course, learning how to manage temperature control (based on your growing region) and irrigation needs (based on what you’re growing) play an important role, but when it comes down to just getting your greenhouse up and running, these are some essential beginning steps.

Supplies. You can’t get started without the basic greenhouse growing supplies, like pots, plants, gloves, tools and a watering can or garden hose. Because monitoring temperature is so crucial, add a thermostat or thermometer to that list.

Select crops. Keep in mind the types of flowers, vegetables or herbs that thrive in your region, and start with those to set yourself up for success. As you become more comfortable or experienced—or even if you want to experiment—you may want to expand your selection.

Prepare for planting. Get everything ready to begin. Make sure your greenhouse is clean, your pots and tools are properly sterilized, even your potting soil is free of pests and bacteria (especially if you are mixing your own).

Start your seedlings! Move your seedlings into planting pots so they can grow and thrive! Be careful not to introduce outside pests into your greenhouse environment, and give your budding plants room to develop.

Be aware. Inspect plants for any signs of pests, overwatering or overheating. Make notes in a journal if that helps you track temperature (relative to time of day) and the amount of water your plants are receiving.

Keep things neat and tidy. As your plants start to flourish, you’ll need room to spread them out—or add to your greenhouse—so keep it well organized. This can also help you maximize your work area and discourage pests.

Try a “greenhouse-only” plant. While it’s advisable to grow plants that are suitable for your growing region, you should also try your hand at one you can only grow in a greenhouse. Tap into the power of your new investment and challenge your green thumb!

Network with others. Before you spend too much time and money in experimentation, reach out to other local or regional gardeners, whether through community groups or online forums. Learn from seasoned growers about what works and what doesn’t—and grow your gardening circle in the process!

Whether you’re in the market for a greenhouse or you’re ready to stock up on greenhouse supplies, contact us today at 1-800-531-4769 or visit www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com!

Why Buy a Greenhouse

Reasons to Buy a Greenhouse Gothic Arch GreenhouseA greenhouse opens up a whole new world of gardening possibilities, but it’s understandable if you’re on the fence about whether you should make the investment.

Just like gardening, a greenhouse requires an investment of your time, money and, yes, even patience. Before you buy, you’ll have to take into account your budget, how much space you need (or want) and consider where you’ll place the greenhouse on your property.

Gothic Arch Greenhouses carries an extensive selection of greenhouse models for everyone, ranging from hobby gardeners to commercial growers to research and educational structures. First-time greenhouse owners and hobbyists may choose from our lean-to series to our luxury offerings—or anything in between!

Once you’ve made these all-important decisions that help steer you in the direction of the greenhouse model that is right for you, remind yourself of all of these exciting reasons to reinforce your decision to make that purchase in the first place. These are just some of the many gardening possibilities that lie ahead for you!

Protect your plants through the winter. No need to wonder whether your plants will survive your region’s harsh winters—or even an unseasonable cold snap. Simply move them inside your greenhouse, where they’ll find warmth to survive the season so they can be reused the next year.

Enjoy the fresh taste of vegetables year-round. Don’t let cooler weather put an end to the fresh bounty on your table. Take your gardening efforts inside your greenhouse! Plant the veggies you know and love or experiment with varieties that thrive in winter greenhouses, like carrots, spinach, cabbage, parsley, radishes and celery.

Try your hand at growing exotic plants. Add some ornamental flair to your greenhouse in the dark days of winter by attempting to grow tropical or exotic plants. Tropicals such as orchids, hibiscus and cacti, or ornamentals like geraniums, caladiums and poinsettias are built to thrive in the (reasonable) heat of a greenhouse.

Choose the seeds you want to start. With a greenhouse, you aren’t obligated to grow according to the seasons. So be a little adventurous when you browse the seed catalog, knowing that your greenhouse allows you to think (and garden) outside the box!

Sit inside and soak up sun like you’re outside. If it’s too cold to curl up and read or enjoy a cup of coffee outside, take your favorite form of relaxation inside the greenhouse! Sunshine is more than just good for your plants—it’s good for the soul too!

Ready to buy your greenhouse? Give us a call today at 1-800-531-4769 or visit us at www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com to learn more about our selection.

What to Plant in Your Summer Greenhouse

What to Plant in Greenhouse in Summer Gothic ArchGreenhouses are well-known options for starting and nurturing seedlings in preparation to move them to outdoor gardens, especially when the warmer temperatures of summer start to arrive. But a summer greenhouse is well-suited for growing many heat-tolerant crops.

If your greenhouse goes relatively unused during the summer months, you may want to incorporate these plants in your growing rotation to maximize your yield.

Herbs. Many varieties of herbs flourish in hot and dry conditions, making them ideal for a summer greenhouse environment. Allow them to dry out between waterings, but be careful not to let them get overheated. Although, the heat in a greenhouse makes it easy to dry and preserve cuttings. Try your hand at rosemary, lavender, sage, oregano, thyme, marjoram, mint, basil, parsley and chives.

Okra. Built for the heat, okra is native to tropical Africa so it thrives in higher temperatures. When planted in the summer, okra will produce until the weather starts to cool off. Seedlings should be thinned out—about a foot apart—once they start to get a couple of inches tall. It is recommended that pods be harvested frequently, when they are about 3 inches long, for best quality. But some varieties may stay tender longer.  

Eggplant. Oriental types of eggplant stand up especially well to the heat, particularly in mid-to-late summer. Varieties that yield long, narrow fruit or larger fruits flourish in the summer. Give them plenty of space when planting to grow. Keep an eye on the skins of the plants as an indication of when they should be harvested. When the skin starts to dull, harvest immediately, regardless of the size.

Hot Peppers. More tolerant of heat than, say, bell peppers, hot pepper varieties prefer warmer temperatures for seeds to germinate. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings. You can harvest when peppers are green or have reached their full color at maturation. The heat in the greenhouse gives you the option to harvest peppers for your consumption—fresh or dried—or to sell.

Melons. Cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon, for example, flourish under warmer growing conditions. They can be raised in summer greenhouses, and while they require little space at first, you can easily expand their growing area. While melons and other plants mentioned prefer warmer temperatures, you want to be considerate of your local climate and take care that proper ventilation protects them from overheating.

Interested in utilizing your greenhouse for summer planting? Gothic Arch Greenhouses has all the supplies you need to get started! Visit our website at www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com or call us today toll-free at 1-800-531-4769 for assistance.

How to Get Started with Hydroponic Gardening

Getting Started With Hydroponics Gothic ArchHydroponic gardening offers a unique growing experience, utilizing a soil-less technique that has been proven to increase yield and conserve water.

Not only is this a practical approach to gardening, but also it’s an ancient one. Just think of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon or the Floating Gardens of Ancient China.

Despite these extravagant examples, this approach to gardening is as accessible to the novice grower as it is to large-scale commercial operations, and its setup is even ideal for those in urban settings who may lack outdoor space.

Many hydroponic systems or kits are available in various sizes to accommodate your space needs and your yield expectations. But if you’re wondering about how you should get started, consider these fundamentals.

Select your system. Four common hydroponics systems include: the classic ebb and flow, which is easy to build yourself; the top drip system, which is the most common; the deep water culture system, the most economical; and the wick system, which is the simples. Important things to consider when selecting a system are space, cost and the time required to maintain it.

Learn about lighting. If your hydroponic garden is indoors, lighting is a must. Lighting kits can be purchased to complement your system, and it’s recommended that you purchase all the components together rather than individually. In this way, the ballast, lamp and bulb wattage will match.

Research nutrients. Choose the water in your nutrient solution carefully. Reverse osmosis, spring, distilled or well water is recommended, then mix the fertilizer at the manufacturer’s recommended rate. Monitor the pH of your nutrient solution with a pH adjuster, aiming for a reading between 5.5 and 6 for all growing mediums.

Choose your medium. Though hydroponics doesn’t use soil, a growing medium is still needed. Coconut coir and Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate (LECA) are recommended as good starter mediums. The former excels at absorbing water, and is recommended for all systems but ebb and flow. LECA excels at drainage, so it is ideal for the ebb and flow system.

Pick your plants. Select plants that set you up for success, particularly if you are a first-timer at hydroponics. Good starter plants include: greens, like lettuce, spinach and kale; herbs, including basil, parsley, mint, oregano and cilantro; tomatoes; strawberries; and hot peppers.

If you still have questions about where to begin with hydroponics or need more specific guidance about your existing system, call us at 1-800-531-4769 and let our friendly representatives help you today or visit our website at www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com for hydroponic gardening supplies.

Most Energy-Efficient Ways to Cool a Greenhouse in Summer

 

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A greenhouse’s ability to trap heat makes it ideal for providing necessary warmth to plants in cooler winter months.

But managing that heat in the warmer summer months can present a challenge for the grower.

That’s why understanding and employing proper greenhouse cooling methods is necessary to ensuring your continued gardening success throughout the year.

As warmer temperatures start to arrive where you are, keep these cooling techniques in mind so your greenhouse doesn’t overheat—and your plants don’t suffer!

Shadecloth. An easily added option that works well in all climates, shadecloth cools by keeping heat out of the greenhouse. It’s recommended that you use a light meter to determine what your light levels are, then selecting an appropriate shading factor for optimal efficiency. For best results, install the shadecloth on the outside of your greenhouse to prevent additional heat from entering the structure.

Ventilation. Active (mechanical) or passive (natural) ventilation methods are a low-cost and low-maintenance option for cooling greenhouses, but they may need to be paired with another option in an extremely hot climate. Whether your system involves vents and/or fans, use cooler outdoor temperatures to your advantage whenever possible to maximize their efficiency. Even in very hot climates, this may only happen at night.

Evaporation. Misters, wet walls and evaporative cooling systems help bring temperatures down as vaporized water absorbs heat from the air. Commonly found in large commercial operations, evaporative cooling can work on a smaller scale in residential greenhouses. These systems are ideal in dry climates, but technology is at work to develop wet wall options for humid environments.

Not sure which cooling method will work for you? Or do you need some advice to create a custom system? Call us at 1-800-531-4769 and let our friendly representatives help you today! You can visit our website at www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com for any greenhouse gardening needs.

What Studies Say About Greenhouse Ventilation Methods

Greenhouse Ventilation Gothic Arch GreenhouseManaging temperatures in a greenhouse is of utmost importance to growers, particularly when they start to rise in the summer.

Several greenhouse ventilation methods are available, but selecting the one—or the combination—that is best suited for your efforts is dependent upon local climate and even the type of crops you are growing.

With that in mind, these are the most commonly used ventilation methods and a summary of what research says about each one.

Natural Ventilation. This is the most economic option for cooling a greenhouse, but depending on your local climate, natural ventilation alone might not be the most effective. Vents and louvers help aid in allowing warmer air to naturally escape a greenhouse to keep the temperature at a desired level. Roof and side vents—at a recommended 15 to 20 percent of the floor area each—assist in drawing in cooler air and pushing warmer air out of the structure. To take advantage of this, the greenhouse orientation should be such that the normal summer wind direction passes over the ridge. Additional options to maximize natural ventilation include taller greenhouses that draw hot air higher above plants or even open-roof greenhouses that have the potential to save on energy and irrigation costs.

Mechanical Ventilation. Employing mechanical ventilation, such as through the addition of fans, can complement natural ventilation in a greenhouse. To maximize their effectiveness and energy efficiency, you must consider the volume of the greenhouse, the ventilating efficiency ratio (VER) and motor size of the fans. The VER is the ratio of the volumetric rate of air movement to the rate of energy consumption, and fans with a VER rating of 15 or higher are desirable. Slightly larger fans operating on smaller motors can also help save on energy costs. A thermostat will be an invaluable investment to help you monitor the temperature, and placing a thermostat near the center of the greenhouse at plant height is recommended to give the most accurate reading. Also consider alarms that will notify you of high temperature or power failure, as in hotter summer months just a few minutes without proper ventilation can result in excessive heat inside a greenhouse.

Evaporative Cooling. Two types of evaporative cooling systems are fan-and-pad systems and fog-mist systems. Fan-and-pad systems are more common and work by fans drawing air through wet pads to cool the environment. Approximately one square foot of pad is needed for 20 square feet of floor area. Clean water with low mineral content is recommended to prevent clogging and coating of the pads to yield optimal performance. Fan-and-pad systems tend to be preferred by growers in humid conditions, but a fogging system is another option. Some of the advantages of the latter option include that it uses less water, it not only cools, but corrects the vapor pressure deficit, and that it can be installed with little to no structural modifications.

Wondering what ventilation system might work for you or what accessories you’ll need to keep your greenhouse cool? We at Gothic Arch Greenhouses can help. Call us at 1-800-531-4769 or visit www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com to get started.

Why Greenhouses in Schools Are Important

Gothic Arch Greenhouse School Greenhouse Education CareersJust what kind of impact can greenhouses have for schools? For starters, they can bring a multitude of lessons covered in the classroom to life and have a lasting influence on the students involved, making greenhouses in schools an important addition for many reasons.

Students—even those as young as elementary schoolcan see firsthand how weather affects growing conditions. Tending to plants teaches them responsibility, and they start to experience at an early age the reward of seeing your hard work blossom.

Middle schoolers may start branching out from the gardening and growing basics, conducting experiments related to temperature controls, fertilizers or even taking note of which plants may thrive in certain conditions or in their local climate.

In high school, students in horticultural programs continue to build on these lessons, possibly even developing entrepreneurial skillssuch as learning to manage costs or promoting their productsby selling the fruits of their labor.

This solid foundation could very well be preparation for entrance into a college or university horticultural program. And from there, a wealth of career options await in the field of horticulture. A horticulture degree can lead to a rewarding professional career in production, management, marketing, education and research. Graduates may also start their own businesses in fruit and vegetable production, landscape design and architecture, nurseries, greenhouses and much more.

The impact of horticulture on our everyday lives is all around us. It’s most obvious in the produce aisles of grocery stores or in farmers’ markets, but also in so many ways that we don’t readily see.

Research is underway to develop better ways to grow food more efficiently, to design more effective farming equipment or to improve pest management strategies, just to name a few. Still others manage public gardens, design landscapes for commercial and residential clients, or continue to help further the industry by becoming horticulture teachers.

Funding is available to help support schools who want to use a greenhouse to complement their curricula. Grants can be obtained through school systems, local gardening centers and even federal agencies to help bring a multitude of lessons to life for students.

Gothic Arch Greenhouses is a trusted supplier and willing partner to help schools of all sizes and budgets implement a greenhouse, establishing a quality foundation of horticultural training for their students. Not only are we well-versed in helping create everything from basic entry packages to professional-level greenhouse design and support, but also we have experience in customizing and tailoring turn-key projects, even within specific climatic and design parameter needs.

To help further the many careers horticultural training can provide, please contact us at 1-800-531-4769 or visit www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com.