Building a Greenhouse, Healthy and Helpful!
Building a greenhouse is a great way to lower food costs while ensuring that one know where his family’s produce is coming from! It can be a low cost, fairly quick and easy way to provide healthy, organic food. Careful planning is required before building, and there are numerous factors to take into account before beginning construction on a personal greenhouse.
Location is an extremely important consideration when building. The greenhouse should be located where it receives maximum sunlight. The best location is to the south of a building or a grove of trees, where light will be available for the longest period of time. While all-day sunlight is ideal, morning light is preferable if a choice must be made. This is because morning light causes plant growth to begin early in the day, providing for maximum daily development. Northern locations are least desirable and can only support plants that require very little light.
Some locations provide shade from deciduous trees. If this is the case, the shade should fall on the greenhouse in the hot afternoon hours, never during valuable morning sunlight hours. It is also extremely important that adequate drainage is available at any greenhouse location.
There are various types of greenhouse structures that are ideal for different situations. Available space and optimal greenhouse output are the two main considerations when determining what type of structure is best.
Where space restrictions are a factor, attached greenhouses are best. These are smaller greenhouses that attach to a home in one way or another. Window mounted greenhouses are small, glass enclosures that can be added to a south or east facing window. This is a low cost, low hassle way to grow a few plants essentially within the home. Lean-to and even-span greenhouses are larger structures that attach to the side of a house or garage, providing quite a bit of growing space. These are ideal options when greenhouse space is limited but available.
Stand alone structures are ideal for families with larger amounts of space for greenhouse construction. Regardless of structure type, it is important to plan for bench, growing, and storage space before construction begins, thus preventing any unwelcome crowding issues once the greenhouse is in use.
Different greenhouse building materials offer various advantages. A wide selection of frames is commercially available. Frames should be made from wood, galvanized steel, or aluminum. Plastic pipe frames are not strong enough to withstand wind and snow and should not be considered. Once a frame is constructed, it may be covered with glass, plastic film, fiberglass, or rigid plastics. One may wish to shop around and visit productive greenhouses before making a decision about building materials, as each material has its own pros and cons.
Flooring is another issue to consider when building a greenhouse. Though it may be tempting to install a permanent, easily mopped floor, this is not ideal. Greenhouse floors will remain slippery and dirty. Instead, a concrete or gravel walkway is preferable. The part of the floor that is not made into a walkway should be covered with loose gravel to provide drainage.
Finally, numerous environmental systems may be installed to regulate conditions within a greenhouse. Depending on the climate in one’s area, some may not be necessary or even ideal. However, before building, heating, cooling, circulation, ventilation, and watering systems should be considered.
Heating may be achieved through electrical, solar, oil, or gas systems. Cooling is often unnecessary, especially where shade is available during hot afternoon hours. However, very hot climates may call for an electrical cooling system. Hand watering is almost always sufficient in greenhouses, provided someone is available to water daily. If not, an automated system may be installed to provide water for the plants. Finally, circulation and ventilation must be careful considered and sometimes require mechanical aid.
After all of these factors have been considered, an ideal greenhouse can be constructed in most situations. Lower food costs, organic produce, and a sense of self sufficiency are just a few of the benefits that investing in a personal greenhouse will provide.