Building a Simple Greenhouse for Stress-Free Gardening
You can grow a wonderful, full garden the hard way or you can do it the easy way. The easy way of gardening is to build a greenhouse for the foods that you want to grow.
There are dozens of reasons why you should make this investment, one of them being that you can avoid having to buy the produce at the store that can be questionable.
You don’t know where that produce came from, whether or not it was sprayed with pesticides or even if it’s GMO free. By having a greenhouse, you can grow all the foods you want – knowing that they’re healthy and good for you to eat.
Materials Needed to Build a Greenhouse
Before you decide to go out and get the materials, you need to know what size you’re going to build your greenhouse because that will affect your materials list.
You also need to know what tools that you need to have on hand. Most people think you have to be a building genius or have a ton of tools to build a greenhouse, but that’s not true.
You can follow along with some simple, easy to build plans if that’s what you want. You can use any one of the plans offered by greenhouse enthusiast Bill Keene for some help constructing yours.
With the kind of tools that you need, you’ll have to have a hammer, nails, a saw and a drill. Those are the basics only. Next, you’d need to choose the type of frame you want to use for your greenhouse.
The most commonly used type is wood. But you can’t just get any kind of wood. You must use pressure treated. The wood is going to be exposed to the elements.
It will have to withstand the heat of the sun, the cold of the winter and rainy days. These elements will quickly cause wood that’s not pressure treated to become damaged and eventually destroyed.
Pressure treated wood can stand up to the elements for decades and you want your greenhouse to last. You’ll have to choose the type of covering that you want for your greenhouse.
Some coverings are more expensive than others. Glass is the covering that’s chosen more often than not for its ability to let light in. However, glass is the most expensive and it’s not without problems.
It can crack easier and then it will have to be replaced. Plexiglass is another choice for covering, but it only stands up to the elements for about a decade and then you have to redo it.
A more common and fairly inexpensive covering choice is plastic. You can get hard or soft plastic and either one will allow plenty of light to come through for the plants.
You’ll have to decide whether or not you’re going to wire your greenhouse with electricity or not. You’ll also need hinges for your door.
Size and Location for Your Greenhouse
You can build a greenhouse in whatever size you want if you’re doing it yourself. You’ll want to first determine where you’re going to set up the structure and that can be helpful when determining the size.
You’ll also want to consider exactly what you’re going to be growing in your greenhouse. Different crops will need different dimensions in order to grow well. You don’t want to cramp your garden.
If you’re only interested in having a smaller garden, then you don’t have to have a large greenhouse. But consider the density of the items that you’re going to be placing in the greenhouse.
If you overcrowd the plants, they won’t get the air circulation that they need so they’ll end up not growing well. You’ll also need to make sure that you allow for air circulation between the plants and the walls of the structure.
You can’t have plants that are growing right up against the walls because they won’t be getting enough air. You’ll also need to make sure that you allow for enough air circulation between the rows of plants.
You can’t have them butting right up against the row in front of or behind them. Take into consideration how much food you want to produce. If you have a large family and you want to feed them from the garden year round, then go with a larger greenhouse.
If you want to sell some of the food items that you grow, then you’ll want to go with the bigger size. You’ll have to plot out the dimensions for your greenhouse. You’ll also need to know the location where you’re going to place it.
If you have a tall house such as one with vaulted ceilings or two stories, the shadow cast from the back of these houses, can block out the sun if you place a greenhouse too close.
So you’ll need to scout the location first. Pay attention to where the sun hits the spot you want to build. Check to make sure the entire spot can get good sun coverage.
It’s always best to put a greenhouse on the south end of your home if you’re putting it in the backyard. When you put it on the south side, your greenhouse will get more of the day’s sunlight.
Where you put your greenhouse should have some wind protection, too if you plan on using lightweight materials to build it with. You’ll also want to make sure the ground is level, you have close proximity to an irrigation source, and you don’t build it too close to trees that can block the sun or have falling limbs that can tear up your building.
Ventilating Your Greenhouse
When you build a greenhouse, you have to make sure you have it properly ventilated. If it’s not, that can cause some problems for the plants that you’re growing.
Adding ventilation to your greenhouse isn’t a complicated process but it’s an important part of whether or not your garden will be successful. Not having adequate ventilation for your plants can make or break your greenhouse.
You’ll want to know the best way to prepare the ventilation and you can follow along in the guidance offered by greenhouse planner Bill Keene to make sure yours is done the right way.
You need ventilation to be able to keep the temperature in the greenhouse at a temperature that’s good for your plants to be able to grow. When you don’t have ventilation set up the right way, your plants can suffer from temperatures that are too high.
In some cases, this will cause the plants to wilt but in other cases, it can lead to the death of the plants. Ventilation helps to keep the temperature inside the greenhouse at a steady level.
If you don’t have the ventilation right, you can create an atmosphere that’s too hot regardless of what it’s like outside. That means that even in the winter you can overheat your plants if your greenhouse doesn’t have decent ventilation.
When you have a good ventilation set up, it can push out the heat that tends to build up beyond your plants’ tolerance level. Plus, you need the right kind of ventilation system in place so that your plants are allowed to have fresh air.
They need the fresh air as part of their growing cycle. But ventilation is also about what it allows in and what it keeps out. When you have a good system set up for your greenhouse, it works well to keep pests from being able to get in and attack your plants.
At the same time, however, it works to allow the proper amount of pollination to take place. The way that you have the fan system in your ventilation set up can prevent problems and encourage growth if it’s done well.
The amount of vents you need and the location of them will all depend on how big your greenhouse is and how you’ve set it up. Keep in mind that by having fresh air flow through your greenhouse, you set the foundation for your plants to be able to go through the photosynthesizing process.
Without that important step, your plants won’t be able to survive.
The Heating System for Your Greenhouse
When it comes to choosing a way to heat your greenhouse, there are a few things that you’ll have to consider first. The size of your greenhouse will factor into what type of heating system you’ll want to use since some are better for heating smaller rather than larger spaces.
It will also depend on whether or not your greenhouse has any electricity as to the type of heating method that you’ll be able to use. There are dozens of styles of heaters that you can choose to keep your greenhouse at a steady growing temperature when the weather is too cold for them to be able to thrive.
Plus, having heat in your greenhouse enables you to be able to work there in caring for the plants. You can use portable heaters for your greenhouse, tube heaters, mats, gas heaters and more.
There are heaters that you can mount on the ceiling or on the wall so that they’re not taking up any additional space in the building. Again, this will depend on whether or not you have electricity which is one of the most common ways of making sure the heating needs are met.
But if you don’t want to have electricity in your greenhouse, there are still ways that you can make sure the temperature stays good for your plants. One way is by using a process known as thermal mass.
When you use this method, it means that you use items that draw heat from the sun. You can do this by choosing items that the sun would normally heat. When you use this method, the sun heats these items during the day and then in the evening, as it cools off, these items release the heat it trapped from the sun earlier that day.
To use this thermal mass method, you would need to have small rocks layered in the bottom of your greenhouse to absorb the sun’s rays. You can also use black paint on objects to draw in the sun’s rays for later distribution.
The black paint captures the heat from the sun. The objects that you paint black can be barrels or cinder blocks. Some people use black ceramic to capture the sun’s heat.
You can use solar panels in the top of your greenhouse. Many people don’t use this method because of the expense involved. Some say you can achieve fast results using composting. However, composting is a method that must be watched rigidly as it does have a high combustion rate if not handled properly.
Irrigation for Your Greenhouse
Your plants will need regular watering times and with a greenhouse, that can easily become quite a chore. That’s why you want to know how you’re going to set up the irrigation from the moment you decide to build.
You can look at the plans for greenhouses by Bill Keene for help in learning how to set up proper irrigation. One of the popular methods used is called drip tubing. Using this way allows the water to get right to the plants.
Not only are they an extremely accurate way of watering your plants but they great for using only the water that’s necessary and no more. They can be set up so that they’re on a timer as well as being set up on a sensor.
They’ll be able to turn on when it’s time to water and then shut off when the watering is done. To set up this method, you’ll need to use piping. The most popular ones use PVC pipes.
Misters are another way that you can set up the irrigation for your greenhouse. This method works like you see in the produce section of your local grocery store. The water is sprinkled down on the plants at timed intervals.
This method is fairly inexpensive because you use less water to reach a bigger area of the greenhouse. Misting is also good for areas where there’s a lot of humidity. Not only do they water the plants, but they can keep the temperature levels lower.
Another popular method for watering greenhouses is called mat irrigation. With this type of watering system, you have a steady influx of water to the plants. It’s done using a mat that’s connected to water lines.
Through these water lines, the mats are always infused with water so they stay wet. When your plants are on these mats, they’ll pull the moisture that they need. What’s good about this type of irrigation system is that the plants don’t ever become saturated because they only take in the water that they need.
The only drawback to using a mat irrigation system is that the constant moisture provides a breeding ground for the growth of mold or other fungal invasions. By using an irrigation system, you can consistently give your plants the water that they need without waste.