For proper functioning and maintenance of greenhouses, certain essential greenhouse supplies and equipment are required.
The first important supply is the covering or glazing material of the greenhouse since it identifies the effectiveness and success of the greenhouse in terms of plant growing and maintenance. Glass covering provides impact on the aesthetic appearance and permanence of the greenhouse. Some of the weaknesses of glass covering include the disability of retaining heat and low insulating value. It is heavier and therefore needs stronger braces or frames. It is fragile, easy to break and doesn’t diffuse light so there’s a possibility of plant burning. It also requires contractor installation, which may affect the budget.
Plastic covering includes fiberglass, polycarbonate, acrylic sheets, and polyethylene film. Fiberglass is an alternative to glass since it is translucent enough to transmit light. You can purchase them in rolls or ridged sheets. The corrugation grids seal and overlap sides to avoid appropriate temperature inside the greenhouse from escaping.
Polycarbonate is the newest covering option, which appears to be stronger and more resistant to environmental impacts like fire. It is available in single, double and triple walled sheets. Single walled coverings are very popular in hobby gardener greenhouse. Double walled is used in sunshine easy growth and Juliana greenhouses which sustains balanced lighting. Triple wall is prevalent in cross-country greenhouses and are the most expensive.
Polyethylene film is the most popular and commonly used in the US since it is cheaper in comparison to other coverings. It is easy to maintain and can be used for 3-5 years depending on the thickness of poly and UV treatment. One of its drawbacks is it is easy to rip and tear.
The second most crucial supply is water. The following are choices on how to water the plants. First is by using a garden hose. It allows the gardener to provide one on one plant watering individually. Although with some greenhouse planters, it can be a problem when there is not much time and when one is on vacation.
The second option is thru drip irrigation system. This is very commonly in use since a tube delivers to each pot from a main water pipe and it uses a nozzle to control water dispersion. It is equipped with a timer for watering plants with less supervision. Third option is the overhead sprinkler system, which automatically waters plants faster; however, plants can be susceptible to unequal distribution of water. The fourth is the overhead misting system, which is important for humidifying the area but not as a main water source.
The third most important supply is the greenhouse thermometer, which provides information or records high and low temperatures inside the greenhouse. It serves as a reference of the wetness and dryness of the surroundings maintenance. The maximum and minimum thermometer uses a small needle to determine the temperature. Some thermometers provide the Ph, moisture content and humidity levels for proper monitoring of the plants. Market offers several types of thermometers like the indoor/outdoor thermometers with sensors, digital wall mounted, or tabletop type with humidity indicator plus soil thermometers for seedbeds and compost monitoring.
The fourth supply is the greenhouse frames. These are in use as skeletons for the greenhouse covering or glazing. The most commonly used frames include wood, aluminum, galvanized steel, and PVC. Wood is extremely popularly in sunrooms or homemade greenhouses. It provides attractive appearance and easy to design with accessories. It is heat containing and are considered to be heavier and larger, therefore allowing more shadow or shade in the greenhouse.
One weakness of wood frames is its proneness to deterioration because of damp atmosphere although there are wood frames that are element and insect resistant like the redwood and cedar. One can also use sealants to increase wood life. Aluminum is indeed the most expensive of all frame choices; however, it is rust, rot and break resistant. Galvanized steel frames are the strongest frames but it needs a heavier structure. PVC pipe frames are popular because it is cheaper, easy to install and portable.
The fifth important supply is the floor, which consists of the walkway and under bench areas. The walkway is best created when it is non-slippery, easy to clean and strong enough to resist everyday moisture and dirt. Some materials for the walkway may include stone, gravel, brick concrete, wood slits, and ground bark. The under bench areas usually use porous materials that can absorb moisture and at the same time allow easy water drainage. Some materials include gravel, sawdust, and ground bark. It also helps to use a sheet of woven weed barrier to avoid growth of weeds.
The sixth most important supply is the benches, which greenhouses use to allow gardeners enough space to work. They also function as shade to the plants. A good bench top allows water to drain and permits flow of fresh air.
The seventh supply is the lighting, which greatly affects the growth of plants. A specific greenhouse area or season creates an impact on the lighting and that’s why there is available artificial lighting for greenhouses.
The eighth supplies are the ventilation system. These include the fan shutter, exhaust fans, fan controls, roof vent openers, louver windows and circulation fans. Shutter fans permit air exhaustion and circulation. Some fan designs are corrosion resistant, quiet, easy to maintain and UV protected. Fan controls are receptacles that control the fan with installed thermostats. Automatic roof vent openers are easy to install which do not require electricity or batteries. Louver windows also help in air circulation. The ideal place for them is opposite the door. Some are adjustable and you can operate them manually or by automatic openers.
The ninth supply is the heating system. These include the electric heaters, small and large gas heaters and heat circulation fans. They function to distribute heat evenly all throughout the greenhouse. Recommended heaters must have automatic thermostats and shut off controls for safety. Gas heaters are in use particularly when electrical plugs are not available in the greenhouse. They are energy proficient and emit carbon dioxide and water.
The tenth supply is the shading system. Shade covers are popular during long hot summers to block about 20% of sun’s rays. They are particularly useful to plants, which are in need of less sunlight. Some factors that you may consider when choosing shade cover size include the greenhouse location, climate, and light requirement of the plants inside the greenhouse.
The eleventh supply is the staging equipments. A single tier with 2 feet height is an ideal set up for staging. However, for large greenhouses, it is best to use 2-3 tiers for maximum use of space. There are available small propagating frames, which are equipped with soil warming cables and air warming sides. Some come with built in thermostats.
The twelfth supply is the watering cans. Despite the availability of automatic irrigation systems, it is also essential to have watering cans. It helps in sustaining water in the greenhouse. A recommended can is a well-balanced one with long spouts to be able to refill water with ease.
The thirteenth supply is the dibbers. These are wooden hand tools handy for creating holes in the ground for plant seedlings and cuttings.
The fifteenth supply is the sieves. These help in soil sifting and compost making.
The sixteenth supply includes buckets, pots and trays, which serve as plant receptacles. These are very common garden supplies.
The seventeenth supply is the measuring jugs and sprayers. These help with pesticide maintenance.
The eighteenth supply is the protective netting. These help to trap insects and bugs, which can be detrimental to the growth of plants. One good example of netting is the plastic netting, which is very economical.
The nineteenth supply is the composting system. Composting system consist of recycling your waste products and using your compost bins and wire containers. These are popularly called commercial composters to make composting easy and manageable. They are easy to rotate and are secure from bugs and pests.
The twentieth supply is the fertilizer. Ideally, plants need to be fertilized once a month to provide the proper nutrients needed by the former.
The twenty-first supply is the hand tools. One must be sure that there are available plant scissors, cultivators, trovels, and weeders in the greenhouse.
The twenty-second need is the tie down kits. This tool will prevent the greenhouse from being blown off by the wind.
The twenty-third supply is the seed heat mats. This is primarily used to germinate seeds faster. Some mats are enclosed with lighting and watering instructions.
The twenty-fourth supply is the plant labels. These are used as aids in plant monitoring. It helps to save time when plants are labeled.
The last supply is the garden apparel used by the gardener. The market offers wide range of choices particularly with the shoes and hand gloves to be used inside the greenhouse. Gloves come with easy grip features while shoes are non-slippery in design and comfortable to use.
Greenhouse plastic is mainly responsible for maintaining a hothouse effect within a greenhouse. Greenhouse plastic creates a warm and suitable growing environment that allows various types of plants to cultivate beautifully. It creates an enclosure that protects plants from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun while taking advantage of its natural warmth and light. The filtered environment produced by greenhouse plastic makes it possible for garden enthusiasts to grow luscious plants like vegetables and flowers in the cold dead of winter.
Greenhouse plastic is explicitly designed to resist wear and tear unlike conventional construction plastic that cannot filter ultraviolet rays from the sun. Greenhouse plastic is durable due to its knitted design that allows it to be cut and sized to meet the required length for a structure without fraying, ripping or tearing. The material can easily be framed around any greenhouse opening like a vent, door or windows.
Greenhouse plastic is the preferred covering of most garden enthusiasts compared to other types of greenhouse covering. At the same time costs are greatly reduced when greenhouse plastic is used since it lightweight and does not require heavy-duty structural framing. The diffusion of light into a structure constructed of greenhouse plastic is as good as that of a glass greenhouse.
Types of Greenhouse Plastic
Greenhouse plastic films are generally made of three types of plastics namely, PVC or polyvinyl chloride, PE or polyethylene and copolymers. Although, there are other types of plastic used these three are most widely used among all.
Polyethylene greenhouse plastic is available in two types, the utility grade and the commercial grade greenhouse plastic. Utility grade polyethylene greenhouse plastic is sold at local hardware stores and generally stays in good condition for practically a year. Commercial grade polyethylene greenhouse plastic last longer that utility grade PE up to eighteen months and is treated with ultraviolet inhibitors that filter out ultraviolet rays.
Copolymers are more durable and last up to three years. Innovative additives introduced into greenhouse plastic enable it to mimic the same effects of a glass greenhouse at considerably reduced costs. Polyvinyl chloride is more expensive compared to polyethylene however this type of greenhouse plastic can last up to five years. However PVC greenhouse plastic requires regular washing to prevent dust buildup from the air. It is also sold in smaller sheets of four feet by six feet wide.
How to Attach Greenhouse Plastic to Frame
Once the frame has been built it is time to put on the greenhouse plastic film to enclose the entire structure. The plastic film can either be made of polyethylene, copolymers or polyvinyl chloride depending the preference of the owner. But as much as possible choose a greenhouse plastic that is resistant to ultraviolet rays in order to make the most of the structure. Before laying the greenhouse plastic covering on the frame it is important to mask the joints of the frames with several rounds of tape or a rubber material to prevent it from puncturing the covering.
The greenhouse plastic film can be secured in place using a staple gun. A more rigid construction using 1″ by 2″ wood strips and wood screws can also be used to secure the greenhouse plastic film in place. The wood strips are attached to the frame so that the greenhouse plastic film does not come in direct contact with the frame.
A popular technique used by nurseries is a double-walled construction for better insulation within the structure that adds up to considerable energy savings. Two sheets of plastic are layered and framed leaving a small amount of space in between about five to eight inches wide. Air is introduced into the framed plastics that produce a dead air zone, which can efficiently insulate the entire greenhouse. Various tapes like poly patching tape and batten tape can be used to secure greenhouse plastic into place.
Poly patching tape is constructed from UV protected acrylic along with the adhesive to protect the greenhouse plastic from weakening on contact with it. This type of tape can be used to patch holes and rips that may happen to the plastic film. Its excellent holding strength and wide tape make an ideal for securing the plastic film to the frame of the greenhouse. On the other hand batten tape can be fastened the plastic film using staples or tacks to the greenhouse structure. It is also made of heavy gauge vinyl that is also UV protected.
So, you’ve decided to take on the task of building your own greenhouse huh?…You’re probably so excited to get started growing your favorite plants, fruits, and veggies, you can hardly contain yourself, right? Heck, I’ll bet you even have the site picked out in your backyard too. And if you already have some kind of budget in mind…well, you pretty much have all the basics covered. So now what do ya do? Easy…the next step is to decide what type of greenhouse plans, are ideal for your needs.
Now, before you jump the gun and spring for the first set of greenhouse blueprints you find on the internet, you need to realize that not all plans are created equally. Everything gets back to the focus of your greenhouse endeavours. Namely, what kind of plants you want to grow. Keep in mind that depending on your climate, location, and the kind of stuff you want to grow, your greenhouse building plans are going to differ from someone else’s. For instance, if you’re looking for something in which to germinate your seedlings, you’ll want to seek out plans that are specifically designed for cool climate plants. These plans are going to be substantially different from those that are designed for cacti, which thrive in warmer climates.
If you’re in the market for more of a hobby house, you might want to seek out some wooden greenhouse plans. Hobby houses are just what they sound like –greenhouses for the casual gardener. If that describes you to a T, then your best bet is to go with a house that requires an inexpensive wood (cedar or birch) and an inexpensive cover (polyethylene fits just fine, but plexiglass is ideal). These houses are not for someone who has or even wants a serious lifetime investment in the gardening industry. Don’t let your ambition get bigger than your ability. If you’re looking for something to do casually on the week-ends, this kind of greenhouse is perfect for you.
Not sure you want to build your greenhouse all on your own? That’s perfectly fine. Where there are greenhouses and materials there are greenhouse kits. A quick search on the internet will unearth –no pun intended– some classic, beautiful, and highly functional greenhouses for your ecological needs. But also be wary of which kind of kit you purchase. Not only are these more expensive, they’re highly specialized and will not allow for any mistakes. Be aware of what you’re purchasing at all times. Personally though, if you have a weekend to spare, I always recommend building your own greenhouse. With a clear set of plans they’re very easy to make (essentially just the cost of materials), and that adds up to being a fraction of the cost of a kit or prefabricated greenhouse any day.
If you have the cash to purchase your own fully-fledged greenhouse, then you’re in great luck. Though as with kits and self-construction these houses vary, if you’re having someone transport the house to your backyard, you can just as easily find someone to point you in the right direction of the greenhouse that’s perfect for your plants.
A word for the wise: ask loads of questions. If you find yourself in a quagmire over what kind of greenhouse is going to allow your plants to thrive, search the internet or, better yet, head over to your local hardware store. Those who specialize in gardening will know exactly what it is you need to make your dreams of gardening grandeur come to fruition.