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Sustaining a Greenhouse: A Beginner's Guide

Sproutrite is a home and garden specialist that caters to people who need help with indoor and outdoor gardening.

This article will provide all the essential information you need to maintain a greenhouse growing project.

This article will provide all the essential information you need to maintain a greenhouse growing project.

Greenhouse Growing: A Great Way to Do More With Less

A greenhouse conserves water, protects plants from predators, and prevents dehydration. For this reason, greenhouse growing is a great way to do more with less.

The care and upkeep of greenhouses can be a rewarding experience, but it also comes with some responsibility. Many have chosen to use the method as a way to grow tomatoes, peanuts, and other vegetables or fruits year round. There are several factors to consider when going this route though.

If your greenhouse plants aren't thriving or even surviving, it could be due to a number of reasons. It can be tricky to balance heat and moisture levels, with temperature and humidity controls always on the fritz.

Here are some tips that will help to ensure you grow healthy greenhouse plants year round.

Sunlight

Sunlight is the most important factor for success with for your greenhouse. Without it, you can't grow anything!

Sunlight is more than just a source of heat though, as it also provides energy for plants' photosynthesis, the process by which plants use water and carbon dioxide to produce their own food. The energy provided by sunlight is responsible for most of the growth you will see in your plants.

Make Sure Your Plants Get Equal Amounts of Sunlight

You should consider where you’re going to place your greenhouse so it gets the most sunlight possible.

You'll also want to make sure that all of your plants have the same amount of sunlight. This means putting them all together in one place and making sure that no one plant gets too much sun while another gets too little. If it’s not possible to get equal sunlight, then try to rotate your plants occasionally. You can also use a supplemental lighting system if needed.

Ventilation

One of the hardest parts of maintaining a greenhouse is keeping it at the right temperature.

The types of plants that you are growing dictates what temperature your greenhouse should be kept at. For example, tropical plants thrive in higher temperatures than desert plants do.

Additionally, you need to factor in the ambient temperature outside of your greenhouse. If it is too hot outside for your plants, then you will need to ventilate your greenhouse accordingly.

Fresh Air and Proper Humidity Levels Are Key

It's a good idea to ventilate your greenhouse all year, but it's especially important in the summer. Providing fresh air to your plants and keeping humidity from rising will aid their growth.

Most greenhouses include windows and doors that can be opened. When the temperature rises, you can manually open your windows and doors to bring fresh air through. This works great; just keep an eye on your thermometer and adjust your ventilation accordingly.

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Alternatively, some vent openers open automatically as the temperature rises, then close once the temperature falls again. These vents can be a huge convenience and time saver.

3 Ventilation Necessities for Greenhouses

A well-ventilated and heated greenhouse must have these three things:

  1. Air vents: These allow air to circulate freely throughout the greenhouse. This prevents hot air from building up at the top of the greenhouse, which can cause excessive heat loss.
  2. Insulation: You can insulate your greenhouse by using materials such as polystyrene panels or fiberglass batten insulation. This will keep the temperature inside your greenhouse constant and reduce energy bills by lowering energy usage during winter months.
  3. Ventilators: These help to control humidity levels inside your greenhouse and prevent condensation from forming on glass panes, which can lead to mold growth on plants if left unchecked.
Good ventilation is essential to maintaining the proper humidity levels in your greenhouse.

Good ventilation is essential to maintaining the proper humidity levels in your greenhouse.

Monitoring Pests

Monitoring pests in a greenhouse is very important. Pests are a big problem that can cause many troubles and damage to the crops.

It is not easy to control pests in the greenhouse, however, as the high humidity levels and warm temperature make the environment favorable for many pests.

The first step is to identify the pest that exists in the greenhouse so you can choose the correct method of control and take preventative measures.

Beneficial vs. Harmful Insects

Pests can be divided into two groups: beneficial and harmful.

Ladybugs, spiders, and wasps are considered beneficial Insects, since they help in the pollination process and destroy harmful insects.

On the other hand, harmful pests damage plants by sucking their sap or eating their leaves. They can also act as carriers for diseases like powdery mildew and bacterial leaf spot.

Tips for Keeping Pests in Check

It is important to monitor pests regularly to keep them in check—here are some tips:

  1. Use a magnifying glass to look at your plants carefully and identify any pests or damage caused by them.
  2. Write down what you see so that you do not forget anything later on when you go shopping for pesticides at your local garden store.
  3. Check each plant separately rather than looking at all of them together, because some may have different types of pests that need different treatment methods. This will save time when treating those specific problems, rather than having to deal with everything together!
  4. Know what kind of pest you're dealing with. Some pests are brought in from outside, but most are already there waiting for the right conditions to thrive. For instance, thrips (a tiny, winged insect) can be brought in on plants from outside; fungus gnats can live in the soil; and whiteflies can be brought in from outside or be born from eggs already present on plants.

Learning about each pest's lifecycle will help you monitor and deal with them effectively—which means that controlling pests won't just be an afterthought once they've done damage, but instead an ongoing process.

Sustaining Humidity

Humidity is a measure of water vapor in the atmosphere. Too much humidity and your plants may suffer from fungal diseases and pests. Not enough and your plants will struggle to grow.

A greenhouse acts as a buffer between the outside air that can be too humid or too dry, and the air that your plants breathe. Because of this, humidity control is easier in a greenhouse than it is outdoors.

3 Methods for Controlling Humidity Levels

  1. A quick way to improve humidity levels in your greenhouse is by watering it down on hot days, especially if you have plants that are sensitive to low moisture levels (like palms).
  2. You can also use a small pump or sprayer with water and mist plants as needed throughout the day for added moisture content (especially if they’re in full sun).
  3. Another method is using an evaporative cooler, which will cool the air inside while adding extra moisture content at night. Note: This works the best!

The ideal humidity level for a greenhouse is between 60–80%, depending on the plants you are growing. This is generally easier to manage in a smaller unit with only a few plants. If you have a large greenhouse, you can use automatic systems such as humidifiers and dehumidifiers.

Soil and Water

Soil is the most important component for growing plants in a greenhouse. It's what gives plants their nutrients and moisture, and it acts as the structure that holds the plant upright.

How to Make Good Soil

Soil comes in two varieties: good soil and bad soil. Good soil keeps the moisture in and out of the plant as it needs it, while "bad" soil lets the water puddle up and run off.

To make good soil, you gather together garden debris and other organic matter, such as leaves, grass clippings, coffee grounds, and other kitchen scraps. Then add some fertilizer like compost, and mix it all together into a moist, crumbly mess. That's your starter mix!

Proper Watering Habits

Ensure your plants are getting enough water, periodically checking the soil moisture around the base of each plant. If it's dry, water it in with a watering can or hose while being careful not to splash water on the leaves themselves.

To keep your greenhouse looking good, make sure you're watering the soil well. It might be tempting to skip on regular watering—because you don't want to damage your plants or make them sick—but that's not what you should do in order to maintain the health of your greenhouse environment.

Watering the soil well helps prevent leaks or water pooling around plants, which can be harmful for them, and also keeps roots from drying out and dying off (which could kill off individual plants).

Proper greenhouse maintenance—including deadheading, pruning, culling, weeding, and cleaning—is necessary to ensure the best possible environment for your plants.

Proper greenhouse maintenance—including deadheading, pruning, culling, weeding, and cleaning—is necessary to ensure the best possible environment for your plants.

Proper Plant Maintenance

The quality and endurance of your plants, fruits, and vegetables can be improved with proper garden maintenance.

Nearly every plant needs a few hours of direct sunlight, but different plant types require varied levels of care. It's critical to learn how to properly care for your garden if you want your outdoor produce and gorgeous flowers to weather the seasons.

Deadheading, Trimming, Culling, and Weeding

As needed, deadhead, trim, and cull your plants. Deadheading encourages fresh development by removing old flower blossoms. Cutting back the branches of your plants to regulate growth and make place for more is known as pruning. Culling your plants will get rid of the unhealthy parts, while also giving your garden more room to grow. These gardening techniques can all help to stimulate development by removing any hidden pests or unwanted components, allowing your flower or vegetable garden to thrive.

You also need to get rid of the all weeds. Weeds are a garden's worst enemy. They can choke the roots of your healthy plants, attract bugs, and be an eyesore.

Weeds take up space and resources that could otherwise be used by your plants. So weeding your garden helps it stay healthy and develop.

Greenhouse Cleanliness Tips

Make sure that your greenhouse is cleaned at least once every other month.

Dust will collect and can irritate the plants, which is the last thing you want when you're trying to keep things thriving. Plus, dirt and dust can collect in nooks and crannies where pests may find refuge, so getting rid of it early is key!

If you have any pets, make sure they get their paws cleaned off after coming into the greenhouse as well, since they might track in unwanted little critters from outside.

Here are some additional tips on keeping your greenhouse clean:

  • Wipe down your tables and windows with a wet rag or sponge every day. This will keep dust from building up on them.
  • Empty out your watering trays at least once a day, maybe more. The water that falls off the leaves of your plants can get grimy after a while and can start to smell bad. If you empty them out every day right when the water stops dripping off the leaves, this won't happen.
  • Use a broom to sweep up the floors of your greenhouse every week or so. This will keep your greenhouse looking clean and will also keep out pests.

Remember: by keeping your greenhouse clean, you'll give your plants a better chance at growing healthy and strong.

Repairs and Maintenance

To keep your greenhouse in good shape, you should regularly inspect it for things like cracks, leaks, and other damages. If there is a problem, you should fix it as soon as possible.

  • If there is a crack or leak, use caulk sealant to seal it up. If there is a hole, patch it up with a piece of plastic or glass from an old window pane. Try to keep the size of the patch relatively small, so that the structure remains strong.
  • Replace broken windows. If a window is broken, do not attempt to repair it yourself—this is a job for a professional. Use a professional glazier (someone who works with glass) to replace it. If the window remains unrepaired, the hole will let in cold air and bugs.
  • Clean up debris. Check your greenhouse for debris at least once a month. Look for fallen branches and leaves from nearby trees, bird droppings, cobwebs, and other items that can block sunlight from entering the structure. Clear out as much of this debris as possible to ensure that your plants get enough light.
  • Repair damaged gutters if necessary. Gutters help guide rainwater into the proper channels.

Maintaining a Sustainable Environment Takes Thoughtfulness and Hard Work

Essentially, the tips listed earlier are all that you need to have a good chance at maintaining your greenhouse optimally. They will help you grow healthy, thriving plants in a self-sustainable environment.

Take all of these steps into consideration right now, and you’ll be well on your way to having a thriving greenhouse in no time at all!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Sproutrite

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