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The Beginner's Guide to Greenhouses



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Hi I'm Tricia, an organic gardener I grow organically

for a healthy and safe food supply for a clean and sustainable environment

for an enjoyable and rewarding experience

Greenhouses are a great asset they're great for growing

all year round for propagating and for tender plants

Today we're going to talk about greenhouse types so that you can make the

best decision

First step is to pick your location

The best location for a greenhouse is a southern exposure

the next best location is the southeast

or east exposure followed by a southwest

and west exposure a northern exposure is the least desirable exposure

Greenhouses that are oriented east-west get less light than those oriented

north-south

Afternoon shade from deciduous trees can be really desirable

in the summer they can shade the greenhouse over the hottest part of the

day

and during the winter the leaves will fall and the greenhouse will get

extra light it needs during the winter Other considerations include providing

some afternoon shade

the possibility of storm damage good drainage

accessibility and access to water You also need to decide whether you're

building a free-standing

or a lean-to greenhouse A free-standing greenhouse gives you more options on

placement

an attached greenhouse however can be easier to build

it'll require fewer materials and can be heated by radiant heat from your house

especially when built on a southern exposure Now that you've picked your location

how big do you want to build a greenhouse?

First decide how wide of a greenhouse to build

you wanna allow nineteen inches for pads if it's just you walk in the greenhouse

and more like twenty four inches if you'll be bringing in equipment & visitors

Benches should be as wide as you can reach across comfortably if you can

access them from one side

and they should be twice that width if the benches in the center of the

greenhouse

The length of your greenhouse should be based on how many plants you want You'll

want one square foot of space

for every six inch pot a word of advice make sure

that your greenhouse is twenty five to fifty percent bigger than you think you'll need

because if you're anything like me your plant collection gets bigger

not smaller Glass is the classic option it's the longest lived and it can be a

very sustainable option

This greenhouses is built out of upcycled single pane windows

The downside to glass is that it's heavy

it can be expensive if purchased new and it requires the most sturdy framework

also can be damaged by storms Polycarbonate panelling or fiberglass

is the next option It's lighter cheaper easier to fabricate

and with higher impact resistance then glass The downside

is that has a shorter life span at about seven to twelve years

instead of about twenty-five years life expectancy for glass

They'll also eventually yellow and have a high expansion contraction rate

Polyethylene film is the cheapest option

easiest to install and is readily available the downside is that it only

has a four-year service life

The next concern is heating and ventilation and a lot of that will have

to do with what kind of plants your growing inside

check out our blog for a calculator that can help you determine your heating

needs

About twenty-five percent of the heat is gonna come from the sun

You'll need about sixty degrees for active growing

and about forty degrees for season extension Typically

greenhouses are heated by oil gas or electricity this can be forced air

steam are even radiant heat from water Some alternative heat sources

are heat by compost and passive solar greenhouses

Manual temperature control is really tricky automatic vent openers like these

that work

with a wax cylinder can mean the difference between happy plants and dead

ones

If you want to use your greenhouse in the summer a fan will be necessary

in the peak heat of the summer your going to need to cycle the air about once per

minute

You can either do-it-yourself or you can buy a greenhouse kit like this redwood

greenhouse kit with polycarbonate sides

So get started with the greenhouse and grow organic for life