The Time To Prepare Your Greenhouse for Winter is NOW!

Greenhouse with Polycoolite glazing in the snow

Advance Greenhouses Personal Greenhouse

Even though this picture was taken several years ago, it won’t be long before many of us will be seeing this as we look out our windows and long for summer. I know it is a few months yet, but now is the perfect time to prepare your greenhouse for winter. It is still warm enough that you can move any plants remaining inside the greenhouse to the outdoors. This will allow you to give your greenhouse a thorough cleaning. Be sure to use a mild disinfectant soap to clean with. Get the mold out of every nook and cranny. I know that we all keep our greenhouses relatively clean, but this is just something that happens with all of the humidity. Check any corners or places where there may be potential leaks and be sure to seal them up. Clean your benches if you have any. Repair or rework your flooring, depending on what you have in place there. Check all lighting and electrical systems. If need be, get a certified electrician in to help you with this. You can never be too safe. Same with your greenhouse heater. Whether you have electric, natural gas or propane, be sure to check your greenhouse heat source and be sure that it is properly connected with no leaks. Also, turn it on and make sure that it works. You may have to go out later in the evening as the temperatures drop to try this, but trust me, it is worth the time and effort to do this. In fact, I think that checking your heating system is the most important part of getting your greenhouse ready for winter. I cannot tell you how many times I have received panicked calls that it is going to freeze tonight and my heater won’t come on. There is just no way to get parts or a new heater to you fast enough. So, even though we are still enjoying summer time temperatures, think about the winter and your greenhouse now.

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Do It Yourself Hydroponic Systems

Deep Water Culture Hydroponic System

DWC Hydroponic System

This one is for all of you d-i-yers out there. This article is from our friends at Garden and Greenhouse Magazine. It discusses the different types of hydroponic systems and how to set up your own hydroponics in your hobby greenhouse. I have owned a greenhouse full of hydroponic systems, experimenting with the different types to see which I liked the best. I think I preferred the NFT system. We used it to grow basil. It was as simple as could be.

Do-It-Yourself Hydroponics

Experimenting with hydroponic gardening is a fun and productive way for greenhouse hobbyists to expand their horticultural knowledge. The term “hydroponics” is a general name that encompasses all methods of soilless gardening. In other words, there is a multitude of ways to garden hydroponically. However, don’t let the seemingly infinite amount of hydroponic systems deter you from giving hydroponics a try. One of the best ways for greenhouse hobbyists to break into hydroponic gardening is by making a homemade hydroponic system.

 

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Clear View Vinyl Covering

Clear View Vinyl Glazing

Clear View Vinyl Greenhouse Covering

We are happy to announce the newest product addition to our greenhouse glazing line. This covering is a vinyl material that has a crystal clear, glass like clarity. It is great for commercial operations that would benefit from the customers being able to see clearly inside the greenhouse. Every fall it seems that I get a couple of calls from people wanting to “seal up” their screened in back porches for the winter. But, they do not want the semi transparency of our 6 mil, 4 year polyfilm. This is a perfect covering for this purpose. It is a tough, durable 16 mil covering. Of course all of the greenhouse glazing materials we offer have UV protection. The life expectancy of this material is 4 years. It comes in 54″ widths and 3 different lengths of rolls.

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Installing Greenhouse Polyfilm – The Latest Video from “The Greenhouse Minute”

Building a Polyfilm Greenhouse? Not sure how to attach the film to your greenhouse frame? This video discusses the use of batten tape or base and wiggle wire systems. They are both excellent for wood frames. The wiggle wire system is good for metal frames as well. As always, we hope you find this edition of “The Greenhouse Minute” informative and helpful.

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Need Ventilation for Your Greenhouse – But Don’t Have Electricity?

Solar Powered Ventilation for Greenhouse

Greenhouse with Solar Powered Roof Vents and Side Vents

Of course the answer to this question is yes, you do need ventilation for your greenhouse. But what if your greenhouse is in a location with no electricity? There are several options which will alleviate this problem. The simplest thing to add is roof vents or side vents. A lot of the greenhouse kits will come with these either as standard equipment or as an option. If you are building your own greenhouse, you would just frame them out using the same material as your greenhouse and cover them with the same material as well. To simplify matters even more, I recommend using solar powered openers with these. This is an arm that is operated by a wax cylinder. It is a pretty basic piece of equipment. It functions on the principles of contraction and expansion. When it is warm the wax will expand and cause the arm to open. When it is cool the wax will contract and cause the arm to pull shut. There is no exact temperature setting on these, but there is a thumbscrew at the end which can be used to adjust the opening and closing temperatures. They are typically able to open between 65 and 75 degrees F, depending on the manufacturer. They will definitely simplify your life during the spring and fall months. No more getting up in the morning and opening them before you head out to work. Then, if you get home and forget to close them at night, the results could be devastating.

Solar Powered Roof Vent

Intake Shutter with Solar Powered Opener

If you are building your own greenhouse, or need ventilation in an existing greenhouse, our solar powered shutters are perfect. They will supply natural ventilation for your greenhouse. They come in 6 sizes and require no electricity. The 4 smaller sizes may be fitted into a polyfilm greenhouse without any further framing. Or, they may be installed in a framed out opening the same as the 2 larger sizes. These shutters are perfect for just about any outbuilding, not just for greenhouses.

Polyfilm Greenhouse with Roll up Side Curtains

Polyfilm Greenhouse with Roll up Side Curtains

A final suggestion for natural ventilation is roll up side curtains. These are typically found in polyfilm greenhouses only, and come with a manual hand crank.

In conclusion, not having electricity in an area where you want to put your greenhouse should not be a deterrent. Use any of these systems, or any combination of these systems to help ventilate your greenhouse. Also, if you don’t like any of these suggestions, another way to go with this is to use solar panels to supply electricity to your motorized ventilation systems.

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Greenhouse Flooring Options

Pavers as a Greenhouse Floor

Fancy Paver Pattern for Greenhouse Floor

We put so much time into planning out our greenhouses — glazing options, size, lighting, bench/table configurations, even décor. But sometimes, we forget to consider one of the most basic elements of the greenhouse, the floor. There are many options for flooring material, ranging in cost from quite inexpensive to fairly costly, but every greenhouse floor must start with positive drainage. With all of the misting and watering that occurs daily, the last thing you want is to create a soggy, slick basis for walking and working. So start with good drainage and take that into account as you are making your flooring decisions, then check out these options to determine which one fits your budget, aesthetic and lifestyle. 

Concrete

Although pouring a concrete slab is likely one of the more expensive flooring options, it creates a permanent, solid basis for your greenhouse activities. Much like a patio floor, a concrete greenhouse floor will need to have a surface drain installed to allow water to drain out. Pouring a concrete floor is not an easy DIY project as there are too many variables to cover, so this is an option best left to the pros. The investment will repay you many times over, though.

Stone

Similar to the concrete slab, stone flooring is a more permanent option, especially when mortared in place. If you opt to forego mortaring, space the stone closer together and use a stabilizer in between such as decomposed granite or gravel. Make sure you choose a stone that has a flatter, smooth surface, as you don’t want to be tripping as you work — look for larger, flatter pieces labeled “flagstone” or “patio stone,” and forego lesser expensive “field stone” that tends to have a bumpy, irregular surface.  A surface drain is also a must if you opt for a mortared stone floor.

Brick

Brick flooring is a beautiful, elegant and permanent option, but it can also be a more expensive one. Brick, like stone, does not necessarily need to be mortared in place, but it will need a surface drain if it is. If your greenhouse location has relatively level ground, and you have some basic DIY skills, this could be a project for you to take on, but most greenhouse owners will want to consider hiring the pros to correctly install this floor.

Gravel

Many greenhouse owners opt for pea gravel for their flooring. It’s inexpensive, creates positive drainage and is readily available. You can also opt to install weed barrier underneath the gravel, and option that I recommend to keep the gravel from settling into the soil and disappearing. Be sure to keep the gravel clean by periodically washing it down, as a build-up of moisture can create a slick surface. As easy DIY project, gravel is a great middle-of-the-road approach to creating a functional greenhouse floor. 

Weed Cloth

Also known as weed barrier, this woven black fabric is the choice of many commercial greenhouses to suppress weeds and create a nice level floor for walking and working. It allows water to pass through, creating positive drainage, while at the same time keeping your floor from becoming muddy. If you choose this option, go for the more expensive, commercial grade fabric, as it truly is a more durable and effective product. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for — and why go to the trouble of installing this product if it’s not going to do the job?

Mulch

Good old-fashioned mulch is a great option for greenhouse floors — it provides great drainage, sure footing and enriches the soil as it breaks down. It’s also readily available and inexpensive. Opt for a higher quality shredded mulch rather than wood chips, as shredded mulch interlocks to form a tighter mat upon which to walk. You’ll need to replenish your mulch floor as it breaks down, but it’s an easy annual task that any homeowner can do. It’s available both in bags as well as in bulk (per cubic yard), with the bulk option being the least expensive by far.

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