There are many benefits to polyfilm greenhouses. One thing is that some municipalities will consider this a temporary structure and will not require permits, wind and snow load ratings, etc. They are also less expensive than a rigid polycarbonate covered greenhouse. One disadvantage to this is that most of the greenhouse polyfilm found today has a 4 year UV protection, so you will have to figure on replacing the covering every so often. Double polyfilm greenhouses consist of 2 layers of polyfilm with an air inflation system for greenhouse film blowing air between the 2 layers. This will give you a much better R rating than just a single layer of film. Manufacturers claim that it can save you up to 40% of your energy costs. That is quite a considerable savings. I find that the inflated film is more rigid and less susceptible to damage than a single layer of film. This all happens without lowering the light transmission properties of the polyfilm. This is an excellent choice that has been used by many commercial growers through the years and is totally acceptable for a backyard greenhouse operation. Be sure to use greenhouse polyfilm that is UV protected and has an anti condensate coating on it. If the film is not UV protected you should not expect to get any more than one years use out of it, sometimes even less. The anti condensate coating keeps droplets from forming on the film. This will contribute to the overall health of your plants. Any condensation that does form on the roof will come off in sheets rather than in droplets. If you have water dripping on your plants you will have damage to your leaves, fruits, flowers and overall less healthy plants. So, when considering your first or next greenhouse, take a look at a double polyfilm greenhouse and see what benefits it will give you.
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.
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.
You have dreamed for years about owning a greenhouse. Now the time has come. What size do you get? Most people have problems making this decision. I think the best way to start is to think about how you are going to use the greenhouse. If you have plants that you are going to overwinter, I suggest laying them out in your yard in a configuration similar to what you will do in your greenhouse. Then you just measure outside the plants and voila, you have the answer to this question. If you are growing in raised beds, decide what size beds you will have and draw them out on a piece of paper allowing for adequate walkways. The same would apply if you are using systems such as hydroponic systems. Find out their size and draw them in a configuration you like on a piece of paper. When considering raised beds and/or greenhouse staging, you need to be sure that they are not so wide that you are unable to maintain the outside plants properly. I suggest not using any wider than a 3′ bench for benching that will be against a wall. If you are using a bench in the center aisle, it is OK to use a 4′ wide bench. Keep in mind that most of us will be comfortable with a 3′ wide walkway, so be sure to draw them in as well. I do not recommend even trying to put a center bench in a 12′ greenhouse. Lots of people try and I don’t think they are too happy with the outcome. If I would do this, I would only use 2′ wide benches to ensure adequate walkways. I would get at least a 16′ width for a center bench. The best thing to remember is that we are all collectors. You know, that perfect color plant, an unusual vegetable, etc. Don’t buy a greenhouse you will be crammed into with your current plants. Always allow a little room for expansion. If you need any help with this decision, feel free to contact us at Advance Greenhouses.
Are you interested in growing orchids in your greenhouse? The American Orchid Society (AOS) is offering a free to all webinar next week. This will be put on by Ron McHatton of the AOS. A variety of topics on orchid culture in the greenhouse will be discussed. If you register early, you can submit any questions that you may have. This looks like a very informative webinar. Plus, you can’t beat the cost of free. Even if you are just considering purchasing a greenhouse to grow orchids in this will have a lot of information for you. Plus, I am sure there will be lots of advanced growing information as well. Will you be there? I will. I am already registered. To register, simply click this link. http://bit.ly/2sOZYSZ
It seems to me that a lot of people struggle with the decision on which shade cloth is best for their greenhouse. I think they are way over complicating the issue. A greenhouse shade cloth is pretty much like stepping under a shade tree in the summer. You have felt the cooling pretty much right away when you do this. A shade cloth does pretty much the same thing. There are several different choices of material, but the differences are pretty basic. The woven shade cloth is the least expensive. It is a black color. It must be taped on the edges, or it will ravel. It is best used on the outside of the greenhouse. The next choice is a woven shade cloth. This will be intermediate in pricing. It is really nice, as it has some stretch and will not ravel, so the taping is not a necessity with this type. Although we do tape all of our edges so we can add grommets for simple installation. I personally prefer to use this with a greenhouse with automatic roof vents. The way we have always done it is to put the shade cloth on tight on the ends. As we near the vents, we don’t fasten the shade down as tight. We will go back for the next 3 or 4 days and adjust as needed. You want to make sure that there is no strain on the vents when they are trying to open. The next choice is the reflective shade cloth. This is the most expensive, but it is a good choice to use on the inside of a greenhouse. A lot of commercial growers like this for exterior applications as well. Probably the most common question I get is – what percentage should I use? The higher the percent, the more shade you will get. I have found through the years that a lot of orchid growers will prefer a 50% shade cloth. For general purpose growing, ie vegetables, annuals, etc, a 60% to 70% shade is typically used.
I received a really nice email from a gentleman the other day who had read one of my previous articles regarding greenhouse accessories. He pointed out to me that he did not use the accessories in exactly the same way as I outline in my article. This just served as a reminder to me that greenhouse growing is indeed a learning curve for all of us. Here’s the thing – We all live in different climates. We are all growing different plants. It is up to us as greenhouse owners to learn how to supply the necessary climate in the area we live in. He mentioned that he only used his heater at night in his location. I would dare to say that someone in Wisconsin growing tomatoes in the winter would totally disagree with this. He also mentioned an evaporative cooling system. He was in a location with a desert type climate. I can see where that would work for him. But here, in Louisiana we have just about 100% humidity (I am sure it just feels that way) all summer long. An evaporative cooling system is totally ineffective here. He also considered a shade cloth as an optional accessory. I consider it an absolute necessity. That is, if you are using your greenhouse at any time except in the winter months. If you have it shut down in the spring, summer and fall, I would not really suggest getting one. When someone calls me asking about greenhouses and accessories, I recommend that they at least get a ventilation system at the same time, as it is installed into the greenhouse frame. This is easier as an initial installation than it is as a retrofit. I don’t like loading greenhouses up with a whole lot of equipment that you may not need at a later time. I suggest adding additional accessories one at a time and as the need arises. Of course don’t wait for the last minute, because everyone else will be in need at the same time. For custom made items such as a shade cloth, this can lead to a delayed lead time. The thing is, we are buying a greenhouse maybe for practical reasons, but most of us are purchasing them for our love of growing. So relax, take the time, learn what you need in your area, for your plants to make your greenhouse a success. And as always, keep growing!
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