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Archive for the ‘Greenhouse Gardening’ Category

Greenhouse Staging & Shelving

By admin On October 3, 2008 No Comments

Creating surfaces on which plants can be displayed is important, as well as forming working areas where seed sowing, potting and other tasks can be performed at a convenient level, about hip or waist height.

In some greenhouses, the staging is a permanent feature, especially for displaying plants such as orchids where it is often tiered.

Increasingly, however, flexibility of use is all important: many aluminium greenhouses have hinged shelves that can be lowered to allow plants growing at ground level to develop.

The range of staging has widened dramatically in recent years and includes:

Traditional – especially in wooden greenhouses – staging is formed of 5cm/2in wide wood slats with about 2.5cm/1in between them. This creates a flow of air around plants and is especially beneficial in winter when moisture lingering on leaves readily encourages the presence of diseases. The slatted base also enables the free drainage of surplus water if plants have been excessively watered.

Small-mesh, galvanized or plastic covered netting nailed to a wooden framework also crates an airy base, but after several years tends to sag between the supports. Nevertheless, it is relatively inexpensive and quick to construct.

A solid staging, where a continuous, firm base is covered with a shallow layer of pea sized gravel chippings is ideal in summer. The chippings retain moisture and create humidity around plants. Alpine plants are frequently buried to their rims in the gravel, which also helps to keep their roots cool, while other plants are just stood on top. Other base materials include grit and expanded clay particles. All of these must be clean and free from diseases.

Mist-propagation units – used to encourage cuttings to root quickly – need a firm, waterproof base. A wooden base and surround, covered with thick plastic sheeting, is an easy way to provide this. Access to water and electricity are essential: have the unit installed by a competent electrician and ensure all necessary safety devices are installed.

Temporary shelving is often needed for boxes of seeds or seedlings in spring and early summer. Provide these by suspending long, narrow shelves from the glazing bars: if wooden, screw cables to the framework, but in aluminium greenhouses proprietary fittings are available. Take care when watering plants on the shelves that water does not drip on plants below. Also remember that areas near the glass are the first to experience low temperature falls during cold nights. It may be necessary to cover temporarily with sheets of newspaper at night. The isolative property of newspapers is high.

Tubular metal frameworks with slatted or solid surfaces are ideal both as permanent of even as temporary fixtures.

Tiered staging – usually permanent – is ideal for orchids, but ensure it is well constructed.

Hinged, wire framed staging is frequently available for fitting into aluminium houses, and has the advantage of being quickly collapsed when not required. Also, because it remains in the greenhouse there is not a storage problem. However, it does need to be thoroughly scrubbed and cleaned at the end of each growing season to ensure diseases are not present.


Build Your Own Greenhouse

By admin On October 1, 2008 No Comments

A person may have the pleasure of building his own greenhouse. He may choose from various designs and sizes he would like to build. A greenhouse gives a person comfort whenever he attends to his plants, vegetables, flowers, and orchids. It also provides the needed sunlight and humidity for these plants. He may relax and enjoy every time he visits a place where he has exerted all his effort of building such a wondrous place.

He may save more money if he decides building a small greenhouse. There are supplies and materials that he can use which should be just enough according to his prepared budget. If there is enough space that can accommodate a larger greenhouse, which is more advisable because he may maximize the place where he wants to develop more plants and vegetables.

If he really desires to build a greenhouse where he can develop and propagate more plants, he may consider different factors that would be necessary on the type of greenhouses he would like to build. Here are some tips and factors he would like to consider in building his own greenhouse.

1. He may consider using salvage materials if he intends to make a larger greenhouse. He may use these materials in designing and planning for a low cost budget greenhouse. This will also help him minimize the expenses of the other supplies and materials needed.

2. He should also determine the climate of the place where he lives. An insulated greenhouse should be appropriate for cold climate areas. This will help him provide the needed warmth and heat for his plants. For warm places, a greenhouse that has a shade control should be advisable.

3. He also needs to make sure that his greenhouse will be designed with proper air circulation spaces, ventilation, pest control soil, heaters for winter season, and humidity control devices. He may create an environment that would be appropriate for the types of plants that will grow in the greenhouse.

4. The location of the greenhouse should be built were there is enough sunlight. He may choose a solar greenhouse for vegetables and exotic fruit bearing plants if he would like his greenhouse to be situated on the east-west part where his place is more exposed to sunlight.

5. It is also important to consider the covering of the greenhouse. The most advisable shades are the expensive glass made coverings and fiberglass. They provide more durability and they do not deteriorate quickly compared to plastic coverings. A greenhouse covered with glass or fiberglass allows more humidity and warmth.

6. He has the option to choose on what kind of foundation he would like to use. The foundations can be concrete for a more secured greenhouse. Others prefer the less expensive lightweight foundation where they use improvised materials such as railroad ties, which they can easily attach to the ground. It all depends on how much he is willing to spend on the structure of the greenhouse.

7. He may consider building a greenhouse that will maximize its full potential. He may add benches or materials that will be used for his comfort every time he wants to relax in the greenhouse. He may add many accessories to the place like automatic watering systems, heating systems, ventilation system and other automatic equipments that are effective in maintaining the plants.

8. He may use the “good bugs” for his pest control chemical. They prevent and control the spread of the bad bugs in a greenhouse. If ever he may find insects in a plant, he may isolate the plant and if possible place the plant outside the greenhouse so that the insects would not house the other plants.

9. He may allot a space where he can store fertilizers, potting soil and other tools that are essential in the greenhouse. He may place a tool rack nearer to the potting place so that it would be easier for him to transfer the soil from the pot of the plants. He may also place buckets and tool holders to accommodate the other equipment when they are not in use.

He can develop and grow all sorts of plants with a versatile greenhouse. He may also propagate from the grown plants to fill the greenhouse with a variety of plants. Putting up a greenhouse will be more enjoyable if it done with the help of the family and friends.


Greenhouse Glazing Materials

By admin On September 30, 2008 No Comments

Many materials other than glass have been used to create a clear covering for greenhouses. Indeed, the Romans some two thousand years ago use thin sheets of mica in frames to cover plants.

Sheets of polycarbonate, 3mm/1/8in thick are amazingly strong – thick sheets are said to be bulletproof! – and about one third of the weight of glass. But although tough and initially allowing about 85% of light to pass through, it deteriorates after about fifteen years and eventually its structure breaks down.

Acrylic is slightly cheaper but unfortunately also has the ageing problem of polycarbonate.

Hooped tunnels are covered with sheets of clear or opaque plastic, but they do not have the good warmth retention properties of glass and after a few years discolour and perish due to the action of ultraviolet light. In commercial horticulture, these structures are very popular and create inexpensive protection for plants.


The Greenhouse Effect

By admin On September 30, 2008 No Comments

Radiation from the sun contains infrared radiation as well as visible and ultra-violet radiation. When this radiation reaches a greenhouse, the glass reflects long wavelength infrared radiation, but allows short-wavelength infrared radiation as well as visible light to pass through. These are then absorbed by the soil and plants, thereby raising the temperature. Additionally, infrared radiation emitted by the soil and plants is of a longer wavelength and does not pass back out through the glass. Therefore it becomes trapped inside the greenhouse, thereby causing the temperature to rise.

If this continued, the temperature within a greenhouse would become unbearable. Therefore, provision must be made to open up ventilators to make the temperature suitable for the plants. Low external temperatures, and wind and rain are also responsible for decreasing temperatures within the greenhouse and make heating the structure very expensive.


Greenhouse Glass

By admin On September 30, 2008 No Comments

Although initially expensive during the early 1800’s, glass has proved to be the best covering for greenhouses, sunrooms and conservatories. The greatest impetus to its use in Britain was the abolition of the glass tax in the mid 1800’s and the construction of the glass-clad Exhibition Hall for the Great Exhibitions of 1851.

Early greenhouses had panes of glass 30 cm/12ins or less wide, but when glass-making techniques improved these became 45cm/1 1/2ft wide and are now frequently 60cm/2ft across. The use of wider panes was made possible by the introduction of extruded aluminium glazing bars, which are both stronger and lighter than wooden types.

Glass used in greenhouses must be free from bubbles, with a standard weight of 7.32kg/sq cm (24oz/sq ft). The total weight of glass in a greenhouse is considerable, giving the framework rigidity as well as weight to resist winds and storms.

When clean, only 85-80% of the available light passes through, but if dirty this decreases dramatically. In summer, this reduction is not a problem, as the glass will probably be covered in a shading material, but in winter and spring all available light is needed.