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Greenhouse Staging & Shelving

By admin On October 3, 2008 Under Greenhouse Gardening

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.

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