If you love to garden, the thought of owning your own greenhouse has likely crossed your mind from time to time. Many gardeners, after daydreaming about it for a while, simply shrug this thought aside. “It’s too costly,” some think. “Too hard to manage,” say others. Still, others simply view it as one of those “someday” dreams.
A greenhouse really does represent the next level up in gardening. Yet what many fail to consider is just how much easier and more fun greenhouse gardening can be — and, how it can even pay for itself! Here’s the scoop:
5 Reasons to Consider Greenhouse Gardening
- Start your own plants. Market gardeners know: transplants are the way to go if you want the highest possible yield and consistent growth. Starting seeds indoors allows you to control the time of germination so that you can better plan plant growth and harvest time. It is also much easier to provide your seedlings with optimal conditions for a healthy start in the controlled conditions a greenhouse provides. Having your own greenhouse and starting plants yourself lets you save a bundle over purchasing commercial transplants, and frees you to select the varieties you want to plant.
- Garden longer. In most areas of the country, a greenhouse will greatly extend the growing season — sometimes by months. If you enjoy gardening, this means more fun time for you! Not only that, if you are a vegetable gardener, you’ll slash your grocery bills during these times, and you’ll be eating healthier and probably feeling better as well. Eating more of your own hyper-locally produced food is wonderful for the planet, too!
- Grow exotic plants for your area. One of the most delightful things about greenhouse gardening is that you will be able to grow plants that you couldn’t otherwise. Chances are, you’ll be the only one on your block to have those tomatoes in December, your very own lemons or figs, or the first blooms of spring.
- Outsmart the critters. One of the most frustrating things about gardening is the constant onslaught of insects, rabbits and other critters. A greenhouse provides welcome shelter and protection from Mother Nature’s armies.
- Garden in comfort. Does the thought of another season of gardening make your back ache? Not looking forward to peeling noses and sunburned ears? Your greenhouse can come to the rescue! In a greenhouse, you can tend to your plants in comfort — regardless of the weather — and it’s easy to set up your plants on tables to give your back a rest.
4 Tips for Greenhouse Gardening Success
Greenhouse gardening is fun and easy — but it’s different from gardening outside. Here are a few tips to get started successfully:
- Choose the right plants. If you plan to grow your plants to maturity in the greenhouse, you’ll be ahead of the game by choosing species and cultivars that perform well in that environment. Your local extension agent should be able to recommend greenhouse varieties that do well in your area.
- Ventilation is a must. Proper ventilation will help you keep unwanted effects — like overheating and fungal growth — at bay. Most greenhouses are built with passive vents that take advantage of breezes. You may also want to add a greenhouse fan.
- Stay humid — but not too humid! Optimal relative humidity for most actively growing plants is about 70-85 percent. If humidity levels in your greenhouse start to climb higher, simply increase ventilation and be sure not to over water. If you experience low humidity, it’s easy to remedy by spraying water on the greenhouse floor.
- Be aware of your plants’ temperature needs. Greenhouses function on passive solar principles, catching the sun’s heat and trapping it under glass or transparent plastic. In cool weather, this will keep the interior much warmer than the outside air. However, if you want to raise tender plants year-round in an area where it gets very cold in winter, be prepared to supply supplemental heat with an electric or gas heater, or a solar heating system.
There are nearly as many greenhouse options as there are gardeners. You can purchase them ready-made or build your own. Don’t be deterred by the cost: if you are handy and frugal, why not recycle discarded windows and lumber scraps into a beautiful and useful greenhouse? No matter what type of greenhouse you build, it is sure to provide enjoyment and cut your gardening costs for years to come.
Author bio: Ryan McNeill is the president of Renewable Energy Corporation, one of Maryland’s largest residential solar energy companies — dedicated to installing quality, American-made solar panels and solar energy products.