Greenhouse gardening can be an on-going learning experience, but it can be overwhelming as well. It doesn’t have to be daunting and stressful, though. When you get it right, greenhouse gardening can be a great way to ease stress, keep you limber, whilst improving your overall mood as well.
If you’re a novice gardener, there are lots of ways you can start your growing season. If you’ve been thinking about cultivating your own fresh produce, from fruits and vegetables to herbs, a greenhouse can be your gardening mainstay.
By reading our Greenhouse Gardening for Beginners guide – including the types of greenhouses you can opt to suit your greenhouse gardening needs – you’ll learn how to manage your greenhouse efficiently & effectively.
Let’s get started!
Greenhouse Gardening: A Step-by-Step Guide
Greenhouses are fantastic, as they can provide your greens with the right sanctuary for an efficient and extended growing season. But before you can reap these fantastic benefits, there are aspects to consider beforehand.
1. Choosing the Right Greenhouse Building For Greenhouse Gardening
Specifically designed to cultivate plant life, greenhouses make a good return on investment. Speaking of good investing, you’ll want to make sure your hard-earned money won’t be wasted.
With that in mind, it’ll be to your advantage if you’re familiar with the different types of greenhouse. This will also give you an idea as to what kind of building structure your plants suit best.
Timber greenhouses are known for their natural insulation properties, making the overall building structure environmentally controlled. What’s more, not only can a wooden greenhouse absorb the rays during the day, but it also has the capacity to contain heat at night.
This type of greenhouse is excellent for those who wish to keep their harvest warm and safe throughout the winter.
Designed with an aluminium frame, metal greenhouses provide a solid construction base that makes the overall garden structure load-bearing compared to its standard wooden counterparts.
In addition to that, a metal greenhouse is also lightweight, easy to handle and manoeuvre, maintenance-free, and long-lasting.
Polycarbonate may be the cheapest option, but did you know that it’s one of the most durable plastic greenhouse options?
A polycarbonate greenhouse is thicker than glass, and there will be more efficient light diffusion as compared to standard glass. Growing your greens in this type of greenhouse will provide them with equal light and ultimate protection against radiation exposure, with its natural ultraviolet filter.
2. Selecting the Ideal Location for Your Greenhouse
Just like installing any other garden building in your garden, a firm and flat surface is the ideal spot for your greenhouse.
To save you from trouble in the future, make sure there’s no standing water near the area. If you have an elevated part of your property, consider placing your garden building there to keep it safe from potential flooding.
During the installation, be sure to have access to all four sides of the outbuilding, as placing it near to walls and fences can hinder the process. Setting the base near trees or large bushes could also stir up some trouble from overhanging branches. If that’s the case, it’s best to cut the branches before they come into contact with the building.
Another thing to keep in mind is the sunlight. The location must receive maximum exposure to the sun, to encourage and stimulate the growth of your plants to make your greenhouse gardening as efficient as possible.
3. Check for Air Circulation
Greenhouses are generally enclosed outdoor structures that won’t ventilate entirely on their own. Installing a ventilation system is an excellent way to ensure that your plants are supplied with the proper temperature, moisture level and airflow.
Air circulation – or ‘air movement’ – within a greenhouse, serves many purposes. Proper movement of air within the environment can create uniformity in temperature, humidity, CO2 and oxygen.
Moreover, plants respond better to environmental consistency. Thus, proper ventilation ensures each plant within the greenhouse remains in an optimum growing condition, as well as encouraging pollination.
Many vegetable and ornamental plants – such as wheat, rice, barley, corn, and oats – are pollinated by wind. Movement of air within the greenhouse could also be the determining factor as to whether a plant is pollinated and able to complete its reproduction.
4. Watch Out for Bugs and Pests
There’s no way you can have a garden without seeing some bug visitors, such as bees, earwigs and spiders. Bugs can live in the garden, but don’t let that stop you from gardening. Here are some things to consider:
- Make safe and natural pests control items
- Make a bug hotel
- Encourage pollinators
Poor ventilation means your greenhouse will also be more susceptible to pests, as many insects favour hot and humid conditions to lay eggs. But with proper ventilation, it will inhibit breeding and stop pests entering and leave the greenhouse, better safeguarding your plants in the process.
Note: Outside foliage should be kept away from the greenhouse to reduce the risk of pest contamination.
5. Greenhouse Seed Starting
Seeds are usually prepared in open flat seed trays or individual plug trays in greenhouses. They may be soaked overnight, scarified or stratified—depending on their specific needs, then planted in trays inside the greenhouse.
- Open flat trays – The seeds are normally planted in nicely spaced rows for ease of watering, fertilising, thinning, and treating seedling diseases like damp. Once the seedlings have sprouted, they can be transplanted into individual pots or cells.
- Single-cell trays – Only one or two seeds can be planted per cell. Many keen gardeners believe that starting your seeds in plug trays is a better option than open trays. The reason? The plug ones can retain more moisture and warmth, which is a great factor when it comes to developing a seed.
As for the seeds, they can sometimes be a bit frustrating and challenging. For instance, waiting for your crop to grow. And there are two options you can choose—it’s either you’ll buy seeds or transplants from the store.
Transplants are way more expensive than buying seeds. But if you choose to purchase seeds rather than buying transplants, here are some of the things you need to consider:
- Understand the different types of seeds, e.g. heirloom, organic, hybrid, GMO, etc.
- Find the best place to buy your seeds. Look if there’s an excellent greenhouse gardening store nearby or you can buy your seeds online. The Homestead Garden recommended SeedsNow as they offer not only a tasty variety of non-GMO heirloom seeds but also some inexpensive seed banks providing you with all the types of seeds you’ll be needing.
- Of course, your journey as a gardener will not be successful if your seeds won’t become healthy plants. To ensure that your seeds will increase success in full bloom, you can read this tip on how to start seeds.
6. Temperature and Humidity Control
Plants tend to be sensitive when it comes to temperature. Hot temperatures can cause them to wilt, while cold temperatures can cause them to stop growing, producing, or even deep freeze. They can also be vulnerable to extreme swings in temperature.
With that, having adequate ventilation installed in a greenhouse can avoid these temperature concerns; allowing hot air to escape and cool air in – and vice versa – maintaining an even, optimum temperature.
Moreover, just like heat, high concentrations of humidity can be accumulated within the greenhouse. Moulds, fungi and mildew are likely to occur in damp conditions.
If the moisture is trapped inside, this can be detrimental to the plants’ growth and development. It can also cause problems with condensation and saturation of plants. But with the right ventilation, the damp environment can be replaced with dry and cooler air, keeping the humidity at the optimum level.
7. Watering Plants
When it comes to watering your greenhouse crops, there’s a basic rule for beginners, and that is to understand the water requirements of every plant you intend to grow. You’ll also want to make sure you won’t end up over or under-watering your produce.
Signs of inappropriate watering include the following:
- Irregular drying.
- Decreased shoot size.
- Root growth and immature plants with bad quality and shelf life.
Overwatering only happens when watering is done too often, and before the soil has an opportunity to drain. To avoid this, you may want to invest in a good drip system with a timer or dip gauge. This can be utilised to regulate greater or smaller streams of water straight to pots or flat grounds.
The best time to water your plants? In the morning — as it reduces the amount of water lost to evaporation. Watering your crops in the evening will only cause them damage, due to fungal and bacterial diseases.
For newly seeded areas, it’s best to water them often (approximately every couple of days). By late spring, water less often (perhaps once a week) but more deeply, to encourage roots to go down.
Note: Water the roots, not the greenery.