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Greenhouse Newsletter - Greenhouse FAQ's

March 1st, 2008:




Greenhouse FAQ's
Spring is finally here, and there is no other season as exciting to the gardener! Now is the time to order seeds and finalize your garden plans. If your garden plans include a greenhouse, then this issue will be of special interest to you. Greenhouses are magical, creating a world in which seasons and climates don't matter. You can create a private retreat in which you can pot up plants, tend orchids or start seeds no matter what the harsh weather conditions are outside. Before purchasing a greenhouse, careful planning is required to ensure you are choosing the correct greenhouse model to suit your needs. I've put together a list of the most frequently asked questions from our customers. I hope you will find this information helpful in assessing your greenhouse needs.

Greenhouse FAQ's

What size should my greenhouse be?

Available space, your budget and what you are planning to use your greenhouse for will determine size. In almost every book on greenhouses, the first thing printed is always buy the largest you can accommodate and afford. Once you begin greenhouse gardening, you will probably want to expand. Greenhouse gardeners always wish they had more room!
Expert Opinion: Get the largest greenhouse you have space for and can afford.

What is the purpose of your greenhouse?

Are you planning on raising vegetables and flowers in your greenhouse year round? Are you growing tropicals or orchids requiring a warm greenhouse. Are you only starting plants from seed? Would you like a couple of chairs and a small table inside the greenhouse? Answering these questions will also aid in assessing what accessories you'll need inside the greenhouse.
Expert Opinion: Ask Backyard Greenhouses what they recommend for your specific needs.

What kind of greenhouse should you get?

There are several greenhouse kits available in today's market. There are plastic, wood and aluminum models to choose from. Plastic should only be considered if you are using your greenhouse for a very short time period, such as for hardening off plants or starting seeds a couple of weeks earlier. Plastic has a short life span and tears easily.  Wood greenhouses, even though rot-resistant lumber is used, will require maintenance and may not last a lifetime. Aluminum can withstand harsh weather conditions, is maintenance free and will last a lifetime.
Expert Opinion: Aluminum is by far the best material.  Heat efficient polycarbonate is also an excellent choice for the greenhouse glazing material.

Should the glazing be plastic, glass or polycarbonate?

Traditionally, tempered break-resistant glass is the preferred material for performance. Glass lasts indefinitely, handles snow load and allows more light to enter the greenhouse. Plastic has a very short life span, perhaps only one season. It allows about 89% light transmission, can easily tear and will need constant replacement. Polycarbonate also has pros and cons to consider. While it is break resistant, it has a life-span of about 10 years, it tends to get dirty and does not let in as much light as glass. Polycarbonate does offer excellent heat retention, providing the greenhouse is sealed air tight. Polycarbonate houses can also be cooler in summer months.
Expert Opinion: My preference is for break resistant tempered glass. While polycarbonate does offer an advantage in heat efficiency, this can be achieved in a glass greenhouse through the use of a thermal shade curtain and other winterizing tricks.

What style should I choose?

There are free-standing and lean-to styles that attach to the home readily available. How permanent do you want the structure to be? Southern exposure is best, do you have the proper location? There are A-frames, gothic structures, or you may choose to build yourself. Is the greenhouse visible to others? Is greenhouse attractiveness important to you? These considerations will all aid in choosing a style to suit your tastes.
Expert Opinion: Ask Backyard Greenhouses what they recommend for your specific needs.

Do I need to heat the greenhouse?

Your heating requirements will be dictated by what you are using your greenhouse for along with your climate. If you are over-wintering plants in your greenhouse, the temperature should be kept at a minimum of 45 degrees F. If you are growing tropicals, your greenhouse should be kept at a minimum of 65 degrees F. Germinating seeds requires more heat which can be achieved by using heated grow mats and covering pots with plastic or glass jars to create a mini greenhouse within the greenhouse. Heating options include, electric, gas or propane. Whatever you choose, ensure that your heating unit can be thermostatically controlled. You do not want to run heat continuously if you do not have to.
Expert Opinion: Thermostatically controlled heating is the best method of heating. Most of our customers prefer gas heating. There is no need to worry if there is an electrical power outage. Talk to your local heating and cooling suppliers.

Do I need to cool the greenhouse?

Most greenhouses come with roof vents as air circulation is critical in the greenhouse. Vents are either manual or solar powered. The manual vents need to be tended, whereas the solar powered will automatically open and close by themselves. You can also use a small fan and misting systems. Misting systems will lower air temperature as well as provide plants with humidity and moisture.
Expert Opinion: Get solar powered roof vents if you can. Your greenhouse will always be ventilated even when you are not around to tend to it.

What kind of greenhouse accessories do I need?

The most important accessory is a shade curtain. Thermal shade curtains will keep the greenhouse warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. All shade systems will keep sun sensitive plants from scorching. Hanging bars and benches are convenient to have for hanging baskets and pots and seed trays. Ensure that the bench has a mesh top so that water will run through. Shelf brackets can be used to create extra shelving.
Expert Opinion: If possible, order a shade curtain with your greenhouse.

What kind of flooring do I need in the greenhouse?

There are a number of options for flooring. You may choose to go with a cement pad. Most of our customers opt to build an inexpensive floor with either bricks, patio blocks or flagstone. Remove the sod, place a layer of landscape cloth down, cover with 1" thick styrofoam, cover with a layer of sand or small gravel, lay the stone of choice, cover sand or small gravel to fill in cracks. This attractive inexpensive flooring offers excellent drainage and insulation too.
Expert Opinion: There are a number of choices to create flooring. Choose something that suits your tastes and budget.

Backyard Greenhouses
A div. of Ecolad Corporation


Written By: Shelley Awad
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