Part 3: Tools and Materials for Your Greenhouse
Remember that you are not limited to a certain variety of plants to grow in a greenhouse. Bear in mind, however, that your preference for certain fruits, vegetables and plants will determine the type of greenhouse you like to build. “Know thy crop” is an important factor before deciding on the greenhouse type you will install.
You will need a good soil for planting seeds. Compost, potting or gardening soil and a little sand or perlite are a good start. Read all directions in your seed packets. Keep some of those black plastic flats that nurseries use to display their plant containers. These are useful for starting sees and transplants.Benches in greenhouses are essential, as they hold trays of plants that have already sprouted from seeds.
Styrofoam cups – have several of these handy.
Seeds sprout quickly and once they grow large enough to move into separate containers, they can be gently lifted and transferred into ordinary Styrofoam cups. You can also use yogurt plastic cups, and large commercial type containers that can hold more than one plant. In fact, any container you can think of will be suitable. Other materials you should have on hand are broken clay pots, cracked walnuts, marbles, charcoal or gravel. These help in proper drainage. Be sure to soak clay pots in water a few minutes before using them. This will prevent the clay from absorbing the moisture from the potting soil.
If you want to have trellises inside your greenhouse, you can make them out of coat hangers, which you can bend to any shape your heart desires. Herbs are perfect for keeping pests at bay. They are what one writer calls “nature’s insecticides”. Have a variety of them inside your greenhouse. You can make a natural insecticide by adding onions or garlic to a jar of water. Leave it for a week and spray on your plants.
Other garden tools that will help you run your greenhouse efficiently are air coolers for the hot summer. This is to maintain the temperatures at desired levels. Power vents in the roof are also a good idea to release hot air that can build up suddenly in the summer.
In the winter, a good heater would be nice to warm the greenhouse. Other accessories you need are a humidifier, a CO2 generator, and a mister. Greenhouse lighting system. A type of light called high intensity discharge lighting
(HID) used to be employed by commercial growers in large greenhouses. However, the idea of artificial lighting to stimulate plant growth became increasingly popular. H.I.D. lighting not only adds to natural sunlight, but can actually serve as a substitute during long winters when natural sunlight is in scant supply. They are energy efficient and operational costs are low.
Here are just a few of the benefits of HID lighting:
>Increases the health and strength of plants, and stimulates growth and yield rates,
>Supplements natural sunlight; by using HID lighting, you also extend “day length”,
>Enables container outdoor plants on decks and patios during the summer to be moved indoors during the winter,
>Are definitely more powerful than conventional fluorescents.
Greenhouse tables, shelving and plant holders.
These are indispensable, especially when you need to work inside your greenhouse and to maximize and organize your greenhouse space. As your plant varieties grow, you will need shelves and tables and plant holders to facilitate your gardening. One popular type of bench that greenhouse hobbyists like is the cedar double layer bench. They are durable and efficient to use. For shelves, you can opt for two and three section lengths made of aluminum.
Given that watering your plants is an essential –indispensable -part of any greenhouse gardening, a
good watering system is required.
You can choose either the automatic or hand held watering system to make your watering needs more efficient.
For automatic irrigation systems, there are models that come equipped with an automatic drip irrigation and
fertilizer system. Day or night, they regularly water the plants and adjust the flow of fertilizer. Some have a tank in which the water and fertilizer are mixed and are distributed to plants via hoses, Y-connections and drip pins.
Greenhouse garden coil indoor/outdoor watering wand.
This is a “self-coiling” garden hose made of rugged and durable polyurethane tubing. It produces ultra-fine mists and sprays in soft, gentle streams. Some wand models extend to as long as 50 feet. No hassle storage because of self-coiling mechanism. Greenhouses constantly evolve in style and design. It follows then that tools and accessories will grow in number or existing ones will be considerably improved. Manufacturers are probably inventing more tools and accessories this very moment that will make our work in greenhouses easier and quicker. The ones we just described are already being used by many greenhouse enthusiasts. In a few years, new products will definitely appear in the market.
Please join us for part four. (Now here!) Thanks for waiting and please check back as we finish up this anticipated 6 part series on greenhouses.