Considering Greenhouse Growing? 7 Tips to Start Things Out Right
by Adrian White
20 December, 2021 by
Considering Greenhouse Growing? 7 Tips to Start Things Out Right
Lucija Johum

Are you seriously considering greenhouse growing? 

Are you in the market for a greenhouse, and excited to take the first steps towards an entire new phase of gardening and agriculture?

Well, congratulations! You’ve joined the ranks of many farmers, gardeners, and hobby growers out there who have also taken this step, and who’ve experienced their businesses and passions flourishing as a result.

For some of you, though, the looming question lingers: “Where do I start? How do I start?”

Even more importantly: “How do I jump into the world of greenhouse growing the most successfully?”

When you compare traditional methods of growing with outdoor soils or indoor setups to using a large, plastic structure, making the transition can seem complicated and overwhelming. There could be hundreds of ways it could go wrong, right?

Luckily, it doesn’t have to be that way.

With just a handful of simple tips (which you’ll find in this article), there are plenty of ways to ensure that you’re starting out your growing venture the right way – and to guarantee that all your bases are covered for smooth sailing. 

It’s much simpler than you think. And this article will definitely show you that it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to pull it off!

Hungry for some beginner advice? Take a look at these tips before getting started on construction.

1. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Think you can pull off your setup just about anywhere? Wrong!

Before you even start to build your wonderful structure, the strategy for where you’re going to put it is pivotal to its function, efficiency, and overall success.

Make sure to choose the most open site possible to receive the most sunlight. Build too close to a tree line, and you may have shade blocking out important sunlight for your plants at certain times of the day.

Take a close look at the ground site, or where the foundation of your structure will go as well. Is it level? Can it be leveled more? 

Consider what you’ll have to do in order to make the foundation of the structure more level, as you will want to avoid slanted beds, foundation, benches, tables, or whatever you choose for your growing space. 

Unlevel areas can lead to moisture problems, runoff problems, and more – so watch out!

2. DRAINAGE

Look closely: are you choosing a low or slanted site that water from elsewhere will drain into? Or is it a level, higher point that excess moisture will drain away from? 

While this may not seem essential at first, excessive moisture in a greenhouse from rainfall or drainage can be a source of disease and fungal issues. You’ll want to make sure that water drains away from your setup at its base, and go for a building site that rests a bit more above-ground.

Drainage can also have an impact on the construction materials you choose, and especially if you use wood – whether for floors, baseboards, doorways, or more.

Think about it: excessive moisture and drainage into your structure will wick water into your lumber, which then leads to rot problems (as well as extra work and costs to replace that wood year after year).

If you decide instead that you want a concrete foundation, drainage can lead to shifting and cracking in this material also. Yet another reason to place importance on good drainage!

3. ORIENTATION

For the best sunlight for your plants, make sure to consider orientation.

To get the most ideal orientation, it’s recommended that you have the length of your structure run east to west, rather than north to south. This way, the plants within experience optimal sunlight any time of year, with no potential for plants unintentionally shading each other out.

When considering a site for your future growing setup, give it a thorough walk-through first, and assess all these checkpoints. 

Will an east-west building place well here? Are there trees that could shade out the structure from nearby? You won’t want that!

Ensuring that orientation, drainage, and location are made just right will all ultimately lead to a greenhouse that works excellently in your favor.

4. FOUNDATION MATERIALS AND CONSTRUCTION

Strategizing location and orientation is crucial to your setup. In fact, it’s just as crucial as selecting the best materials for your future greenhouse!

That’s right: you’ll have to think about what materials will go into your foundation, floors, baseboards, ribs, trusses, doors, and finally, coverings.

Starting with the foundation first, you do have the option of putting in a solid foundation or floor for your greenhouse directly over the soil (if you desire to build or add one).

But you don’t necessarily have to have a floor at all. This is especially true if you want to plant straight into the soil in raised beds or rows you till under your covering. You can also opt for a simple ground cover, to keep weeds down.

Otherwise, wood or concrete floors are popular to give things a finished look – though over time, wood will need replacing. Additionally, excessive moisture or shifting foundation may cause concrete to crack.

A note about wood construction and greenhouses: structures that house plants – especially plants being grown organically and sustainably – should not use treated wood whatsoever, especially for food production done in the actual soil beneath the structure. 

These chemicals can leach into your soil and eventually your plants, harming them and, potentially – if it’s a food crop – people or customers who consume them. If you’re aiming for natural or organic certification also, treated wood can interfere with your goals!

Instead of treated wood, select more naturally rot-resistant lumber types: cedar, pine, and redwood are just to name a few.

5. FRAME, DOOR, BASEBOARD, AND COVERING MATERIALS

Wooden baseboards and doors are also recommended for better structural stability, and will lend a rustic look and feel to your greenhouse. 

However, you can also go for longer-lasting aluminum trusses and supports

Eventually, anything made of wood might need replacing over time, especially in damp and humid regions. If you opt for trusses and supports, wooden baseboards and framing are less necessary, and won’t need replacing or maintenance.

As for the actual frame, wood and aluminum are the most common choices (wood especially for doorways at both ends of a greenhouse). 

However, if you’re going for a hoop house, polytunnel, or considerably large-sized greenhouse or high tunnel, aluminum will be best – especially if you want a material that will hold up longest against moisture and the elements.

Otherwise, wood pairs perfectly with small cottage-style greenhouse construction as a framing material, and you can more successfully use solid plastic in these designs – even glass.

A good question: should you use glass or plastic coverings for your greenhouse? That depends on a few factors.

If you want a more moveable design on a larger outdoor field rotation (such as with farming), thin plastic coverings will allow you a quicker and easier setup, transportation, and setup again in a new space.

If you want a more permanent greenhouse structure – such as for a nursery, seedling house, or other venture – the use of solid plastic or glass may be more up your alley, as it doesn’t require moving.

6. CHOOSING THE RIGHT ACCESSORIES

To use accessories, or to not to use accessories – that is the question!

Beyond a simple frame, door, and plastic covering, a few other extras can be tossed in to improve efficiency, as well as lend some bonus functions to your greenhouse growing setup (and believe me: you’ll want at least a few of them!)

Why not include plastic roll-up sides? Most greenhouses include this so you can easily vent your greenhouse when it’s too hot, then shut it back down when temperatures drop back down.

Fans and ventilation are also great options. They’re not only ideal for keeping your plants cool inside, but they also reduce moisture and introduce fresh airflow into your space under your plastic: reducing disease, fungal issues, and more.

Taking it a step further from there, installing a heater can make your greenhouse go the extra mile in cold weather. Gas, wood, and electric heaters are some of the options available out there.

Extra accessories can also extend to additional lighting, environmental controls (for managing humidity and temperature), and even shade covering if you aim to grow cool weather crops within your structure.

Last but not least, blackout systems are a unique method for creating the perfect environment for some flowering plants. Floral growers should give it a try!

7. CHOOSING THE RIGHT PLANTS

Once you have your site, materials, and accessories decided upon, your next step: deciding which plants to grow! 

Really, this step should be all the way up at the top as #1. What you choose to grow should tie in a lot with what accessories you decide to use – though location, orientation, and materials should work great for any varieties you choose.

For example: if you’re growing light- and heat-loving plants, you may want a greenhouse with thicker plastic and plenty of additional indoor lighting.

If aiming more so for cool weather crops needing protection as seasons change, some shade coverings, roll-up sides, and heaters to optimize season extension could come in handy.

Growing flowers? Choose an auto blackout setup, which reduces light conditions to help plants trigger their instincts to bloom.

Regardless of the types you’re growing, there’s plenty of accessories and approaches you can choose from for your greenhouse. Just make sure you’re pairing the right accessories with the right plants!

GET ALL YOUR BASES COVERED

If you keep all these tips on hand, transitioning to greenhouse growing won’t even make you break a sweat – even through the purchasing, planning, construction, and actual growing processes.

Now you no longer have an excuse to be overwhelmed or daunted by these wonderful growing systems! 

All that beginners needs is a little bit of confidence and some planning, and you’ll be all set – as well as surprised by how simple running a greenhouse successfully can be.

Plus, investing in greenhouses is completely worth the leap(link to “Reasons to Switch to Greenhouse Growing” Article?): they protect your crops, extend your seasons, prevent weeds, pests, and diseases, and even help you save and make more money.

With that being said: don’t get stuck feeling like a greenhouse beginner! 

Just take the leap, you will find yourself feeling like an expert, successful greenhouse grower in no time. 




Considering Greenhouse Growing? 7 Tips to Start Things Out Right
Lucija Johum 20 December, 2021
Share this post
Tags
Archive