Greenhouses are modern marvels of the agricultural world.
Using simple yet sophisticated technology, these covered structures on their own can advance how you grow certain crops in ways you never thought possible.
With the right added accessories too, they’ll give your business or hobby the added edge you need to stay ahead in an ever-expanding, competitive field.
Of course, the key to a successful greenhouse doesn’t just fall on the quality of its materials or how a greenhouse runs itself. It also falls on the shoulders of those who run it!
A good ship still needs a good captain, just as much as the most amazing car still needs a good driver to run smoothly – or to get anywhere at all. The same applies to a greenhouse, and even the very best greenhouse-run businesses.
So even if you have just purchased and built the most advanced and modern greenhouse out there on the market, make sure to stock up on the following tips to guarantee clear sailing in the days ahead.
Because – ultimately – the success of your business comes down to you.
ESTABLISHING A ROUTINE
Are you a natural creative that abhors routine?
Unfortunately, then, the business of growing and nurturing plants – even without a greenhouse – may not be for you. (Still, if you’re determined to be a professional grower, don’t give up that easily!)
Establishing a routine approach to managing your plants, day in and day out, can be one of the best ways to stay on top of things, and ensure that pathway to success. And this is especially true of greenhouses.
Such a routine – and this may even apply to self-automated greenhouses – will require you to be present at your growing operation, at least once per day. You need a plan of attack, but you also need to watch your setup like a hawk.
Sound boring on paper? Well, there’s good news: you get to decide what that routine consists of, and even change it at will depending on the weather or the seasons.
WHAT SEASON IS IT?
The truth must be said: growing is hard. Being entrenched in a routine to grow great plants can sound tough to get used to, too.
What people don’t realize, however, is that growing routines inevitably change with the seasons. For the most successful of growers, this only poses an exciting challenge or even puzzle to unlock for the best results.
Your plants’ needs during the summer will be quite different from their needs through winter. The same goes for what they need during spring, fall, or anytime.
As you plan your routine for the spring, for example, you’ll find that it will shift into something different to adapt to the summer weather over time.
While it may seem overwhelming at first to determine how to go about each season, it can also be a healthy challenge, even a joyful ritual, once you get the hang of it!
So what exactly goes into a great routine? Let’s take a look at the bases you should cover every day for managing your greenhouse in the best way possible.
As the seasons change, your routine may change a bit toom and especially the way you’ll approach these important tasks – we’ll take a look at that also.
FIRST THINGS FIRST: VENTILATION
Is it a hot day in paradise?
If there’s one thing that greenhouses do effortlessly on their own and without any supervision, it’s getting hot – especially during summertime.
With that said, the aspect of greenhouse growing you’ll find yourself managing the most is probably going to be temperature. It’s very important to the well-being of your plants, making it the smartest thing to check on first at the very beginning of your day.
Experienced growers start out by venting their greenhouses on summer mornings (which can easily be achieved with roll-up sides or a ventilation system), or at the very least checking the temperature to see if venting is something that should happen.
During really hot or droughty periods – or in arid, hot regions – this is an especially important first step for any greenhouse growing.
No matter where you live, venting makes sense as the first step in your routine and to do in the morning. In greenhouses, things can heat up quick – and that can be very harmful to certain plants.
CHECK YOUR COVERS
If it’s a cold day, on the other hand, you’ll want to check on how insulated and cold-protected your greenhouse is.
During seasons like winter, early spring, or late fall, this can replace venting your greenhouse in your routine. It’s also ideal as the first task on your list, as you’ll want to see how your plants fared through the colder temperatures at nighttime.
However, while it’s good to check in the morning, looking at things in the evenings before nightfall (when temperatures are to drop to their lowest again) is a wise move, too.
Give your structure a good, thorough scan. How do your plants look? Are there obvious drafts, holes, or punctures in the plastic? Signs of frost inside?
Are row covers or low tunnels in your structure in place? What about plastic insulation? Are heaters in working in order?
For the best idea on how to check on your greenhouse during cold seasons, make sure to check out our winter greenhouse growing tips and tricks.
CHECK TEMPERATURE CONTROLS
On obviously hot and cold days, either venting or checking coverings is in order, and it’s easy to tell what you need to do.
On more ambiguous days, however – such as during spring or fall – it may be hard to tell what your plants will need.
To get a clear idea, checking temperature gauges, controls, or thermostats is a good next step. If you don’t have a thermostat to do this, you can invest in one.
Are things just a little sub-par in the heat department? Then you can turn the heat controls on your heater up a notch, after double-checking and closing covers and plastic.
Does the thermostat show excessive, even dangerous heat? Then you can kick your cooling system into high gear on those very hot days, after making sure that venting and airflow is opened.
WATER IS LIFE
So you’ve made sure that temperatures are just right for your greenhouse plants. You’ve vented if things are too hot, and insulated if they’re too cold – and adjusted temperature controls accordingly throughout your routine.
Next, logically, comes watering.
Why is that? Because temperature has a great impact on moisture and humidity – the latter being a greenhouse step we’ll get to later. Plus, your plants will need it sooner than later!
So before you gauge humidity (and after your fine-tune temperature to your liking), then you’ll want to give your plants the water they need, so as not to tip the scales of humidity too much.
Watering and irrigating are very ideal in late mornings, making it the perfect second task in a greenhouse management routine. This is because collected moisture will evaporate away the more the sun rises (and as outdoor temperatures rise, too), which in turn keeps plant diseases and contamination down to a minimum.
Inversely, greenhouse growers can benefit from a second round of watering in the evening, especially when humidity is low, which prevents plant diseases.
Water given in the morning quickly evaporates, thus lowering the amount of life-giving moisture plants get throughout the day when the sun is high. Watering just before nightfall, on the other hand, allows water to be absorbed thoroughly and for longer periods through the nighttime.
A certain combination of temperature and moisture invariably leads to changes in humidity.
This makes checking on humidity levels in your greenhouse the ideal third task in your routine: happening sometime after both moisture and temperature have been altered, and in the middle of the day when the sun is at its highest, which also has an impact on humidity levels.
Too much humidity in a covered structure leads to condensation that forms on stems and leaves. Too much condensation, in turn, leads to plant diseases of all kinds – you’ll want to avoid this.
Drastic temperature changes and excess moisture are both factors that lead to high humidity. Fall and spring are the most critical seasons to be worried about humidity, according to UMass Amherst, because of big temp changes between warm days and cold nights.
Summer’s intense heat, especially in southern or Midwestern regions, is also a culprit for high humidity. To best keep an eye on levels in your structure – and, in turn, the health of your plants – invest in humidity controls.
LET THERE BE LIGHT
After temperature, watering, and humidity are checked on and adjusted, it’s time to make sure that light levels are ideal for your plants’ current situation.
There are many reasons why a grower may want to check on or change light levels. For example, exceptionally hot days may call for the use of shade cloth to obscure light and reduce heat stress, especially for more cool weather or heat-sensitive plants (like lettuce, for example).
In fact, checking on temperature first can help determine this need earlier on in the day.
Have a light deprivation system? Make sure that covering and uncovering happens at its needed time. If you have a timed auto-blackout greenhouse, you can also double-check that its functioning properly.
As evening approaches, on the other hand, it’s time to check on lighting systems you have in place for plants you want to boost light amounts for through the nighttime. You won’t want to leave them in the dark!
CHECK YOUR PLANTS
Of course, somewhere amidst your greenhouse tasks, you’ll have to find time to actually check on the plants themselves.
To start the very best greenhouse routine, checking and fine-tuning your greenhouse to create the very best environment for your plants is ideal. After all that, then it’s time to get to work.
If you’re an expert grower, you know the rest: check for plant diseases, and administer sprays or amendments of need be. Check soil health, too – and get to weeding, harvesting, pruning, fertilizing, and whatever else you need to run your business.
CHECK THE WEATHER
Greenhouse growers (and growers of all kinds, for that matter) often think: “what will tomorrow bring? What’s around the corner?”
Though sticking to a good greenhouse routine is the key to a successful setup, changes in the weather – in addition to seasonal changes – can have you switching up your order of operations, sometimes even at a moment’s notice.
To stay fluid and keep up the best routine for your structure and your plants, check the weather. The most seasoned, experienced growers will highly recommend it.
It might barely be fall, but you could be in for a premature cold-snap. Or perhaps a blazing hot day is on the horizon that you wouldn’t expect for your region, or even this time of year.
The best (and only) way to anticipate such unseasonal weather: keep an eye on it!
Find reliable, trustworthy weather sites, and make them a part of your routine by checking them every day.
GREENHOUSE MANAGEMENT MADE EASY
Whether you’re a light dep grower, a hobby gardener, or a high-tech farmer with the latest accessories and equipment, a successful business or pastime really boils down to your management, skills, and decisions.
Set yourself a routine, however, and you’ll be ready and prepared for anything that greenhouse growing has to throw your way!
With the routine tips and tricks up above, what will you grow?
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