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Table of contents :
Chapter 1: Going Green!
First Focus: Choice Of Location
Suggestion #1: How Far Is Too Far?
Suggestion #2: More Power!
Suggestion #3: Adding A Drainage System
Second Focus: Greenhouse Design And Structure
Ridge And Furrow
Third Focus: Frame It!
Fourth Focus: Cover
From The Soil
Chapter 2: Staying Green
Climate Control - How To Work With Greenhouse Climates
Tricks Of The Trade
A Matter Of Seasons
Cool Season Crops
Warm Season Crops
Chapter 3: All The Good Stuff
Chapter 4: The Tools Of The Trade
Other Important Requirements
Chapter 5: Fruits, Herbs, And Vegetables
Benefits Of Growing Annuals
Cons Of Growing Annuals
Benefits Of Growing Perennials
Cons Of Growing Perennials
Gardening Tips For The Smart Gardener
Best Time To Plant
Pruning Your Trees
Watering Your Fruits
Fertilizing The Soil
Easy Fruits To Grow In A Garden
Fertilize, But Do Not Over Fertilize
Planting A Vegetable Garden
General Planting Principles
Compatible Pairings And Combinations
Easy Herb Source
Bottles? For Sure!
Chapter 6: Lay It On The Table!
Chapter 1: What Greenhouse Suits Me?
What Is A Greenhouse?
What Greenhouse Will Suit You?
Freestanding Or Attached?
Time Needed For A Project
Tools And Materials
For The Cover
For The Frame
The Pros And Cons Of Building Your Own Greenhouse
Diy Or Pay Someone Else?
What About The Foundation?
Wood Frame With Gravel
Chapter 2: A Brief History Of Greenhouses
Greenhouses Of The Past
Why We Use Greenhouses Today
Chapter 3: Greenhouse Maintenance
What Is Greenhouse Maintenance?
Why You Need To Maintain Your Greenhouse
Advantages Of Maintaining Your Greenhouse
Chapter 4: Greenhouse Orientation
Orientation Is Important
Climate Types And Orientation
Humid Tropical Climates
Average Temperature For A Greenhouse
Heating Your Greenhouse
Cooling Your Greenhouse
Chapter 5: The 12ft By 6ft A-Frame
The Pros And Cons Of An A-Frame
Project Greenhouse: A 72 Square Foot A-Frame
Tools Required For The Job
Step-By-Step Guide On How To Build Your A-Frame
Chapter 6: Hoop House
The Pros And Cons Of A Hoop House
Project Greenhouse: A 12ft X 32ft Hoop House
Tools Required For The Job
Step-By-Step Guide On How To Build Your Hoop House
Chapter 7: Geodesic Dome
The Pros And Cons Of A Geodesic Dome
Project Greenhouse: A 8-Foot 7’ Geodesic Dome
Calculating The Struts
Tools Required For The Job
Step-By-Step Guide On How To Build Your Geodesic Dome
Chapter 8: Benefits Of Greenhouses
What You Get From The End Product
The Advantages Of A Greenhouse:
The Disadvantages Of A Greenhouse:
GREENHOUSE GARDENING FOR BEGINNERS 2 Manuscripts in 1- Greenhouse Gardening and How to Build a Greenhouse
© Copyright 2020 - All rights reserved. The content contained within this book may not be reproduced, duplicated or transmitted without direct written permission from the author or the publisher. Under no circumstances will any blame or legal responsibility be held against the publisher, or author, for any damages, reparation, or monetary loss due to the information contained within this book, either directly or indirectly. Legal Notice: This book is copyright protected. It is only for personal use. You cannot amend, distribute, sell, use, quote or paraphrase any part, or the content within this book, without the consent of the author or publisher. Disclaimer Notice: Please note the information contained within this document is for educational and entertainment purposes only. All effort has been executed to present accurate, up to date, reliable, complete information. No warranties of any kind are declared or implied. Readers acknowledge that the author is not engaged in the rendering of legal, financial, medical or professional advice. The content within this book has been derived from various sources. Please consult a licensed professional before attempting any techniques outlined in this book. By reading this document, the reader agrees that under no circumstances is the author responsible for any losses, direct or indirect, that are incurred as a result of the use of the information contained within this document, including, but not limited to, errors, omissions, or inaccuracies..
TABLE OF CONTENTS GREENHOUSE GARDENING Introduction Chapter 1: Going Green! First Focus: Choice Of Location Suggestion #1: How Far Is Too Far? Suggestion #2: More Power! Suggestion #3: Adding A Drainage System Second Focus: Greenhouse Design And Structure Lean-To Detached Ridge And Furrow Third Focus: Frame It! Wood Steel Aluminum Plastic Fourth Focus: Cover Plastic Acrylic Polycarbonate Fiberglass Glass From The Soil Sandy Clay Silty Peaty
Chalky Loamy Chapter 2: Staying Green Climate Control - How To Work With Greenhouse Climates Heat Humidity Ventilation Sunlight Tricks Of The Trade A Matter Of Seasons Cool Season Crops Warm Season Crops Chapter 3: All The Good Stuff For Winter For Summer For Spring For Fall Chapter 4: The Tools Of The Trade Step 1 Step 2 Step 3 Step 4 Step 5 Digging Tools Shovel/Spade Trowel Forks Cultivating Tools Hoes
Weeder Cutting Tools Pruners Hedge Shears Lopper Pruning Saw Other Important Requirements Gloves Boots Masks Eyewear Gardening Overalls Chapter 5: Fruits, Herbs, And Vegetables Annuals Benefits Of Growing Annuals Cons Of Growing Annuals Perennials Benefits Of Growing Perennials Cons Of Growing Perennials Gardening Tips For The Smart Gardener Soil Cultivation Fruits Best Time To Plant Pruning Your Trees Watering Your Fruits Fertilizing The Soil Pest Control Disease Control Easy Fruits To Grow In A Garden
Important Tips Vegetables Choosing Vegetables Pruning Vegetables Ideal Location Soil Preparation Mulch Fertilize, But Do Not Over Fertilize Planting A Vegetable Garden General Planting Principles Raised Beds Climbing Plants Compatible Pairings And Combinations Herbs Soil Preparation Easy Herb Source Maintenance Harvesting Tips Planting Herbs Planting Locations Bedding Holes Water Check Harvesting Bottles? For Sure! Common Mistakes Chapter 6: Lay It On The Table! Spring Plants Fall Plants Winter Plants
Zone 3 Zone 4 Zone 5 Zone 6 Zone 7 Zone 8 Zone 9 Fruit Blackberry Blueberry Cranberry Strawberry Conclusion References Introduction
HOW TO BUILD A GREENHOUSE Chapter 1: What Greenhouse Suits Me? What Is A Greenhouse? What Greenhouse Will Suit You? Freestanding Or Attached? Cold Houses Cool Houses Warm Houses Hot Houses Conservatories Time Needed For A Project The Budget Size Matters Tools And Materials For The Cover Plastics Glass For The Frame Wood Steel Aluminum Eco-Friendly Building The Pros And Cons Of Building Your Own Greenhouse Diy Or Pay Someone Else? What About The Foundation? Wood Frame With Gravel What You Need Step-By-Step Concrete Slab
What You Need Step-By-Step Chapter 2: A Brief History Of Greenhouses Greenhouses Of The Past Why We Use Greenhouses Today Chapter 3: Greenhouse Maintenance What Is Greenhouse Maintenance? Why You Need To Maintain Your Greenhouse Advantages Of Maintaining Your Greenhouse Chapter 4: Greenhouse Orientation Orientation Is Important Climate Types And Orientation Desert Climates Mediterranean Climates Humid Tropical Climates Temperate Climates Cold Climates Average Temperature For A Greenhouse Heating Your Greenhouse Space Heaters Forced-Air Heating Steam Heater Electric Heater Shopping For A Greenhouse Heater Cooling Your Greenhouse Ventilation Evaporative Cooling Shading Your Greenhouse Chapter 5: The 12ft By 6ft A-Frame
The Pros And Cons Of An A-Frame Project Greenhouse: A 72 Square Foot A-Frame Tools Required For The Job Materials Needed Step-By-Step Guide On How To Build Your A-Frame Step One Step Two Step Three Step Four Step Five Step Six Step Seven Wrap Up Chapter 6: Hoop House The Pros And Cons Of A Hoop House Project Greenhouse: A 12ft X 32ft Hoop House Tools Required For The Job Materials Needed Step-By-Step Guide On How To Build Your Hoop House Step One Step Two Step Three Step Four Step Five Step Six Step Seven Step Eight Step Nine Step Ten
Wrap Up Chapter 7: Geodesic Dome The Pros And Cons Of A Geodesic Dome Project Greenhouse: A 8-Foot 7’ Geodesic Dome Calculating The Struts Tools Required For The Job Materials Needed Step-By-Step Guide On How To Build Your Geodesic Dome Step One Step Two Step Three Step Four Step Five Step Six Step Seven Step Eight Step Nine Step Ten Step Eleven Step Twelve Wrap Up Chapter 8: Benefits Of Greenhouses What You Get From The End Product The Advantages Of A Greenhouse: The Disadvantages Of A Greenhouse: Conclusion Glossary References
GREENHOUSE GARDENING A complete guide to build a greenhouse and grow your own herbs, fruit and vegetables
INTRODUCTION Versailles had about 1,000 orange trees in one location between 1684 and 1686. Think about it. All those orange trees clustered together. It would be such a wonderful sight now wouldn’t it? Makes you wonder why they had to remove those trees in the first place, doesn’t it? Also makes you wonder: where in Versailles could you have seen such a majestic sight? Does it still exist on the map today? The first thing you should know is that those trees were not removed. And secondly, the orange trees were inside a building. Surprised? Well, I guess you wouldn’t be because you know the title of this book and you know where I am going with this. You see, those trees were grown artificially within a large greenhouse But that is not the oldest record of a greenhouse. Far from it, in fact. If you would like to know the origins of greenhouses, then we have to travel back to the ancient land of Rome, when conquerors were being backstabbed by their relatives in court and gladiator matches were like watching NFL on a Sunday afternoon. It was around 30 A.D. that a certain Roman emperor named Tiberius wanted to have more cucumbers. To be more precise, he needed to have at least one cucumber a day. This was a requirement prescribed by his physicians, to help him with a certain medical complication. Immediately, many Roman gardeners and engineers had to find a way to create a constant supply of cucumbers, which would not usually be a challenge if not for the fact that they had to ensure that these cucumbers were especially grown for the emperor alone. Talk about royal privileges. Here is another challenge. The cucumbers had to be grown all year long. But does one grow the same plant throughout the year? You might think that all it requires is to plant the seeds, water them, add
some sunlight, and voila! That is not how it works. Cucumbers work well during moist and warm seasons. This means that the gardeners and engineers had to find a way to grow them during the winters. Even in the snow. Yes, it did snow in Rome, despite what they show in the movies. It wasn’t always sand and desert. To grow the cucumber for the emperor, the gardeners used a wheeled cart to transport the cucumbers from one place to another. They would place the cart under the sun, where the cucumbers received the necessary sunlight. When winter arrived (or when it was nighttime), the gardeneres used a special cover for the cucumbers. The cover was made using transparent materials, which allowed any sunlight to pass through, but gave relative warmth to the cucumbers inside. Because of this, the emperor could enjoy some delicious cucumbers. It was a case of “a cucumber a day kept the Roman physicians away.” For the longest time, people considered greenhouses to be a recent invention. While the modern glass versions of greenhouses were recently discovered, the idea behind greenhouses has been in existence for a long time. Greenhouses provide a safe space and environment to grow plants, vegetables, and even crops. You can usually find them in cold regions like Finland, Greenland, and certain parts of Canada, but they are not secluded to those countries. They have a transparent covering that is typically made of glass. The transparency allows sunlight to filter through during the day. When darkness takes over the brightness of day, the greenhouse traps the heat inside, allowing the plants to receive warmth even if the temperatures outside the greenhouse dip closer to zero degrees. It is an ingenious invention that is based on scientific findings and research, especially physics. In fact, the name “greenhouse” itself is a term that is associated with climate change. The term refers to a process where temperatures on Earth’s surface increase. In this process, gases such as carbon dioxide prevent the heat of the sun from escaping, just like what the glass roofs of greenhouses do with the heat the enters them. Greenhouses not only help grow food properly, but they are environmentally friendly.
That statement might raise a few eyebrows. After all, how can greenhouses themselves contribute towards the environment? Do they produce beneficial gases that block harmful gases from accumulating? Is it because there are many plants growing inside? Neither. You see, when countries need food, they need to depend on imports. This means that they need to use various modes of transportation in order to get the required food. The number of ships and planes that carry food is large and the fuel they burn is tremendous. All the exhaust from these ships and planes affects the environment. Now think of the situation where a country has numerous greenhouses to meet the food requirements of their country. 1.
They don’t have to depend on trade for food and through that, they reduce the world’s fuel consumption and dispersion.
They become independent and can actually minimize spending on imports.
They grow their food naturally and can deliver it to the masses faster than when they were reliant on imports from other countries.
Not only is the country protecting the environment, but they are gaining so many benefits through the use of greenhouses. So now that you are acquainted with a brief introduction on greenhouses, it is time to add a slice of nature in your backyard! Before jumping in your greenhouse gardening journey, you can download a free and useful guide about compost. Click the link below and get your free copy: https://forms.aweber.com/form/10/223814310.htm Thank you for choosing my book and, if you enjoy it, please, make sure to leave your opinion on Amazon. Have a good reading!
CHAPTER 1: GOING GREEN! When trying to build your own greenhouse, you might need to be aware of one important point; there are various kinds of greenhouses that you can choose from. Your choice of greenhouse reflects multiple factors, from the resources you have available to the space you have set aside for your greenhouse to the frequency of gardening. Which is why, the best way to choose the right greenhouse is by going stepby-step through the setup process, starting with the choice of location.
First Focus: Choice of Location Initially, you might feel that almost any location seems fit for a greenhouse. But to help you draw a proper conclusion, here are some suggestions you need to be aware of.
Suggestion #1: How Far is Too Far? You need to first decide how close to or far away from your home you would like your greenhouse to be. You should be looking at a spot that receives sufficient sunlight. In other words, you should keep your greenhouse as far away from sources of shade as possible. You might find the task of finding a location with adequate sunlight even more challenging during the winter, because the sun has a low angle during the winter. This causes even short trees and buildings to block your greenhouse entirely. Eventually, your plants start receiving less sunlight. Look at the location you have chosen for your greenhouse. Check its locality for tall buildings, trees or other obstructions.
Suggestion #2: More Power! You need to pick a location that provides you with access to power. You might need access to electricity in order to manage your greenhouse efficiently. You might not use a lot of power (or you actually may not need it at all), but it is useful to have access to electricity. For example, let’s say that you would like to conduct an inspection of your greenhouse during the night.
Instead of taking a torch and entering your greenhouse as though you are part of a scene from a horror flick, you might as well add some overhead lamps or lighting fixtures. In some cases, you might require extra cables to ensure that your greenhouse receives power. But when picking a location, you should make sure that you are not placing your greenhouse too far from a source of power. You can also choose to attach the greenhouse to your home. This makes it easier for you to run cables to your garden. There are chances that you might have to seek the help of an electrician to help you set up the power supply, so think about that when you are setting up your greenhouse.
Suggestion #3: Adding a Drainage System Few people even think about the notion of a drainage system for a greenhouse. However, they become vital for syphoning away excess water. Otherwise, water can pool around your garden and that in turn attracts pests or diseases. Now don’t be alarmed. It does not happen in every scenario. However, there are chances it could and it is better for you to consider a drainage system than worry about it after you have built your greenhouse. Look for level ground when you are creating a drainage system. If you have uneven ground, then there are chances that water can pool in certain areas. The water in turn becomes infested over time.
Second Focus: Greenhouse Design And Structure Before you open up your web browser and start looking at all the greenhouse options that you can take advantage of, you need to first understand what your greenhouse dimensions are going to be. Are you planning on getting a small greenhouse the size of a small shack, or are you planning to have a greenhouse so big, it could become your neighborhood’s tourist attraction?
Image: The size of your greenhouse allows you to plan your crops better. The size of your greenhouse is important for reasons more than the number of crops you wish to grow. A smaller greenhouse is easier to maintain, incurs fewer costs when it is using power, and can store heat faster. A larger greenhouse might require more attention and you might have to be more careful about the kind of plants you would like to grow. However, a larger greenhouse gives you space to grow more crops and plants. You can grow a row of cucumbers (all year long if you prefer) and then have space to grow a few beautiful flowers. Picking a size might be a challenging factor, but you can make it easier for you to decide by thinking about the kind of crops you would like to grow. If your inventory has many plants, then perhaps you might have to pick a large greenhouse. Otherwise, a small greenhouse might be perfect for you. You can also think about your budget. Ideally, you should not have a greenhouse that is smaller than 8 feet by 6 feet. Any smaller, and you might as well grow plants in your wardrobe.
Another important point to keep in mind is your level of expertise with gardening. If you are not a professional gardener, then think about getting a small greenhouse you can use to master your passion. Once you get better, you can always upgrade your greenhouse. When you have decided on the size of your greenhouse, you then have to choose its structure. Broadly, greenhouses are categorized into the following types.
Lean-To These greenhouses lean against your house, property or against another structure. The greenhouse is built in such a way that glass (or any other greenhouse cover material) is used on three sides. The fourth side is the wall of the structure that the greenhouse is leaning against. This type of structure makes it easier for you to give it power if it is positioned adjacent to your house. Additionally, if your house or structure has brick walls, then it retains more heat.
Detached You might have seen these greenhouses come in various shapes and sizes. They are large, occupying a wide area in a field. Or they could be small, situated on the roof of a building or in someone’s backyard. They do not take support from any other structure. They are independent structures and in some cases, you can have more than one greenhouse in a single area. One of the most popular types of detached greenhouse is the Quonset. A Qounset features arched rafters along with walls for solid support. The rafters can be made using materials such as PVC or steel, depending on your preference and budget. I personally recommend that you try to avoid PVC, since they can release estrogenic chemicals that are harmful to you and the plants, and are soluble in water. As an alternative, you can make use of low-density polyethylene, which is another form of plastic that is cheaper than metal and safer than PVC.
Ridge And Furrow These are multiple greenhouses that share a common gutter, which usually connects all the greenhouses at the eaves. These greenhouses can either have
a curved or a gabled arch. The majority of people do not invest in ridge and furrow greenhouses because they require a lot of maintenance and attention. You might even need to have a small team of people working on them when you are not around.
Third Focus: Frame It! Once you have chosen the type of greenhouse you would like to go with, you then need to decide what kind of frame fits it best. You have a lot of options to work with and you can pick the one that gives you the most benefits.
Wood This is a great material for DIY-ers. You can find them readily in the market or you can collect wood from local sources and you have a plethora of options to work with. Wood can also be a cheap material to work with, depending on the kind of wood you choose. The only drawback to using wood is that it tends to rot over time. You might have to maintain it properly and place a drainage system in your greenhouse so that water does not collect around wood. You can even use wood for modifications. For example, you can attach hooks, create shelves, and run cables through it more easily. Wood can also be used to easily create additional storage options for you.
Steel When you are in the market for a tough frame, then you cannot go wrong with steel. If you pass by a commercial greenhouse, then chances are that it will be made of steel. Steel is not just strong, but durable as well, which makes it appealing to those who plan to practice gardening for a long time. On the flipside, steel is also one of the more expensive materials that you can use.
Aluminum An alternative to steel is aluminum. Not only are these frames relatively strong when compared to most other materials, but they are lightweight as well. However, because of their lightweight nature, you might have to use
multiple aluminum frames in order to get the right structural strength. In many greenhouses, aluminum frames are attached to steel foundations so that the structure has stability and a strong cover. Aluminum also absorbs the heat of the sun better, allowing you to provide better warmth to the plants during the night or cold seasons.
Plastic For the budget-friendly gardeners, plastic is a good choice of frame since it is lightweight and cheap. Because of its flexibility, you can create your frame the way you want to. It is a poor conductor of heat, so you might have to be careful when choosing the type of plants you would like to grow.
Fourth Focus: Cover You have numerous options for cover materials as well. You might be familiar with glass, since most pictures of greenhouses show glass covers. Besides glass, there are a few other materials you can use.
Plastic While glass might be an appealing choice, it is also an expensive choice. You could choose to add plastic instead. It provides enough transparency to allow sunlight through and is ideal for small-framed greenhouses, Quonset, and lean-tos.
Image: Plastic covers are cheaper, but you need to make sure that you choose the right type of plastic. Since plastic comes in various forms, make sure that you choose the right one for your greenhouse. For example, a readily available (and cheap) option of plastic is PET. However, PET has a short life span and you might find yourself replacing it frequently. You can make use of low-density polyethylene, or LDPE, which lasts longer but is going to require a bit more investment.
Acrylic You might know acrylic by another name: plexiglass. Acrylic provides you with an even greater degree of flexibility, allowing you to form a frame that fits your greenhouse well. It is fairly durable and strong, giving a fair degree of protection to your greenhouse.
Polycarbonate This material is not as flexible as acrylic, but it does provide your greenhouse with better strength and durability than acrylic or plastic. If you are looking
for a decent balance between strength and pricing, then you can choose polycarbonate. The only drawback to this material is that it isn’t entirely transparent. You might have to deal with less sunlight, which means that your frame should be able to retain more heat.
Fiberglass The translucent variety of fiberglass is the most common one in the market. If you are finding it difficult to find transparent fiberglass, try to look for other markets or order them online. The great benefit of using fiberglass is that it is a sturdy material and fairly inexpensive as well. Fiberglass is also known to lose its transparency faster than materials like polycarbonate and acrylic, so you might have to replace them in the near future.
Glass Finally, we have glass, which is easily the most aesthetically pleasing material (it is no surprise that many greenhouses use them). The material is expensive, but provides the perfect degree of transparency for a long time. Because glass is an expensive material, even a tiny crack can lead to a costly replacement or fix.
From The Soil If you are going to create a greenhouse, then you need to be aware of various soil types that you can use for growing plants. You can choose to make use of the soil already present in the area you are setting your greenhouse or you can make use of raised beds. A raised bed is a containment unit that holds your plants and crops. They can be made of various materials including rocks, concrete, and wood, and can come in various lengths or shapes. A raised bed allows you to add a soil of your choice into it, which becomes useful when you don’t have adequate or the right type of soil in your garden. Here are a few tips that you need to keep in mind when choosing a raised bed: Raised beds can also come in various heights. In general, the more
soil depth you have, the more freedom you give roots to grow. Additionally, deeper soil can hold more moisture, giving more nutrition to your plants. Check your garden space to decide just how many raised beds you require. Start out with one and see how it fits into your garden space. Moreover, using one raised bed allows you to practice your craft and get used to the bed. Once you are comfortable working with it, you can add as many as your garden permits. Make sure that you remove weeds and grass from the area. Some raised beds are planted on the ground where the ground is dug and a new soil is added into it. If this is the setup that you are planning to go with, ensure that the soil is ready for the bed. When deciding the length, shape, or height of your raised bed, try to think of the plants you wish to grow. Get to know about their root length, sunlight and water requirements, and other pertinent information. You will be able to make a better decision regarding your raised bed setup. If you are unsure about how much soil you might require for your raised bed, then try and use the online soil calculator at Gardeners.com. If you are making use of natural soil, then here are a few pointers for you: Once again, make sure you remove any plants or weeds already growing in the area. We are going to look at some tools you can use for the process further in this book. Check to see if there are any gas lines underneath. The last thing you want is the gas company dropping by your door telling you that you have accidentally stopped gas supply to a few buildings. Or worse, you are releasing gas into the air! You then have to check the kind of soil you are working with. This will help you decide if you would like to continue working on the ground or use a raised bed. There are six main types of soil that you can come across and they are listed below.
Sandy This type of soil tends to be dry, warm, and light, but acidic at the same time. They are easy to work with and can drain moisture quickly. During spring time, they are easy to warm up, but they suffer during summer when they begin to lose nutrients. Rain can also wash away nutrients easily. If you have this soil in your garden, then you can choose to use a raised bed or add organic fertilizer to it in order to retain nutrients.
Clay Clay soil can pose quite a few problems for gardeners. The benefit to them is that they are capable of providing and retaining nutrients. In fact, they may provide more nutrients than other forms of soil. They can easily remain wet during winter, but tend to dry out fast during summer. Clay is also not suitable for many plants, since it is quite difficult for roots to break through the texture of the soil. Water also tends to puddle on clay soil, so you will require a proper drainage system.
Silty If you encounter silty soil, then you can consider yourself lucky. Apart from loamy soil (which we are going to discuss below), silty soil is perhaps the most recommended soil for gardeners. This soil tends to be really fertile. It provides good aeration since there are irregularities in the size and shape of the soil particles. It can also hold on to water better than many other forms of soil. The drawback to silt is that it can become too waterlogged. When water continues to accumulate in the soil beyond its saturation point, then it prevents air from circulating and can drown the roots in the process. This process also prevents nutrients from ever reaching the roots.
Peaty This type of soil is capable of retaining a high amount of moisture and is rich in organic matter. However, the soil is also acidic, and because of this it ends up holding few nutrients. It can heat up quickly, making it ideal for spring and winter, but it does not drain water really well. Peaty soil becomes ideal
for growing plants if you can reduce its acidity. I recommend using rich organic matter or compost for the job.
Chalky These soils have large grains and are stonier when compared to other forms of soil. They also contain a high amount of alkaline, because of which plants can show yellow leaves or stunted growth. They are the least recommended soil for gardening in this list.
Loamy This soil is a combination of sand, silt, and clay, allowing you to draw the benefits of each of the compositions. New gardeners are told to make use of loamy soil, since it easily retains water and drains that water properly. They don’t require much experience when working with loam and they might find fewer challenges when working with the soil. The clay content of the soil provides adequate nutrients for the plants. Sand provides proper drainage properties and the silt offers a fertile ground for growing plants. Because loamy soil takes advantage of three different soil types, it can be used to grow almost any type of plant you want. The soil also does not dry out easily during summer and retains water during winter, making it ideal for almost any weather.
CHAPTER 2: STAYING GREEN When you are managing your greenhouse, it is not just the climate outside that is going to be your focus, but the climate within. Greenhouses have their own unique ecosystems with micro-climates that decide the levels of nutrients, humidity, moisture, and heat. All of these factors become important when you want to present the ideal growing conditions for your plants. You may have prepared the greenhouse structure, but that is just the beginning of your work. There is more to focus on to create the right greenhouse for you that can allow crops to grow no matter what season it is.
Climate Control - How To Work With Greenhouse Climates Tomatoes like it hot. And that’s not a weird innuendo. They really do like it hot, since they grow well during the summer. On the other hand, carrots grow well during cold climates. Your solution to grow the red fruit and orange vegetable (yes, tomato is classified as a fruit botanically), you might need to plant tomatoes during the summer and carrots during the winter. But what if you want to grow both? How are you going to help your plants adapt to various situations? This is where knowledge about greenhouse climate comes into place. With the right conditions, you can make your garden the perfect place to grow any crop you desire. Not only will you be able to grow any plant healthily, but you can also improve the conditions of existing plants. In order to create an ideal greenhouse environment, you need to know about the four factors that influence greenhouse climates.
Heat Some crops can’t handle the heat. Others like it when things get a little toasty. But what do you do during the winter, when heat becomes a problem for some plants or alternatively, during summer when heat becomes a problem for other plants? Talk to a gardener and ask him the warmest spot in the field during winter
and he will point towards his greenhouse. This is because plants take in oxygen and give off carbon dioxide. This exchange of gases produces heat that, if left unchecked, can effortlessly increase the temperature within the greenhouse. Typically, you will need to get rid of the extra heat but during winter, that won’t be necessary. But what if you are not growing enough crops to create the necessary heat for your greenhouse? In such cases, you have special equipment to generate heat. Basically, you have two types of heating technologies: local and central. Local heating technologies are placed at one end of the greenhouse and include equipment such as radiant, convection, or unit heaters. Central heating systems feature a boiler placed in the center of the greenhouse. The choice of heating option depends on your greenhouse size. A central heating system is ideal for large greenhouses, since they give you sufficient space to plant a large number of crops. But what about summer? How can you keep the plants cool? There are simple techniques you can use, such as good ventilation and shade coverings. You can also make use of cooling systems, but do note that cooling a greenhouse is more expensive than heating it. Make sure that you are certain about investing in a cooling feature.
Humidity Another factor related to the temperature is humidity, which also plays an important role in your greenhouse. When the greenhouse is warm, the moisture builds up in the air. Additionally, plants also exhale moist oxygen into the air. This increases the humidity in the air. Some plants thrive well in a humid environment (example, tomatoes and cucumbers), but otherwise, the presence of moisture can encourage the growth of some unwanted molds and attract pests. You might end up causing irreparable damage to your crops without even receiving a warning in advance. When you have the right combination of ventilation and heat generation, you will be able to grow any crops through any climate.
Proper ventilation is not just for the summer. If you are located in the windy plains or near deserts, then ventilation becomes one of the important factors that you need to consider. Thanks to greenhouse technology, you don’t have to wait for the right breeze to come your way; you can create breezy conditions on your own. You can attach custom ventilation systems or fans to your greenhouse after you have built it. You can easily open the systems on still days, when the movement of air is required within the greenhouse. You can easily close the system when you prefer to keep it less breezy.
Sunlight If you are growing plants, then you need sunlight. However, depending on where you are, there are other conditions that affect how much sunlight you can allow. Some places receive high UV radiation, which means that you will require a special filter for your greenhouse. By using technology such as UV-filter poly, black-out curtains or shade coverings, you can control the amount of sunlight you would like to let in.
Tricks of The Trade There are other tricks that you can use to manage the climate within your greenhouse, apart from the suggestions mentioned above. Remember that these may not always work for every plant. These ensure that you can grow any plant in any season. However, I would ideally recommend using the right season for the right plant. Sometimes however, I understand the need to grow a certain plant immediately. Who wants to wait until winter to enjoy some carrots, right? Grouping Plants that can handle cold weather and temperatures are called “hardy plants.” When it comes to these plants, you do not have to concern yourself with them during winter or cold nights. However, for other plants that cannot handle the cold (“tender” plants), you might find them struggling to face the cold. If only you could drape them with a blanket and be done with it. Unfortunately, that does not work and so, you have to use other measures to
give them warmth. One such method is to group all the plants together. This makes them tougher and slightly increases the humidity levels, giving them the ability to withstand lower temperatures. Mulch You can add a layer of organic mulch, which helps in managing the soil temperature efficiently. It also prevents the soil from suffering due to mild temperature changes. We are going to learn more about what mulch does to your plants under the vegetables section. Wind Blocks You can take advantage of surfaces such as a fence, wall or even nearby structures to act as shields against snow or gusts of winds. When plants are close to such structures or surfaces, they can make use of the small amount of warmth that they receive. During summer, if the heat affects your plants, then these surfaces also serve as sun blocks. Water When plants are near sources of water, they happen to take advantage of the temperature moderating effects of the liquid. The effects are mild, but when you combine it with other processes you may have setup in your greenhouses, it helps cool the plants. Check for sources of water near to your greenhouse, such as a natural lake or an artificial pool. This becomes especially advantageous during summer, when plants cannot stand high heat.
A Matter of Seasons While you do not have any control over seasons, you do have control over the choice of plants to grow based on the temperatures outside. Planning is vital. If you simply pick a random plant and use it in your greenhouse, don’t expect it to yield a proper harvest. Plants fall into two categories. On one hand, you have warm season crops that are perfect for spring or summer. On the other hand, you have the cool-season crops that are ideal for fall or winter. No matter what season it is, selection of the right plants can truly impact your gardening.
Cool Season Crops When it comes to cool-season crops, you are looking at hardy plants or semihardy plants. If you would like to collect the yield of the plant during fall, then your strategy should be to plant your crops during late summer. If you are hoping to harvest your plants come spring, then you should ensure your seeds are in the ground during early winter. If you want to be aware of the climate times, then make sure that you check your local climate and weather conditions online. If you want to get the best flavor for your cool season plants, then allow them to mature under cool temperatures.
Warm Season Crops You have entered summer or spring. The sun is bright and it is time for some gardening! Except, you are wondering whether there are any plants that you can grow to get some delicious ingredients without pondering about the heat of the sun. Let me tell you, there are plants you can grow. Enter warm-season crops. Ideally, you should plant these crops during spring, when the effects of bitter cold and frost have long passed. This is because these crops can be fairly tender. I have provided the ideal temperatures to grow warm season fruits and vegetables later in this book. However, make sure that you provide them with sufficient sunlight and allow them to bask in the warmth of the summer (a little sunbathing for our vegetables, in a manner of speaking). Now that you know the different types of crops that you can grow, let us understand what effect every type of weather has on your crops. Are you enjoying this book? If so, I 'be really happy if you could leave a short review on Amazon. Your opinion is important to me! Thank you!
CHAPTER 3: ALL THE GOOD STUFF Are you allowed to grow garlic during the winter? What about eggplants? When is the right time to grow some chiles so that you enjoy some spicy delights? We have seen how you can keep conditions in your greenhouse ideal for almost any plant. However, when you know what plant to grow in particular weather, then you are going to ensure that the plant receives the best natural conditions for growth before it might face artificial conditions induced by your greenhouse.
For Winter We begin with the cold part of the year. Your most important focus is to make sure your plants have plenty of natural sunlight. You should always look for places in your garden that attract enough sunlight. Sunlight is essential for growing crops, regardless of the climate. However, winter could shower your plants with less sunlight, depending on the region you live in. Another feature that you should take into mind for winter specifically is the natural outdoor temperature. If your plants have a deficiency of both the right temperature and proper sunlight, then there are other ways to help them. You can always install artificial lighting in your greenhouse. Fixing UV lamps allows you to artificially provide your plants the same energy that they receive from sunlight. When fixing UV lights, ensure that you have set the UV scale. You don’t want your plants turning extra crispy. But understand that the above method is a last ditch effort. The main point of having a greenhouse is to utilize all the natural light and heat that it receives. They form ideal growing conditions for your plants. But there is a lot more going on during winter. It is important to understand the science behind climate effects in order to make informed decisions about your plant’s health. You need to understand how plants take advantage of natural conditions.
You might already know the basics. Plants take in carbon dioxide and then convert it into oxygen. They also make use of water that they take in through the roots and throw out this water through their leaves in a process called “transpiration.” The water acts as a source of numerous nutrients for the plants. This means that you have to pay close attention to the water consumption cycle of the plants, especially when you have created an artificial environment for raising crops. When humidity reaches excess levels inside your greenhouse, then it gets too dry for the plants. This does not allow them to transpire water fast enough. Water builds up inside them and adds stress to the plants. Eventually, they begin to show signs of rot, slowly at first but in increasing frequency when the water continues to build up. That does not mean that humidity is bad for plants. Different winter plants make use of different levels of humidity. However, when you usually take plants that grow well during winter, then you are looking at those plants that receive the right levels of humidity and the right temperature. This means that even though sunlight is important, you have to make sure that you control the flow of air, as this maintains the temperature levels within the greenhouse. Also make sure that you are mindful of the amount of water you supply to the plants. Here are a few ways you can keep conditions during winter ideal for plant growth. Temperature Temperature plays an important role in controlling humidity. Your plan during winter is to make sure that you utilize the natural low-level temperatures outside and use crops that thrive in such temperatures. It may sound convenient to raise the temperature, but it is a rather counterintuitive measure. Not only will you not be able to plant the crops the way they are intended to, but you might also have a bit of a problem when you check the electricity bill you receive at the end of the month! It is okay to grow crops in various seasons, since you cannot completely avoid those seasons. However, it is not recommended to plant them in a season not meant for them. If it is truly important or if you would really like to, then you can create artificial lighting to grow certain plants. I would suggest you make use of the season
rather than creating alternative growing conditions in your greenhouse. Airflow Maintaining the right flow of air is dependent on ventilation. With the right air flow, you might be able to maintain the levels of humidity within your greenhouse. If you haven’t already, then make sure you install vents in your greenhouse to encourage nice airflow. You can also add exhaust fans to your greenhouse to suck out stale air, which might help you improve the conditions. A sound way to go about adding vents to your greenhouse is to use this technique. Make sure that your vents or exhaust fans are located near the edge of the ceiling. Once done, place intake vents near the floor of the greenhouse. When you have gotten the setup right, then you are effectively able to remove the damp air collecting inside the greenhouse and allow drier air to enter your garden. Why should you plant intake vents near the floor and not the ceiling? The reason is based on a simple scientific process; cold air settles down and warm air rises. Adding the intake vents at a lower level gives you access to this dry and cold air outside the greenhouse. Then, by placing the exhaust fans at the top of the greenhouse, you are removing the warm air collecting inside. If you are wondering why we are removing the wet air from the greenhouse, then you should know that damp air is the reason for humidity. By taking out wet air, we are solving humidity conditions by getting to the root of the problem. Water Water is one of the most essential factors to focus on, after sunlight. Sadly, people often overlook water conditions. Water plays a vital role in controlling the humidity levels of the greenhouse. I can imagine what some of you are thinking: wait just a minute! You just extracted damp air, but now you prefer to keep water? What happened? Why the sudden change in plan? I am not talking about keeping water around. Rather, I am talking about providing water to the plants. No matter how well you plan the greenhouse or what measures you take to remove humidity, it always leaves behind a certain
impact on your plants. They could dry out your plants too much if you are not careful. Therefore, you should make sure that you provide a proper supply of water to your plants, giving the roots of the plants some much-needed nutrients. Once you have taken into consideration the factors mentioned above, you are officially ready to tackle winter! On to the hot stuff. And by that, I mean summer.
For Summer Summer! The season for cool mojitos, beach time and suntans, and of course, growing some beautiful plants. What we are going to pay attention to is the process of getting your plants ready to face the heat of summer. Let us establish an important point; if you are growing certain types of succulents such as cacti, then you do not have to worry too much about the heat levels. Such plants are well suited to face whatever heat conditions that summer throws at them. However, their powers to face the heat come with a caveat. They are not used to facing the heat that accumulates in an enclosed space. This means that you need to find a way to grow these plants in your wonderful greenhouse. The first step that you should take is to discover when summer might arrive in your region. Check weather forecasts and online gardening forums for weather updates and any important tips that you should be aware of. Once you have all the necessary information, here is what you need to do. Humidity Thankfully, you are not going to control the humidity this time. In fact, you are going to increase humidity levels in your greenhouse. Warm plants enjoy the heat, and it helps them grow well. Here is a tip that not many people are aware of: take a small dish or bowl and fill it up with pebbles. Next, add water to the dish or bowl, and keep the vessel with the plants. If you are growing plants within a raised bed, then place the container below the raised bed, if you have space for that, or as close to the plants as possible outside the raised bed. If you are raising crops directly in the ground, then place the vessel next to the plants. The sun heats up the water and converts it into water
vapor. When the vapor fills the air, it raises the humidity levels near your plants. This way, you have artificially managed humidity. And who says science isn’t cool? This process will provide your plants with their own little microclimate. Water Water continues to escape quickly during summer. You should replace the water that is lost. This is why you should keep in mind that you have to water your plants regularly and water them well. Since it is summer, plants need to seek out nutrients faster and hydrate. The heat from the sun can cause the water from the soil to evaporate quicker, which is why you should maintain constant water supply to the plant. If you water too quickly or if you do not supply enough water, only the outside of the soil ends up getting more water or no water reaches the soil at all (since it gets evaporated). Take your time when you are watering the plants during summer. Sometimes, you might notice that the water does not get absorbed by the soil. It flows out of the soil. If you notice water being wasted, slow down the supply of water and allow it to slowly flow to the plants. Make sure you inspect soil moisture frequently. You can make use of a moisture meter, a special instrument that checks moisture levels in soil, to do this, or you could save money and use your finger, which is quite a handy tool, I assure you (no pun intended). All you need to do is dip your finger into the soil, preferably to a depth of two inches, and see if you can feel water. If you do not, it’s time to get out the watering cans. Usually, you should be able to see obvious cues of plants that do not receive enough water. Some plants tend to wilt, while others show leaves that look like they have been scorched. Sometimes, if your foliage is young, then you might notice them drying out. If you spot these factors, then make sure that you provide adequate water to the plants soon. Apart from the above steps, also make sure that you are performing the below actions: Ventilation Make sure you have proper roof ventilation for the summer. This will make
sure that the hot air which rises leaves the greenhouse while you have a nice layer of cool air falling down to the bottom. You can also make use of a thermometer by placing it inside the greenhouse. You can use the thermometer to frequently check the temperature within the greenhouse. Some crops can bear temperatures above 81°Fahrenheit. However, for those plants that cannot take high heat, ensure that ventilation is provided to them. Shading An important point to make note of when trying to provide shade to your plants is that they need sunlight. You can make use of blinds to provide the right amount of shade. You can attach these blinds to the interior or exterior of the greenhouse. However, pick an option that makes it easier for you to remove the blinds when they are not in use. You could also add the ability to slide your blinds open or closed. This might make things more convenient for you, but it might involve slight expense from your end. If you would like to keep things inexpensive, then you could make use of netting or meshes to give a decent cover or shade for your crops. Do note that for some of these nets and meshes, you might have to fix them in place. You can make use of clips for this purpose or you can choose any other method that you are comfortable with. Dampness If you would like to control humidity levels, you can also make use of this cool trick. If you have stone paths or cobblestones inside your greenhouse, then you should know that they can generate heat and that heat generated radiates towards the ceiling of your greenhouse (remember, hot air rises). This process naturally heats up your plants. To prevent this, you can simply spray water on the path or hose it down regularly. Using water not only cools the path, reducing heat radiation, but it also allows the water to evaporate. When water evaporates, it creates a nice humidity level for the plants.
For Spring Spring time reminds people of freshness and all the good stuff. An important thing that you can do during spring is add organic materials or compost to your soil.
This is important because it creates long-lasting and healthy soil. Furthermore, it manages the pH levels in the soil, provides nutrients to the roots, and keeps the soil ideal for planting. However, here is a tip I think that you might find important. Try to make use of “cover crops.” These crops are especially made to protect and enrich the soil. You first have to plant them before you plant the actual crops. When they are planted, their roots reach into the soil and mix essential nutrients. This is why, when you feel like your crops need vital nutrients, all you have to do is plant these crops at the beginning of spring. By the time you harvest them, you will have soil filled with essential nutrients that you can use for your actual crops. Some quick cover crops can be harvested in a short period of time and you can immediately use them for mixing nutrients in the soil. This gives you the opportunity to grow the remainder of your plants in the same season. Check the weather and temperature conditions first. Then make sure that the temperature is not fluctuating wildly or is in the extreme. Then go ahead and plant these cover crops. A few examples of these crops are mustard, barley, and oats. You can harvest these crops for food and at the same time, use them to add organic materials for the plants and vegetables that you would like to grow later. Do note that some of the plants could return later as weeds, so remove them properly when you are done harvesting them. Mustard is a popular choice, but it is also known to carry diseases that can affect other plants, though humans are safe.
For Fall The one thing you should remember before growing any crops during fall is to remove any crops that are not growing well. If you notice any crops that show signs of poor growth or are wilting away, simply remove them to prevent other plants from receiving any damage. Make sure you add in compost to set the soil and inspect the soil for weeds. Here is a good tip for you to remember: you can make use of the seeds that you haven’t used in spring. In other words, any leftover seeds you might have left. Make sure you clean your tools and equipment (and any containers you might have used) and always use high-quality organic compost or materials. You should also clean out any unwanted organisms or materials that might still linger around in the soil or around your greenhouse.
What if you are living in a region where you frequently receive hot climates and have no fall season? Well, in that case, you can skip this section, and you might as well get started with cool-season crops.
CHAPTER 4: THE TOOLS OF THE TRADE Adding the right equipment and tools for the job to your inventory is actually a fun endeavor. Think of the process like a chef getting his or her equipment to create the ultimate masterpiece. The only difference is that the chef is going to prepare some exquisite food while you are going to build a beautiful garden. I will highlight many of the vital tools that you might require in gardening. However, with technology improving at the rate that it is, you can always discover a better alternative or a more convenient tool. If you decide to choose any tool that gives you convenience and features, do note that it should fit your requirements. Don’t buy any tool that you might not need in the hope that you might use it someday. You spend more than necessary and the tool is simply lying in your tool shed gathering dust. I have listed various tools below, but it is not important that you use all of them. Think of what tool fits the the requirements of your gardening process and add that one to your inventory. Here is a method you can use to choose the right tool:
Step 1 Make note of the kind of plants that you are growing in your greenhouse.
Step 2 Check the size of your greenhouse and whether you have additional facilities like a storage compartment, wheelbarrows, hooks, or any other such features.
Step 3 Decide whether you are going to plant the crops directly into the soil or inside a raised bed. Each of them have their own set of requirements. For example, if you use the same material for a raised bed that you use for the ground, chances are that you might damage the bed itself!
Does the equipment you are going to buy require any form of electricity? You might raise your eyebrows at this but did you know that there are actually electrical spades out there? I know! Technology right? Well, if you are going to get one of those spades, then do note that you cannot charge the device in your house! You are going to be bringing whatever is on that spade into your house and the next thing you know, you have the CDC breaking down your house with hazmat suits and your life is a Hollywood movie. And I bet it’s less a romcom or action comedy and more of the horror genre. If you don’t have proper electrical outlets, then you don’t have to bring in specialized equipment. I understand, they do look cool. But cool is not always efficient.
Step 5 Finally, make note of the frequency of use of the tools. If you think that you are not going to be using the tools as often as you like, then find ways to grow crops without the use of the tool. With all of the above steps in mind, let’s start looking at some tools that you can use for your greenhouse. We start off the list with digging tools!
Digging Tools Shovel/Spade I always recommend having a spade or a shovel. They are such versatile tools that allow you to carry out various processes. If you venture out to your local store, then chances are that you are going to be spoilt for choice. One might have a unique handle that is built for comfort. Another tool might have a special design for efficiency. Each tool will have its own unique design and use. I am not against using unique tools. In fact, if you find a tool that provides you with more benefits than the regular versions, then feel free to get yourself one. But remember, utility over style. Make sure that the tool is truly something you are planning on using.
Image: A shovel will help you dig the soil and prepare it for new crops. Often, you might find people interchanging the spade and shovel in order to refer to the same tool. However, there is a noticeable difference between a spade and a shovel. And yes, it has got something to do with their shape. If the tool has a round edge, then what you have in your hands is a shovel. The rounded edge allows you to dig into soil easily. Even if you are not going to dig into the dirt, I would recommend getting a shovel. You can use it to hold dirt without getting your hands dirty. You can also use it to remove debris and other materials from the soil or the greenhouse floor. A shovel also helps you dig out weeds effectively. If the tool has square edges, then you are holding a spade. A spade becomes a handy tool for lifting and throwing materials. You can also use a spade to level the soil by gently patting it. If you are using organic fertilizers such as manure, then you simply have to pour the manure on the soil and use the spade to distribute it evenly. You might not require the shovel at all, but make sure you keep the spade since it plays an important role in digging the soil. We are going to look at
how important it is when we cover the fruits section later in this book.
Trowel A trowel is a compact version of a spade. It does most of the work that a spade does. You might have seen this tool used in construction sites or by builders. They take a trowel to spread mortar or cement on the foundations. In gardening, a trowel plays a similar role. You can use the trowel for giving the soil an even layer or for flattening it. Additionally, you can dig up materials as well. You might wonder if a trowel is useful if you have a spade, since both seem to serve the same purpose. Sometimes, a spade becomes a large tool to use. It becomes cumbersome to handle it properly. Think about this situation. You are squatting down on the floor to level the soil in your raised bed. If you hold a spade, then you are going to have a tough time adjusting the tool. Instead, a trowel makes things so much easier for you. If you are hoping to save money, they by all means skip purchasing the trowel. You might have to be content with the spade or a makeshift trowel, but they provide the same level of efficiency. A trowel is also useful for making small adjustments to your soil. For example, if you would like to add manure to a specific area of the soil, then you can easily apply it using a trowel. Some gardeners also prune using a trowel, but I recommend against it. It does not cut off the unrequired part clean and more often than not, harms the plant.
Forks I am not talking about the ones that you use to pick up spaghetti. We are talking about a special kind of fork. Some people often think of a rake and a fork as the same object. But a fork has longer teeth and is meant to dig deep into the soil. A rake is mainly used for gathering things together, such as leaves on the ground. While you might not typically find a fork in a garden, it is nevertheless a useful instrument since it can reach deep into your soil. When a spade or a shovel does not do the job for you, bring out your trusty fork and you can complete the task in no time. For example, when you add organic materials or compost to the soil, you can use the fork to mix the materials and mix well with the soil. You can scoop up large amounts of mulch or soil and use them
for the purpose you need. You can even combine them with the features of a spade to better prepare your soil. For example, you can take the mulch or compost and then add it to the soil using a fork. You can move the soil around to spread the materials around. Then, using a spade, you can level the soil as much as possible. If you like, you can use a trowel to make sure everything is set. A fork is also useful when removing crops. Because it can dig deep into the soil, you can easily remove stubborn weeds. You can also loosen up the soil by running the fork through it. This step is not always necessary, but it helps ready the soil even better, mix all the nutrients well, and give you space to properly plant the seeds.
Cultivating Tools Everytime someone uses the word cultivating, most people imagine a large farmland with some cows and a tractor. In all honesty, there is a bit of a connection between the term and the farmland imagination. After all, cultivation refers to the process of fertilizing the soil and removing any unnecessary materials from it, like those pesky weeds. As you can see, this is an important role and requires the right tool to make it easier for you to get the cultivation done properly.
Hoes Just like all the tools in this list, you can get your hands on a variety of hoes. The options might often befuddle you, but you just have to remember one important criteria to having the right tool: get one that allows you to both push and pull smoothly. Apart from that, do note some of the below tips to point you in the direction of the right tool. Do not look for a lightweight tool. You might come across many products boasting about how light they feel in your arms. But that means that they are choosing to provide you convenience over utility. Lighter products do not tend to be strong. They might feel comfortable to handle right until the time they snap in half, at which point you wonder why you fell for that fancy advertisement. Always choose to go for one that is sturdy and strong.
Whether you get a lightweight tool or a heavy one, you are going to be employing a lot of effort to work with the tools. Because of that, you might not always get the results that you desire with a lightweight one (case in point: the tool snaps). Since you are going to put in the effort anyways, might as well get a tool that is long lasting. The next feature that you need to be aware of is the sharpness of the tool. Ideally, you should get a hoe that can easily cut into the soil. Of course, you might not always have soil available to test the product, especially if you are visiting a hardware store. But you can definitely conduct your own research into the tools and find out which one is the best for you. Check out brand reviews and feedback from customers. Find out if the hardware store has better alternatives.
Weeder Remember how a trowel is almost like a mini spade? Well, I present to you: mini fork. If you feel that it is inconvenient to work with a fork, then you can get yourself a weeder. From experience and feedback from many gardeners, a fork will do the job just fine. So you are not going to be missing anything if you skip purchasing a weeder. However, if you would like to add more convenience, then you are free to get yourself a weeder. As with all tools, you might have no shortage of variety and features. However, what you should be looking for is a weeder that you can use with the kind of plants you are growing in your garden. If you find it difficult to make up your mind about weeders, then you can ask the help of a supplier. They usually manufacture their weeders with a certain goal in mind. Understanding how best to use their weeder will help you recognize the one you would like to add to your garden’s arsenal of tools.
Cutting Tools Sometimes, it is not just about getting the sharpest object you can find. You need to have tools that help you with specific tasks. Here are some cutting tools that you might require for your garden.
If you ever notice a gardener with a tool pouch, then chances are that you might notice a pruner sticking out of it. These tools are like clippers and are especially used to clip off buds, branches, and other plant growths that are not necessary for the plant. You can also use pruners for other tasks such as cutting flowers after growing them, trimming plants and shrubs for aesthetics, snipping off the stems of plants that you have already harvested, and more. When you are choosing a pruner, try to look for one that provides a comfortable handle. If you can, try to make sure that the pruner is lightweight as well. Since you are going to be using pruners to cut things, they apply pressure on your palms. Heavy pruners require more pressure to work with. Eventually, you might start to feel discomfort in your hands. Long-term exposure to such pressures might lead to damage to your hands. Using a comfortable and lightweight pruner makes your work easier. You should also seek out pruners that have carbon steel blades. This ensures that the tool has more durability. When you are using other materials, the repeated work chips away at the material easily. Tools can be sharpened using a whetstone, but you shouldn’t be adding more items to your inventory if you don’t need them. Some pruners also come with a safety mechanism. For example, a poor quality pruner might have faults or weak springs. With such springs, you struggle to hold on to the pivot or squeeze the handle properly. Even though the pruner is lightweight, it ends up adding pressure to your hands. When the spring cannot hold the device together, it causes the pruner to start resisting, which makes the tool uncomfortable to use. As an additional note, do not continue pruning if you feel discomfort in your hands. Take a break. Grab a nice glass of iced tea (in the summer) or hot cocoa (in the winter), or any of your favorite drinks. Gardening is supposed to be fun. It does require a lot of work in some areas, but that does not mean that you have to end up with a permanent injury. No tomato is worth injuring your hands over.
Hedge Shears I will be honest, these are some marvelous tools to have with you, even
though they might not always be useful. Essentially, hedge shears are like a giant scissor. You might have seen gardeners use them to trim hedges or make shapes out of them. They are used for cutting materials and items that you might not be able to otherwise cut using a pruner. Here is a tip for getting a hedge shear: think about what plants you are going to grow in your garden. If they are vegetables that do not have strong branches or stems, then you don’t require a hedge shear. However, if you are growing trees and you might need to trim them in the future, then the pruner is going to be a cumbersome tool to use. Your best bet is to use a hedge shear. I suggest you wait until you actually grow a crop that requires a hedge shear before you purchase it. Sometimes, you might just decide to grow small plants and herbs. In such cases, the only job of the hedge shear is to make itself comfortable in your storage space and collect dust. When you are looking for a hedge shear, make sure that you go for one that provides you with a comfortable grip. Some even come with a special cushion feature. Just like pruners, hedge shears are going to add pressure to your hands. If you have seen a gardener use a shear, then you know that they use both hands, one on each handle of the tool. You need something that does not add pressure to your hands. Remember that since you are using your entire arm, you might feel discomfort spreading throughout your arm if you get yourself a low quality shear. If you find yourself choosing between a short-bladed shear or a pruner, then get the pruner. There is no point in getting a shear with a short blade if the pruner can do the job for you.
Lopper When you look at it, the lopper looks like it could be a taller version of the pruner. While the blades of both the lopper and the pruner have more or less the same dimensions, it is the handle that is the big difference between the two. While the pruner has small handles, the looper comes with handles that are as long as the ones found on a hedge shear. The long handle serves an important purpose. You can get into hard-to-reach places. For example, if you are growing trees and you would like to prune a part of the tree covered by many branches, then a lopper helps you get the job done and you won’t have to get your arms cut or injured in the process.
A lopper is not necessary, since most of the plants that you are going to grow in your garden are not exactly hard to reach. But you can keep this tool in your mind if you feel the need for it. When getting a lopper, make sure you get a one with a sturdy handle, preferably made out of steel or hardwood. If you have a weak handle, then chances are that you might end up breaking the handle itself while using it. You should also keep an eye out for rubber handles that provide you with a comfortable and firm grip.
Pruning Saw A pruning saw is mainly used to chop off items and can be a handy tool if you are making adjustments to your greenhouse. It helps you get rid of stubborn weeds and stems. If a particular tree is infested with pests or disease, then you can use the saw to cleanly chop the tree. Many people end up borrowing a pruning saw. I do not recommend this for several reasons: When you use a tool in your greenhouse, then you know exactly where it has been used. You know when to clean it or how clean it is. When it comes to someone else’s pruning saw, you are not fully aware of what materials the saw carries with it. If the pruning saw is not sharp enough, then it can do more harm than good. You might think of cutting off a few parts of the plant or tree, but you might end up destroying the entire plant itself. The tool itself is not expensive, so you are better off getting a new one. Make sure you need it. If you are satisfied with the tools that you have, you don’t have to add another one to your tool shed. Make sure that you get a pruning saw that is ideal for your garden. What someone else uses may be too large for the small greenhouse you are maintaining or too small for the kind of plants you are growing.
Other Important Requirements Gloves
You should also get a comfortable pair of gloves. Whether you are using a spade or a pruner, gloves add a layer of padding between your hands and the tool. Despite how well the tool is designed, it tends to scrape your skin. In hot climates, you tend to sweat a lot. The sweat combined with the tool scraping against your skin can cause irritation or even mild injuries. Gloves help prevent any injury or discomfort to your hands. When choosing gloves, make sure that you pick one that provides a good grip. You don’t want to wear your gloves and have the prune slipping from your fingers. If you drop them on your foot, then that’s a dangerous injury right there! Also make sure that the gloves don't tear easily. High-quality gloves are made to resist tearing in a number of situations. Conduct your own research into the product that you buy. I understand that you would like to save money by choosing something inexpensive. But allow me to nevertheless impart a small piece of advice to you. When it comes to your safety, then price shouldn't be a concerning factor. It’s your safety versus a life-changing injury. Alternatively, if you feel that you do not want to spend on more equipment but do not want to give up on gardening, then try to work with crops that are easy to grow. I am going to list such plants in a later chapter.
Boots Keep your feet safe. If you are planning to walk barefoot in your own garden, I strongly advise against it. No matter how clean you are, there is always going to be debris and other materials that get stuck between small gaps and crevices. They are just waiting to attack a helpless foot that lands on them. Furthermore, if you are growing plants on the ground, then chances are that you are going to step on the soil itself. Imagine all those microorganisms and other materials clinging to your feet (we have to include the manure, if you are using it). In order to avoid such unpleasantness, make sure that you wear special gardener boots. These boots reach up to your knees and protect you from any flying debris or materials. Once you are done using them, you can then store them inside your greenhouse or inside a special storage space. Here are some other tips you need to be aware of when purchasing your
gardener shoes. Comfort Find footwear that is a comfortable fit. This prevents the formation of blisters on your feet. When your feet feel good, you feel good as well. Too often, we underestimate the importance of footwear. But try wearing an uncomfortable pair of sneakers and do something fun, like going to the cinema or bowling; you are going to feel like tearing off those sneakers and running them through a grinder. Easy Wear If you like to get shoes that have laces, then that is perfectly fine. You should pick the boots that match your comfort. However, shoes that you can easily slip on and slip off are truly worth their weight in gold. If you have a big greenhouse or if you find yourself handling multiple tasks at once, then slip ones are perfect for you. For example, you can remove your shoes and answer the door and easily return back to your gardening. You can handle multiple tasks with ease. Safety You don’t want to wear garden shoes thinking that they are comfortable and suddenly, you slip in a puddle of water. Make sure that you check the soles of the footwear that you are getting. They should have a sturdy grip and you shouldn’t lose balance when you are navigating wet soil, slippery debris, or even water. Some people try to save money by ignoring the soles, but if you have already decided to get yourself garden boots, then you might as well pitch in to make sure that they are of the highest quality. Cleaning Let’s face it; you can navigate your garden as though you're navigating a minefield and you will still find your garden shoes covered in mud, mulch, soil, leaves, and other materials. Garden shoes take a beating. If you have chosen high-quality shoes, then you don’t need to do much to clean them except rub them down with a damp cloth. Before you know it, you can subject your boots to more soil! You can also try to get special shoes that are water resistant, preventing objects and materials from sticking to your shoes.
Look Why should you worry about looks? After all, you are not planning to walk the runway in your garden boots, now are you? Wait, are you? Having a nice pair of shoes is not just for the purpose of showing them off to the world. You may be surprised by how much better you feel and how much fun you have when you are sporting a pair of shoes that you actually like. You even take extra care of those shoes. Try to look at different colors as well to find the one that you find appealing. Availability You don’t want to look for shoes that require you to travel two states, catch a plane to the Amazon, and look through an ancient temple before you can find them. Find shoes that are easily available. The main reason is that if you even feel like you would like to replace them, then you know where to go. If you cannot find them in your local store, then try to find some online. Be careful about online purchases; you might not always get what you ordered. In order to ensure you are purchasing the right product, always refer to the customer reviews. They give you an honest insight into the product you are going to get.
Masks When you are working in a garden, you might deal with pollen, flower particles, microorganisms, and other materials that go into the air. I know I made that sound more frightening than it should be. Because people have worked in gardens without using face masks and they are fine! However, having a mask nearby helps you in scenarios where you have to face floating particles. For example, when you are digging the soil, there are chances that you might toss some soil into the air. Masks are great for protecting yourself from inhaling such particles. Here are some tips for getting the right mask: Oxygen Gardening is a physical activity. This means that when you are mulching, digging, planting, pruning, or even watering, you are using up energy. Your
body requires energy in the form of oxygen. Make sure you get a mask that does not restrict your airflow so much that you start to feel dizzy or faint. An important tip to remember: If you ever feel dizzy or faint, stop what you are doing, step out of the greenhouse and remove your mask. Take in deep breaths of air until you feel like you have complete control over your senses. I would like you to remember this process. I have seen people who forget stepping out and waste precious time inside the greenhouse wondering what they should do. That being said, do not panic easily. Simply keep calm and step outside to get some fresh air. Comfort The mask you wear should be a snug fit, but it should not feel like someone is holding your face tightly. Tighter masks can also make you feel suffocated, even though they provide proper air flow. If you are wearing glasses, then find a mask that does not make your glasses slide off your face. Material Make sure you do not get yourself a mask that is made of poor quality materials. More often than not, you end up inhaling the mask materials!
Eyewear You might not always need eyewear, but if you feel that working in your garden seems to cause your eyes to become irritated, then it is time to get yourself some eyewear. Right after you visit the doctor of course. If you notice any medical symptoms when working in the garden, don’t simply shrug it off as something that is normal. Get an expert opinion and then you can then begin to take safety measures. If you are working on trees that are tall, where you have to look up to do the work, then having goggles will keep your eyes safe. For example, if you are looking up at a branch and then pruning it, then chances are some materials might enter your eye, no matter how careful you are. Evaluate your garden and check to see if you truly require goggles. In some
cases, people also perform repairs and adjustments to their greenhouses. And for many of those repairs and adjustments, they might have to look up. Yes, you know where this is going.
Gardening Overalls Gardening overalls are used by many hobbyists. They not just offer protection against dirt and soil, but they are a comfortable fit, especially when working in a greenhouse. If you don’t want to lose many clothes to the soil and garden stains, then you should get gardening overalls. Additionally, because of their loose fit, they allow for better circulation. They are particularly useful during summer, when you might need all the circulation you can get to keep yourself cool. Many overalls also offer pockets for storage. You can carry your pruners or trowels with you wherever you go. Just make sure that you hang your overalls inside the greenhouse when you are done using them.
CHAPTER 5: FRUITS, HERBS, AND VEGETABLES Before we get down to talking about the fruits, herbs, and vegetables that you can grow in your garden, you might need to know about two vital terms. We are going to be using the terms repeatedly throughout the chapter, so it is best that you are aware of them.
Annuals These are plants that transform from seed to flower and back to seed all within a single growing season. If you visit the market for seeds, then you might not always find true annuals. If you got yourself a true annual, then it should complete its entire life cycle within a single year. The leaves, stem, and root of the plant die every year. You might have to replace the seeds every year during spring time.
Benefits of Growing Annuals Annuals are efficient plants. They grow quickly and hence, you can collect the fruits (or vegetables) of your harvest quickly. Start growing them and within a year, you will be using them in your food. Annuals typically cost less than perennials. If you have enough annuals, then not only will you spend less on them, but you will have a large number of ingredients to work with by the end of the year. It is also easier to grow annuals. For most annuals, you plant them (ensuring that the soil and garden conditions are ideal), ensure they have adequate sunlight, and water them. You might have to make changes to your greenhouse environment based on upcoming seasons. But you will only be making the changes once, since you are going to harvest your plants by the end of the year. In the case of perennials, you need to make changes to your greenhouse year after year to ensure that they grow properly.
Image: You can harvest annuals year after year.
Cons of Growing Annuals Remember how I mentioned that you might have to make changes to your greenhouse for upcoming seasons? It is actually important, nay, almost imperative that you are prepared for upcoming seasons, especially winter. Annuals are sensitive to the cold and if you are not careful, you might lose them during the cold parts of the year. Annuals attract more pests than perennials, including slugs, aphids, and other insects. If you are the kind of person who does not have a lot of time to spend in the garden, then you might have difficulty focusing on annuals. They require constant attention.
Perennials These are persistent plants that require multiple growing seasons in order to fully mature. Every winter, the top part of the plant might die off (though this
is not always the case) and then regrow once again from the root system during spring. You can harvest multiple times by using a perennial plant.
Benefits of Growing Perennials Perennial plants are low maintenance in the long run. Once you have set the right conditions and ensure that they adjust to the climate, you don’t need to check on them as frequently as you would annuals. Because it takes longer to harvest perennials, they can enhance the beauty of your garden. At the end of the day, you might not be looking to just grow plants; you might also be thinking of creating a beautiful space in your garden. Perennials are also good for the soil. They leave behind nutritious soil once they are removed. In some cases, you can plant new crops on the soil that you used to grow perennials.
Cons of Growing Perennials You need to wait for the harvest. Annuals will be ready with their produce within a year. With perennials, it's not always the case. Some perennials even take several years before they begin to yield anything. A good example of such a perennial is asparagus. You cannot place perennials anywhere in your garden. They occupy space for a long time, which means that you need to make sure that you have space for annuls. If you are only growing perennials, then you will have to wait a long time before your first harvest. Some perennials can turn to weeds easily. One has to be careful when picking perennials in order to make sure that they have chosen the right plant for their garden.
Gardening Tips For The Smart Gardener Before we start looking deeply into fruits, herbs, and vegetables to grow in your garden, let’s go over a few important tips.
Image: Most vegetables need about 6 hours of sunlight. When gardeners use the word ‘fruit,’ they are also including berries and nuts into the category. The main difference is that there aren’t a lot of differences in the way you grow berries, fruits, and nuts. Therefore, if I use the word fruit in this chapter, I am also referring to walnuts, pistachios, pecans, and various other nuts. The rule of thumb is that most vegetables need at least 6 hours of sunlight. Make sure that the greenhouse provides them with the required amount of sunlight. Also note that the more sunlight they receive, the greater the harvest. So don’t count 6 hours and immediately cover your greenhouse with a shade. If you can, let more sunlight through for your plants. Make sure that you check rainfall conditions. Rain can easily flood your garden, if you are not careful. Create proper drainage systems
in order to carry away the rainwater. Don’t try to use rainwater for your plants. While this does not harm the plants, it is not easy to collect rainwater and then provide it for your plants. Ensure that your plants have enough space to grow. For example, corn requires a lot of space to grow and once they have grown to a certain height, they can easily overshadow nearby plants. Source high quality seeds only. You might want to cut down on costs with inexpensive varieties, but you might only suffer in the long term. If you would like to save costs, then use a small greenhouse in the beginning. Once you feel like you can expand your greenhouse, you can do so anytime. But try not to skimp out on buying quality seeds. When you buy seeds, the packet will provide you with information on when you can plant the seeds. Use that information. Do not plant the seeds too early or too late. Now that we have a fair number of tips, let’s look at how you can start growing your crops, starting with the process of cultivating the soil.
Soil Cultivation One of the best methods to use for soil cultivation (and one that is easier for beginners as well), is “single digging.” In this process, you are digging the soil deep enough to match the width of a spade. You usually dig in a straight line, since that is the most effective way to plant your crops. Furthermore, if you are using raised beds, then you can only dig in a straight line. How long you would like your trench depends on the total area you have to work with. Remember this rule at all times: the trench you are digging should be 6 to 8 inches deep and the width of your spade. To keep your garden clean, put all the soil that you dig out into a wheelbarrow. You can also make use of a plastic sheet that you can wrap up after you have finished digging the trench.
Image: How well you prepare your soil decides how well the plants grow. Continue digging as many trenches as you prefer to have in your garden. If you encounter any weeds, make sure you take them out along with the root, or else they can grow back and destroy the crops you plant. Once you have finished digging, fill up your soil with organic matter. Think about whether you would like to grow annuals and perennials in each spot you have dug as it will help you pick the right combination of compost, fertilizer, and other organic materials. After you have planted the seed or plant, you can use the soil you have collected in your wheelbarrow or plastic sheet to fill up any space. If you feel that the soil you have collected is not ideal for your crops or if they are filled with weeds, then you can purchase soil separately. It’s typically not too expensive and you can get a large amount for a small price. When you have prepared your soil, you can then decide what you would like to grow in the newly dug soil.
Imagine plucking a fruit grown in your garden using ideal conditions. The fruit is fully ripe and warmed by the sun. And it is in your hands right now. The flavor is going to be more delicious compared to the ones you find in the supermarket. That is the kind of fruit you are going to grow in your garden. Of course, planning to grow the fruit is one thing, but actually growing it is another. Fruits require less work compared to vegetables. Once they are planted, the trees or bushes will keep producing year after year. The pruning process can sometimes be frustrating at first, but it gets less complicated and difficult the more you do it. Eventually, you will be making fewer mistakes in future pruning processes. Pruning is the process of removing certain parts of the plants, such as a bud or an extra branch, in order to maintain the health of the plant. Pruning is also done for aesthetic reasons, such as removing an unwanted leaf or two to make the overall presentation of your plants better. You can choose a wide variety of fruits to work with or based on a specific color (if you are planning to arrange your garden using a specific aesthetic plan). You can also choose between cool-season crops or warm-season plants. Here are some cool-season crops that you can work with: Honeycrisp apples Pears Apricots Cherries Cherry plums Warm season plants: Kumquats Pomelos Avocados
Passion fruits Guavas Kiwis Mandarin oranges Lemons Winter squash
Best Time to Plant Fruits are mainly gained from shrubs and trees. They grow best if they are planted in early fall as this will give your plants enough time to settle before they start fruiting and flowering during spring and summer. If you are choosing strawberries, then they are usually supplied in large modular trays or pots. Planting them does not require as many preparatory steps as other fruits.
Pruning Your Trees Initially, pruning might seem like a scary process. You might wonder if cutting that branch could destroy your plant permanently. You don’t have to approach your plants as though you are defusing a bomb, choosing between a red or a blue wire. You simply have to cut the branches in order to encourage the plant to make more fruits, rather than create more leaves. The only thing you have to be careful about is not to cut a branch with a fruit on it. If you start to feel like pruning is a stressful process, then you should stop planting more fruit trees. The whole process of gardening should be relaxing. Sure, there are always challenges to handle, but you shouldn't have an abundance of stress that could severely impact your life. Always choose to start small. Get acclimated to growing a small batch of fruits first and then move on to bigger batches.
Watering Your Fruits Most fruits that you grow will require a constant supply of water. They grow well with consistent moisture. The exact amount of moisture to maintain
depends on the kinds of fruits you are growing, soil type, and climate. For example, let us say that you are growing fruits in sandy soil. We have learned that sandy soil can drain water easily. This means that they require frequent water supply to keep them moisturized. Fruits also require more water when the weather is windy and hot and they require less water when it’s cloudy, humid, or cold. Ideally, you should supply enough water to moisten the soil to a depth of 6 inches. You can make use of specialized irrigation systems for your fruits, but the system is rather expensive.
Fertilizing The Soil When you are aware of the soil type, you can find the appropriate fertilizer to use. There might be times when you are tempted to use more fertilizer than is recommended on the package, but I strongly suggest that you resist the urge. If you add too much fertilizer, then it can burn the roots of your plants. In some regions, you might have to acidify the soil before you can plant anything. You can easily do this by adding a little sulfur to the soil. This process reduces the pH level of the soil. I would also recommend you get a soil test done. Many gardening communities and cooperatives can provide this test for free. If not, you can find out about soil testing laboratories or gardening centers that provide soil tests in your area. When you understand more about your soil, you will know just how much water to add, how much sulfur you should use to lower the pH levels, and what kind of fertilizer to use, among many other useful tips.
Pest Control Everyone (and everything) loves the sweet stuff! It’s not just you waiting to dig into some juicy sweetness, but small creatures who are going to take every opportunity they get to beat you to the first bite. The problem is that if they do take the first bite, then you might as well toss the whole fruit away. If you really have to use a pesticide, then make sure that you use the least toxic one. You can also make use of insecticidal soap, which is effective on pests with soft bodies, such as spider mites and aphids. Using a spray of water with enough force can also knock out any pest.
You can also call on microorganisms for help, especially bacillus thuringiensis (or BT). This bacteria does not harm the fruits, but it helps control the population of butterfly and moth larvae. Moreover, try to see if the bug really needs to be removed from your garden. For example, having spiders in your garden can actually control the population of other harmful insects. You and spiders can become good partners; the spiders control pests and in turn, they can help themselves to buggy hors d'oeuvres. I am going to provide a table in the next chapter that lets you know about the different pesticide alternatives that you can use and what kind of pests they can handle. However, here are some pests that you need to be aware of and how you can take care of them. Apple Maggots These are small flies that target apples. They drop their eggs on the fruit and the hatched worms burrow into the fruit. You can control the spread of the maggot population by destroying the fruit before or when it drops to the ground. Don’t allow the fruit to stay on the ground for too long or the maggots will spread to nearby plants. Codling Moths Another pest that attacks apples (seems like “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” is not just popular in the human world). You can use Bt to control this pest or make use of pheromone traps. Plum Curculio This pest is a brown beetle that causes fruits to rot or become misshapen. The affected fruit then falls off the tree, after which the beetle moves on to its next target. Either during early spring or late summer, place a sheet under young trees and shake them gently. This causes the beetles to fall off and land on the sheet. You can then dispose of the beetles. Slugs
These pests mostly enjoy snacking on strawberries, but they are not picky when they need to eat. You can make use of special slug baits in order to get rid of slugs.
Disease Control When it comes to diseases, the situation changes completely. Yes, plants can get diseases. Make sure that you keep circulation flowing through the greenhouse and that your plants dry quickly. Now you might think to yourself, “Hold on just a minute. Am I not supposed to water the plants? Why keep them dry when I am supposed to keep them moist? This is confusing!” You are supposed to keep the soil moist. When it comes to the plants themselves, make sure that they don’t hold water for long. If you notice any diseased plants, remove them immediately. However, not all diseases are caused by environmental effects. Some are spread by insects. Getting rid of the insect population before they spread can prevent the spread of diseases as well. Lime sulfur spray can help you control the spread of fungal infections. Cedar-apple rust This disease results in horn-like growth on leaves and yellow spots on certain fruits, such as apples. The best way to deal with them is to use a fungicide. Black Knot This disease commonly attacks fruits such as peaches, cherries, prunes, and plums (seems like apples got spared this time). You can easily spot this disease because it resembles wart-like growth on branches. If this disease is common in your region, then you can choose fruit types resistant to it or alternatively, cut down branches that show signs of the diseases. It is better if you can spot the disease in its early stages. You might have to make use of fungicides. Mildews You might have heard or read this term used in connection with gardening
and plants. A mildew is a powdery substance that attacks a variety of fruits. The best–and least expensive–way to deal with them is to ensure that your greenhouse has sufficient ventilation. Try to keep the plants dry and prune them. Viruses When a plant is infected by viruses, it shows misshapen or mottled growth. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for viruses. Your only option is to get rid of the plant. However, you can definitely take preventive measures by buying seeds that are virus resistant.
Easy Fruits to Grow in a Garden If you are unsure about what fruits are the easiest to grow in your garden, then perhaps this list might help you. Strawberries When freshly picked from the garden, these citrus fruits are juicy and perfect when eaten by themselves or in a smoothie. These fruits are so versatile that they can be grown in hanging baskets, raised beds, gardens or even indoor pots. Strawberries grow well in sunshine and soil that has a proper drainage system. Raspberries These fruits can be grown in small clumps throughout your garden or in containers. Raspberries are not too demanding and can be harvested starting from late summer to early fall. Blueberries These plants provide beautifully scented and nutritious berries before late summer. They are perfect in containers, but you can grow them in your garden to add color to it. You should ideally grow them in moist and acidic soil, so prepare to have sulfur with you. Try to look for self-pollinating blueberries since they allow you to only need one plant to produce many fruits. It takes a while to fruit blueberries, since you will be able to harvest them after 3 years. However, you can always add them to your garden to
throw in a splash of warm colors. There is something beautiful about entering a garden with blueberry plants. Blueberries are one of the few plants that you can water with rainwater. Figs Want to bring the flavors of the Mediterranean to your garden? Then you cannot go wrong with figs. These sweet, chewy, and creamy fruits are easy to maintain in your garden. They love sunshine and warmth. It is best to grow them when their roots are restricted if you are planning to grow them in containers like a raised bed. Otherwise, you can use the plant of your choice for your garden. You might need to wait a little while in order to fruit the figs since they start to truly grow during fall and won’t be ready for fruiting until the following summer.
Image: Strawberries are one of the easiest fruits to grow. Besides, who does not like strawberries? Gooseberries These fruits are succulent and hardy. They are low-maintenance and they make a unique ingredient to savory sauces. They prefer fertile soil and you have to keep them in semi-shade. Make sure that you keep them watered when you spot them ripening. They can be combined in many foods or eaten raw.
Apples What can you say about this popular fruit that hasn’t been said a thousand times already? In fact, it has its own adage. You can grow a wide variety of apples, depending on your preference. You need to maintain well-drained soil, but do not choose sandy soil for the purpose or you might not grow the apples well. Make sure that you prune the fruits every winter so that you avoid stunted growth. You can also plant two different kinds of apples and they might pollinate each other, making it easier to work with them. Blackberries The best part about these fruits is that they are adaptable. They can grow in almost any soil with little attention required from your side. Beware of the fact that these fruits come with thorns. But, you can always make use of a thornless variety like the apache group of blackberries. Honeyberries These fruits are hardy and tough, but they are packed with nutrients. To grow them properly, make sure that you have well-drained soil and provide adequate sunlight. Because of their toughness, you don’t have to constantly pamper them. They are quite capable of growing without too much supervision. I recommend growing them in pairs, since it increases pollination between them. Goji Berries These fruits have a liquorice flavor. They are able to withstand coastal conditions where there is constant wind. It is important to provide them with proper sunshine and you should only harvest them when they are fully ripened. Currants You can choose from red, white or black currants. They not only make delicious snacks, but you can turn them into jellies and jams. They require full sun, but they also need proper shade. Provide them with around 6 hours of sunlight and then place them in the shade.
Important Tips Here are a few additional tips that you should remember when you are growing fruits in your greenhouse. Pollination Think about how you would like to arrange your fruits. This is because when you have proper arrangement, the fruits can complement each other. You might have to ask the garden supplies store or the seller of the fruits about the proper pollination process, since each fruit has its own technique. Certification You can find many plants that are tested against viruses and certified for quality. Make sure that you use such seeds. They last longer and you will save money on pesticides. Checking Plants Make sure that you manually check the plants for diseases or pests. Before you do, cover your hands with gloves and wear a face mask. Look underneath leaves, check branches, and examine the soil as well. After you have made a careful examination, you will be able to prevent the spread of pests or diseases easily. Make sure that you speak to the supplier about the quality of seeds. Look for proof of quality, if you can find it. Climate Control Find out what climate affects your fruit the most. Then make sure that you do not grow the fruit close to the climate that can harm it. For example, honeyberries require a lot of sunlight. They are quite resistant to winter, but they can suffer from the cold sometimes. You can raise their hardiness by planting them in early summer. The plant then grows up enough to raise its toughness by the time winter arrives. If you plant it close to winter, then it wouldn’t have grown enough to properly face the cold climate. Fertilizer It is always prudent to make use of fertilizers. Often, you might think that your soil is ready for the fruits and if you are using fruits that grow easily,
then you might not feel the necessity to add fertilizers. However, a little fertilizer ensures that the pH levels in the soil are balanced.
Vegetables The advantages to growing vegetables in your own greenhouse or garden are threefold: Advantage #1: Flavor They taste better. When you grow your own vegetables and start enjoying them in your meals, chances are that you are going to find it difficult to go back to supermarket bought foods. Additionally, in order to increase commercial yield, many producers use the process of hydroponics, where the roots are left dangling in water. While hydroponics technology is not harmful, it does not produce vegetables with full flavors. The vegetables appear softer than they should and are almost tasteless. You can also pick vegetables that you grow at the peak of their ripeness, which is not true for vegetables that you find in the supermarket. When picked at the right time, you can enjoy home-grown ingredients before their sugars convert to starch and they lose some of their flavors. Advantage #2: Nutrition When you grow vegetables in your own garden, they tend to be more nutritious. You grow these vegetables carefully, monitoring them at each stage of their growth. They are provided the right amount of sunlight and water. Once they have ripened, you immediately pick fresh produce and use them for food. In supermarkets, you are not always getting fresh produce. Some of the produce is stored for weeks before it makes it to the market shelves. Advantage #3: Variety There is a greater opportunity to have more variety of vegetables, even when you have seasonal restrictions. Supermarkets bring better quality foods if they fit a particular season. For example, you find good quality sprouts in July and high quality tomatoes during December. With your own garden, you do not have to face such restrictions. No matter when your vegetables ripen, you are
ready to harvest them and enjoy their flavors.
Choosing Vegetables Despite the variety of vegetables presented to you, there is still the matter of picking which variety to grow. I would suggest picking those types that are not easily available in the shops, such as purple-podded French beans rather than the usual green variety, or elephant garlic rather than the regular type of garlic you find everywhere. By choosing a unique plant, you can experiment with not just plant type, but with flavors as well. If you feel that you would rather not take the risk of growing unknown varieties of foods, then you could try growing them alongside the readily available types. For example, grow elephant garlic along with regular garlic. Since you are growing two vegetables of the same type, your gardening methods will be the same for both types. Most of the vegetables that you might grow belong to two main categories; warm-season vegetables and cold-season ons. The time of planting for each vegetable depends on weather conditions. You need to know what conditions the vegetables can tolerate. Cold-season vegetables usually grow best in early spring or during late summer. Some even grow during late autumn, when the weather has cooled down a bit. On the other hand, warm-season vegetables are ideally grown during late spring or summer. They can also be grown during early autumn, when the weather has heated up a bit.
Image: Choose the vegetables carefully. Take into consideration factors such as climate into consideration, among others. If you are growing cool-season crops, then you have to make sure that they mature when the weather is cool, otherwise they might go to seed. Warmseason crops must begin to grow after the end of winter. In some cases, gardeners look for the last frost of winter and check if warm-season crops are growing. If they are, then the gardeners will have a good harvest. If they don’t, then they have to find another solution. If you are planning to grow cool-season crops, then you should plant them in a temperature range of 40-50°F. When they start growing, then the ideal temperature range for their growth should be 70-75°F. Cool-weather crops do not produce well if the temperature during the day reaches 80ºF or higher. Some of the cool-season vegetables that you can grow are: Parsley Peas Broccoli
Brussels sprouts Cabbage Kohlrabi Leeks Onions Spinach Turnips Radishes Rhubarb Rutabagas Asparagus Collards Garlic Horseradish Kale When it comes to warm-season crops, they grow best at a temperature range of 65-86°F. However, try to maintain a temperature of at least 74°F. Some warm-season vegetables that you can grow are: Sweet corn Tomatoes Cucumbers New Zealand spinach Muskmelons Okra Peppers
Pumpkins Squash Snap beans Eggplant Lima beans Sweet potatoes Whether you choose cool-season or warm-season vegetables, make sure that your greenhouse is ready for the vegetable. Prepare the soil, remove any weeds, and check for pests as well.
Pruning Vegetables A vegetable garden is usually a serene place. However, some gardeners can enter into a heated discussion about whether they should be pruned or not. Some gardeners are convinced that carefully snipping squash, tomato, cucumber, and pepper plants improves yields and makes the vegetables tastier and bigger. Others are of the opinion that pruning vegetable plants is a waste of time, or worse, can cause irreparable damage to the plants, decrease yield, and leave fruit exposed to too much sun. So which camp of belief is right? Should you prune the vegetables? Or should you just let them grow on their own? Here is the conclusion: it is not necessary to prune your vegetables, but it will definitely help the plant in certain cases. Most pruning debate centers around tomatoes, because while the process might benefit other kinds of plants, it does not seem to do anything for tomatoes. In the case of tomatoes, the yield decreases by about 32%. When pruning is performed on other vegetables, then it seems to increase the yield. If you are unable to decide whether or not you should prune, ask the seller of the seeds at the gardener’s market. This is because different seeds have unique requirements. You might receive a certain vegetable seed, but the plant could be modified in order to face a certain virus or increase its yield. With modified seeds, it is better to have an expert’s opinion on the matter.
When pruning, make sure that you keep in mind the following tips: Do not prune late into the day when the plants get watered. You should ideally prune early in the morning by checking to see if the plants are dry. If you are pinching off small foliage, then make sure to use your thumb and forefinger. Wash your hands before you pick plants and wash them after the pruning process. For foliage that is slightly bigger, make use of shears. Wash the shears properly and disinfect them before using them on plants. Use a special solution to get this job done by using one part water and one part 70% isopropyl alcohol. Clean your shears using the solution and then wash it using regular water. Do not cut large branches. This might cause injury to the plant. Do not cut more than 25% of the plant. Leave some foliage to provide natural shade and provide sugars for the food.
Ideal Location Make sure that you plant your vegetables in a space that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight. Tall vegetables such as pole beans and corn should be placed on the west or north side so that they do not block sunlight to smaller plants.
Soil Preparation When preparing the soil, make sure that you add a lot of organic matter and compost. Incorporate enough organic matter so that the soil is not sandy or hard. If you need to get soil separately, then do so (especially if you have chalky soil). With such a soil formation, there are going to be enough microorganisms for your plant.
Mulch You can also add a three-inch layer of mulch around your plants. Mulch helps keep the soil warm in winter and cool in summer. It also suppresses the growth of weeds, retains moisture, and acts as a protective barrier against diseases that fall off the plant and enter the soil.
You should also be aware of the kind of mulch you are adding to your garden. Some mulches have harmful chemicals in them. When purchasing mulch, make sure that you ask the seller enough details about the product to make you feel comfortable about using the product.
Fertilize, But Do Not Over Fertilize When you add too much fertilizer, especially nitrogen, then you do end up getting a lush green growth in your garden. That does seem beautiful. But that is all there is to it. You see, nitrogen stunts the growth of fruit and because of that, you end up getting a small harvest. A good tip to know is that about 20% of your soil should include organic compost. When you do this, the plants start growing in a healthy manner. Feed the soil and the soil will in turn feed the plant. Make note of the numbers on the top when you are buying fertilizers. They give you an idea of its content. You might notice a series of three numbers and they look like this: 10-20-10. The arrangement of the numbers all mean the same thing. The first number indicates the amount of nitrogen, the second number shows the amount of phosphorus, and the final number indicates potassium content. Let’s say that you got yourself a 100 pound bag of fertilizer and you saw 1020-10 on it. You can then conclude that the bag contains 10 pounds of nitrogen, 20 pounds of phosphorus, and 10 pounds of potassium. The remaining 60 pounds is made up of perlite, sand, or rice hulls. Roots, leaves, stems, flowers and fruits all require nitrogen for proper growth. Nitrogen gives the plant its color and is necessary for the creation of proteins. When there is not sufficient nitrogen, then the leaves tend to grow yellow. The plant itself could turn a color of pale green. However, as mentioned earlier, too much nitrogen can cause harm to the plant. In order to form roots, flowers and fruit, you need the help of phosphorus. This important chemical ensures that your vegetables have rich flowering and fruiting and prevents stunted growth. Finally, potassium is important for many chemical processes that occur in the plants. A potassium shortage shows itself in many ways, but you can
typically spot the signs when the leaves turn yellow and the plant reveals poor growth. When you are purchasing fertilizers, make sure that you get one that has twice as much phosphorus as it does nitrogen. In the example that we had seen above, the amount of potassium was 20 pounds as compared to the 10 pounds of nitrogen. This ensures that you do not feed too much nitrogen to your plants while providing essential nutrients for their growth. The common form phosphorus rich fertilizers come in the 10-20-10 or 12-24-12 forms. How much fertilizer should you use? Ideally, use about 2 to 3 pounds of fertilizer for every 100 square feet of soil. A soil area that is 10 feet x 10 feet is 100 square feet.
Planting A Vegetable Garden A rookie mistake that many people make is that they get excited about working on a vegetable garden and then jump in with both feet to try to grow as many vegetables as possible within the initial year. If you have a conversation with an experienced gardener, then he or she will suggest against the idea. They will inform you that you are only going to set yourself up for some disappointments. When you start working on your garden, you need to gain experience about it and the food that you grow. No matter how many books you read or YouTube videos you consume, you are only going to become experienced by practicing the craft. In fact, the more vegetables that you try to handle, the more overwhelming the process can be. I suggest that you start by listing down your favorite vegetables. Step 1 Start by listing all the vegetables you want to grow in your garden. Go ahead. Just go wild with the list! Step 2 Next, start eliminating those vegetables that you can do without. I know you might think that there are no vegetables you would like to remove from the list. But look through it and discover those that you can grow the next season. Step 3
From the list that is remaining, narrow down your most preferred vegetables. You could even use other criteria to help you make your decision easier. For example, you can focus on those vegetables that cost a lot to buy in shops or those that are better eaten fresh. You can choose to grow those vegetables that you use a lot in your home. Whatever criteria you choose, think about it carefully. In the end, you should be left with a few vegetables to plant in your garden. If you still have a long list, keep going through it until you're left with a few. Step 4 Make a plan to create more beds next year. You can use any available space in your greenhouse for the purpose. When you start with a small amount of vegetables and then keep increasing your yield, then you slowly gain mastery and confidence over gardening. Eventually, you will be able to handle multiple foods in one go. Step 5 Make sure that you define the materials that you will use for gardening. Rather than narrow your focus on only the foods, think about other materials. Do you need fertilizers? How many tools should you get for yourself? Is a wheelbarrow necessary? What clothing or accessories should you have with you? After you have followed the above steps, you then need to consider other factors. If you are using a new area for gardening, then you need to think about the planting system of choice. These include traditional rows, raised beds, square foot gardening, or any other method. Generally, each garden bed should be at most 4 feet wide and as long as you would like them to be. 4 feet allows you to lean over and tend to your food without having to struggle reaching into the middle of the bed, which is usually the place where you plant your vegetables. If you are creating rows or arranging beds, then make sure that you have at least two feet of space between them. If you have a wheelbarrow, then adjust the space to allow the wheelbarrow to pass through easily.
If you have children in your house, then it helps to clearly mark the edges. Or alternatively, you can get yourself corner protectors that ensure that even if someone were to bump into the edges (especially when you are using raised beds), they do not suffer any serious injuries. At this point, I would also like to let you know that if you have children in the house, then I think it would be best to have a tool shed or a storage space for your equipment. Keep away all your tools after you have finished using them and lock the shed or space for added security. If you are using special clothing and accessories, then make sure that you put them away inside the storage space. Additionally, make sure that you always have extra clothing and accessories with you. Think about the people who would enter your greenhouse. If you have children, then perhaps you might need to get them masks, gloves, and boots as well. When you are working in your garden, I can understand the urge to show off your work to others. And you should! Gardening is a wonderful hobby and when you share it with people, it just inspires awe and wonder in them. In fact, you could even encourage them to join you. But in any situation that you are going to bring more people into the garden, you need to have extra clothing and accessories for them.
General Planting Principles Keep in mind the below principles when you are planting vegetables. Tender Plants Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and basil are some plants that are especially fussy when it comes to the environment. Unless you are maintaining a warm climate, you would like to reserve those spots that receive the most sunlight for these plants. When creating a plan, add them to the top of your list. If you have south facing walls, they provide additional heat to these plants. If you don’t have any south facing walls, then don’t worry about it. Make sure that you are keeping them warm enough. Roaming Plants Next, focus on plants that like to grow vines, such as squash, melons, etc. You need to position these plants as close to the edge of your vegetable beds as possible. The broad leaves of these plants can cover other vegetables and
prevent them from getting adequate sunlight. If you place them at the edge, they spread their vines across paths. This actually gives such a wonderful aesthetic appeal to your garden and makes it look like your garden if filled with life. Vertically Climbing Plants If you have plants that grow upwards, such as beans, peas and some squash such as cucumbers, then you need to place them where they don’t overshadow other plants. However, there is an exception to this rule. In some cases, you might be growing certain cool season crops such as lettuce that can benefit from the shade. You can plant the lettuce next to a cucumber patch and both plants will grow up healthily. Irrigation There are certain plants that do not perform really well in dry conditions. Strawberries, celery, and onions are such examples. If your garden is on a slope, then the lower areas end up receiving more moisture than the higher areas. If you have a sloping surface, then you can install irrigation facilities for your plants. You can either buy sprinkler systems that you can attach to the ceiling or you can connect a pipe to a water tap and leave the other end on a water bed. Puncture tiny holes into the pipe such that they spray upwards. This allows you to create a rudimentary irrigation system. You might have to hold the pipe in place since the flow of water can rotate the pipe, throwing water in the wrong direction. Pollination Some plants need to be close to others in order to pollinate well. One of the most popular plants that requires pollination is corn; you need to grow these plants close to each other so that you have full cobs by the time you are ready to harvest. Accessibility Are you going to combine annuals and perennials? Then make sure that you plant the annuals close to your kitchen so that you can pick them easily. Otherwise, keep those plants that you regularly harvest close to the entrance of the greenhouse.
Don't Overcrowd Once you have finished working on the plants in your list, you might have some space for other plants. You might be tempted to add in as many plants as possible, but don’t give in to your temptation. You can make use of the space in one of two ways: Plant more of the crops you already have in your garden. That way, even if you make mistakes with a few crops, you have more than enough vegetables to harvest. You can plant a couple of other plants on your list. That way, you have extras during harvest time. Leave enough space between plants if you are starting out. Don’t try to pack them together in order to get a higher yield. You might end up harming the plants and ruining the growth process.
Raised Beds If you are using raised beds, then make sure that you are using rich soil. As we had mentioned earlier, do not skimp out on buying high-quality soil just so you can save a few bucks. When you start out, you will find out that poorquality soil presents a host of problems that you might not be ready for. Don’t add more stress on your plate. With high-quality soil, you can manage your plants effectively. You know that the reason your plants are not growing well is because you might have made a mistake in the way you planted them, the choice of fertilizer, water supply, and factors other than the soil. With poor-quality soil, you don’t know if the problem is in your technique or if the soil is not nutritious enough for your plants. Have a deep layer of soil so that you allow the roots to dig freely. Even if you are growing plants with shallow roots, you should still maintain a deep soil system. You learn more from their growth process and you can make accurate adjustments to the soil in the future. Raised beds are easier to maintain as well. If you are not feeling confident about growing crops in the ground, then get yourself a raised bed. The beds even save time because they can become moist quickly and drain faster. At
the same time, plants grow close to each other so that they don’t give space for weeds to grow. You save time on the weeding process. You will have more time to spend on the plants.
Climbing Plants Another technique you can use to grow more plants is by focusing only on climbing plants. Here are some plants that are climbers: tomatoes pole beans peas squash melons All of the aforementioned plants grow vertically, giving you enough space to grow numerous batches. Once again, do not overcrowd the beds or rows. Even without overcrowding, you can grow more climbing plants than regular plants using the same space. You don’t need to invest in expensive support structures for climbing plants. Make use of the below supports: trellises fences cages stakes You can make simple wooden stakes at home or get them at the local wood supplies store. Once you drive the stakes into the beds, you can tie the plants securely to them. Don’t worry about the roots since climbing plants are capable of developing strong root systems.
Compatible Pairings And Combinations
Certain plants compliment each other. Think of Iron Man and Captain America. Peanut butter and jelly. Netflix and chill. Sometimes, you can have more than two plants complementing each other. Sort of like Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor. Peanut butter, jelly, and bread. Netflix, chill, and chill. Think of one of the most popular combinations of plants; beans, corn, and squash. The three plants are so well known in the plant community that they are nicknamed the “three sisters.” There are many other combinations that you can add to your garden: tomatoes, basil, and onions celery and beets leaf lettuce and peas or brassicas radishes, carrots, and onions
Herbs Want a little oregano to add a beautiful scent to your food? Want to make use of fresh chives that simply enhance the flavor of your food? Or are you looking for some parsley to add to your pasta?
Image: Herbs are easy to grow in the garden. Herbs are a wonderful addition to any food. Whether you want to use them to enhance the fragrance of the food or you are looking to create a variety in flavors, herbs are your best best to creating wholesome and delicious food. Herbs are famous for their perfumes. There are many herbs that are used for medicinal purposes, but a fair share of those that have a wonderful scent are used in the culinary world. Aromatic oregano, mint and lemon balm are just a few of the herbs that you might find in many kitchens. Herbs are also well-known for attracting beneficial wildlife to your garden. If you have herbs planted next to your fruits or vegetables, then you are only going to attract those pests that are useful for you, such as certain species of spiders. Herbs also help mask the smell of fruits and vegetables, keeping away those pests that could cause harm in your garden. Most notably, gardeners who face problems with aphids grow herbs in their garden. The scent of the herbs easily keeps away the creatures. But there is another reason for growing herbs in your own garden. Despite their benefits, they can be quite expensive to purchase, especially when you
are trying to get large quantities. Which is why, if you choose to plant your own herbs, then you are going to have a plentiful supply of herbs all summer.
Soil Preparation Many of the herbs originate in the Mediterranean, which means that we have to create soil conditions that match the region of their origin. You need to first have free-draining soil. Ideally, you should be working with loamy soil. If you do not have loamy soil, you can make use of raised beds and add the soil into it or you can find the right draining system for your soil. Herbs can tolerate the cold of winters, but they do not grow well if the ground becomes wet and cold. This is where our free-draining feature comes into play as well. The feature removes the water and prevents the ground from becoming too cold for the plants.
Easy Herb Source A cheap source of potted herbs is the supermarket. When you get the pots, make sure that they have more than one plant in the pot (which is usually the case). With just a single pot, you are capable of growing multiple herbs in the garden.
Maintenance If the herbs start growing into each other, that is not something you should be worried about. Just make sure that there is a small border of space around each plant so that it encourages better air circulation. Otherwise, the plants do not restrict growth just because they lean into each other.
Harvesting Tips There are two purposes for harvesting herbs; they are either for fresh use or for dried use. Fresh Use - How To Cut The Herbs When you are harvesting fresh herbs, then be careful with the stems. Cut the stem just above the next pair of leaves or a single leaf on the stem. In other words, leave on a leaf or pair of leaves and then make your cut. Such a
cutting method will allow the plant to re-sprout from the area cut. When cutting the plant, try to take a look at the presentation. If you start cutting each and every stem, then the result might look awkward. However, cut the stems in such a way that even when the herb regrows, it will grow wonderfully. Some people like to drop their herbs into a tea or a drink immediately after cutting it. I recommend that you first check what plant you are about to use, wash it properly and check for any infections before adding them to your tea. For first time gardeners, it is important that you take your time to examine the plant. Do not be in a hurry to use them. The more you examine them, the more comfortable you are using them. The easiest way to ensure that your herbs give your drink enough flavor is to pick a few leaves and then either tear or twist them. Drop the leaves into boiling water or a hot drink. Enjoy! Dried Use - How To Cut The Herbs Mint, oregano and bergamot are some examples of herbaceous herbs. They can be dried before using. This serves a few purposes. Drying them adds a unique flavor to your food. You can dry them to store them for winter, when you are not able to find herbs in your supermarket easily. Drying them allows you to sprinkle them on many foods. You can add them to pasta or to stir-fried rice. This is not to say that fresh herbs cannot be easily added to your food. The advantage of dried herbs is that you can store them in containers and make use of them in small quantities. The best time to cut herbaceous herbs is during late May/early June. At this time, they are just about to flower. Cutting them will allow them to grow through the rest of the season and provide you with even more fresh flowers and foliage. Once you have cut the herbs, tie the bases of the stems using a string. Then hang them upside down in a warm place until you see the leaves dry out.
Once they are sufficiently dry, you can pull off their leaves and then store them in a container. Some gardeners even crush the leaves. Feel free to do so if you like; it makes it easier to add them to food. You can even crush them and place some in bowls to add a wonderful scent to your room or house.
Planting Herbs When it comes to herbs, there are no set seasons perfect for planting them. You can plant your herbs during any season. You just have to make sure that the soil does not get too wet and cold. Your only focus should be on the type of herb. Are you planning to grow annuals or perennials? If you are planning to grow both, then what ratio of annuals would you like against perennials? You might also think of which herb to grow. Here is a list of herbs you can work with. Annual Herbs Basil German Chamomile Summer Savory Parsley Dill Chervil Cilantro/Coriander Perennial Herbs Catnip (if you have feline overlords in the house, I’m sure they will appreciate a little catnip from their “hooman” servants) Chicory Lemon Grass Mint
Oregano Roman Chamomile Lovage Marjoram Caraway Feverfew Sorrel Tarragon Winter Savory Ginger Fennel Lemon Balm Horseradish Chives Echinacea Chives Chives plant
Planting Locations You can either choose to plant your herbs in a garden or you can even plant them in pots. You can then hang these pots in your kitchen. They not only make beautiful decorations, but they give off some wonderful smells. In fact, if you are ever thinking of decorating your kitchen with plants, then you can consider herbs. Just be mindful of the fact that herbs (and any other plant for that matter) can attract organisms. Ideally, they should be in the kitchen or outdoors. Do not place them in areas where you cannot take care of them or where the organisms can begin to spread to other areas.
You are going to start growing herbs from bedding plants instead of seeds. Which is why, you should make sure that the holes you dig for the plants are deep enough to properly cover the roots of the herbs. You can make use of your fork to loosen up the soil, if it isn't already loose. This step is particularly important since healthy root growth decides the overall health of the plant. When you are ready, add in the compost to your soil and mix it well with the soil.
Water Check Water the herbs only if you notice them dry. One way to check whether you need to water the plants or not is to dip your fingers a couple of inches into the soil. If the soil is damp, then you don’t have to water the soil. If not, then the soil is dry and you need to add the required moisture. If the temperature is hot outside and if the humidity is high, then check the soil frequently for dryness. The increase and decrease of humidity can change the drying periods each week. So it is best to rely on your own examinations to evaluate the herbs.
Harvesting When you decide to harvest, you simply have to cut off about ⅓ of the branch when the plant reaches about 6 to 8 inches tall. Remember that you can also cut off the stem by leaving the first leaf and then making a cut in the plant at that point.
Bottles? For Sure! You can even grow herbs in small plastic containers that you have recycled. Instead of throwing away those plastic containers, you can use them for growing your herbs. You not only avoid waste, but you make a small contribution to the environment by preventing plastic disposal. I know what you might think; in the grand scheme of things, one plastic container is not going to make any difference. But I beg to differ. Every small action is like a ripple. Create enough ripples and you might just create a wave.
When gardeners are growing herbs, there are certain mistakes that they tend to make. Mistake #1: Using Seeds Do not grow your herbs from seeds. While there is something appealing about planting a seed and watching it slowly grow, you really don’t have to when it comes to herbs. When you use the plant itself, then you are making it easier to grow the herb. When you start using seeds, then things become a bit more complicated. You need to think about the right environment for germination. You might have to first allow the seed to grow into a small plant in an indoor setting since too much direct sunlight can harm the seed. Once you notice a small plant, you then have to take it back outside because the plant now requires more sunlight. Furthermore, your herbs might not be ready for harvest at the time that you had planned. You might have to wait longer, making sure that the plant survives all the upcoming seasons. Make it easier. Get a starter pack. Grow a plant successfully before you decide to take on bigger challenges. Mistake #2: Grow The Easy Stuff If it is too complex to grow, then chances are that you are not going to grow it well. Since you are going to be eating the herbs you grow, why make it difficult for yourself to enjoy the fruits of your labor? Or shall we say, the herbs of your labor? Aim for success when growing. There is nothing wrong in growing easy fruits. You are gardening because you want to eat delicious food. You are not gardening because there is a grand prize awaiting you. Enjoy the process and enjoy the results. I would recommend practicing with basil. It is a wonderful training herb. One of the best parts about basil is that it can bounce back if you forget to water it properly. Even if you make a mistake, you can recover from that mistake easily. The herb also allows you to carefully monitor your planting process and see where your faults lie. Mistake #3: Knowing Varieties “Wait a minute, is there more than one kind of mint? I didn’t know that.” If only I received a fresh harvest every time I heard that statement, I could
officially export to an entire country. People forget that there are also many types of herbs. You need to be aware of the herb that is sold in your local store. Don’t be afraid to ask for more details about the herb. Did you know that there are different kinds of thyme as well? Here are just a few of them: creeping thyme silver thyme lemon thyme upright thyme Each of them have slight variations in the way they are supposed to be grown. Before you plant, research the herb you would like to work with. Then go ahead and check the store to see if that herb is available. Mistake #4: Spent Soil Don’t make use of spent soil. Always ensure that you cultivate the soil, even if you feel that the soil has enough nutrients left over from the previous plant. I had earlier talked about cover plants and how they can help you add nutrients to the soil. While the idea of using them might be tempting, do not work with them until you become comfortable growing herbs properly. Herbs are one of the easiest plants to grow and getting good at growing them gives you the confidence to try out fruits and vegetables. Mistake #5: Attack Of The Growing Herbs! While herbs are delicious, some of them can be downright aggressive. In fact, I think that some herbs are quite the bullies, if I may say so. Herbs like mint and oregano can become so aggressive that they can make nearby plots unusable. Remember how I recommended using containers for herbs? That is a good idea if you are unsure about the way herb grows in a particular site or bed. Mistake #6: Water Them But Don’t Water Them Like You Might Usually That’s a pretty long title, but it explains an important rule to remember when
you decide to water herbs. Do not water them the way you would water any other plant. Remember to check for dryness and only then should you water the herbs. Sometimes, you might not notice any moisture on the plant itself and this might tempt you to spray a little water on them. After all, it’s just a little spray. It won’t do much harm now would it? But that’s not always the case. You might end up drowning the plant inadvertently. Mistake #7: Did Someone Call an Herb Barber? Sometimes, herbs need a little trim or they might grow out of control. Start trimming when the plants grow up to be three to four inches above ground level. This will allow you to grow the plant better.
Image: Sometimes, you might need to trim the herbs. Mistake #8: Bigger The Better? Not Exactly When you are harvesting your herb, you might be tempted to take the bigger leaves and allow the small and tender ones to continue. However, that move might be counterintuitive. The largest leaves are actually adding more power to your plant. They are like herbal solar panels, giving more energy to the plant. Why? Because they have more surface area, they are able to absorb more sunlight and thereby, more energy. If you remove them, then the tender and small ones might not be able to take in enough energy, eventually affecting the plant’s growth. This does not mean that you have to leave behind the big leaves. Rather, don’t pick all the big ones. Allow the plant to have a couple of big leaves to gather energy. Mistake #9: Beauty And The Beast When your herbs start showing signs of flowering, then you might start looking at them in wonder. They look so beautiful, don’t they? But beware, for beneath the beautiful exterior lies a beastly intention. Okay, I’ll stop with the dramatisation. Remember that when a flower starts growing on a herb, then it means nothing good. Unless you are planning to eat the flower as well, make sure you cut back herbs before they start to grow flowers. There is another reason why you should prevent flowers from growing. Herbs will focus most of their energy on the flower and a lot less energy to the leaves. Eventually, you are looking at a small harvest. Mistake #10: Not Adding Another Herb To Your Bed Herbs can grow into each other and they can still grow up to provide you with a nice harvest. Don’t worry about growing another herb once you feel confident growing the herb you are focused on.
CHAPTER 6: LAY IT ON THE TABLE! Here is a useful schedule that you can use to produce various plants. Remember that the below seasons let you know the best time to harvest the plant. By knowing the harvest time, you will be able to easily find out when you should start growing the plant.
Spring Plants Apples Apricots Asparagus Avocados Bananas Broccoli Cabbage Carrots Celery Collard Greens Garlic Kale Kiwifruit Lemons Lettuce Limes Mushrooms Onions
Peas Pineapples Radishes Rhubarb Spinach Strawberries Swiss Chard Turnips Summer Plants Apples Apricots Avocados Bananas Beets Bell Peppers Blackberries Blueberries Cantaloupe Carrots Celery Cherries Corn Cucumbers Eggplant Garlic
Green Beans Honeydew Melon Lemons Lima Beans Limes Mangos Okra Peaches Plums Raspberries Strawberries Summer Squash Tomatillos Tomatoes Watermelon Zucchini
Fall Plants Apples Bananas Beets Bell Peppers Broccoli Brussels Sprouts Cabbage Carrots
Cauliflower Celery Collard Greens Cranberries Garlic Ginger Grapes Green Beans Kale Kiwifruit Lemons Lettuce Limes Mangos Mushrooms Onions Parsnips Pears Peas Pineapples Potatoes Pumpkin Radishes Raspberries Rutabagas
Spinach Sweet Potatoes & Yams Swiss Chard Turnips Winter Squash
Winter Plants Apples Avocados Bananas Beets Brussels Sprouts Cabbage Carrots Celery Collard Greens Grapefruit Kale Kiwifruit Leeks Lemons Limes Onions Oranges Parsnips Pears
Pineapples Potatoes Pumpkin Rutabagas Sweet Potatoes & Yams Swiss Chard Turnips Winter Squash You can also make use of the below tables to see some of the vegetables that you can grow in different zones. Each of the vegetables can be used by beginners to get used to gardening. We are going to look at various zones first and then understand which state falls in which zone.
Zone 3 Beans - July to September Beets - May to September Broccoli - May to October Brussel Sprouts - May to October Cabbage - May to September Carrots - June to September Cauliflower - May to September Kale - May to September Lettuce - May to September Peppers - April to August Peas - May to September Tomato - April to August
Zone 4 Beans - June to September Beets - April to June and July to September Broccoli - April to June and July to October Brussel Sprouts - April to October Cabbage - May to October Carrots - April to June and July to September Cauliflower - May to September Kale - April to June and July to October Lettuce - May to September Peppers - April to August Peas - April to June Tomato - April to August
Zone 5 Beans - May to September Beets - April to June and July to October Broccoli - March to June and July to October Brussel Sprouts - April to October Cabbage - April to October Carrots - April to June and July to October Cauliflower - April to October Kale - April to June and July to October Lettuce - April to June and July to October Peppers - April to June and July to September
Peas - April to June Tomato - April to August
Zone 6 Beans - May to October Beets - March to June and July to October Broccoli - March to June and July to October Brussel Sprouts - May to October Cabbage - May to October Carrots - March to June Cauliflower - March to June Kale - March to June and July to November Lettuce - March to June and August to October Peppers - March to September Peas - April to May and August to October Tomato - March to September
Zone 7 Beans - April to October Beets - March to May and August to October Broccoli - February to May and August to October Brussel Sprouts - April to September Cabbage - March to June and July to October Carrots - March to June and August to October Cauliflower - February to May and August to November Kale - March to May and August to November
Lettuce - March to May and August to October Peppers - March to September Peas - April to May and August to October Tomato - March to September
Zone 8 Beans - March to October Beets - February to May and August to November Broccoli - February to May and August to November Brussel Sprouts - April to August Cabbage - February to May and August to October Carrots - February to May and August to October Cauliflower - February to May and August to November Kale - February to May and August to November Lettuce - February to May and August to October Peppers - February to September Peas - February to May and August to October Tomato - February to September
Zone 9 Beans - February to May and August to November Beets - February to April and August to November Broccoli - January to April and August to December Brussel Sprouts - March to June Cabbage - February to May and September to December Carrots - February to May and August to October
Cauliflower - February to May and August to November Kale - October to December Lettuce - January to April and September to December Peppers - January to May and July to December Peas - January to March and October to December Tomato - January to June and July to November Different states in the United States are attributed to various zones. Check your local hardiness zone to find out which zone your city falls into. When looking at the above schedule, realize that the first month refers to the time you should plant the crop and the second month refers to when you are most likely to get your harvest. For example, January to April indicates January as the month to plant the crop and April as the month you are most likely going to harvest the plant.
Fruit Here is a simple fruit growing guide to get you started. Focus on the below fruits since they are easy to plant and grow. Once you get used to them, you can experiment with other fruits.
Acidic, sandy soil
Full to partial sun
Acidic, well drained clay soil
Acidic, well drained clay soil
Extra nitrogen fertilizer
6-10 hours of sun daily
Extra nitrogen fertilizer
CONCLUSION Gardening is a fun venture, but it can often be stressful. Remember that if you are not enjoying the process, then you are adding too much on your plate than is necessary. You don’t have to show that you can take on challenges. Start small and get used to various processes of gardening, from cultivating the plants to storing away used tools and equipment. When you start enjoying the process, you begin to enjoy future challenges. If, however, you begin to loathe the stress that comes with gardening, then chances are that you won’t want to do anything with gardening in the future. Have fun. Take it easy. And I hope you enjoy surrounding yourself with greens, most of them edible. Happy gardening! If you enjoyed this book, please let me know your thoughts. It would be great if you could leave a short review on Amazon. It means a lot to me! Thank you!
REFERENCES Brickell, C. (2019). RHS ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PLANTS AND FLOWERS. DK. Idž ojtić, M. (2019). Dendrology. Academic Press Inc. Smith, E. (2010). The vegetable gardener's bible. Pownal, Vt.: Storey.
HOW TO BUILD A GREENHOUSE DIY Greenhouse building plans
© Copyright 2020 - All rights reserved. The content contained within this book may not be reproduced, duplicated or transmitted without direct written permission from the author or the publisher. Under no circumstances will any blame or legal responsibility be held against the publisher, or author, for any damages, reparation, or monetary loss due to the information contained within this book, either directly or indirectly. Legal Notice: This book is copyright protected. It is only for personal use. You cannot amend, distribute, sell, use, quote or paraphrase any part, or the content within this book, without the consent of the author or publisher. Disclaimer Notice: Please note the information contained within this document is for educational and entertainment purposes only. All effort has been executed to present accurate, up to date, reliable, complete information. No warranties of any kind are declared or implied. Readers acknowledge that the author is not engaged in the rendering of legal, financial, medical or professional advice. The content within this book has been derived from various sources. Please consult a licensed professional before attempting any techniques outlined in this book. By reading this document, the reader agrees that under no circumstances is the author responsible for any losses, direct or indirect, that are incurred as a result of the use of the information contained within this document, including, but not limited to, errors, omissions, or inaccuracies.
INTRODUCTION “Nature is a totally efficient, self-regenerating system. If we discover the laws that govern this system and live synergistically within them, sustainability will follow and humankind will be a success.” - R. Buckminster Fuller I have written this book to provide you step-by-step instructions and help you to build your own greenhouse. Whether you are a keen gardener who is eager to extend the growing season, a beginner lured by the idea to start your journey in greenhouse gardening, or a vegetable lover who wants to grow healthy and fresh vegetables, I understand your wishes. I have never forgotten the wasted time and effort to build my first greenhouse, so, in writing this book, I had tried constantly to keep my eye on the goal which was not only to explain in detail how to build your own greenhouse, but also try to keep the building processes as simple as possible. I hope I succeeded. The first part of the book focuses on aspects which should be taken into consideration before starting building - such as types of greenhouses, time and budget required, foundation, maintenance, climate types and orientation because they have an impact on the building process. The second part focuses entirely on the diy building plans. I chose three types of greenhouses (A-Frame, Hoop House, and Geodesic Dome) that cover different difficulty levels: the first and the second are particularly suited for beginners; on the contrary, the geodesic Dome greenhouse plan is recommended for intermediate and advanced level builders. Needless to say, you can use these plans as models in case you want to have your greenhouse built by a builder. Before diving into reading, you can download a free and useful guide about growing greenhouse tomatoes, which can come in handy as soon as the construction of your greenhouse is completed. Follow the link below and get your free copy:
https://forms.aweber.com/form/16/1580681816.htm Having a greenhouse has given to me not only the opportunity to grow healthy homegrown food, but also a feeling of being one with Nature which has grown stronger and stronger over the years. This is such a priceless feeling and I hope you feel the same way. Philip Castagneto
CHAPTER 1: WHAT GREENHOUSE SUITS ME? So you have taken the leap and decided that it’s time to construct that greenhouse you have been thinking and talking about for ages. Good on you! Greenhouse gardening is a fun and rewarding activity, and obviously wouldn’t be possible if you didn’t build or buy yourself a greenhouse. For those of you that are completely new to the world of greenhouses, the thought of having to construct your own one can be daunting. So much so that it’s the very reason you haven’t gone out and bought the materials yet. While I understand your worries, building yourself a beautiful greenhouse doesn’t have to be as scary as you think. Take the time now to think about why you want to build a greenhouse and if you have the space for one. Once you realize that you don’t need to be a master builder to build your dream greenhouse, the next part should be much easier for you. You’ll need to decide what greenhouse suits you and your needs. Besides the actual building, the other important thing to consider is why you are building a greenhouse. The answer will help you determine which greenhouse suits you best. We’ll dive into those considerations before making a trip to the hardware store.
What is a Greenhouse? A greenhouse is a controlled environment for growing plants year-round. It provides sufficient sunlight, heat and humidity. The heat that most DIY greenhouses receive comes directly from the sun and therefore, orientation is important, which will be covered in chapter four. Some greenhouses offer more favorable conditions when heating, cooling and venting is added. There are varying types of greenhouses, each one with its own advantages and disadvantages. The most special aspect of a greenhouse is the fact that you are the one in control. You can choose what plants you want, there are no weeds or pests you need to fight off, and if you install heating and irrigation, you control those too. A greenhouse structure reduces the rate at which thermal energy escapes by
preventing heat that has been trapped from escaping, this occurs through convection. How this happens is, the UV rays penetrate the glazing of the structure and begin to heat the floor of the greenhouse, as the ground becomes warmer, hot air rises and heats the inside of the structure (ProFlowers, 2016). This is why ventilation is needed, we will be discussing the importance of ventilating in chapter four.
What Greenhouse Will Suit You? By now you’ve noticed that the question “why” is important when it comes to finding the most suitable greenhouse for your needs. Ask yourself why are you wanting to build a greenhouse? Is it because you want to become more eco-friendly, or perhaps you want to study plants that aren’t accustomed to the climate type you live in? Whatever your reason, identify it so that you are able to choose the right type of greenhouse for your future garden’s plants. Once you’ve identified your reasoning you can begin to ask yourself the other important questions regarding time, budget, size, tools, materials and whether you will tackle the building head-on, or hire someone to help or build it for you. There are many greenhouse designs to choose from; as people get more creative we see new shapes and sizes all the time. For this book we will focus on three varying styles: the A-Frame, Hoop House, and Geodesic Dome. Each one is a different shape and requires different materials and building plans, but the type of plants you will be planting is extremely important because it will determine the type of greenhouse you will build. I’m sure you’re wondering what the difference between style and type are in this instance? The style of greenhouse is the aesthetic part of your greenhouse: how nice it will look and what shape it will take. Greenhouse type refers to the temperature of your greenhouse. Each plant requires different heat inputs to grow, which is covered in my previous book, Greenhouse Gardening: A complete Guide to Build a Greenhouse and Grow Your Own Herbs, Fruit and Vegetables. The types of greenhouses one gets are cold houses, cool houses, warm houses, hot houses, and conservatories. Each of these greenhouses provides you with a different range of plants to grow. That’s why it is so important for you to decide exactly what plants you want to grow, because a greenhouse is
meant to allow you to grow plants in places that they are not endemic to. In other words, you can grow tropical plants in a cold region successfully. If you choose the incorrect type of greenhouse for your plants, you may find that they don’t survive and you become disheartened by the idea of ever successfully being a greenhouse gardener. Let us look at what each of these types of greenhouses can do and how they work.
Freestanding or Attached? When you decide to build your greenhouse the first thing you should note is that a greenhouse does not need to be built on existing structures. Meaning, if you want to build your greenhouse in your back garden, you can. This is what is meant by a freestanding greenhouse. An attached greenhouse is a good option for anyone with the building know-how, and who wants to be able to walk right into their greenhouse from their home. You can easily heat this type of greenhouse directly from your home, which means you won’t need to add any extensions to heat or cool a freestanding greenhouse. The issue with an attached greenhouse is it needs to be built onto an existing structure, which may obstruct views or doorways, depending on where you place it. Luckily you can build an attached greenhouse to any size you want it to be, because the existing structure it’s attached to will be able to handle the pressure put on it by the new greenhouse. An attached greenhouse is a permanent structure, so if you decide to build one, make sure you are allowed to. Freestanding greenhouses are sometimes not as secure as a greenhouse attached to another structure and they also require more insulation. Another issue people may face with an attached greenhouse is bugs being attracted to the area, so you’ll need to protect your home from those pesky invaders!
Cold Houses A cold frame greenhouse is a structure that does not use extra heating or cooling besides vents. It uses solar energy only as a means to heat the greenhouse. It is insulated well to keep the solar radiation inside, and provides a shelter for your plants from harsh weather. Cold frames are only slightly warmer inside than the outside temperature, and are used to prolong the growing season. Many DIY greenhouses without extra heating sources are considered cold frames, but in gardening jargon, a cold frame is usually a small structure and not a large greenhouse. Orientation of a cold frame is
extremely important because of the lack of extra heating. The best kinds of plants to grow in this kind of greenhouse are cool-season plants.
Cool Houses A cool house is slightly warmer than a cold house. Unlike a cold house, this type of greenhouse will keep your plants safe in climates that dip below freezing. This means that your plants will not get frostbite. A cool house is made slightly warmer by using glazing that absorbs the sun’s UV rays better, and insulates well. Plants that can be planted in a cold house will do just as well in a cool house, perhaps better because frost won’t be such an issue.
Warm Houses A warm house is warmer than a cool house, and allows for plants that are more tropical. Warm houses are often found in warmer climates, but the same can be achieved by adding a heating source such as a space heater.
Hot Houses A hot house is exactly what it says it is. A very humid greenhouse that is designed to house tropical plants. This type of greenhouse will require electrical heating and cooling. It is possible to achieve a hot house in very hot climates without the use of electricity, but when nighttime temperatures drop, it will lose much of its heat.
Conservatories A conservatory is designed to display plants, and is often built very large to house many different types of plants from all over the world. Almost all conservatories are made from glass because they are meant to be attractive.
Time Needed for a Project Building takes time, whether you build something yourself or a contractor does, it’s going to need time and patience. Each style and type of greenhouse varies in how long it will take to build. If you are new to doing it yourself (DIY), then you can expect the project to take a bit longer as you get used to using tools that are foreign to you. Should you feel uncomfortable using a
particular tool or material, there are many tutorials online these days. You can also ask a friend or family member to help you. Those that are DIY savvy will be able to use the various tools and materials needed for the project quite easily because of their experience. Therefore, some styles may take them half the time to finish their greenhouse project. Skills, material availability and lifestyle all need to be considered when taking on a greenhouse project. If you have a busy lifestyle it may take a bit longer than you’d expect because you can only dedicate a few days a month to building your greenhouse. Having a look at the estimated time to build a particular greenhouse style is also very important when you are thinking about building one. There are other options should you not be able to build your own greenhouse. (Note, if you are too busy to build it, then you may also be too busy to manage it, and greenhouses will require maintenance.) You can hire contractors to build it and people to maintain it, but that’s never as much fun as doing it yourself.
The Budget Things cost money, from the tools and materials to the plants you’ll be planting after you’re done building your greenhouse. Allocating a budget is important because the type, shape, and size of the greenhouse will determine what materials you will need; and if you don’t have the time to DIY, you will need to pay someone else to help you construct your greenhouse. All of these factors need to be taken into consideration before you can proceed to building your greenhouse. Break your budget down into exactly what you need by deciding what plants you’ll be planting so you know the type of greenhouse you want to build. For instance, hot houses will require you to factor in an extra heating system and fans to distribute the heat. If you choose a simpler, starter greenhouse, like a cold or cool house, your costs will ultimately be lower than if you needed an extra heating system. Your budgeting will require you to make a list of all the materials you’ll need, the various tools if you don’t have them already, and any other costs such as labor. Your budget relies on what you can afford to build. You may
want to build a greenhouse that requires a lot of money to build because it has all sorts of fancy systems and connections, but building a greenhouse can be done sustainably. You can easily build a fancy greenhouse with recycled or second-hand materials if you do your research well, and use alternatives that do the job just as well.
Size Matters Size matters for more than one reason. Firstly, you need to make sure that there is enough space in your garden or yard for the greenhouse. Imagine trying to put a 16 ft greenhouse in a nine foot garden, it’s impossible. Measure your garden before deciding on the size of the greenhouse. You want to have enough space for your greenhouse, and you may want to reserve some space for an outdoor garden. Those who don’t have much garden space can build a greenhouse against their house, called a lean-to greenhouse, as I explain in my previous book. The size of your greenhouse will determine how many flowers, vegetables or fruits you can grow. You will only be able to tell how big of a greenhouse you can build, and what shape you can build that will take up the least space, but yield the most crop once you have gone around the area and measured. A smaller greenhouse holds more warm air, while big greenhouses allow more air to flow, which makes them a lot cooler. Big greenhouses will require extra heating for colder climates. So go get your measuring tape, a pen and paper, and maybe even a friend to help, and measure your space so we can begin this exciting adventure!
Tools and Materials
Once you’ve measured every corner of your greenhouse’s soon-to-be home, you can begin to work out how much of everything you are going to need, what you’re going to use to build your greenhouse, and what tools will be needed. Some materials will be more expensive, less eco-friendly or dangerous to use. Finding out the exact materials needed for the project is the next step. For those of you that are new to DIY, and are feeling a bit nervous to take on this challenge, your local hardware store can help you out, should you not know what the best brand to use, or which power tool will offer the most precise cut. Each plan provided in this book offers advice on the right tools and materials to use. You will also need to decide on the types of materials you want to use. Some people prefer to keep it eco-friendly, others don’t mind as long as it will do the job. Deciding where you will get the materials from will also determine the quality and the price of the materials. Scrap yards have valuable resources that you could make use of if you are on a tight budget. Items that can be found in scrap yards include metal, piping, wood scraps, glass, frames, and other scrap metals that could be useful to your project. The possibilities are endless, so if you want to build on a budget go down to your local scrap yard
and see what you can find. Not all materials are made equal. Some do better in a certain climate zone than others. It is important to be aware of what material will last in your particular zone or you run the risk of using the wrong materials and your greenhouse falling to pieces after one rainy day. Let us have a look at some of the most commonly used materials and which climate they are better used in.
For the Cover Plastics Covering a greenhouse in plastic is one of the most common insulating methods. From commercial growers to hobbyists, plastic is easy to source, and depending on the type of plastic, can be cheap. Plastic can get very hot when used with an added heat source, and is therefore great for a tropical greenhouse or greenhouses in colder climates. Plastic, however, can lose heat, so greenhouses in colder climates that use plastic will need extra heating to keep from getting cold. Here are some common types of plastics you can use: Polycarbonate is considered one of the best kinds of plastics for greenhouse covering. It’s flexible and it also comes in varying thicknesses, and will work great in cold climates because it retains heat and humidity well. It is relatively inexpensive, although covering a large greenhouse will cost you a lot at the end. Polycarbonate also lasts a long time if maintained well, about five years or more. Polyethylene is light, flexible, and can be purchased in two different strengths recommended for building greenhouses. In the construction of large greenhouses and greenhouses in cold climates, it is best to use commercial grade because it is thicker and stronger. If you are going to build a small greenhouse in a moderate or warm climate, then using the utility-grade polyethylene is a better option. Polyethylene is much cheaper than most plastics and can be found at any gardening supply store. It can wear and eventually tear if
exposed to rough edges. Luckily there are poly repair kits on the market so maintaining this type of covering is easy. It is one of the most used coverings for greenhouses because it is easy to find and does the job well. You will find it in rolls at your local hardware store or online. Polyvinyl Plastic or Polyvinyl Chloride is a thicker and more expensive plastic than polyethylene. It can be flexible or rigid. Often, rigid PVC is seen in plumbing, but can also be used for building a hoop house. The extra thickness acts as a good insulator. If you stay in a cold climate, then polyvinyl is a great option for covering your greenhouse, however to cover a large greenhouse will cost you a lot. Not to mention that you will need to add in a heating system for overcast days, and nights that drop below zero. As easy as it heats up, it can just as easily cool down. It is durable and will last a long time if you maintain it well. Copolymer is slightly better than polyethylene because it is much stronger and so lasts longer. It is not flexible, but semi-flexible variants can be purchased. Warmer and temperate climates will benefit from this type of plastic in regards to the growth of plants. However, regularly maintaining the copolymer covering will offer longer usage. To maintain copolymer you should inspect the greenhouse at least every six months. Copolymer can become brittle after three years from exposure to the sun or extreme cold (Harris, 2018). There have been reports of this type of covering becoming brittle which means it could break easily and allow air to escape when it shouldn’t. There is a type of copolymer plastic that looks just like glass because it is clear, however, this type of copolymer is much more expensive and won’t be worth it if it cracks on you. Acrylic or Plexiglass as it’s known, looks a lot like glass. It is very good for building greenhouses and is resistant to heat and cold, but not flexible. Not only that, but it is lightweight which makes it easier to work with. It’s not as expensive as you may think. A better alternative to glass because it does not shatter, and is cheaper than polycarbonate. For these reasons it is great for all climate types and
will offer your plants all the light and heat they need. Plexiglass is easy to maintain and is a highly recommended covering material. Fiberglass is much cheaper than glass and polycarbonate. It is, however, more expensive than polyethylene as are most thicker materials. Fiberglass is very durable, rigid, and therefore lasts longer than other materials. It holds up well during bad weather, which means that it will do well in climates that experience heavy rains or snow. Fiberglass gets broken down by the ultra violet rays of the sun, causing cracks, which means that it will not do well in very hot climates. Glass Glass is a beautiful covering for your greenhouse, but it can be dangerous as it is prone to shatter or crack. If it shatters in your greenhouse you could cut yourself, and your plants will become exposed to the outside elements. Glass is also very heavy, and not as easy to work with as plastic. Your structure will need to be well reinforced to hold the weight of the glass. Cold climates can crack the glass if temperatures rise too quickly so it is best to use glass in warmer climates for growing tropical plants. Glass is good for letting the Sunlight through, and keeping the heat in. To cover an entire greenhouse in glass will cost you a lot of money, even more if your greenhouse is particularly large.
For the Frame Wood Wood is used by many people to build an array of things. It is cheap, readily available, and relatively easy to work with. Some types of wood can be a little trickier to work with because they may be more susceptible to splintering or they may snap easily. The issue with using wood is that it will rot over time. Choosing a good rot resistant wood, or pressure-treated wood can delay this process. Steer clear of using wood for greenhouse frames in climate zones that experience a lot of rain or humidity. This doesn’t mean you can’t use wood, it just means that you will need to treat the wood and take better care of it than someone in a warmer climate zone. Let us take a
look at the types of wood that are rot resistant: Black Locust wood ranges in color from dark brown to light yellow. As this wood ages it can go reddish-brown, and is often confused with Osage Orange, which we will learn about later. It has a straight grain, which refers to how the wood fibres run along a longitudinal path. The texture of Black Locust wood is medium: it’s not rough but not entirely smooth either. Black Locust has obvious growth rings which can make the wood weaker. This wood is also extremely durable and resistant to rot (Wengert, 2012). It is because of these characteristics that this wood is often used for outside projects. Working with Black Locust wood is easy to work with if you have worked with it before, but if it’s your first time working with it you will struggle because it is quite a hard wood that is difficult to cut. However, this wood responds great to the outside elements and is easy to keep in place. Red Mulberry is also simply known as Mulberry wood. It comes from the Mulberry tree that has those delicious little Mulberries everyone likes to pick off and eat. The wood is a slight orange and will darken. It is a heavy wood and has a straight grain with a coarse texture and can be prone to splitting, especially at its ends; it therefore needs to be treated. A durable wood that is resistant to rot but not very strong. Unfortunately Mulberry wood should not be used for building heavy structures as it will not do well bearing large amounts of weight. A good wood to use in more humid climates because it does not swell much. (Wengert, 2020) Osage Orange, also known as Horse Apple, is a golden yellow colored wood that will darken when exposed to ultraviolet rays. It has a straight grain and smooth texture similar to Black Locust; its growth rings are quite distinct, which can cause weaknesses when cutting or using this wood for structures. It’s best to look for wood with little to no growth rings. A very durable wood that, like all of the woods listed here, is naturally rot resistant. In fact it is one of the most resistant woods to decay that you could use. Osage Orange is extremely hard and dense, and therefore can be difficult to work
with. You will find Osage Orange in boards relatively cheaply, and without too much difficulty (it’s not usually used for building because of how knotty it is). It is quite elastic and therefore would be great for building a Gothic Arch greenhouse. It’s good for using outside, and will not swell (Wengert, 2016. Pacific Yew. The newer formed sapwood is a light yellow, and the older, more sturdy heartwood is a darker brown that becomes darker with age. This wood also has a straight grain and a very soft texture. Knots are many in Pacific Yew, and it is a long lasting, rot resistant wood. An added benefit is that it is also naturally resistant to pests. It is an easy wood to work with, but is weak around the knots. This wood is not commonly found, making it difficult to source and difficult to find the exact sizes you want for your greenhouse. It also makes it more expensive because it is not local. Pacific Yew works well for a gothic arch, since the wood is fairly elastic and bends easily without snapping (Kaiser, 2011). Steel Steel is a very commonly used material to build greenhouse frames. Many people may opt for using wood over steel because steel is not the most appealing looking material to use. However, it is a very strong material to build your greenhouse from, and does well in all climates, but especially well in climates that have heavy winds because its weight will keep it grounded. Steel is not necessarily expensive, but is a lot more expensive than using wood or PVC piping to build a frame. If you decide to build a large greenhouse the costs will add up since you will need a lot of steel for the job. You can find steel anywhere so it is a common material, but it is rather difficult to work with. It is very hard and you may find trying to drill holes or add screws to be an issue. Doing certain tasks with steel, such as grinding, can be dangerous if you don’t wear protective goggles as pieces can fly off into your eyes and cause blindness. Building with steel may also take longer because of how difficult it is to work with. Steel is prone to rusting if you do not treat it, unlike wood or aluminum. Regardless of its weaknesses, steel is very strong and can be used if you decide to use glass as your covering since it will be strong enough to carry the weight of glass.
Aluminum Aluminum is a great material to use for building a greenhouse frame. It is lightweight, sturdy, and super easy to work with. It is a lot easier to use than steel and is able to hold up well under pressure. If you choose to use aluminium for your frame it does not matter what climate zone you are in since it is a good conductor and will not be destroyed in heavy winds, rain or snow. If you live in a warm climate, aluminium conducts heat and that may add to your greenhouse’s inner temperature. Another great advantage of aluminum is that it does not rot, therefore you don’t have to treat it before you use it. No matter the size of your greenhouse, aluminium can do the job. Materials other than wood or plastic can be expensive. Both steel and aluminum are heavy, and made from materials that are expensive to extract which increases their price. If you live in a climate that experiences harsh weather or even earthquakes, it is better to use a stronger material in case of an event. Because aluminium is rust free, it is a structure that will last very long. If you want to build a glass greenhouse, aluminum is strong enough to support its weight. Aluminium can be painted so you can get creative and paint your frame the color you like.
Eco-Friendly Building Some individuals are extremely eco-conscious, and for very good reasons. Since climate change is a big issue we are currently facing, you may feel better using materials or tools locally sourced and that are easy on the environment. For starters, even though this isn’t part of the actual building process, using chemical fertilizers and pesticides is not only bad for the environment, but also for your health (OH & S Occupational Health and Safety, 2018), and the integrity of your greenhouse if it should seep into the material. So think about how you’ll keep your plants nourished if you are going the eco-friendly route. Another option for building a more eco-friendly greenhouse is to add a water tank to catch rain. The water it catches can be used to water your plants. Another issue people face is the lack of commercial materials that are ecofriendly. Many of the materials we use to cover a greenhouse aren't good for the environment because of the way they were extracted or the chemicals that go into production. However, the truth is that just because a material’s
production isn’t friendly to the environment, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it. For example, if you are struggling to keep your greenhouse warm in winter and don’t want to add extra heating systems because of the electricity bill, you can insulate the inside of your greenhouse with bubble wrap, which keeps the heat in well. Talking of plastic, did you know that you can make your greenhouse entirely out of plastic bottles? Plastic may not be eco-friendly, but reusing it is. The only downfall to using plastic bottles as covering material is that you are going to need a lot of them. Collecting the amount of bottles you need will also take a lot of time. The bigger your greenhouse, the more bottles you are going to need. A downfall to using plastic bottles as your covering is the fact that they don’t stack air-tight. This means that air and rain can get into your greenhouse. However, the inside of the greenhouse will still be warmer than the outside temperature. Using this method is great for individuals that like to recycle, remember all those bottles you are using won’t be harming the environment anymore because you’ve made better use of them. If plastic bottles aren’t your thing, then your next eco-friendly option is to build your greenhouse entirely out of old windows. You’ll still need to build a frame for the windows to be attached to, but using old windows is great for the environment because you aren’t purchasing new materials that will eventually add extra waste to the environment. Take a look around your neighborhood or local scrap yard for discarded windows. While you may be thinking that windows aren’t exactly eco-friendly, it’s the fact that you are reusing goods to build your greenhouse that makes it eco-friendly. For those of you that want to build a big greenhouse, you will have to add a heating system to it, which can use a lot of energy, which, depending on the source, can be bad for the environment. To combat this, you could add solar panels to your greenhouse to run your heating or cooling systems. While this option is expensive, it is also a lot better than using electricity from burning coal. Using eco-friendly materials is good for the planet and may even be better for your pocket if you choose to use recycled materials.
The Pros and Cons of Building Your Own Greenhouse Every greenhouse has its pros and cons. Some may be more difficult to build, others may not be suitable for a particular climate zone. When deciding on
the type of greenhouse you want to build, it is important that you weigh the pros and cons against each other. A greenhouse may be easier to build, but perhaps you will need a lot of material and that will cost you more. You may even go over your original budget. The pros and cons for each greenhouse in the book are the basic ones. As you begin on your building adventure you may find some of your own pros and cons. If your heart is set on a certain greenhouse already, use a pen and paper to jot down the pros and cons of it. Even if it isn’t for one of the greenhouses mentioned in this book. This way you can start answering the other questions in this book since they would apply to any greenhouse you want.
DIY or Pay Someone Else? The true objective of this book is to encourage you to build your own greenhouse based on the instructions given. However, sometimes you really want something, but don’t feel like you could take on such a project, or maybe you feel like you don’t have the DIY skills. There are still options, like hiring someone to help you, hiring a contractor to build the entire greenhouse, or you can ask a friend or family member to help you. Just keep in mind that hiring someone will cost you extra and will take away from the idea of it being a DIY project. When deciding on whether to take on the project or hire someone to help, you need to remember to take in factors such as budget and time. If you are well-versed in the world of DIY, then this is your time to shine. Doing it yourself will cut costs needed to hire someone, and also allows you to buy your own materials and tools, which personally assures you that you are getting the right material. You also eliminate the possibility of being unhappy with the final product because you are part of every step in the building process. Whatever you decide, make sure you can afford the help or the time needed to build your greenhouse. The best option would be to ask a friend to help you. Most greenhouses will require an extra pair of hands for lifting or holding in place, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to build alone. Using support beams and a few screws should prove useful.
What About the Foundation? The foundation of your greenhouse is very important for a number of reasons.
First, a well built foundation will allow for optimal drainage. A greenhouse that doesn’t drain is going to be a disaster. Second, the type of foundation you choose depends on if you want to be able to move your greenhouse or not. A permanent foundation made with concrete allows the greenhouse to stay in place during very bad weather. Less permanent foundations that are held to the ground with materials such as rebars or anchors, can easily be removed by pulling them out of the ground. A greenhouse can be built without a floor/deck, you can build the main structure of your chosen greenhouse so that later on if you choose to, you can attach it to a foundation you have built. Since it doesn’t need to have a floor made from wooden planks or other flooring material, you can simply secure the greenhouse frame to the natural ground (soil) using an anchoring system to prevent the structure from being swept away. A perk if you decide not to build a foundation, is that it lessens the building time, and also saves money. You won’t have to purchase extra materials for a foundation. Another perk of not building a foundation is that you can use the natural ground to plant your greens. You would need to prepare the area before planting, but this can also save you money by not having to buy a whole lot of planting pots. Size is important, before you begin planning your greenhouse you need to know how big you are going to build it, so that you can build the appropriate sized foundation. Rough sketch your desired greenhouse so you have an idea of what you want the end product to look like. Remember to write down the dimensions for every part of your greenhouse so you can easily go out and get the materials. The most popular materials for building a foundation are wood, concrete, and cement bricks to build a small perimeter wall. Wood is relatively inexpensive, making it the best for tight budgets. It is also easy to work with and can be adjusted if you want to expand your greenhouse. Concrete is a lot more expensive than wood, and as I mentioned, will be permanent. The bigger your greenhouse, the more concrete you will need. The greenhouse plans in this book are open for you to choose which style of foundation you want by following the simple steps I will provide to build a wood and gravel foundation, as well as a concrete slab. Simply adjust the measurements of the length and width of the instructions to suit the size of greenhouse you want. Since most non-commercial greenhouse structures are rather light, building a concrete foundation is not absolutely necessary unless you are using glass as
your covering. A foundation needs to be built on a flat surface. Even if you decide to use the natural ground as the base of your greenhouse, you need to level it. Issues like doors not fitting properly, or the whole house toppling can occur if you haven’t flattened the ground where your greenhouse will go. In order to give you an idea of the two types of foundations that can be used for all of the greenhouses used in this book, here are some easy instructions to follow for building each type of foundation:
Wood Frame With Gravel Pros: It’s great for any size greenhouse. It can last a long time. It’s easy to build. It has good drainage. It’s easy to maintain. Cons: It insulates poorly. Pressure treated wood is always better for building foundations because it won’t rot as fast. To build a wooden foundation, the best sized timbers to use are 4” x 4” or 4” x 6” for small greenhouses. If you are going to build a particularly large greenhouse, bigger than 20 square feet, then you should use 6” x 6” or 8” x 8” timbers as these sizes are good at holding heavy greenhouses. What You Need Four stakes Shovel Four 4” x 6” pressure treated wood, enough to build a wooden
base frame that will be lowered into the ground. Enough string for the entire perimeter to be marked out. Gravel, enough to fill six inches deep. Measuring tape Level tool One plank (any size) to be used along with the level tool to determine if the topsoil you remove is level. Four rebars to hold each corner of the base in place. Ground cover, enough to cover the inside and sides of the hole that will be filled with gravel. Lag screws, enough to join each corner of the wooden base. Drill Tamper Hammer Step-by-Step 1.
Mark out the area of your greenhouse with the four stakes by placing a stake where each corner of your greenhouse should go.
Use the measuring tape to ensure each side of the greenhouse is the correct length; adjust the stakes if necessary.
3. Mark the perimeter with string connected along each stake. 4.
Use the measuring tape to ensure the foundation area is square. Measuring diagonally from corner to corner, and compare the two diagonal measurements. If the two measurements are the same then your area is square.
5. After deciding on the length and breadth of your greenhouse foundation, dig a six inch hole in the entire inside perimeter of where you marked it with the string and stakes. Remove any stones or sticks in the hole that may prevent the future base from laying flat. Tamper the ground to make
it flat and use a spirit level to determine if it is level. 6.
Fill the hole with three inches of the topsoil you removed and flatten with a tamper or plank, using a spirit level to determine where the ground is level and adjusting it with a tamper or plank until the bubble of the level tool is between the two vertical markers.
7. Once the ground is levelled, place the ground cover (with holes punched through) inside the hole, covering the entire area inside and along the edges to prevent weeds. 8. Use and cut the 4” x 6” timbers to the chosen length and breadth of your base frame. You will need two long pieces for the length and two shorter cut pieces for the breadth of your greenhouse. The 4” x 6” pieces for the length of the foundation are butted to the shorter 4” x 6” breadth pieces to create a rectangular base securing the corners together with one lag screw at each corner. It will later be lowered into the hole you dug in the ground. 9.
Lower the base into the hole in correspondence with the shape of hole. Meaning place the length of the base against the length edge of the hole.
10. Cut any excess ground cover that may be sticking out from the sides of the base. 11. Drill a hole vertically through each corner of the foundation, big enough to fit your chosen size of rebars. 12. Hammer one rebar into each hole, penetrating deep into the ground. 13. Trim the top of the rebar that is sticking out of the top of the hole to be level with the base. 14. Fill the inside area of the base with your choice of filler. Gravel and sand are good options because they drain well. Rake your chosen filler to even it out.
Concrete Slab Building a concrete slab for your greenhouse foundation is fairly simple and can be built by one person.
What You Need Four stakes Shovel String Measuring tape One drainage pipe(optional) About 29 pounds of concrete (to fill a 140 cubic foot hole) Concrete mixer (to mix concrete) Spirit level tool Plank (any size) 16 square feet of ground cover Tamper Step-by-Step 1.
Mark the area of the greenhouse the same way as for the wood and gravel foundation with stakes. Placing a stake where each corner of your greenhouse will go.
Use the measuring tape to ensure each side of the greenhouse is the correct length; adjust the stakes if necessary.
3. Mark the perimeter with string connected to each stake. 4.
Use the measuring tape to ensure the foundation area is square. Measuring diagonally from corner to corner, and compare the two diagonal measurements. If the two measurements are the same, then your area is square.
5. To level the ground at the area of where you marked with string and the four stakes, follow the instructions in the wood and gravel foundation guide. 6. Dig a six inch hole in the entire inside perimeter of where you marked it
with string and stakes. 7. Refill the hole with three inches of the topsoil you removed. Tamper the ground to flatten it, and use the spirit level to determine if it is level. 8.
If you are going to add the drainage pipe, dig a round, three inch deep hole to the size of the drainage pipe, right in the middle of the topsoil of the hole you are going to fill with concrete.
Cut the drainage pipe to fit a depth of three inches and fit snugly in the round hole you made.
10. Lay the ground cover the same way as instructed in the wood and gravel foundation guide. For adding a drainage pipe, cut a hole in the middle of the ground cover to correspond with the dimensions of the round hole you dug for the drainage pipe. 11. Mix your concrete. To mix the concrete in the concrete mixer, measure the recommended amount of water for the amount of concrete you will be mixing, this instruction calls for mixing 29 pounds. Pour half of the measured water into the mixer and, then slowly add the dry mix. Mix for a minute and then add more water as needed. The concrete should be mixed for three to five minutes until the desired consistency is achieved. The concrete resembles a thick oatmeal texture that holds shape when squeezed (The Quikrete Companies, n.d.). 12. Pour the concrete into the hole, fill till it reaches the brim of the hole. 13. Use a stick and pound into the concrete to release air bubbles. 14. Smooth the concrete by tampering it with the tamper following the length of the filled hole. 15. Allow the slab to fully cure.
CHAPTER 2: A BRIEF HISTORY OF GREENHOUSES In my previous book, Greenhouse Gardening, I give a quick history behind the idea of the greenhouse, and what the Roman civilization did to grow foods that is closely based on the greenhouse concept. They came up with a way to grow cucumbers for their Emperor, Tiberius, even during times that weren’t growing season (Crumpacker, 2019). This is the sole purpose of a greenhouse, but the Romans weren’t the first civilization to build greenhouses. As advanced as they were back in 14 CE, it wasn’t until the 16th century that the very first contemporary greenhouse was constructed (Crumpacker, 2019). At that time, the use of greenhouses was mostly for displaying beautiful, exotic botanics that travelers had brought home from their voyages. These greenhouses were known as giardini botanici, which translates to botanical gardens, from Italian. The idea of botanical gardens or greenhouses spread throughout Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries as universities adopted them for studies in Botany for medicinal purposes. Many European countries had botanical gardens that you could visit to see exquisite tropical plants and flowers that had been brought many miles across oceans from foreign places. However, these forefathers of the modern greenhouses didn’t perform too well all the time, since they relied solely on the inputs of the sun for heating. There were no fancy electric heating systems that could keep the winter cold from freezing their beautiful plants if the temperature dipped below freezing. You’d find some winters where the entire greenhouse got frostbite or plants died from the low temperatures (Hodgson, 2016). We understood the system of the greenhouse, but had little technology that would be as beneficial as the tech we have today. If you’d like to see these original botanical gardens, you can. In the northern parts of Italy the botanical gardens of the Renaissance universities are still visited by tourists today. Botanical gardens such as the Orto Botanico di Pisa and the Orto Botanico di Padova are some of the oldest academic botanical gardens still standing at their original positions in northern Italy. These gardens are filled with a rich history of the doctors that once held lectures in
the gardens on the various medicinal uses for all the exotic plants the greenhouse held. Greenhouses held value to the lives of our ancestors, but have been immensely underappreciated for what they have allowed many scientists of the ages to do. Contributing not only science, but feeding the poor and providing better and safer conditions for growing foods and herbs used for medicine, these plant wonderlands are truly magnificent.
Greenhouses of the Past Greenhouses in the past, as I mentioned, were not used in the ways they are today but for university students of the Renaissance period to study medicine and botany. So if that’s what they were used for, then what did they look like? Doctors held lectures in these greenhouses so you can only imagine how big they were. Some of the very first botanical gardens consisted of many smaller greenhouses, open gardens and herb-drying areas, so that researchers of the time could conduct experiments throughout the year. The greenhouses would have been attached to a main building that was used as an office area for students and lecturers; you could walk into the greenhouse from the building. They were also known as conservatories, which refers to the fact that they preserved and created a perfect environment for the foreign plants being studied (Bruno, 2012). Greenhouses became popular in Europe among the well-to-do because a greenhouse allowed them to grow all the exotic fruits and vegetables that they began to enjoy. A greenhouse was a status symbol among the wealthy and it wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution, in the 19th century, that middleclass citizens could afford their own greenhouses. The Industrial Revolution brought about new and cheaper materials and technologies that made it affordable for more people. Slowly, small DIY greenhouses began to appear in the gardens of many 19th century Europeans (Bruno, 2012). Not to say that there were no greenhouses anywhere else in the world, quite the contrary, places in the Americas and the Tropics began developing greenhouses to grow food. As the centuries went on, we began seeing the positive impacts greenhouses could have, and so new technologies and materials for building and using greenhouses developed.
Why We Use Greenhouses Today
While the large conservatories of the past are still part of our present day, we use them less so for medicine and science, and more for tourist attractions. People travel from all over the world to spend some time in the botanical gardens from the past. Nowadays we use greenhouses for growing large amounts of food for the population; for hobbies; for botany; and for growing crops for animal feed and materials (ProFlowers, 2016). Advancements in technology and materials have allowed most people to afford to build their own greenhouse right in their backyard. Those that live in extreme poverty are able to find scrap materials to makeshift a greenhouse to alleviate hunger and the need to rely on the seasons to grow food for their family. Were it not for greenhouses, or the concept of greenhouses adapted from the ancient Romans, we would not have been able to study plants in such depth for medicinal research or be able to survive the harsh climates that lead to mass famine in many countries prior to greenhouse development. Greenhouses are truly an advancement in science and should be given much more credit than they are given. Thousands of people have used greenhouses in various ways for the past five centuries and the future of greenhouse gardening as a way to feed the masses looks promising. After building your greenhouse, you’ll be part of the new generation of sustainable gardeners that want to take full advantage of the marvelous abilities of the greenhouse.
CHAPTER 3: GREENHOUSE MAINTENANCE When you build your greenhouse the work won’t end there. You can build the biggest, most beautiful greenhouse, but you will need to maintain its structural integrity, otherwise your greenhouse will deteriorate and all your hard work would have been for nothing. Not only that, but your plants are in danger if you don’t maintain the structure and glazing (the covering) of your greenhouse. Cracks, broken glass, and worn wood are all disasters for your greenhouse. Worn or broken glazing can let in pests and uncontrolled air from outside that will damage your plants. It will cost you more to have to fix up your greenhouse in the long-run, so keeping up the maintenance will save you money and time.
What is Greenhouse Maintenance? Greenhouse maintenance is both the maintenance of your plants and the greenhouse itself. If your greenhouse is damaged then you won’t be able to maintain your plants and that would be a disaster. Maintaining your greenhouse requires a few things because you’ll be fixing all the little kinks and dings yourself. Depending on what types of materials you use to build your greenhouse, you will need to keep spares in the shed for when DIY maintenance calls. If you use wood for your frame, then you need to purchase pre-treated wood, or treat the wood yourself. One example of wood treatment is creosote, a tar based wood preservative, it helps prevent insects, fungi, and moisture, and it protects against UV. Keep an eye for any weak areas that may have started to rot. Replacing broken or rotten struts before your structure collapses is better than having to start all over again. Make sure to do a survey of the condition of your greenhouse at least once a month. Just a quick inspection of the interior and exterior can be done once a month, and a full inspection of the structure, screws, glazing and equipment once every six months. It may sound like a lot of work, but it will depend on the size of your greenhouse and the materials used. Some materials are hardier than others and will require less maintenance, but that comes down to your budget. If you used recycled material you may have to work a bit harder on the upkeep because preloved goods have been through years of wear
already. The size of your greenhouse will determine how long it will take to survey the area, and that may or may not delay the intervals between inspecting your greenhouse, because if an inspection takes longer that means you’ll need to set aside precious time that you may feel you don’t have. Regardless, you will need to take time to maintain your greenhouse because it will benefit you in the long-term.
Why You Need to Maintain Your Greenhouse I’m sure by now you understand how important greenhouse maintenance is. The reason you need to make sure that your greenhouse is in the best shape is because you will invite pests, disease, and even death to the plants you’re trying to grow if you don’t maintain the greenhouse. Beginners may skip maintenance because it doesn’t come to mind when you’re excited about building your first greenhouse. But it’s important if you don’t want to waste your time, money and energy on something that only works for a year. Get the most value out of your greenhouse for the longest time by performing needed maintenance.
Advantages of Maintaining Your Greenhouse Think about this, when you get into bed at night, is there a roof over your
head? Are the windows and doors able to open and close as you need them to? Does your alarm system work to prevent home invaders? If you answered yes to these questions, then you understand the advantages of maintaining your greenhouse. I know, you’re wondering how it’s the same thing? Well, think of the walls, windows, doors and roof of your house that protect you from the elements, criminals, and other unwanted things. Your greenhouse is exactly what its name implies, a house for greens. As I’ve mentioned before, if you don’t maintain your plants home then your plants will be exposed to diseases that can destroy your hard work, and to temperatures that aren’t suitable for the greens you’ve planted. The Advantages of keeping up with maintenance are: better plant growth, disease protection, ideal temperature control, lower costs, saving unnecessary time spent on big maintenance jobs, pest protection. The disadvantages of neglecting maintenance are: irregular temperatures that may destroy plants, disease, pests, having to rebuild your greenhouse if it falls apart. Maintenance is important to the choice of greenhouse you choose to build because some greenhouses are bigger, require you to get into smaller grooves and crevices, and because of their odd shape, require more time for the job. Make sure you know how to maintain the specific materials you will be using to build your greenhouse from the beginning of the building process. When purchasing your greenhouse building materials, find out if they come with maintenance instructions, if not there are many how-to guides one can look
up online, or even at the library if you want a simple, easy-to-follow manual. This section has only been slightly touched on to bring to your attention that aftercare is also important if you wish to build yourself a greenhouse.
CHAPTER 4: GREENHOUSE ORIENTATION In my previous book, I discuss different greenhouse temperatures, and the best temperature range for the plants you’ll be planting. This book, however, is all about building your greenhouse therefore this chapter is going to take a look at the perfect orientation for your greenhouse based on the climate type in your region. Back in the 16th century, greenhouses relied solely on the solar radiation inputs, and that meant that the orientation of the greenhouse to the sun was vitally important. There were no heaters and fans that could be used like there are today, but some individuals want to cut costs and build a greenhouse that relies mostly on heat from the sun. Orientation is not only about the direction your greenhouse faces, but also where in the garden or area you’ll be placing it, and any obstructions that would hamper the heating of your greenhouse. People immediately assume that because they have a small garden, they won’t be able to have the greenhouse experience; that simply isn’t the case. Greenhouses come in all shapes and sizes and can even be attached to part of your home. You’ll need to make sure that wherever you situate it, there is an adequate amount of sunlight needed for your garden to flourish.
Orientation is Important The orientation of your greenhouse to the sun is vitally important because, as you know, energy from the sun is needed to heat the greenhouse. Different areas of the world have varying climates; we will take a look into the varying climates later. Some places experience extreme heat, and other’s dip below freezing. To combat these variations in climate, you need to have the equipment, and correct orientation to the sun to adjust the temperature of your greenhouse. Climate is the first reason why orientation is important, plant growth is the second. If you don’t place your greenhouse in a place that will allow maximum sunlight absorption, then your plants are at risk of not germinating or growing efficiently. It is recommended that you position the front face of your greenhouse facing the sun at a North or South position (Farmer, n.d.). The direction will depend on the hemisphere you live in, here in the Northern hemisphere it is recommended to have your greenhouse
facing South for maximum sunlight exposure, the opposite will apply to those in the Southern hemisphere (Xaxx, 2011). This will allow your greenhouse to catch the early morning sun, and also allow it to warm up the quickest. Secondly, you want your greenhouse to fit in with your garden theme. Randomly placing a greenhouse can be a bit of an eyesore if you’re into order in your garden. Make sure that you incorporate your greenhouse into your garden, don’t just place it at random. Whatever your reason for wanting one, they add value to our lives. Spending time in your greenhouse can improve your mood, as nature has been proven to increase mood and energize people (OLT, 2016). You want your greenhouse to be your zen garden, a place that you can witness what you have built from scratch, come alive!
Climate Types and Orientation The world has different climates, and with each climate a different type of greenhouse is recommended for optimal plant growth. If you don’t do enough research into the right type of greenhouse for your country’s climate, you will either not get the results you were expecting, or you’ll need to buy expensive technologies that could have been avoided if you had chosen the right type. To help you figure out the best greenhouse for your climate type, we are going to take a look at the most common climates, and which greenhouse will thrive in the climate’s conditions.
Desert Climates A desert climate has very little moisture, and often they experience hot, dry winds that can destroy crops, and even infect them with disease that they carry along. There is an abundance of sun and heat, but not all plants can handle such extreme heat (National Geographic Society, 2012). For this reason, an A-Frame or Hoop House is the best option for this climate type. A greenhouse in this climate will require fans to keep the structure at the right temperature. The fans will distribute the heat equally, and push excess heat out of the vents you add to your greenhouse. Remember to build a well ventilated greenhouse for this type of climate, otherwise you’ll end up with roasted vegetables.
This climate is not very common, and is found between the 30 and 45 degree latitudes. It includes countries like Italy, Spain and Morocco (Britannica, 2019). The winters are cold and wet, thereby lowering the overnight temperatures of a greenhouse. Heavy rains or storms could destroy a greenhouse’s structural integrity if it’s not built correctly. This can be dangerous for plants that require a more tropical climate for growth. To make sure you get the most out of your greenhouse in a Mediterranean climate, the best kind of greenhouse to build would be the Geodesic Dome. This greenhouse provides solid insulation and you need really good insulation for those winter days and cold nights. Summer gets very warm and dry, causing condensation to occur in your greenhouse if not it’s not well ventilated and fanned. A heater will be needed for the winter; a simple heater fan that can rotate is ideal for smaller greenhouses.
Humid Tropical Climates Tropical climates experience large amounts of evaporation and precipitation due to high inputs of solar energy. This climate type is found at the equator and is brimming with plant and animal life. Hot year round, you won’t need to worry about the cold getting to your plants (London, 2018). Because of the humidity, the air can get very moist and that can cause condensation in your greenhouse. Water isn’t bad for plants, obviously, but too much moisture with just the right temperature is a breeding ground for disease and fungus. For this type of climate you would want a well ventilated greenhouse that can conduct heat without compromising the health of your plants. The best style of greenhouse would be the A-Frame or Geodesic Dome. The A-Frame is a good shape for ventilation as the hot air can only go up, where it can be vented out. Despite its flatter shape, tropical plants grow well in a wellventilated dome because the circular shape allows heat to spread evenly around the greenhouse.
Temperate Climates Found in the middle latitudes between the tropics and the two polar regions, temperate climates experience four distinct seasons and moderate rainfall throughout the year or parts of the year (toppr, 2019). This region is perfect for a greenhouse, and most agriculture because of the distinct seasons and rainfall patterns. It is for this reason that any one of the greenhouses
mentioned in this book can be built in temperate climates. However, days can get quite hot in summer and this means you will need to add a fan and good ventilation to keep your plants from wilting and dying. You will also need to make sure your greenhouse is big enough, as smaller sized greenhouses restrict airflow, and that would heat your greenhouse to extreme temperatures not fit for your plants or the materials you have used to build it. Farmers in these regions use huge industrial fans to circulate the heat and keep the inside at an appropriate temperature in order to grow crops throughout the year (Rabbi, B., Chen, Z.-H., & Sethuvenkatraman, S. 2019). Night can get quite cold in this region in winter so make sure your greenhouse is well insulated and faces the sun at a south or southeast position. This will make sure it gets enough sun throughout the day, and most importantly, gets the early morning sun. Temperature control is very important when building your greenhouse, so make sure that you get extra heating and cooling for summer and winter.
Cold Climates Colder climates are found mainly in the Northern Hemisphere at latitudes above 45 degrees. Weather is extreme here: the winter is very long, cold, and dark (Wielgolaski & Inouye, 2003), while the summer lasts for three months from June to September (Seasons in the Northern Hemisphere - Summer, n.d.) because the Northern Hemisphere is so cold for most of the year, the growing season for outside plants (in nature, not lucky enough to be in a greenhouse) is slightly shorter than say a temperate climate because it takes more energy to melt the frozen ground. Summer days are long, receiving 12 hours of sunlight, and some countries even experience 24 hours (Seasons in the Northern Hemisphere - Summer, n.d.). Snowfall and snow storms cause havoc and damage property. In a climatic region like this, a Geodesic Dome, or A-Frame would do well because of their shapes. You need a greenhouse that will be able to withstand the icy weather and the hazards that come with it, such as heavy snow falls destroying your greenhouse. Dome shapes allow snow to slide off because there is no flat surface for it to accumulate. The AFrame’s steep shape means snow has no place to settle, and so will slide off each side. Make sure that you use very strong materials to build your greenhouse in this climate region. Steel frames are better for the extreme weather, but will conduct cold. There is no way of only using natural sun
radiation for heating in this climate type. You will have to add in extra heaters and fans to distribute the heat. Extra insulation will be required too, if heat escapes and the snow gets in, your plants are in great danger. Glass is a great glazing for greenhouses, but glass can crack under the pressure of snow if a large amount falls on it. The best material for covering in such a climate would be triple-walled polycarbonate. Strong, durable and very good for insulating in extremely cold climates, it is great for growing year-round and is highly recommended for this climate.
Average Temperature for a Greenhouse Most plants survive in a greenhouse with a temperature of between 80 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (Volente, 2019). Anything above that is harmful to your plants. In order to get the temperature required for optimal growing you may have to invest in heaters before building your greenhouse. Now that you understand the importance of identifying your climate type, you can begin to make a decision on what greenhouse you want to build and what materials you’re going to need for it to be successful. Cold climates need extra insulation, protection, and heating for those winter nights that dip well below freezing, and can destroy your greenhouse, not just the plants in it. Areas with extreme weather patterns are at high risk of being destroyed by the elements. Fast winds, falling snow, and heavy rains can demolish your greenhouse structure and mess with the inside temperature. The average temperature for your greenhouse will vary. Your choice of plants, materials, budget and climate type will determine the average temperature of your greenhouse. That said, there are various methods of regulating these temperatures yourself in more specific temperature scenarios, two of which include using quality heaters, that are safe for your plants in colder regions; or ceiling fans for warmer ones. Maintaining your greenhouse's average temperature is very important to your plants. Should you be using fans, the size of your fans and their blades should be considered, as well as the volume of your greenhouse as fans move a certain amount of air per cubic foot. Colder climates will need more heat since you’re making up for what the climate lacks, so heaters are a good choice. Since these values will vary depending on all of the prerequisites, I would recommend consulting with a local supplier of the fans or heaters, as they usually have size guides, relating to square footage, to get the best temperature results.
Dome shapes allow for more circular airflow and are a popular greenhouse choice for maintaining a good average temperature. Remember, to maintain the temperature of your greenhouse, you will always need to keep an eye on the weather so you can either add a heat source or a cooling mechanism should it become too cold or too hot. Next we will discuss more options for regulating these temperatures and why.
Heating Your Greenhouse Greenhouses need sunlight and heat for growing crops. Though, should it become too hot in a greenhouse, the plants will start to wilt. Some plants may require high temperatures, but there is always a threshold you need to be aware of. When building your greenhouse you will need to consider how you will control the heat inside your greenhouse, always taking into consideration what plants you will be growing. Many DIY greenhouse builds are cold frames, which means they only use the heat of the sun to warm the greenhouse and have small built-in windows or vents for air circulation. This may not always be ideal for people who live in very cold climates because of temperatures that dip below freezing. To combat the extreme cold one can, if needed, once again, depending on your types of plants, choose to install a heating system. A heating system does not need to be an expensive heater designed specifically for greenhouses. No, you can use an ordinary space heater with an extension cord running from your house to your greenhouse. The size and amount of the heaters needed, depends on the size of your greenhouse and the materials you use to build it with. Materials that conduct heat like metal will increase the temperature of your greenhouse beyond what the heater does. So before you add any heating systems to your greenhouse, take size and materials into consideration. It is also a good idea to know what types of heaters you can use in your greenhouse, as some may be toxic to your plants. Let us have a look at what types of heating systems you can install. Space Heaters Small greenhouses—any greenhouse that is less than 20 square feet—tend to heat up quickly because of their size. There is not much space for air to move around so for this sized greenhouse you can easily use a space heater for heat, and a fan to distribute it. Some space heaters require some sort of fuel like
oil. If this is the case you will need to have a clean air source coming in so the fumes don’t build up in your greenhouse and destroy your plants. You will need to install a thermostat or thermometer to keep track of the temperature in your greenhouse. Forced-air Heating Forced-air heaters are another great system for heating a small greenhouse. Using a gas furnace to heat a greenhouse will ensure that the greenhouse is evenly heated and there will be no cold spots. A thermostat should be installed to control the temperature with this kind of system. Again this type of system will need a vent to prevent the buildup of oxygen from the plants— which can be harmful to them—and carbon dioxide from the system—which can be harmful to you. Steam Heater Steam heating systems heat water with gas or oil and turn it into steam. The steam travels through a pipe to a convector that radiates heat to warm the greenhouse. A hot water heater does the same thing, however, it is the water that heats the convector directly. To use this type of heating system, you need to first calculate the BTU required, BTU stands for British Thermal Unit is defined as the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of one degree Fahrenheit (Designer Radiators Direct, 2017). Calculating the necessary BTU is done by multiplying the area of your greenhouse by the average coldest night in your climate zone. There are also calculators online that you can refer to should you not want to calculate the average temperature or area of your greenhouse (Waterworth, 2014). Electric Heater Using an electric heater will run up your electricity bill, but can be adapted in many ways to suit the needs of your greenhouse. Mostly recommended for small greenhouses because of its use of electricity, and much like the space heater, you will need to add some fans to help distribute the heat. This is a manual way of heating a greenhouse, so you will need to keep track of how hot the greenhouse gets by installing a thermometer. Shopping for a Greenhouse Heater
Before you buy a greenhouse heater, you need to know what kind you want and how many you are going to need. Taking the size of your greenhouse into account and what climate zone you are in will help you decide on how many heaters you will need. It is suggested that if you are in a cold climate zone you have a heater for every 175 square feet. Since warmer climates do not need as much heating as colder climates, it is suggested that you place a heater for the colder days one per 200 square feet (White, n.d.). The other thing you will need to take into account is how much electricity the heaters will use, if they will use any at all. Running a greenhouse does not need to be expensive, so choose the best heater for your needs.
Cooling Your Greenhouse Keeping your greenhouse cool and vented is just as important as heating it. Greenhouses in climates that receive a lot of sun and heat will need some sort of cooling system to keep the temperature in the greenhouse at optimal levels. Your options for these types of systems are many, from manual, to fully automatic, regulated by a thermostat. The issue with some systems is they can use a lot of energy. So it is best to plant in the season your plants are meant to be planted in, if you want to save on your electricity bill. Ventilation Greenhouses can get extremely hot. When sunlight enters the greenhouse, the radiation bounces or reflects off of the surfaces in your greenhouse and this is how heat gets trapped. Small amounts of radiation is lost as it escapes through the roof. If you do not ventilate your greenhouse too much heat, oxygen, and fumes created by your plants will build up, and can begin to cause harm to plants because the air becomes stale. You may think that vents are only for hot days, but days that are cold still allow enough sunlight to penetrate the greenhouse. Adding vents to your greenhouse as you see, is very important. Vents provide circulation of the air inside your greenhouse and also push out the built up oxygen and fumes your plants have created. Remember plants need carbon dioxide for growth, not oxygen. Evaporative Cooling An evaporative cooler, also called a swamp cooler or desert cooler, cools the air by evaporating water; it is a different system to an air conditioner. Dry air
temperatures inside the greenhouse can be dropped very low when using evaporation. Another perk of using evaporative cooling is that it adds significant humidity to the greenhouse atmosphere (Newair, 2018). Humidity is important for your plants, but too much can also harm your plants which is why you will have to monitor your greenhouse carefully when using this type of cooling. Shading Your Greenhouse Greenhouse shading is a form of cooling for your greenhouse using a type of shade cloth you can find at any gardening store. Shading comes in many forms: it can be installed over the top of your structure, inside the greenhouse, or above individual plants. To choose the correct kind of shading technique for your greenhouse, you need to consider what your greenhouse is made of and what you decide to use as the glazing. The types of plants in the greenhouse will also determine what shading you will need. Shade cloth is a type of shading made from woven fabric and is used to defer a small or large amount of sunlight reaching your plants. There are different thicknesses to choose from, each one allows more or less sunlight to reach your plants. It is also easy to install outside or in a greenhouse so there isn’t much skill needed to work with it. When you build your greenhouse you should consider if you will be adding a shading or not. It does not need to be installed while you are building, but it will make it a lot easier because you can plan your floor space according to where you place the shading. You can easily install it after you have finished your greenhouse if you are not sure where everything will go just yet. Consider the types of plants that will be in your greenhouse after building it. Some shades can cut the light to your plants by up to 50%. When installing shading after you have built your greenhouse, depending on where you install it, there are some things you'll need to do first. If you are installing a vinyl plastic type of shading on the inside against your glazing, you will need to wash the greenhouse glazing with a sponge and water to make sure there isn’t any dirt that would prevent the shading from staying in place. Installing shading is not difficult at all. Even if you have never used it for gardening before, it usually comes ready to install. Shading that can be purchased at any gardening supply store will come with grommets around its edges for tying a line. You can simply untie one side to remove the shade
cloth when you want to allow more sunlight to reach your plants. There are other ways to provide shading. Let’s look at some: Internal Blinds are fixed to the inside of your greenhouse and are not as good at cooling as using external blinds. Sunlight still passes through the glazing into the greenhouse and generates heat. Internal blinds can easily be made fully automatic, or you can use them manually. They are made in a variety of materials and thicknesses, and there are variations which allow more or less air flow. Internal blinds can be ordered online or purchased at your local gardening supply store. External Blinds are exactly the same as the internal blinds, only they are placed on the outside of the greenhouse, and cool the greenhouse a lot better than internal blinds. You can get both internal and external blinds in roll up forms but these are a lot more expensive. Polyethylene Mesh is placed on the inside of a greenhouse and can be attached with clips. Fitting the mesh over your greenhouse is a better option because the UV rays won’t be able to penetrate and heat the greenhouse, but it is more complicated to try to install on the outside. It is a cheaper option for anyone on a tight budget, and is easy to source from your local garden supply store. Polyethylene mesh will deteriorate over time but is inexpensive to replace. Shading Paints are diluted in water and applied to the outside of your greenhouse glazing. It is recommended to apply it in Spring, when things start to heat up. As the seasons progress and it gets hotter, you can add more shading paint to block out the harsher UV rays. The paint should be removed as it starts to get colder, or there won’t be enough sunlight for optimal plant growth. You can use this technique on any glazing but it is not recommended for acrylic or polycarbonate because it can be difficult to remove the shading paint from these types of glazings. We covered a lot in chapter four, so much that it may be difficult to
remember all of this information, but luckily you have this book to refer back to whenever you feel stuck. This chapter covered the importance of knowing your climate type and determining the orientation of your greenhouse in relation to which hemisphere you live in, how to keep your greenhouse cool in hot climate zones, and hot in cold ones to protect your plants from the varying elements. I also covered ventilation that is vital for keeping the air in your greenhouse fresh for optimal plant growth; I offered some affordable heating and cooling system options that you can install in your greenhouse depending on your needs. All of these factors are important to consider before building your greenhouse because they play a vital role in the time and money you will spend constructing it. Are you enjoying this book? If so, I 'be really happy if you could leave a short review on Amazon. Thank you.
CHAPTER 5: THE 12FT BY 6FT A-FRAME
So why is it called an A-Frame greenhouse? Think of the letter A, what shape could you relate it to? The A-Frame greenhouse is a basic triangular shape that is quite simple to build and requires relatively little DIY skill. A-Frames are nice for small greenhouses, and can be extended to keep many different kinds of plants. The A-Frame has air coming in and out through vents in the top. It’s height allows hot air to rise to the top, where it can be blown through the vents. This greenhouse is so simple that it doesn’t take a lot of time to build. Those that want a quick setup with minimal effort should consider this style of greenhouse. It also doesn’t take up a lot of garden space as it is higher than it is wide; it’s perfect for anyone with a small garden, although there is limited headspace in a small A-Frame. Budget wise, the most expensive part of building this greenhouse would be the technology you choose to use inside of it for temperature control. Since there is limited airflow in this style, you will have to invest in cooling
equipment should you live in a climate that is very hot. The rest of the materials are very straightforward and can be purchased on a tight budget. The triangle is one of the strongest shapes found in nature. Using it for the structure of your greenhouse is wise because it can withstand a lot of pressure, and requires few struts, rafters, and beams to keep it in place.
The Pros and Cons of an A-Frame Pros: Simple design that requires very little material to make. Can be made quite small, so great for smaller gardens. Can get very warm, which is great for growing tropical plants. Strong structural integrity. Cheap to build. Cons: The slanted walls may be problematic when it comes to storage space. Would need to be built very high if you are a tall person. Air circulation can be a problem because of the shape.
Project Greenhouse: A 72 Square Foot A-Frame This basic plan, for a 12’ x 6’ A-frame greenhouse, uses wood for the structure, and flat polycarbonate sheeting for the glazing. You are welcome to use the material you feel is best for your needs, depending on your budget and the climate you are in. You may want to use metal or plastic piping instead of wood, or one of the other glazing materials that I discussed earlier. This plan will use pressure treated wood of varying lengths. The plan will have a deck as the floor, which will be lowered into a three inch hole. Even though an A-Frame is a fairly simple structure, your materials will determine the outcome of your growing.
Tools Required for the Job The tools for the job are very important. You won’t be able to build the plans properly if you don’t have all the tools required. Of course you can always improvise, but when it comes to building, safety should be your number one priority. If you are new to building, then I suggest that you don’t try to improvise tools or try techniques you’ve never heard of. Get someone to help you do the things you’re not too certain about. The A-frame is a simple build, and therefore requires few fancy, unknown tools. Let’s take a look at the tools needed to build our project A-frame greenhouse: C-clamp, to keep timber in place. Drill and corresponding drill bits. Builders Square, to measure rafter angles. Level, to make sure the area for your foundation is flat. Jigsaw for cutting wood. Pencil. Ladder (depending on how high you want your A-Frame to be). Hammer. Circular saw for cutting thick wood.
Protective eyewear. Hearing protection. Drive steel (for earth anchors). Radial arm saw to mitre cut angles. Workspace. Measuring tape.
Materials Needed Let’s take a look at the materials needed to build our project A-frame greenhouse: About 300 square feet of flat polycarbonate sheeting for insulation. This amount will allow room for offcuts. The thickness will depend on your climate type and the types of plants you want to grow, the thicker the polycarbonate sheeting, the hotter the greenhouse will get. 12-foot length of galvanized ridge capping.
14, 11’ x 2” x 4” pressure treated wood to form the five Aframe’s rafters. Four of these will be secured as reinforcing beams. It’s your choice which type of wood you want to use. However, it is suggested that you use wood that is resistant to rot, like cedar, redwood, or mulberry. These options are more expensive than pressure treated wood, but are also more ecofriendly. Three, nine-foot, 2” x 4” for temporary support braces when erecting the A-frame ridge beam. Three, 12-foot, 2” x 4” pressure treated wood for the length of the foundation baseframe. Five, six-foot, 2” x 4” pressure treated wood for the breadth and inner baseframe supports for the baseboards One, 12-foot, 2” x 4” pressure treated wood for the ridge board which is the top support for the rafters that form the A-frame. Five, six-foot, 1” x 2” pressure treated wood that will be cut to make up the frames for the door and window. Eight, 12-foot, 2” x 2” pressure treated wood for the purlins that serve to reinforce the A-frame structure. 24, six-foot, 6” x 5/4” deck boards allowing for wastage. About two boxes of 4” wood screws. One box of 6” nails. 80 square feet of ground cover with holes poked in for drainage. Six earth anchors: three for each length of your greenhouse. 14 2” x 4-6” joist hangers for each joist of your foundation. 20 2" x 4-6" steel light sloped and skewed joist hangers to secure the rafters to the ridge board and base. 40 purlin clips to secure the purlins Two window hinges.
Two door hinges. Door handle. Two latches of your choice. 1 Gallon of Creosote (depending on the type of wood you’ve chosen to use).
Step-By-Step Guide on How to Build Your A-Frame Step One The very first thing you’ll need to do before you can begin, is to use your Level and make sure that the area you are building on is completely flat. An A-frame may be simple, but a skewed greenhouse isn’t going to last very long.
1. Mark all the corners of the foundation with a stake. 2.
Make a loop at the loose end of the string, and place the loop over a stake; run the string to the next stake, opposite the first one.
3. Make another loop around the stake and run it to the next stake opposite it; using the same method, connect a line of string for all the remaining stakes. 4. Loop the last stake, cut the string and tie it. 5. Place the level on the top of your stake and determine the high point. 6.
Use a tape measure to measure diagonally from one corner stake to another; if the measurements are the same, then the layout is square.
Begin to dig a six-inch-deep hole for your foundation with your shovel inside the area you have marked.
8. Neatly remove all the topsoil inside the layout, leaving the ground as flat as possible. 9. Place a small plank, narrowest edge down, flush on top of the topsoil in the six inch deep hole you dug, and use it as a guide to “shimmy” the plank from one end, going in a left to right motion. Apply pressure by pushing downwards until the ground is perfectly flat or level. 10. Lay a plank flush to the ground in the hole with a spirit level on top to determine if the ground is level. 11. If the ground is level you can begin to fill the hole with the topsoil you removed by three inches. 12. Rake the topsoil to be even, removing any large rocks that interfere. 13. Smooth the three inches of topsoil with the ground tamper, making sure not to apply too much pressure to neaten the three inches of topsoil. 14. Place a plank flush to the three inches of topsoil you added, and put the spirit level on it. Continue this process across your foundation's entire area, checking the levels and where needed, filling back soil, removing soil, clearing any rocks and raking as you go. 15. Lay 12’ x 6’ of ground cover. Punch holes into the ground cover roughly every square foot. The ground cover goes under the base of your A-frame foundation to allow for insulation, and to prevent weeds (Aarons Creek Farms Inc, n.d.).
16. You will only add the earth anchors after you have finished creating the base of your greenhouse. Once this has been set up you may begin to build your A-frame on the area you have levelled, now that you know your greenhouse isn’t going to topple over. Step Two
1. Create a rectangle on the ground with the two 12’ 2” x 4” for the length and two 6’ 2” x 4” lengths of wood for the breadth. 2. Your wood should have the two-inch edge facing up. 3.
Butt-join each corner at 90-degrees placing the 6ft timbers between the 12ft lengths.
4. Check that the frame is square, adjust accordingly. 5.
Using the wood glue, glue each butt-joint of the 2” x 4”s to each other, clamp together and allow it to dry, then reinforce the butt-joints with nails.
6. Measure out and mark the half-way point of the breadth of the frame and fasten a joist hanger at this mark and follow the same process for the opposite side. 7. Place the pre-cut 11’ x 8” bridge board into the joist hangers and secure with nails. 8.
Measure and mark at three feet intervals along each of the 12’ base lengths, and the bridge board. Secure one joist hanger at each marking you have made on their inner facing sides of the wood.
9. Now fit the pre-cut 5’ x 11” joists into the joist hangers and secure with nails. These pieces will form a joist bridge. It is called a bridge because it connects all the joists together and adds extra support to lay your flooring on. 10. Cover the top of the base with the 22 6’ x 6” x 5/4” deck boards, securing them half an inch apart to allow for any swelling. Hammer all the planks down using wood nails as these are flat and won’t cause you to trip when you use the greenhouse. 11. Secure five sloped and skewed joist hangers using nails to the decking along the 12 foot length lining them up directly above each floor joist. Later we will insert the bottom of the rafters of the A-frame into these joists.
12. This is a good time to lower the base into the plastic lined foundation you dug earlier. Step Three Your greenhouse frame hasn’t been fully attached to the ground yet. To prevent the wind from carrying your greenhouse away you will need to anchor it to the ground using the earth anchors. 1.
Place the earth anchors about five or six inches away from the foundation on each corner of the frame.
Drive each earth anchor into the ground where you have placed them, using the driver steel and a hammer, or anything that will apply enough force to drive the anchors deep into the ground.
3. Make sure that the driver steel goes through the hoop of the earth anchor so that you don’t lose the anchor while you’re hammering it into the ground. 4.
You should be left with a length of cable that barely reaches the greenhouse foundation.
Using the drive steel that is still through the hoop of the earth anchor, pull the anchor out of the ground by about two inches. This will enforce the anchor in the ground and allow you to attach the cable to the greenhouse.
6. Put a lag bolt through the cable’s hoop as a grip, and add a washer. 7. It should be secured in a way that the cable is resting between the wood of the base and the washer you added. Secure the bolt and washer tightly. 8. Do this for all four corners of your greenhouse. Step Four Now comes the fun part: creating the skeleton of your greenhouse. 1.
For your reference, mark the tops and bottoms of each of the 10- 11’ x 2” x 4”s, and then, using a mitre cut of 15-degrees, cut off a foot off the bottom. Repeat this for each rafter.
2. Make a mark every two and a half feet on the log top edge of the rafter. Cut four 2” x 2” inch dado cuts at these marks on the rafter. Repeat for each rafter. 3. Concentrating on the ridge beam, make a mark at three foot intervals at each side of the ridge beam. Fix the sloped and skewed joist hangers at these marks with nails, there should be five joists on each side of the ridge beam. These will be used to secure the tops of the A-frame rafters. 4. Now use the three 9’ 6” x 2” x 4”s temporary support braces to hold the 12-foot ridge beam at the correct height above the deck. Make sure to line up the ridge board to the center of the base frame. Use a few temporary nails to keep the support beams in place if necessary. 5.
Fit the A-frame rafters, with the mitred side at the bottom into the joist hangers that are on the base and ridge beam.
6. There should be a total of five A’s joined to the ridge beam and base. 7.
With the A-frame structure secured in place, start adding the eight 12foot, 2” x 2” purlins to the dado cutouts in the rafters. Four on each side. This will add strength to the skeleton and serve as extra anchor points for
the polycarbonate. 8. Remove the three support braces that were holding the ridge beam up. Step Five Before adding a window and a door we need to create the frames for them in the front and back of the greenhouse. The door that will be made to fit into the frame measures 6' x 2' x 6" 1.
On a workbench or level work surface, butt-join the edge of a 6' x 2" x 4" wood to the 2' 6" x 2" x 4" at a 90-degree angle to assemble an L shape. Repeat this to make the other side of the door frame. Secure these two sides together at the edges. Your frame will resemble a rectangle.
2. Attach this frame to the outside frame of your greenhouse. Secure the top corners directly to the rafters with the 6-inch nails, and secure the bottom of the frame to the deck. 3.
You can adapt the techniques used in this step to build and install the greenhouse window on the opposite side of the greenhouse, the only thing that will differ is the measurements of the dimensions of your window, as this A-frame calls for a 2'3" x 2'5" window.
Step Six It’s time to add a door so you can get in and out of your greenhouse. These instructions are adapted from David Laferney how-to guide from The Door Garden online blog (Laferney, 2008). 1. You will need 1"×2" pressure treated wood to make the door–two pieces to make the sides, and three pieces to make the top, bottom, and middle brace. 2.
The dimensions of these pieces will be determined by the size of the door that you are making to fit your greenhouse. The two sides of the door need to be the same length as the finished height of the door you want to build. The top, bottom, and brace need to be a half-inch less than the width of the finished door.
3. Use a drill bit a size smaller than the screws you will be using to pre-drill
pilot holes in the edges where the corners of the frame are butted together, before screwing the frame together. 4.
3 ″ washer headed, self-drilling screws will be needed to secure the frame of the door when assembling it. If there’s a gap between the parts after you screw them together – back out the screw and re-drive it.
5. On a workbench or level work surface, butt-join the edge of the 6' x 1" x 2" wood to the 2' 6" x 1" x 2" wood at a 90-degree angle to assemble an L shape. Repeat this to make the other side of the door frame. Secure these two sides together at the edges that you pre-drilled earlier. Secure the middle brace. Your frame will resemble a rectangle. 6. Now drill a hole in each corner of the frame which you will thread brace wires through. 7.
Thread a loop of galvanized electric fence wire diagonally to all four corners and secure the ends by twisting them together, and then twisting the overlapping tags back around the main wire.
Clip the ends off and bend them neatly so that they won’t stick out and snag on clothes, or the glazing.
9. Use scraps of wood to hand tension the wires. You want the wires to be slightly tight, taking out any slack. This will pull all of the joints together so that they aren’t likely to come apart or sag. Check for square again to make sure you haven’t torqued everything out of alignment. 10. Check that your frame is square by measuring diagonally across the corners with a measuring tape. If they aren’t about the same, then tweak the frame a bit to get it pretty close to square, at least within a quarter of an inch is good. 11. I would recommend planning a half inch off of each edge of the outer frame of the door to prevent the door from sticking. 12. Use 4" x 4" right angled triangle shaped, 1/2" plywood for gussets. Glue these 6 triangles gussets at each corner of the frame intersections and the sides of the middle brace. Use a water proof glue such as Titebond 3, and secure the connection with three 1" screws. 13. To add the plastic, fold the overlapping plastic around the inside edges of
the frame and staple the plastic flush on the door frame. Don't secure the bottom of the door in this manner as rainwater accumulates in the fold, simply staple it flush to the frame. 14. Attach two loose pin interior door hinges to the edge of the door frame that will be connected to the greenhouse. Install them the right side up so that the pins don’t function loosely or fall out. Secure the hinges 6" from the top and bottom of the door. 15. Attach a handle at a height that is desirable. 16. Now mark the door frame of your greenhouse where the hinges need to be placed. Do this by holding the door against the frame, while resting the door on a 1/2-inch thick piece of scrap wood at the bottom to raise it off the decking. Pre-drill the holes for the hinges where they lineup against the greenhouse. To hang the door, loosely fasten only one screw in each hinge on the greenhouse door frame for now. Remove the 1/2inch spacer and test if the door opens and closes without jamming. Adjust accordingly until you are happy that the door won't stick. Secure any remaining screws for the hinges. 17. You can adapt the techniques used in these instructions to build and install the greenhouse window, the only thing that will differ is the measurements of the dimensions of your window, the hinge locations and the size of the spacer you will place, as this A-frame calls for a 2'3" x 2'5" top hung window. Step Seven You’re almost done! Now comes the easiest part: covering your structure with polycarbonate sheeting. 1.
Cut four 10’ x 6’ rectangle pieces of flat polycarbonate sheets that will cover the side rafters.
2. Attach the sheets next to each other and flush on the frame on both sides of the A-frame. 3.
Fasten the sheets to the frame by driving screws every inch along the horizontal purlins and to the rafters.
4. Make sure that there are no gaps anywhere that the sheets meet. 5.
To cover the front and back walls of the A-frame, hold a piece of polycarbonate to the front of the structure and trace the outline of the triangle and the door frame that you will use as a guide to cut. Do the same for the back; remember to outline the window.
6. Cut the two pieces following along the guides you marked. 7.
Secure these cut pieces to the front and back rafters, nailing along the edges of the polycarbonate against the frame.
8. Time to add the ridge cap. Secure the 12-foot ridge cap by lining it up on the ridge beam and making sure it overlaps the polycarbonate sheeting, then secure in place with nails along the length of the cap. Finally you are done with your simple A-frame greenhouse build. 1.
Inspect the greenhouse for any beams sticking out, and clean up any pieces that are sticking out where they shouldn’t be.
2. Check that there are no major air leaks. 3.
Backfill any topsoil around the base frame that was inserted into the foundation of the greenhouse.
4. You can begin to add your favorite vegetables!
Wrap Up Now that you have seen how easy it is to make an A-frame greenhouse, you can see how adaptable the construction really is. You can build the frame out of whatever you can get your hands on, just follow the principles laid out here: frames with rafters and purlins, repeated and anchored into the ground or foundation. Brace the frames, add a front and back, and cover with whatever you can find. The flat walls of this greenhouse make it perfect for rigid or flexible glazing. A-frame greenhouses are also easy to extend in length, and this design could be stretched out by adding more frames.
CHAPTER 6: HOOP HOUSE
The Hoop House is a simple greenhouse project that anyone can follow. It is considered a slightly easier style to build than an A-frame, and it gives you a lot of opportunity to expand. It’s very good for both southern and northern climates because it holds and circulates heat well, and snow slides down the sides easier. Some people ventilate their hoop house by simply rolling up the greenhouse plastic from the bottom. You can get creative with the hoop house by making small ones to protect outside plants. This style of greenhouse can be scaled to massive sizes, and is the most common style of greenhouse for commercial farming. This means that you can build your own massive vegetable garden. It’s a great frame for anyone just starting out that wants something easy to construct. It’s not a very stylish looking greenhouse, but does the job well. We’re going to take a look at how to build a simple one right in your backyard.
The Pros and Cons of a Hoop House
Pros: Very easy to build Can be built in a variety of sizes Inexpensive to build Easy to maintain Light rain and snow runoff easily Cons: Not as sturdy as other greenhouses, which may lead to heavy winds dragging it away or rains destroying it Heavy snow can accumulate on the top and weigh the hoops down
Project Greenhouse: A 12ft x 32ft Hoop House Here is a simple step-by step to make a large PVC hoop greenhouse that is functional, simple, and relatively inexpensive. This is a plan by Alberta Home Gardening which has been used to build this 12’ x 32’ hoop-style greenhouse that has two end brace walls and is secured to the ground at the foundation with 10mm x 10’ rebars at either length of the baseframe to create a total of 17 hoops (Alberta Home Gardening, 2008). A hoop house greenhouse can be adjusted to any size. A small hoop house can be anywhere from 4’ x 10’ to a larger design like 10’ x 42’ (Schalau, 2009). There are two ways to create your hoops, this plan is a simple one because it uses the rebars to anchor the PVC hoops. Another way to create the hoops is to use a tee connector and four-way PVC connectors to run the spine and join the hoops.
Tools Required for the Job The tools needed to build a hoop house are few because of how simple this greenhouse is to build. Most of your budget will be for the materials you are going to use, which are also very few, the largest part of this greenhouse
being its hoops. Please refer to the end of the glossary for terms used that you perhaps do not understand. Circular saw Hammer Tape measure Drill Level Protective eyewear for cutting wood Hearing Protection Pencil
Materials Needed Four, 16-foot, 2” × 6” pressure treated wood for the foundation (both lengths of the base will be made by laying down two 16’ 2” x 6”s to make up 32’) Two, 12-foot, 2” × 6” 14, 12-foot, 2” × 4” 19 20’ x ¾” white pvc pipe Nine 10mm x 10’ rebars One 20’ x 50’ roll of 6mm plastic One Bundle of 50, 4’ wood lathe (or optional staples) Two bags of 6-inch zip ties Two boxes of 2.5-inch nails 34 pipe clamps Two Door hinges and a handle
Step-By-Step Guide on How to Build Your Hoop House
Step One Level the ground where your greenhouse base frame will sit. This plan calls for a 12’ x 32’ base frame. See chapter five, step one for a detailed description on how to level the ground. Step Two You can optionally build a foundation such as the concrete slab, or wood and gravel in chapter one. This plan does not call for a foundation to be built, only a base frame. 1. If you want to build a foundation, follow the instructions in chapter one to your desired size. This plan calls for you to use the four 16’ 2” × 6” (butt-join two together to create 32ft) and the two 12’ 2” x 6” (for the breadth of the base) to build a base frame. 2.
To build the base frame, lay down and join two 16’ 2" x 6" pressure treated wood with their thinnest edge facing up to make the length of the base frame. Do the same for the opposite length of the base and add the two breadth 12’ x 2" x 6" pressure-treated wood between the two lengths at the front and back of the base.
3. Ensure that the frame is square by measuring with a measuring tape from each corner diagonally. 4. Once you are certain it is square you can continue on to step three. Step Three 1.
Cut each 10ft piece of rebar into four 30” pieces of rebar. This should give you thirty-four individual pieces.
2. Pound the rebar into the ground 15” deep along the outside of your base placing them apart at two-foot intervals. There will be 15” sticking up out of the ground. Use as many rebars as you need if you have adapted these instructions for a different sized greenhouse. The longer your greenhouse, the more rebars you will need. Step Four
To create the hoops 1.
Slide both ends of your PVC pipe over the 15" of rebar that is sticking out of the ground to make a hoop across the breadth of your greenhouse.
2. Repeat this to create the other 16 hoops. 3. You’ve just created your hoops, well done! Step Five 1. Secure the hoops to the inside of the length of the base, the 2" x 6" x 16ft pressure-treated wood, with the pipe clamps and 2-½” nails. 2. Do this for every pipe and rebar connection. The same will apply if you choose to use the four-way joint method. Step Six You will need to build the end wall frames for the front and back of the greenhouse. To assemble the end walls. I will explain as best I can on how to build end walls, however, I suggest taking a look at this online how-to source called Buildmyowngreenhouse.com it has a wonderful article with a diagram on how to construct a wall frame to your chosen dimensions, called, End Wall Framing (Build My Own Greenhouse, n.d.). The end wall is constructed from varying sized rectangles made from the wood dimensions mentioned below. This plan calls for two end walls made from 12' 2" x 4" cut into the following sizes (Alberta Home Gardening, 2008): Two at 11’ 8¾” Four at 1’ 6 ″ Four at 4’ 7 ″ Four at 5’ 7 ″ Eight at 1’ 11¼” Two at 4’ ¼” 1.
Use a tape measure to measure the breadth and height of the first front
hoop to help guide you while constructing the end walls. Do the same for the back hoop. 2.
Start building the door frame: build two 4’ ¼” wide by 5’ 7” high rectangular frames, one will be placed in the front of the greenhouse and the other at the back, these will be used to create the end walls and will act as a frame to attach your door to the front of the greenhouse. The frames should be placed and secured in the middle of the front and back hoop; the bottom of the frame should be flush on the ground.
Build two 1’ 11¼” x 4’ 7” butted in an L-shape. Each one will be attached to either side of the door frame. Put together another two for the back that will be attached the same way.
4. Finally build two L-shape 1’ 11¼” x 1’ 6”s, butted together at the corner. One will be attached with nails to each flat side of the L-shaped 1’ 11¼” x 4’ 7”s you attached to the door frame. Build another two for the back and attach it in the same way. 5. Place the end walls within the width of the base frame and nail in place along the base. 6.
Cut four 28-inch 2" × 4" pieces, choose one end and cut at a 45º angle for all four braces. Use these to brace the walls. Secure each brace to the inside of the foundation frame with a screw.
Step Seven Once all of the hoops and the two wall ends are in place, connect two 20’ x ¾” PVC pipes lengthways with a straight pipe connector, and cut either end so that the final length measures 32 ′ long. This will run in the middle along the top of your hoops. You can attach this pipe with plastic zip ties the entire length to tightly secure it. This is an extra bit of support. Cut away any long pieces of zip tie left that may poke through the plastic. Step Eight 1.
Cut 32 wood lathes measuring 20-inches each. These will secure the plastic to the sides of the base in between each hoop.
Drape the commercial grade greenhouse plastic over the length of the
greenhouse. Be sure to leave enough overlap to cover the end walls. Pull the plastic snug and attach 16 lathes to the length of the base using a nail gun each one to secure them into the base. Do the same for the opposite side, pull snug, and attach with another 16 laths. For the end wall with the door, cut the shape of the door frame out of the plastic and leave about four inches of overhang to wrap inside and secure to the frame. Step Nine Making and adding the doors is the final step before inspecting the greenhouse for any areas needing trimming or insulation. Please refer to the detailed instructions in the A-frame greenhouse chapter for how to assemble and attach a greenhouse door. The door for that chapter can be adjusted to build any size door. Check the measurements to build the door for this plan by measuring the door frame within the end wall and allow for a half-inch gap so your door doesn’t stick. Your wall might sit slightly different from this plan. The measurements for this plan’s door are two 4’ x 11" and two 3’ x 9" pieces cut from a 12’ 2" x 4" and a diagonal 2" x 4" pressure-treated wood brace. Step Ten You are done! All you need to do is check the entire greenhouse for any gaps that may prevent insulation and if there are any, seal them up with a nail or staple.
Wrap Up Now that you’ve seen how a hoop house gets built, you can see how, like the A-frame, it is quite adaptable. The hoop house is easier to change the dimension, though, perhaps more difficult to build out of whatever is at hand. PVC is an excellent material for the DIY scale projects because it has the right balance of flexibility and strength. Those materials are rather less common than rigid and straight materials. However, rigid material such as steel pipe can be bent in the shape of a hoop relatively cheaply, making the hoop house truly scalable. The hoop house requires flexible glazing too, making more permanent and longer wearing materials such as glass or polycarbonate unworkable.
If you’re making a DIY greenhouse out of found or upcycled material, I suggest the A-frame. But if you’re buying your materials, you will find the hoop house easier to plan and build.
CHAPTER 7: GEODESIC DOME
The geodesic dome is one of the most difficult greenhouses to build because of its shape. Those with little experience in building may find it a lot harder to attempt, especially if it’s your first time building anything. Bigger domes require more triangles, as do domes with higher frequency. I know you might be wondering what a frequency is? The frequency of a geodesic dome refers to how many times a pattern occurs. In this case a geodome is made up of many triangles to form hexagons and pentagons that connect to each other to form the dome’s shape. A geodome comes in a variety of frequencies, namely 1V, 2V, 3V and 4V. The 1V dome frequency can be described as an icosahedron with its bottom section removed; all of the struts used to build this frequency are one length. A 1V ‘dome’ is not really a dome at all, it is more boxy than round. All dome frequencies are derived from the icosahedron. The 2V dome takes on a more ‘rounded’ shape than the 1V dome. It is made from two different length struts that form equilateral triangles, and is the dome we will be constructing in this plan. As the dome frequency gets higher, more material is required to build it. To create a 24 foot, 3V dome, there will be three different lengths of struts that are used to form two different sized triangles. These triangles are used to
form the rounded dome. Finally, forming a 30 foot-4V dome is created with six varying strut lengths to form four different sized triangles. The 4V dome looks somewhat like a golf ball cut in half, the more triangles that are added the more round the dome gets.
The Pros and Cons of a Geodesic Dome Pros: Withstands harsh weather. Energy efficient because of its shape. Aerodynamic which means wind can pass around it easily, not toppling it over. Holds up during earthquakes. Cons: Difficult to construct if you don’t have much building skill. Curve of shape lessens storage space. Understanding the frequency of a geodome can be tricky. The internet offers many free tools one can use, but this often puts people off wanting to build a geodome.
Project Greenhouse: a 8-foot 7’ Geodesic Dome The geodome is composed of a network of triangles that will create a spherical shape.. This geodome plan is for a 2V, 8ft-7’ dome made from electrical metallic tubing, using the natural ground (soil) as its base,, and rebars to keep it grounded. The 2V geodome is made by connecting long and short struts to form 3D pentagons that will be connected to form the dome. There will be a total of 26 joins once the dome is fully constructed. The greenhouse has no doors and ventilation will be created by making a roll up flap from the covering material.
Calculating the Struts
One can make use of an online dome formula calculator to calculate the lengths of struts needed for your preferred radius. Doing a simple internet search will bring up many free calculators. For an 8 ft 7 inch dome you will need: ●
35 long struts = 5.3 ft.
30 short struts = 4.7 ft.
Tools Required for the Job Vise Hammer Pipe cutter Drill and 25/64-inch drill bit
Materials Needed ⅜-inch hex bolts, two inches long. ⅜-inch hex nuts. ⅜-inch flat washers. About 40 ten-foot electrical metallic tubing (EMT) conduit at ¾inches thick, these will be cut to make 35 long struts and 30 short struts. The great thing about the conduit is that it comes in ten foot pieces that need to be cut in half to make the struts, which means you don’t need to pay an arm and a leg to build your dome! Four rebars to keep the structure anchored to the ground. Velcro strip, enough to close up a door flap. Enough glazing to cover the entire dome and leave an overlap at the base of the dome.
Step-By-Step Guide on How to Build Your Geodesic Dome
Step One Cutting the struts will be fairly simple. 1. Use your vise to keep the pipe in place, and with the pipe cutter, cut the EMT conduit into the two appropriate lengths for assembling. The long struts should be 5.3 feet and the short struts 4.7 feet. Step Two Both ends of all of the conduit struts need to be flattened. If you are lucky enough to own a hydraulic press or have access to one, use it to flatten the ends of your struts. Otherwise, your vise and hammer will come in handy here. Conduit has a weld seam that you’ll need to identify before you begin flattening the ends. The weld seam is a dark line that runs the length of the pipe. To flatten without damaging the pipe, don’t place the weld seam directly where pressure will be applied. 1.
Situate the weld seam of the conduit horizontally into the vise, not facing north or south, or directly east or west when flattening them so as to not split the seam. The seam should be slightly offset.
2. Tighten the vise slowly to flatten the end. 3. A hydraulic press would make this job much easier; firmly hold the pipe horizontally on the pressing plate and keep the pipe in place as pressure is applied to one end of the conduit. Step Three 1.
The flattened portion at the end of the strutts will need a hole drilled through it.
2. Using the drill and 25/64-inch drill bit, drill a hole ¾ of an inch from the end of the struts. 3.
To avoid needing to measure every strut end individually, create a jig from a piece of timber block by marking where ¾ of an inch is. This will save you a lot of time.
Step Four The flattened ends of the struts need to be bent at slight angles. For a 2V geodesic dome, the longest strut’s ends should be bent by about 18-degrees and the shortest by 16-degrees. Play around with the bends if you are not getting the desired angles. Because it’s conduit, it’s easier to bend as you need it to. When you construct the dome, struts will be able to be bent as you go along. 1. To bend the struts, secure one in the vise, and bend either end. 2. Do this for all the struts. Step Five 1. To make the job of assembling easier, color-code your struts: Mark the long struts in any color you like, doing the same with a different color for the short struts. 2. You can arrange the struts by placing them in two piles as well, one for the long struts and the other for the short struts, but if you’re going to have many people helping you out on this DIY project, then color-coding will help everything run smoothly. Step Six 1. Place one flattened end of a short strut on another flattened end of a short strut. Add another three short-strut flat-ends in the same manner to create a starfish shape. Keep the struts together where they meet at the middle by tightening a bolt, washer and hex. 2. Position three struts fanned out at the top and two at the bottom to form the inside triangles of a pentagon. 3.
Around the perimeters of this join, connect five long struts to form a pentagon.
During assembly, join the flattened end of the shorter struts on the outside and the ends of the longer struts on the inside.
Form another five pentagons, which will have a 3D shape, in the same
way. Step Seven 1.
Once you have assembled all of your pentagons, stand one upright and prop it up using a 2" x 4" beam. You can also get someone to help you hold the pentagon up. The prop is for a one-person job.
Remove the corner bolt from one pentagon’s corner and attach it to another pentagon at its corner with the same bolt you removed.
At the base of your dome, connect the pentagons that don’t have a bottom strut by placing a long strut between them to close up the gap, and bolt the long strut in place to the lower corners of the pentagon.
Step Eight You will need a step ladder and someone to help you lift the final pentagon up, and hold it in place while you begin bolting the corners. 1. Add the final pentagon to the roof of your dome. 2. Remove each pentagon’s corners bolt and fasten the last pentagon to the top at each aligned corner. Step Nine Covering your geodome is relatively easy, just time-consuming. 1. For this dome, hold a polyethylene sheet up to a pentagon on the outside of the dome, tracing its shape with a marker. Allow for an extra inch or two of overlap on each side. 2. Do this for every pentagon. 3. Cut the pentagons out of the sheeting. 4. One by one, glue all of the sheeting pentagons on to their corresponding pentagons on the frame. 5. Wrap the ends at the bottom of the pentagon around the bottom strut and seal with glue.
6. Glue only the outside perimeters of the pentagons. Step Ten 1.
There will be two triangle gaps between each pentagon at the top and bottom.
Doing the same as you did for the pentagon covers, hold a piece of polyethylene sheet up to the triangle, trace it’s outlines, leaving an overlap.
3. Cut the triangles out and glue them to the frame. 4.
The triangle pieces will overlap on to the already covered pentagons to insulate.
Step Eleven This geodome has no doors built into the frame. To get in and out and also vent the dome, we will construct an easy flap that you can roll open on hot days. 1.
Cut a bottom corner triangle of a pentagon from the top slanted strut, down along its length, to the inner corner at the middle of the pentagon.
2. From the inner corner down the length of the joining strut, cut until you reach the bottom corner to make a flap. 3.
To keep this flap closed and the dome insulated, add some insulating tape to the rims of the cuts pinching the tape together with your fingers on both sides of the sheet.
4. Above the first cut of the triangle, place a piece of the soft side of velcro (the loops) along the cut edges of the flap. 5.
Place the hooks-side of the velcro on the triangular flap’s edges so that you can seal the flap shut.
6. Following the same instructions, create another flap on another pentagon for extra ventilation. Step Twelve
You will notice that you didn’t build a foundation like usual. 1. To keep the dome grounded, dig a 7-inch trench around the base of your dome, following the bottom pattern of it as you dig. 2. Lower your dome into the trench once you are finished digging it. 3. Keep the wind from carrying it away by bending the tops of four rebars to form hooks. 4.
Hammer the rebars into the ground from the inside of your dome, attaching the hook to the base struts of your dome.
That’s it! This is a simple geodesic dome for anyone wanting to test their skills. A geodesic dome can be made out of timber as well by building each triangle frame that makes up the pentagon, and then working from the bottom upwards, you’ll join the triangles like Lego blocks. This version of a geodome is cost-effective and a lot easier to build than other geodomes made from single wooden triangles.
Wrap Up The geodesic dome has a mix of complex planning, and dead simple construction. You will do a lot of drilling and bending in this construction; jigs will make these repetitive tasks much easier and more consistent. Have fun with the design. And don’t let the mathematics put you off; there are plenty of great resources to help you calculate exactly what lengths and how many of each you will need.
CHAPTER 8: BENEFITS OF GREENHOUSES Greenhouses have more benefits than they do detriments. One medium sized greenhouse can easily feed a small family. For those that want to grow a greenhouse to survive off of, this is the first of many benefits. You may need to put money into building, maintaining and growing plants in your greenhouse, but the expense of build one is usually once-off, so long as you are 100% satisfied with your new build. Yes there will be a few touch-ups here and there, especially if you live in a region that experiences heavy rainfall, wind or snow, but the positives far outweigh the negatives. Imagine being able to eat your favorite fruit or vegetable year-round? I know I’m disappointed when a certain season comes and particular vegetables are out of season. Luckily stores import, but you pay through the roof for it because it’s been imported. Having your own greenhouse makes this a thing of the past. If you’ve tried your hand at outside gardening and it failed, because bugs got to your plants, then building yourself a greenhouse will prove to be a blessing. Bugs can sometimes be a problem in a greenhouse when we introduce new plants, but the structure provides a safe space for year-round growing. So in order to prevent any creepers from messing up your dreams of eating cucumber in your salad all year, you should check any new plants for bugs or disease before introducing them to your greenhouse. Bugs that may try to get in can be prevented by setting up mesh screens over any vents or doors. If the time comes to use pesticides, make sure to follow the cautionary instructions supplied to prevent yourself from inhaling the toxic fumes (Indoor Gardening, 2019). There is often little need for any sort of bug repellent and you can find eco-friendly ways of preventing pests too. The world is moving in an earth friendly direction, and if you have joined the many eco-conscious individuals of the world, then using eco-friendly pesticides in your greenhouse is a must! One of the other benefits of a greenhouse is the fact that you can build one that can be moved around if you move. Obviously, how difficult it will be to move is dependent on the materials you used to build it. Structures made from metal would be much heavier and more difficult to try and move as compared to those using wood or PVC pipe. You can even build small
versions of your favorite greenhouse, as I mentioned earlier in the book, to fit individual plants or small rows of plants. You have so much variety to choose from. And once you have built your greenhouse, you can continue to add to it. The structures in this book can all have extra sections added to them. You can get creative and add artwork to your greenhouse if you’re into art. The greenhouse you build can reflect your inner self, after all, you built it yourself, from scratch. It’s yours to enjoy, so make it personal. Spending time in your greenhouse has benefits that come from adding a bit of your own unique flair to your greenhouse. A garden is a place to feel peaceful. Working with the plants while hearing the birds chirp is therapeutic. You’ll be spending a lot of time in your greenhouse, I hope, and the time spent there can sometimes be better than therapy. Building your greenhouse may sometimes be a bit frustrating, but it is just as therapeutic as the gardening itself. After all, people wouldn’t do woodwork as a hobby if it didn’t offer some sort of benefit.
What You Get From the End Product Think about it, you just spent a week or maybe a month building your greenhouse. You tirelessly put all your effort into this project. What you have left is hours of sweat—and maybe even tears—in front of you. Your efforts prove well worth it, when you get to move all your plants into your new greenhouse. Watching them grow successfully under the roof of your labor is extremely rewarding.
The Advantages of a Greenhouse: Fresh vegetables and fruit. You can successfully transplant outdoor crops in your greenhouse. There will always be fresh flowers for display in your home if you use your greenhouse for growing flowers. A peaceful place to escape from the craziness of the world. You can grow exotic fruits and vegetables all year long.
Cats, dogs and other small animals that like digging can’t get in to destroy your plants. Do more of what you love to do, longer. Add beauty and visual appeal to a landscape.
The Disadvantages of a Greenhouse: Can be expensive to build, depending on the materials you decide to use. Can be expensive to heat if you live in a cold climate. Requires constant monitoring, maintenance and care. You may need to invest in a thermostat for your greenhouse, which can be expensive. Could increase electrical and water bills especially if you install an irrigation system or heating system. May take away from the aesthetic appeal of your garden depending on where you place it.
CONCLUSION Having your own greenhouse is a fun activity, but also is a lot of work because there is constant maintenance. Not only for the plants but for your greenhouse as well. Building a greenhouse from scratch will take time if you choose to go the DIY route. Even if you decide that you’d like to order a kit and assemble it yourself, it’s going to require time. A greenhouse can easily be constructed in a day depending on what greenhouse you choose, and how simple you want it to be. Greenhouses with fancy electric vents that open automatically when it gets too hot inside the greenhouse will cost you a lot of extra cash, and can add time on to finishing your project. In a scenario with electricity in your greenhouse, you will have to compensate for the fact that it will require extra skills to install and more money to run. The amazing part about building your own greenhouse is the fact that you don’t need fancy equipment or technology to start out with. Sure you won’t get the same results as someone who does, but you will learn as you continue your horticulture adventure. One can easily supplement the lack of a certain technology, or upgrade the materials their greenhouse is made of, to deliver better results. You shouldn’t avoid building your dream greenhouse just because you think it’s going to be expensive or difficult. Nothing is difficult when you put your mind to it. If you really want a greenhouse, then go for it; you can always build a smaller version in the meantime if the cost is an issue. Do your research on the types of materials you can use for greenhouse building. Some, you’ll find can be substituted with a cheaper version. While the cheaper version of materials won’t last as long as the more expensive kinds, it’s not to say that you can’t build a startup greenhouse in the meantime. All of the plans in this book can be built to the scale you want and are relatively simple. However, the geodesic dome comes in different frequencies; it's the most difficult greenhouse to build, therefore if you plan on building a more technical version of it, you will have to be very precise with your measurements. However, don’t allow that to be a reason that you don’t try it out for yourself if you feel you can do it. I want you to feel confident enough to go out into the world and build any of these four greenhouses.
As I’m sure you have noticed, some of the greenhouses are easier to build than others, and it’s recommended that if you have little or no DIY skills, that you try to build a greenhouse you’d feel the most comfortable building. Like I said before, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a try if you really want to. After all, once you’ve seen that you are more than capable of following instructions to build a greenhouse, other structures won’t seem so daunting. Researching when you don’t quite understand will help you for future greenhouse projects as well. Hopefully, with the instructions given in this book, you are able to build a greenhouse from scratch without any hiccups. Remember that everything is trial and error. If doing something your way works best for you, then do it your way. The plans are meant to guide you through the basics of each greenhouse. Get creative. I sincerely hope that this has been an insightful guide to building your own greenhouse and I challenge you to try building one of them for yourself. If you enjoyed this book, please let me know your thoughts. It would be great if you could leave a short review on Amazon. It means a lot to me! Thank you!
GLOSSARY Beam A beam is an element used in construction to resist loads applied to structures. Beams are used to support different parts of a structure, from the roof to the floor, to the walls. They are primarily used in building, but any structure that requires reinforcement will use beams. Builders Square An instrument used to measure right angles, and to draw angles on surfaces. Circular Saw A circular saw has a round blade with teeth, and can either be handheld or mounted on a table. It is often used in construction, and can be used to cut wood or pipe. The blade spins extremely fast to make a smooth cut. Dado Cut A cut made into wood that will allow it to receive another piece of wood in the cutout. Earth Anchor Earth anchors are devices designed to hold structures in place. It is inserted into the ground by applying extreme force with a heavy object. It can easily be removed, and is therefore great for temporary structures. Electrical Metallic Tubing (EMT) Also known as electrical conduit, EMT is used to protect electrical wiring when building or installing electric elements. Flat Washer A very thin circular piece of metal with a hole in the middle that distributes the load of a screw. Four-Way PVC Joint
A four-way PVC joint is similar to a tee connector, only it has four holes for pipes, rather than three, and looks similar to a cross. Ground Cover Ground cover is a type of garden plastic that comes in black and white rolls, and is used to stop weeds from creeping into the greenhouse. It is breathable and does not let water pool. Gusset A small triangular piece cut from plywood or wood, used to reinforce a structure. Often you can use a gusset to secure the corners of mitre joints. Hydraulic Press A machine press used to generate extreme force to flatten materials. Joist Bridge When constructing a foundation that will have flooring installed, you will need to reinforce the foundation to be able to carry the load of someone walking on it. It is for this reason that you insert a joist bridge, which is usually a piece of timber placed between floor joists to evenly distribute the load. Joist Hanger A metal component used in building and construction to hold wooden beams in place, used in roofs and floors. Jig A custom made tool, usually made from wood, to hold materials in place or to help guide you during building. Level A tool that uses a bubble between two lines to indicate if the surface you are working on is flat. Pipe Clamp
A pipe clamp is a type of clamp used in woodworking, plumbing or building. They come in different diameters and have jaws on each end to secure a piece of pipe. They are used to hold pipe in place when cutting. Pipe Cutter A tool used by plumbers to perfectly cut pipes. Pentagon A geometric shape with five sides. Plumb Cut A single angular cut through a vertical plane. Usually used to cut the top or bottom of a rafter to rest snugly against a ridge board, wall, or to join wood at a mitre joint. Pressure Treated Pressure treated means that the timber has been dipped in a preservative and put in a pressure chamber that forces the wood to absorb the chemicals into its fibers. Pressure treating wood is more effective than simply soaking the wood in the chemicals. Protective Eyewear Goggles, also known as protective eyewear, are eyeglasses made from strong plastic that protect the eyes and the area around the eyes from particles, water or harmful chemicals that could damage your eyes while working. Most often used by scientists, carpenters and any job that requires you to use a power tool. Plywood Plywood is a material made from thin layers of wood veneer that are held together with glue. It is often used in construction because it is relatively cheap and can be used for large projects. Plywood is durable and easy to work with, it’s good for insulating. Polycarbonate Sheeting
A durable thermoplastic covering used for glazing. It comes in various thicknesses and is very good at withstanding damage from extreme cold and heat. Polyethylene A plastic used for construction and covering greenhouses made from petroleum. PVC Pipe Polyvinyl Chloride, also known as PVC, is a type of plastic pipe that is used for a variety of projects, mainly in plumbing. Because it is bendable it can be used for creating hoops for hoop house greenhouses or even to build an entire structure’s frame. PVC is very versatile. Purlins In building terms, a purlin, once known as a purline, is a beam that is placed horizontally to support walls or added to a roof for support. They are often supported by rafters. Radial Arm Saw A radial arm saw has a horizontal sliding arm with a circular saw attached to it. It is used to cut very long lengths of wood, and to mitre cut by adjusting the angle. Rebar A rebar is short for reinforcing bar, and is commonly known as reinforcing steel. It comes in bars of various thicknesses and is used for tensioning when reinforcing concrete or masonry structures. Strapping Strapping is used on the inside area of exterior walls and even for ceilings. They are usually smaller sized timbers and are placed perpendicular to rafters. Tape Measure
A flexible ruler made from thin metal that can retract. Used for measuring length and width in construction. Tee Connector A tee connector, or T-connector, is a three-way plastic connector with a hole on either side and one in the middle that allows a pipe to fit into each hole. Vise A tool with moveable jaws that is used to hold materials in place while you work with them. Wall Brace A wall brace, or bracing a wall is a term often used in construction. Bracing a wall helps keep it up during heavy winds and earthquakes. Weld Seam The joining of metal materials when welding. Wood Saw A wood saw is also commonly known as a hand saw. It has serrated teeth and can cut fiberglass, drywall or wood. Because it is so simple there is not much skill needed to use a hand saw, only that you be careful not to cut yourself. Most people have a hand saw lying around in the shed. Zip Ties or Cable Ties A cable tie, or zip tie, is a type of plastic fastener, for keeping materials together. They are relatively cheap and easy to use which is why they are used for a variety of projects from plumbing to building. Commonly made from nylon, its longest piece has teeth that fix into a head. Cable ties also come in stainless steel for jobs that require a stronger hold.
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