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October 08 2014

greenhouses

Wood or Metal?

A wooden greenhouse are more traditional and professional gardeners knowing what they’re doing. Being made of Canadian Western Red Cedar, they’re known for having a great lifetime and quality.  The rot resistance compared to other woods is enormous. Until around 10-15 years ago, these wooden greenhouses been the standard while within the most recent years, greenhouses built with aluminium or plastic are becoming more and more popular.

Compared to aluminium or plastic greenhouses, a wooden greenhouse blends better into your garden and looks more elegant.  Despite the design fact, wooden greenhouses are known to keep a constant temperature much better than alumiun greenhouses as those get cold as well as hot very fast.

When winter arrives, you need to add a proactive coat to the frames. Make sure to inspect the frame in detail and fix every treat right away. Most wooden greenhouses have a pretty long warranty time but checking regularly yourself you can save a lot of trouble that comes along with wears and tears spreading on the wood.

While the wooden greenhouses are the traditional choice, if you’re tight on budget, aluminium greenhouses are more affordable. If you’re not into greenhouse gardening as a fulltime hobby, they will probably suit your needs better. However, there’s one major downside. Compared to wood, aluminium requires extra care to keep it as clean as possible consistently to avoid pests and disease inside your greenhouse.  Comparing the value for money factor of both products, my vote goes to aluminium.

When setting up the aluminium greenhouse, you should double check a couple of factors. A place with some protection against bad weather conditions would be perfect since aluminium is not as solid as the wooden greenhouse. With that being said, keep in mind to combine a place offering a bit of protection with a place that still offers enough light during the course of a day for your plants.

So to make the decision which material is the best for your greenhouse is a bit tricky. If you want a more elegant, robust solution, wood is perfect. However, if you’re looking for a more hassle-free solution and aren’t willing to spend that much time in your greenhouse, aluminium should be better. And don’t forget that aluminium greenhouses are usually easier to upgrade with equipment and additional tools as most manufacturers offer pre-built kits for equipment as well.

greenhouses
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greenhouses

What's the right greenhouse for you?

There are countless, neverending possibilities when it comes to building a greenhouse. Even if you owned a whole park, there would be a greenhouse big enough for it. No matter you want to grow fruits, vegetables or just flowers, there will be a specific type of greenhouse perfect for your needs. With all these options available, you have to select your greenhouse carefully.

As with just about everything in life, you have to decide your budget first. This will probably cut the selection down already. After having a budget, you need to decide what you want to go for: fruits, flower or vegetables – or maybe a combination of all three? However, let me explain the different types of greenhouses you can chose from:

Lean to greenhouses: if you’re short on space, that’s the best option for you. They are usually pretty cheap compared to other models, easy to build and can be removed and/or stored whenever needed.  By utilizing the heat of your house as you lean it towards a wall of it, you’re able to save a significant amount monthly by reducing your heating costs.

Cedar greenhouses: wooden greenhouses are becoming more and more popular although they are pretty expensive compared to their alternatives. A greenhouse built of wood looks very attractive and is an eyecatcher.  These greenhouses are usually sold in kits allowing you to combine different parts customized upon your needs. It’s definitely not the cheapest option, but in my opinion looks very elegant.

Victorian greenhouses: that’s a classic one. It’s probably among the most popular styles today.  It combined a perfect setup, structure and usability for every hobby gardener. As the name indicates, it usually comes with a traditional British design making it an eye catcher in every garden.  Most retailers offer each model in both, wood and aluminium options allowing you to chose what you think looks better.

Hoop greenhouses:  this greenhouse comes with a PCV structure which you can cover your plants during winter with.  Given the structure of hoop greenhouses, you can build them on the fly and take them down whenever needed. It’s the perfect solution for somebody who’s looking to use a greenhouse just for the winter to make sure his plants continue to thrive.

So which greenhouse should you choose? It’s impossible to make a general statement. It all comes down to your custom needs. In case you can’t decide which option is the right one for you, I would simply visit a professional retailer such as SW Greenhouses and ask for their advice.

greenhouses
greenhouses

Beginners Guide to Greenhouses

Did you enjoy gardening during summer but are frustated during the winter since you can’t continue to plant? Well there’s a solution for this, it’s called greenhouses! Avoid your beautiful grown plants to freeze during the winter by building a greenhouse, never worry about outside temperature or climate again. It’s like creating a climate within a climate that perfectly suits your planting needs.

People use greenhouses for very different reasons; some are interested in having fresh vegetables and fruits across the whole year which are 100% free of pesticides, others just love to have a nice planting hobby and be outdoors whenever they want.

So you’re asking yourself what’s needed to build a greenhouse? Read my following step to step instruction and you’ll be set to go sooner than you can imagine:

1 – If you’re a beginner and have never had a greenhouse before, so called greenhouse kits (about.com article featuring some very good products) are the right path to take. The variations are endless with most online retailers and local stores offering different kits for different needs. They vary in size, material and quality.

As soon as you know what you’re going to plant (how many flowers, what kind of planting etc.) you can chose a specific greenhouse kit. For starting out, I personally recommend a smaller greenhouse kit. This saves you both money and time when starting out and makes sure you don’t invest too much into something you haven’t tried before.

2 – A heating system. In most parts of the world, the winter is quite cold so if that fits your location, you need a heating system to keep a mild temperature across the whole year inside your greenhouse. In these climates, annuals normally just grow during summer and if you want to grow them during the winter months as well, there’s no way to do it without a heating system installed.  Another usage of a heating systems is to prevent your plants from freezing during winter months. To make things easier, the most common heating models are coming with a thermostatic controlling sstem that’s pretty much hands-off when it comes to regulating the temperature inside the greenhouse. It's a bit outdated, but you can take a look at this PDF file of the University of California about heating systems.

3 – To get the best results in your greenhouse, you might consider growth lamps as a part of your equipment. With these growth lamps you’re emulating the summer time to flowers, fruits and vegetables that are used to grow only during summer. During winter, the average sun time across a day decreases heavily which results in the plants not growing as much as they do during summer, even with a proper heating system installed.

4 – A good heat trapping is crucial for your greenhouse. Materials such as trapping glass or plastic generally let the heat in but do a good job in preventing it from going out.

The next point ist he location of your greenhouse. You have to consider the cardinal points when setting up your greenhouse. In our regions, the northern part / side of your greenhouse is usually the coldest part. During winter, the winds normally come from North. That’s why you should care absolutely most about a perfect insulation on the northern end of the greenhouse to prevent damages during the winter months.

As as perfect setup, I recommend to set up the heater at the northern end of the greenhouse. By doing so, the heat gets right where it’s coldest. Also make sure to set the doors of your greenhouse to South, you don’t want possible leaks in the doors being exposed to the colder northern part of it.

So now we’re at the stage in which we set the temperature of the greenhouse. The temperature should be regulated by the season – except summer:

During Fall, in the northern climates, you usually get the first frosts and heavy changes in temperatures. One day can be much different to the other.  Until the mid of October, the sun is relatively strong still and I would not recommend to turn on your heater during this time yet.

While winter months it’s a whole different story. There’s a high risk for your plants to freeze, so turning on the heater is recommended. The highest temperature I would set the heater to is around 30 - 35 degrees Celsius. The more the winter goes on (December to end of February) the days get much darker so it’s time to activate your growth lamp.

As soon as we reach spring, circumstances are changing again. The temperature begins to get warmer again and the days are longer. You can still face freeze temperatures facing very warm days. The suntime of each day is getting higher again as well. One mistake many beginners do is putting annuals out way too early. Make sure the temperature doesn’t fall into getting too cold before taking them out the greenhouse.
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