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The greenhouse is a transparent construction that allows for the protected and controlled cultivation of various plants.
Greenhouses are usually made of glass, and more recently foils, to achieve a greenhouse effect, optimum temperature, and protection from precipitation. By controlling various factors such as temperature and irrigation, ideal conditions for growing plants can be achieved.
Greenhouses are used primarily for horticultural production, for research purposes and for exhibitions in botanical gardens.
During the era of European colonialism, the fashion of cultivating exotic, ornamental and plant-based food was created. The industrialization has opened up new opportunities for the use of iron and glass as a building material.
It was a long time ago when vegetable production took place only on arable land and when weather conditions allowed. Specifically, today’s vegetable production usually involves more intensive planting, and in all weathers, in order to increase the yield of vegetable crops.
That is why even small farmers are introducing special agrotechnical measures for individual vegetable plants. The solutions are in a protected space, greenhouses. Plants must be provided with sufficient moisture and heat during the winter to allow them to grow freely.
The economic significance of Greenhouses
Europeans have become accustomed to buying seasonal vegetables in the early 1970s and in the winter. The first large commercial greenhouses were built in the Netherlands, and later other European companies started producing fruit and vegetables in them. Since the late 1980s, a year-round supply of fruits and vegetables has been secured. The price of goods is, of course, higher every season than in the main season.
Greenhouse farming advantages
The advantage of growing vegetables indoors is that it is possible to grow vegetables all year long, of course, depending on the type of vegetable. There are different types of greenhouse. One type is the non-heating type, which is also easier to maintain because it does not need an extra heating source. It is protected from natural disasters, and if placed in a convenient location, larger amounts of sunlight will be absorbed, and with that more heat on sunny days. Some of the types of vegetables that can be grown in these types of greenhouses are lettuce, spring onions, and radish, garlic, cabbage, kale, broccoli, etc.…
Of course, if heated, there are a lot more things to grow in it, but, your expenses will be bigger as well.
Here are some more of Greenhouse benefits
- crop cultivation takes place under controlled conditions
- greenhouses provide an excellent opportunity to grow high-quality crops for export
- greenhouse environment is suitable for crop cultivation throughout the year to meet market needs
- greenhouses to provide the best opportunities within the limited land resources
- in greenhouse farms, high yield with low cultivation area is possible
- greenhouses are the best place to evolve new species and produce seeds
The most common type that farmers opt for is tunnel greenhouses. The reason is its price and ease of mounting. The basic construction can be made of hot-dip galvanized steel pipes. The high stability and durability of the greenhouse are provided by the construction using the concrete foundations. The tunnel greenhouses are extremely strong because of their construction, which makes for a standard 6.5 feet gap between the arches. The possible useful height can be from 6.5 to 15 feet, depending on the purpose and technological needs of production, while the standard width is from 16 to 40 feet with possible designs according to the needs of individual customers. Greenhouse ventilation is performed by side and roof vents, using manual or automatic control. For better thermal insulation, a double inflatable system is possible.
Multi-tunnel greenhouses are most commonly used for serious industrial production using a high level of technological equipment. The construction of multi-tunnel greenhouses can be made of load-bearing columns made of double-galvanized pipes, and between the tunnels, there is a gutter made of double-galvanized sheet metal, whose function is stormwater drainage. On multi-tunnel greenhouses, manufacturers recommend the construction of roof ventilation of a width of about 5 feet to 6 feet in order to remove warm air from the crescent moon of the tunnel. The construction of this type of greenhouse will require the installation of heating, irrigation and storage systems, axial fans, automatic air-conditioning stations, lighting, substrate use and measuring instruments.
A lightweight or Veronese greenhouse is most commonly used for growing strawberries. The construction is made of hot-dip galvanized pipes and is installed without foundations, that is, on the supporting columns on which the drill bit is mounted and as such it is directly screwed into the ground.
Unlike the ones mentioned above, the family or hobby greenhouse is easy to install and requires no special preparation.
Each greenhouse can be further equipped with double foil, an inflatable system, and a pressure switch to control the pressure in the air layer. It is also possible to install additional doors that will allow for better airflow.
Tips on How to Start Your Own Greenhouse for Beginners
1. Site selection
Depending on the land you have, you have to choose which type and size of the greenhouse to build, but also what to grow in it. Land characteristics are definitely something to keep in mind. In various types of land, it is possible to raise protected space, but it is not possible to produce plants, with the second reason precluding the first possibility, so this segment should be carefully approached.
2. The water of appropriate quality
When producers decide to grow greenhouses on a separate plot, in addition to the agronomic characteristics of the soil, consideration must be given to the water of appropriate quality. This includes a well or a source of water to be used, but also an analysis of the chemical characteristics of the water. Make sure there are no potential water pollutants nearby. Therefore, it would be advisable to think of an alternative source of water as well.
Farmers often overlook this item, so they should inquire what the options are and what the costs of bringing electricity to use are so that there are no unpleasant surprises, when electricity bills start to arrive or when calculating the cost of introducing electricity.
4. The existence of a solid path
Make sure that the path is firm because when setting up the object, this item is very important, if not the most important, because when the harvest begins – there are problems with the removal of fruits from the greenhouse. All this leads to an increase in costs, as additional labor must be engaged.
5. Building a fence
These objects are most often the target of thieves, but also of animals that are in search of food all over. Therefore, it would be advisable to fence the greenhouse.
6. Space expansion
This is one of the problems, which is noticed at the latest. In most cases, when production and sales start and the business is expanding, there is not enough room for it. Then further expansion is impossible and relocation is very unprofitable.
7. Position of space
Plants should be provided with as much light as possible, so it is advisable to place the greenhouse east-west, but this should be determined on a case-by-case basis. Care should also be taken to ensure that there isn’t a potential source of infection, disease or pests and rubbish in the immediate vicinity.
8. Vegetable choice
For economical use of protected areas, it is extremely important to change species throughout the year, ensuring high annual yield and profitability of production.
The choice of the type of vegetables and the time of production are conditioned by the growth of the protected area (low tunnel, high tunnel, greenhouse) and the way of heating (interventionally heated or heated greenhouse) and the climatic conditions of the production area and sales opportunities.
9. Climate conditions
Climatic conditions, especially light and temperature, determine the type and time of cultivation. Due to the favorable climatic conditions, the use of unheated protected areas is extended by 15 to 30 days in the fall, that is, it starts just as early in the spring as compared to the continental area. At the same time, the variety of vegetable market needs enables production that optimally utilizes the climatic conditions of the production area. Thus, vegetables with less need for light and heat are grown in the autumn and winter, when the highest number of cloudy days is, and species with higher needs are grown in the spring and summer and autumn.
10. Repeated cultivation
Repeated cultivation in the same area should take at least 3 years. Also, the cultivation of crops from the same family one after the other should be avoided. Due to the intensive production (rapid change of crops) in the protected area and the demands of the market, it is sometimes very difficult for the crop to comply. It is often repeated sowing or planting the same crop every year or even more than once during one year. Failure to produce crops leads to the accumulation of specific diseases and pests, the unilateral use of nutrients, and consequently to a decrease in the quantity and quality of the yield.
11. Greenhouse utilization
To make the most of the relatively expensive space, we place shelves at a height of 30-40 inches in the greenhouse and we can hold boxes on them in which we grow seedlings of vegetables and flowers, and under the shelves, on the beds, we sow carrots, parsley, radishes … Shelves can be put on benches that are later removed from the greenhouse, or when the structure is constructed shelf brackets are immediately welded so boards can be placed on them when needed. It is even better to make these mounts on the screws so that they can be removed because welded mounts protrude and are dangerous when working in a greenhouse, when there are no more shelves on them.
12. Greenhouse shade
We can make a shade for a greenhouse by planting pumpkins, squash, or cucumbers next to the greenhouse, which will climb along with the greenhouse, and with its stems and leaves make an airy shade for the plants in the greenhouse. In doing so, make sure you plant pumpkins fruits cannot reach too much weight so that what happened to me last summer does not happen to you. I received a few pumpkin seedlings as a gift and didn’t know they could grow to giant size. A few fruits were planted on the roof of the greenhouse and I left them to grow. They were getting bigger and heavier and we were just wondering when the glass would drop under the weight of the pumpkins. Fortunately, they were “wisely accommodated” in part of their weight to the window frames and welcomed in the fall when we removed them from the greenhouse with a special (almost firefighting) ladder. For the next year, I will be planting cucumbers and zucchini next to the greenhouse, which I know to be sure their fruits do not exceed 4 to 7 lbs in weight, which I advise you as well.
13. Look out for the pests in the greenhouse
The most important pests in the protected areas are aphids, moths, whiteflies, California thrips and nettle mites, or red spiders. In the latter, the mentioned pests attack more plant species, and protection against them is done mostly by chemical means. However, biological protection and the use of natural enemies of pests have been successfully developing for some time now.
Diseases occurring in greenhouses and other protected areas are also often ash trees, gray molds or botrytis, that is, fireflies. It is ungrateful that they are transmitted from species to species, and their appearance is conditioned most by the temperature and humidity of the air, or better to say impossibility of regulating them, and the poor hygiene of the space is not negligible. When an infected plant is noticed, it should be removed and destroyed as soon as possible, and in no way should its remains be brought into the soil by cultivation.
14. Greenhouse disinfection
It is advisable to disinfect the protected area at least once a year, at the end of the growing season, or after clearing the premises and in the early spring before the production cycle. The cleaning is carried out with means based on benzoic acid (Menno Florades) or other disinfectants authorized for veterinary or agricultural use.
15. Greenhouse construction
today, their construction is mostly made of hot-dip galvanized steel pipes and aluminum profiles. Compared to the materials used earlier for their construction (wood, concrete), the advantage of steel is in its narrow profiles, which reduces the shading of plants, it is easier to maintain and lasts longer. Wooden load-bearing structures are suitable for home gardens because they can be made individually, and are still commercially used in some places. Their main disadvantage is the easy breakage in case of heavy snow and the inability to belt with automatic heating and ventilation.
16. Greenhouse heating usage
Greenhouses without heating or with so-called emergency heating can be used when the outside temperature is not lower than 25 or 17 °F, which allows sowing and planting in early March for less sensitive species, or early April for heat-loving crops. In the fall, such facilities can be used until the end of November.
Heated greenhouses are used for the winter-spring production of heat-loving species and for the production of transplants that are planted in an unheated, sheltered space or outdoors. In the protected areas, mulching of the soil and direct covering of the crop with agro-textiles are also applied.
Building your greenhouse
Therefore, depending on your preferences and options, choose the type of greenhouse that suits you best, watch out for some of these types above, and enjoy your new job. Greenhouses are the future and are here to stay a long time, so why don’t you start as soon as you can.