Whether you want to extend your growing season or provide a safer and more controlled environment to plant your seeds, you must first decide on the type of greenhouse to purchase. Here are some tips on beginning the process of choosing the best greenhouse for your growing.
For starters, decide on the crops you want to grow, quantities and the overall greenhouse size you will need to achieve the end result you desire. Obviously the larger and stronger greenhouse structure, the higher the costs, so keep that in mind.
There are 3 main types of greenhouses. A Cold Frame, a Starter Greenhouse and a Grower Greenhouse.
- Cold Frame: Mini greenhouse made to be placed directly on the garden bed for direct seed germination and for hardening off transplants. Cold Frames are used typically in early spring. They allow for easier sprouting, and for relocating to accommodate plant schedules.
- Starter Greenhouse: These small to mid-sized greenhouses are great for growing starter plants that will later be relocated outdoors. These structures allow for winter storage, repotting, and curing of harvested crops. These greenhouses often are constructed with clear or semi-diffused coverings to offer more direct light.
- Grower Greenhouse: These are your larger greenhouses for growing crops full term, indoors. Diffused or semi-diffused coverings are common for more natural light control. If you are looking for an all-purpose greenhouse for propagating seeds, indoor crop growing, and curing and storing harvested crops, this is the avenue you want to take.
Greenhouses are also categorized by temperature levels. Hot, warm and cool.
- Hot Greenhouse: Has a stable temperature of 65-70 degrees or higher. This range is used for exotic or tropical plants. Heaters and grow lights are musts for maintaining this level of heat.
- Warm Greenhouse: Has a stable temperature of 50-55 degrees. This greenhouse is great for outdoor flower or vegetables. Grow lights or heating lamps are essential during winter months.
- Cool Greenhouse: Frost-free; stable temperatures run 40-45 degrees. These temperatures are ideal for germinating seeds and raising starter plants or produce. Grow lights or heating lamps are not needed in this environment.
Set a budget. What are you able to wisely spend once you have decided on the size? Costs can accumulate rapidly, so once you set your realistic budget, do not stray from it.
Now to review your location/environment. Are you located in an area that is more prone to treacherous snowfalls or heavy rainstorms? If so, you may need to consider spending more to ensure your greenhouse can withstand everything your climate may throw at it. The higher priced greenhouses tend to be constructed from glass and steel to withstand harsher weather conditions. Lower priced structures are usually made from plastics and do not provide the longevity offered by more expensive greenhouses.
Before you finalize your decision on a greenhouse, review that it has proper air ventilation. This is essential in ensuring your seedlings live to mature at all. Most plants that fail in greenhouses, do so from lack of proper air ventilation during hot summers. Avoid the disappointment by investing in a greenhouse with automatic vents, located at the top and base to allow proper air flow. Many offer manual vents which can work as well, but can sometimes be left closed unintentionally. Solar powered louvers are available that open when needed and are a viable option. Installing a fan yourself will suffice in keeping air circulating as well. A variety of options to choose from, so be sure to take the time to research which method you prefer.
There are many other details to dive into when making a big purchase and investment such as a greenhouse. Material preferences, equipment, controls, etc., all areas available for further investigation in securing your perfect greenhouse. Take the time to research your options and needs, ask a professional for answers to your questions, and enjoy the fruits of your labor in the end!