PLANNING YOUR GREENHOUSE
I am writing this web page with apprehension because I have always wanted to have a greenhouse but other things stood in the way. However I have studied greenhouse planning and the different needs and evaluations to be made before you plunge into the construction of one of these either in kit form or from a design of your own. This makes me feel like a decent expert on the subject so stick with me on this subject.
What I did in order to make sense of the purchase was to outline what I thought I personally needed in such a structure and attempted to set a budget.It can become an awfully expensive hobby,if that is all you are interested in,which can give you sticker shock.
The first thing to get straight in your head a greenhouse is not a sunroom,nor is it a solarium but,of course,it can have a spot to park your weary body and observe your hard work.The considerations are many so here I go.
There is the first consideration very basic but necessary if you want a good growing greenhouse. The location of your house in regard to wind,sun,and water. How are the trees situated on the property? Do you receive enough sunshine on one part of your property and not another? Geography plays a large role in this consideration. If you have a more northern latitude,you will receive more hours of sunshine in the summer and much less during the winter time. The amount of sunshine is an extremely important factor in the construction. It can be somewhat off set by artifical lighting and a heating system which will add to your expense.
The amount of heat and mositure in your area will have an impact on location. Do you live in a relatively dry climate or a more humid climate? The dryer climate will require a more elaborate watering system. How close are you to a water source? Ideally if the location is correct,the faucet at your house would be the connection for water.It would save from piping water some distance to your house.
The amount of rain has a definite impact on how you are going to deal with drainage. The wind is another factor it can be severe on opening your greenhouse doors and so you need to consider the orientation of the doors and windows unless you enjoy hovering plants. How much snow comes sliding off your roof,if you live in such a climate? Most greenhouses are built to stand x amount of load but you need to check if you desire to build it next to your house or plan to attach it to the house.
Now that you have the location,you are going to need to decide the type of foundation if any for your green house. A gravel floor,a wood one,or brick and are you going to cover such a floor with linoleum,or carpet,or tile? Here is where I will make a definite recommendation. I have observed others and the only way I would construct my greenhouse would be the positioning of the entire frame on either a perimeter of treated wood or several rows of cement block with a planned footing. I would then fill it with a good gravel under foot and you have it. This avoids the question of a strong vaccum cleaner. Who needs all that maintenance with wood,tile and especially carpet. This is not,after all,a luxury hotel but a spot to conduct any kind of flower growing desired as long as you have the right materials.
WHAT MATERIALS WILL I NEED FOR A GREENHOUSE
The most important decision,at this point,is to decide exactly how you are going to use your house.There is the cold house with the night temperature around 35-45 degrees(F) only good to hold plants but little growth. There is the cool house with night temps holding at 40-50 degrees(F) in which you can grow leafy and root crops such as lettuce,cabbage,beets and carrots and quite possibly winter over citrus fruits. There is the moderate house with night temps at 55-60 degrees(F) in which you can plant and grow such things as cucumbers,beans,mushrooms,and a cooler variety of tomatoes. Finally a warm greenhouse with night temps at 65-70 degrees(F) which is the most expensive to heat but lends itself to a wide variety of tropical plant growth such as lemons and a good variety of tomatoes and peppers.
This will determine the type of roof material and sides in order to support the variety of things you desire to do with your greenhouse. Glass has been the traditional choice over the years as it transmits light well and is extremely easy to clean and holds its heat with the best. A good tempered safety glass is required about one-eighth inch thick and is heavy but has the best longevity. It will require summer shading to protect your plants which adds to the expense.
In the last couple of decades there have been many advances in materials. You may want to consider a plastic or composites for your greenhouse roof. These can be purchased entirely transparent or only partly translucent. This helps control the amount of sunshine that will reach your plants. There is twinwall polycarbonate which is good for high winds and snow load. These progress through various thicknesses,and through triple wall,4-wall,with better insulation,but is not clear because of the ribbing and so on. Some of these materials are not always available in kit form,but only if you are building from scratch.
See Greenhouse Accessories for planning your house.
THE PLAN FOR A WATERING SYSTEM FOR YOUR GREENHOUSE
A greenhouse is a huge user of water depending on your scope of gardening involvement. The amount of water required will directly relate to the level of effort put forth to maintain it. The very first thing you must consider is the kind of plants you envision growing in your house. You may also want to think about the future use of your house. At the present,it maybe that you just want to grow cacti,as an extreme example,but later you are thinking about growing all your own vegetables. This will make the determination of the type of watering system to be installed. At first,to keep the budget in line,a watering can once or twice a day may be sufficient. However you may want to start right out with an automatic watering system rather then waiting to somewhere in the future.
However,there is an intermediate solution to the problem. You can run a hose from your water outlet on the house and then install one of those spigots on a post available in a lot of house and garden catalogs. You can also pipe water to your greenhouse with no more difficulty than running lawn sprinkler type PVC pipe. Unless you plan on a huge house,standard piping will be more than sufficient. The piping,couplers,and controls are relatively cheap. The major expense to you is the digging of the trench in which to bury the pipe. This too can be done by yourself its up to you.
See accessories for a discussion of what to purchase
EXCESSIVE MOISTURE CAN BE A PROBLEM
This will not be a major problem unless your plan overlooks the necessity to provide for the consequences. If you have planned an overhead system that mists or sprays water,then it is going to go places besides your plants. If you do install a floor and you do have wooden plant benches,make sure both can withstand the wet conditions.
Besides this condition,excess moisture will find its way on to your walls and on to the inside of your roof. Humid air can always be left in when the greenhouse door is opened. You will need to plan for a ventilating system. You will also have to clean the walls and roof on occasion.
Ventilation can be as simple as a fan or elaborate as a automatic ventilating system from the roof. You will need to provide an opening to install the fan so excess humidty and moisture can be exhausted out of your greenhouse. A good vent is a solar vent which will save you a lot of time in calculating when to open and close your vents. You can spend from $52.00 to near $200.00 dollars on these roof vents depending on the lifting capacity required for your roof.
You should allow in your budget,if constructing this house from the ground up,10-20% of your budget for plumbing and vent systems. If you are buying a kit,then it depends on the amenities that accompany your purchase. There will be maintainence from time to time because things like pipes and hoses crack and especially under the conditions that a green house is operated.
A MAJOR CONSIDERATION IS THE ELECTRICAL SYSTEM
It really is possible to have a greenhouse without electricity. However your results will improve and make life easier if some kind of system with its devices is installed. Some houses have outlet systems that could rival your living quarters. One of these at home could be as large as 10X20 feet! A structure that large will provide the necessary room for a variety of plants. This will give you the opportunity to raise species that require protection from harsh winters or extreme heat. You will have the electrical outlets installed to deal with these conditions. Besides an automatic ventilating and water system,you may want to install a light control system,shades or shutters that operate under automatic control especially with an all tempered glass greenhouse. Let me tell you that when I looked into this,I realized how exotic this equipment could become and it is still all about the money.
The plan should include both 110v and 220v outlets and enough amperage to cover the equivalent of two normal home bedrooms or more. All this exotic electrical equipment, beyond your normal outlets,is available online or in catalogs with those people who specialize in greenhouse construction or sell kits. This is where it may require a little asistance from your friendly electrical contractor. You must remember that most if not all towns and counties across the country have specific regulations concerning installation of electrical components. This is nothing to mess with and your contractor can acquire the right parts for the job.
One practical word of caution here,don't skimp on the outlets. It is disturbing and unsafe to have an outlet 10 feet from where you are working. Remember you are working in a WET atmosphere. It is very easy to anticipate during construction the requirements you will need now and in the future. The modification sometime in the future may become not only difficult but expensive.
Wow this web page got me whipped up into a frenzy over having a greenhouse. If any of you investigate and build one after reviewing this information,I would like to see a picture which you can send through the contact us location on this web site.
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