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GREENHOUSE GARDENING: Easy Tips for Beginners

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If you live in a harsh climate, at a high elevation or just want to grow food year round, then a greenhouse might be the perfect season extender that enables you to achieve your gardening goals!

Find out how to make your greenhouse gardening the best ever! 

GREENHOUSE GARDENING Tips, Tricks & Ideas

OVERVIEW:

  • Location | Site
  • Type of Material for Foundation
  • Cost
  • Wind
  • Ventilation
  • Available Materials
  • Mice and Gophers
  • Pots, Planters and Containers
  • Additional Considerations

⇒Whether you are building a custom greenhouse or purchasing a greenhouse kit, these considerations are equally important with greenhouse gardening.

 

PERMANENT or TEMPORARY LOCATION:

First, you need to decide if your greenhouse will be in a permanent location or if it will be movable.

We built our greenhouse on an existing concrete slab for convenience. By doing so, we needed to bolted 2 x 6 boards to the concrete slab and then attached the greenhouse to the boards.

Foundations are helpful but every greenhouse location needs to be evaluated to see if a foundation is feasible.

TYPES of FOUNDATION MATERIALS:

  • Poured Concrete Footer and Stem Walls
  • Cement Block Foundation
  • Treated 2×6 Boards on Concrete Slab
  • Placed Directly on the Ground

GREENHOUSE or SHED FOUNDATION:

You can pour a concrete footer or use cinder blocks as a footer which will provide a secure foundation but this is much more permanent and more costly.

If you decide to build a footer, then you will then need to attach your greenhouse to the foundation or concrete blocks to secure.

PLEASE NOTE: if you are looking for any type of organic certification, then it is vital that you do not use any type of treated lumber in your foundation, footers, stem walls or boards. Treated lumber contains chemicals that may leach into the soil.

Treated fence posts can even pose a threat for organic certification so make sure to check with your local conservation district or organic certification board.

greenhouse full of cucumber and tomatoes plants growing in garden pots
Concrete Slab with 2×6 Treated Lumber

FLOORS:

We have a concrete floor in our greenhouse. This has worked out well as the concrete warms during the day and radiates heat at night.

I have kept lettuces, greens, kale and chard well into the fall months in this small greenhouse.

I dig my garden kale plants and transplant them into the greenhouse to extent the growing and harvesting of these greens.

If you are planting in containers, pots and planters then concrete floors work well. You can also use wooden planks for flooring but a simple dirt floor works equally as well.

Again, be careful with any type of treated lumber in or near your greenhouse if you are considering selling any of your produce as organic.

When placing your greenhouse on the ground, make sure to keep an eye out for mice and burrowing rodents and plan accordingly.

COST:

The least expensive way to go is to simply secure the greenhouse directly to the ground with rebar or some type of tie downs.

Concrete floors, cinder block foundations and beam foundations may work well for you but make sure to figure in the cost of the materials and labor. If you have materials on hand, then a permanent foundation may work out well.

a cucumber plant with lots of yellow flowers growing in a Greenhouse
Greenhouse Cucumbers

WIND:

No matter which type of foundation you choose, just make sure to secure your greenhouse to the ground so your greenhouse and vents do not receive any wind damage.

If you are placing your greenhouse directly on the ground, then plan to secure the structure to the ground by rebar or some other type of tie-downs.

If at all possible, build your greenhouse in an area that received adequate sunshine but that is somewhat protected from the wind!

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VENTILATION:

Make sure to consider a ventilation system for your greenhouse. It will heat up considerably with direct sunlight. We used automatic vent openers in the roof. These vents were non-electric and worked off a tension spring.

I would highly recommend installing some type of automatic vents. This type of automatic vent open and close on their own as your greenhouse warms and cools. They are a lifesaver for you and your plants!

SUNSHINE:

Make sure to locate your greenhouse where it will receive at least 8 hours of sunlight a day. It is super important to have the necessary amount of sunlight to insure strong healthy plants.

If plants do not receive at least 8 hours of direct sunlight, they will become leggy which means they grow too fast trying to reach the light.

The stems are long, spindly and weak. These types of plants do not produce well.

SHADE CLOTH for SUN PROTECTION:

With 8 hours of direct sunlight, you must be keenly aware of overheating and sunburn. Shade cloths are available to protect your plants from sunburn.

If you have automatic vents, then you will need to hang your shade cloths on inside your greenhouse. Hanging your shade on the interior of your greenhouse will allow the vents to open and close properly.

If you have vents on the sides of your greenhouse, then you can securely tarp the shade cloth over the top of your structure.

Most plants tolerate the heat real well, if they are adequate water. Never let your plants dry out in a greenhouse.

three red tomatoes ripening o on the in vine in a Greenhouse
Greenhouse Gardening

WATER SOURCE:

It is very important to locate your greenhouse near your water source.

We have hauled water in watering cans, which works……but which is also very time consuming and difficult when the weather is hot!

So, locate your water source and plan accordingly.

MICE and GOPHERS:

Word of Warning: Make sure to deter any critters from burrowing underneath your footers or foundation. I had a very happy group of mice that just loved sneaking into my greenhouse.

I finally figured out why my lettuces and green were not germinating as this little group was digging up my lettuces and spinach seeds right after I planted them.

There were neat little holes all over the top of the dirt in my pots!

Plug any and all holes from mice, 🐭 or chipmunks, gophers or picket pins. Steel Wool works great for plugging small holes to stop all rodents from getting into your greenhouse.

If you decide to build your greenhouse directly on the ground, then plan on burying some type of wire on the outside.

This buried wire will help prevent and deter any burrowing animals. 

(Word to the Wise: Mice love tomatoes! So, you must block & plug all Holes and openings in and out of your greenhouse!)

eight Tomatoes from our greenhouse lined up in a row on a wooden porch
Greenhouse Tomatoes at 7000 Feet

STARTING PLANTS IN A SMALL GREENHOUSE:

I have planted in pots and containers with good success. The pots and containers are placed directly on the concrete floor or on planting tables.

We built planting work benches so I had plenty of space for seedling trays, hanging pots and planters.

Planting in the ground is much less expensive for the simple fact that you will not need to continually replace the potting soil or planting medium.

If you plant in the ground, you will need to add soil amendments but the dirt can be developed year after year to increase the fertility of it + the soil in your greenhouse will retain water much better than above ground pots.

Planting directly into the ground also allows you to plant earlier as the soil inside the greenhouse warms up much faster and retains heat much better than garden pots and planters.

 
planters full of young lettuces showing how to practice Succession Planting of Leaf Lettuces
Succession Planting of Leaf Lettuces
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2 Comments

  • Diana
    February 15, 2019 at 6:50 pm

    Thanks for the pin, glad I found you on this weeks blog hop hosted by The Green Acre Homestead. We have a greenhouse on our homestead but regrettably, I haven’t put it to full use yet. Thank you for the inspiration and tips!

    Reply
    • Original Homesteading
      February 21, 2019 at 11:53 am

      Hi Diane…I am so glad you found this information helpful and I certainly hope you are able to plant a few things in your greenhouse this spring!

      Reply

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