How to Start a Greenhouse With a Portable Building
Creating just the right temperature and lighting conditions, greenhouses make planting a possibility no matter the weather outdoors. With snow on the ground outside, vegetables thrive inside the shelter, while seedlings emerge ready for planting come spring. For the amateur gardener and the professional grower, greenhouses present that perfect year-long solution.
However, erecting a structure has potential to be a costly task: Purchasing glass and metal frame material, drawing up blueprints, and hiring professionals to set up the shelter turn into a nearly-prohibitive expense. As a result, portable greenhouse kits have grown in popularity.
From small peak-roofed hobby kits no larger than 10 feet wide by 10 feet long to tunnel-shaped, commercial-sized shelters, portable greenhouses consist of a similar design: structural steel tubing for the frame, translucent greenhouse film, and rollup doors. Tools for installation and supplies for anchoring round out each kit.
Yet, just setting up a portable greenhouse isn't sufficient for successfully growing plants. To create the ideal conditions, follow these tips when you set up the shelter.
Select the Right Location
Planting always involves the right amount of light – and a greenhouse is no exception. Because the location of the structure affects how well plants will thrive, select a level, clean spot around your property, preferably one allowing for the greatest amount of winter sunlight.
Shadows from other buildings must further be taken into account. Find a location, as well, not in the path of a house or facility, and make sure the greenhouse's long side faces south.
Modify for Temperature and Growing Conditions
In a sense, greenhouses are their own contained environments mimicking the Earth's atmosphere: Sunlight passes through the structure's walls, which trap it and any warm air. The ground under the structure, then, is heated by this radiant energy, which reflects back as heat.
Because the amount of sunlight coming into your portable greenhouse changes with the season, temperature varies significantly. As a result, the planter must make adjustments to ensure the temperature is above 55°F and below 85°F and always within the ideal range for any plants inside. Three factors influence temperature and growing conditions:
- Ventilation: While the kit's rollup doors allow you to regulate ventilation, further modifications are often needed, including fans near the top and by the entrance to blow any hot air out. Not only does this aspect regulate the temperature effectively in summer, it significantly reduces the spread of disease inside the greenhouse.
- Heat: No matter if a propane or electric fixture seems optimal, a heater is frequently essential for maintaining the temperature in winter.
- Light: Even though natural sunlight passes through, seasonal conditions may not be optimal for the plants inside the greenhouse. Gardeners and planters are advised, then, to add lighting fixtures to create ideal growing conditions, be it high-pressure or cool white fluorescent lights or a high-intensity discharge system that simulates natural light.
Prepare for Planting
Even if the ground below is flat and clean, any soil must be prepared for planting. Depending upon the plants you plan to add and the quality of the soil, this may mean adding a combination of compost, fertilizer, and sand.
As you go to add the plants, take into account their spacing in rows. Ideally, enough should be added so that the plants don't touch after pruning.
In certain cases, plants may start in the greenhouse, only to be transplanted later into the garden. If you plan to start growing seedlings, set up benches and shelves within the structure for your smaller, soon-to-be-transplanted plants.
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