I’ve been doing a lot of walking around my neighborhood this past year, and in that time, I’ve seen several greenhouses pop up in my neighbors’ yards. I’ll admit, I’ve been itching to pull the trigger on one as well. There are a few things to consider for all of us looking to get into the home greenhouse game.
DON’T Just Put it Anywhere
Like with all real estate, one of the most important things to consider with your greenhouse is location, location, location.
You want your greenhouse to get the most sun possible to avoid spending money on extra heating. To make the most from the sun, the ideal position for your greenhouse is generally the south or south-east side of the house – which is where you get the most sun during the colder fall and winter months.
I’ve seen some people say to place the structure near a deciduous tree to provide shade in the hottest summer months. However, with trees around, there’s always a chance of falling branches causing damage. And don’t forget about falling leaves and sap.
If you need to add heating, use fans, or plan on using any electric tools in and around the greenhouse, then having it situated near an outdoor outlet is essential. The same goes for watering the plants and the hose.
DO Monitor the Temperature
Something many home gardeners forget to do is monitor the temperature in the greenhouse. A simple hanging or digital thermometer is essential.
A basic rule of thumb for the desired temperature in the greenhouse is 75-85°F (23-29°C) during summer days and 60-76°F (15-24°C) at night. And in the winter, you are looking for 65-70°F (18-21°C) in the day and 45°F (7°C) at night. The best way to cool off the greenhouse is through ventilation. Shade cloth is also very handy. If it’s too cold, consider using artificial heat.
Don’t Forget the Humidity
Along with the temperature in the greenhouse, the humidity levels are critical to your plants’ health. But the amount that is acceptable in a greenhouse is also dependent on what you are growing in there. Veggie seedlings aren’t as picky about the humidity as, say, Orchids. For the most part, proper ventilation and temperature control will also control the moisture in the air. And during those winter months, when you aren’t opening the vents, buckets of water are a cheap and easy way to control the greenhouse’s temp and humidity.
Do Start Small
Bigger isn’t always better, especially when you’re first starting greenhouse gardening. The bigger the greenhouse, the harder it is to control the temperature and humidity throughout. Just because you have a lot of space for a greenhouse doesn’t mean you need to use it all. Start with a small one, and as you get more comfortable with it, you can expand.
For most greenhouses, if you open the vents and the door during the summer days – and use your shade cloth on those extra hot days – things should be fine. And in the wintertime, there is still probably enough sun to keep the place appropriately heated all day, with maybe the need for artificial heating at night (depending on your geographic location).