If you’ve ever been interested in greenhouse gardening, you aren’t alone. Greenhouse gardening lets you grow plants on an extended schedule or have things that you wouldn’t normally be able to grow in your area.
If you’re thinking about greenhouse gardening, the following are some of the main things to know as you get started.
Types of Greenhouses
There are a few main types of greenhouses you’ll initially choose from, including:
- A cold frame greenhouse is one designed to rely on natural heat from the sun. The sun’s heat creates a microclimate for plants that’s warmer than the air outside. You can extend your growing season, particularly in the weeks that are transitional between seasons.
- Portable greenhouses come in a range of sizes and designs, and some are small enough to fit on a balcony if you’re in an urban area.
- Raised bed greenhouses are good for limited spaces, and they are also portable.
When you have a greenhouse, it’s going to work generally by converting light energy to heat. Light will enter a greenhouse, and then it’s trapped by the surrounding material. The light is absorbed by the plants in your greenhouse, and then as part of that, it’s turned into heat energy which remains trapped in your greenhouse. The environment is ideal for plants to thrive no matter the season.
The following are some of the primary benefits that come with having a greenhouse:
- You get an extended growing season without restrictions on what you grow and when you can grow it. You can plant just about anything, anytime you want. Your garden greenhouse creates a climate that’s warm all year round. You can control the temperature and the growing environment, so you can also start to plant earlier or later in the season. Greenhouse plants you might grow throughout the year include peppers, summer squash, cucumbers, and strawberries.
- Greenhouse gardens give you more pest prevention. When you plant in the open, it means that animals and bugs are going to have easy access. It’s a lot tougher for pests to get in a greenhouse. You may be able to grow without pesticides at all. As a result, you’re going to get truly organic produce.
- If you opt for a portable greenhouse, you can move it around different areas of your outdoor space or take it with you if you move.
- You’re not limited to growing certain foods based on the climate where you live.
- When your plants are in a greenhouse, there’s a stable environment, so they’re not at the mercy of the elements, which can include major fluctuations in temperature or excessive rain or wind.
- Since the conditions are more consistent, along with your plants being more likely to survive in a greenhouse, they’re also likely to be healthier.
- You can have more variety in what you grow. For example, all in one location, you can start seeds, grow exotic plants, and do vertical gardening.
- You might get a mood boost from spending time in your greenhouse. You can get out of the house even in the cold weather months, and it may help if you have symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Are There Downsides?
As with anything, there are some downsides to keep in mind before you jump in headfirst to greenhouse ownership.
Knowing about these downsides is just as important as knowing the benefits of a greenhouse.
One of the main downsides that you have to weigh is the fact that building a greenhouse can be pricey. Greenhouse kits can cost anywhere from $750 up to almost $6,000, on average. Once you have a greenhouse, you might want to use it more, so you’re going to garden more and need the supplies that come along with that, such as soil and fertilizer.
While the upfront costs can be somewhat expensive, the good news is that operating and maintaining a greenhouse generally isn’t.
Having a greenhouse can get time-consuming because you might spend a lot of time working in it, but for you, this may not be a downside.
While a greenhouse can keep your plants safe and pest-free, if you bring in one plant that has a disease or pests, it can quickly spread whatever it is to the other plants when they’re in an enclosed greenhouse environment. You have to make sure your greenhouse is healthy and clean.
Since greenhouses keep out the majority of pests, that means that pollinators like bees are kept out. If you’re growing plants requiring pollination, as such, you have to do it by hand.
Starting Your At-Home Greenhouse
If you’ve weighed both the pros and cons and decided you want to start a small greenhouse at your house, what should you do to plan it?
- Think about your goals. What types of vegetables and plants are you planning to grow, and how many of them do you want to ideally accommodate? You also might consider whether you want your greenhouse to double as storage for your tools and gardening equipment.
- You want to choose the perfect site for a greenhouse because this is one of the most important parts. For example, how much sunlight does the site you’re thinking about regularly get? Do you want your greenhouse further away or closer to your home? Do you want to be able to access it quickly?
- Will your greenhouse be attached or detached? An attached greenhouse shares a wall with your house, while a detached is standalone. An attached greenhouse gets heated air from your home in the winter, keeping it warm, but it can also be more difficult to heat in the winter. A detached greenhouse, by contrast, can have more ventilation, which is good during the summer.
- How will you heat and cool your greenhouse outside of the sun itself?
Finally, what’s your budget? You can do the labor yourself and save quite a bit of money. If you hire someone else to build your greenhouse, in addition to the costs of the materials or the kit you use, labor can be anywhere from $50 to $200 an hour.