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 Important Greenhouse Tips For Optimal Crop Growth

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AlleyRose
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PostSubject: Important Greenhouse Tips For Optimal Crop Growth   Sat Feb 20, 2016 3:35 pm


The environment within a greenhouse is very different from that of a backyard garden. You can control temperature, humidity, soil aeration, soil moisture and drainage, fertility levels, and light in a greenhouse, but you cannot control everything. Pests and diseases can find their way into your greenhouse, if you have these issues, your greenhouse will require special care. Growing in a greenhouse can have a multitude of benefits, but it also means that you will have new responsibilities that are integral to the health of your crops.


The well-being of a healthy greenhouse depends on its heaters, vents, and fans for temperature control. If you live in a cold location, even well-designed solar-efficient greenhouses will need a heat source to keep plants healthy.
 
Vents and fans are used to keep a greenhouse cool during sunny days. Even if it is extremely cold outside, if it is sunny, the temperature of your greenhouse can rise above the healthy level. If you have an attached greenhouse, you can take advantage of this accumulation of heat and move the hot air into your home. In a freestanding unit, the hot air that has accumulated inside, must have a way to exit. Thermostatically controlled exhaust vents and passive vents help move warm air out and cool air and vise versa when needed. You can use manually operated vents as well, but you will need to check them at least twice daily. Although they are most expensive, automatic vents save a lot of time.
 
Summer crops normally grow best in temperatures that are about 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit in the daytime and about 60 to 75 degrees at night. On days that are cloudy, these temperatures should be lower because the plants will not be making and using as many sugars.
 
Sinter air temperatures can go as low as 45 degrees at night and should go no higher than 65 to 70 degrees during the day.
 
Broccoli and lettuce grow really well at 50 degrees Fahrenheit during the night and 60 to 65 degrees during the days, while tomatoes and squash grow best in night temperatures that are no lower than 55 and days that are no lower than 65 but no higher than 80 degrees.
 
Learn about the temperature requirements of the plants you want to grow inside your greenhouse. Once you know the required temperatures, figure out which heating and ventilation systems work best for your plants needs.
 
Air Circulation
Proper air circulation within your greenhouse is extremely important for good plant health. Good air circulation can strengthen woody tissue in stems and decrease plant diseases and fungi. If you have a lot of plants in your greenhouse, it can interfere with air circulation and create excessive humidity. Be sure to leave enough space between plants and prune them so that the leaves from adjacent plants do not touch one another.
 
It is important to ventilate your greenhouse at least once every morning because your plants need carbon dioxide to create sugars. Normally, in closed greenhouses, carbon dioxide in the air can be so depleted that it can become difficult for plants to grow.
 
You can install screened windows and doors to help with proper air circulation. Position the windows at the top and bottom of the greenhouse walls in order to allow for warm air to rise and escape through the higher windows, and for cooler air to enter through the lower windows.
 
Humidity
Relative humidity should be around 70% to 85% during high-growth periods. Plant growth becomes weak at 90% to 95% humidity and fungal diseases can become a big issue. You can decrease humidity levels by venting or exhausting humid air and watering only when necessary. In arid climates, growers can increase humidity levels by spraying water on the ground.
 
Light
While planning your greenhouse, be sure to check shade patterns at the summer solstice in June and modify the plan if you find that there will be too much shade.
 
When growing spring seedlings, fluorescent lights are extremely useful. There are many different kinds of fluorescent bulbs, so be sure to choose the kind that are designed for plant growth. If you are looking for intense light in a smaller area, use a compact fluorescent setup.
 
For plants that require direct sunlight, use high-intensity discharge (HID) lighting systems with special bulbs. Although they are very beneficial, these systems are typically very expensive. Most plants will do fine with typical greenhouse light and supplemental fluorescent lighting.
 
Using a timer will give you control over the amount of light your plants will receive each day and you will not have to worry about constantly having to turn lights on and off manually. Timers can also help control watering, and mis systems.
 
Plants can receive too much light as well as too little. There are special greenhouse shade fabric panels that are available in multiple sizes. You can use these to provide your plants with light to heavy shade when needed. You can also use shading paint.
 
Soil and Fertility
If you are using soil mixes for containers, benches, and beds, it should be lighter and more fertile than other garden soils you might use. Good soil mixes hold moisture, drain fast, and have a slightly acid pH. If you choose potting mix, be sure to use one that is organic.
 
If you decide to make your own potting soil, use a basic recipe of 2 parts soil, 2 parts finished compost, 1 part peat moss, and 1 part vermiculite or perlite. If you have soil that is more clayey, add sand and if it is too sandy, add vermiculite instead of perlite to increase the proportion of peat moss. Be sure to test the pH of the soil and adjust as necessary.
 
Each spring and fall you should add compost and other nutrients such as vermiculite. You can use compost tea, earthworm castings, liquid fish emulsion, and seaweed. You can foliar feed plants by spraying the leaves with dilute compost tea, nettle tea, or liquid seaweed for extra nutrients and disease resistance. During the winter, you do not need to fertilize as much because cool soil temperatures will inhibit microbial activity.

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