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Greenhouse Maintenance

Greenhouse Maintenance

                Lush foliage, bright colored flowers, plentiful produce and sweet scents fill the air. A warm rush of air hits you as you open the door and enter. Your greenhouse beckons you to achieve your gardening dreams, all while you’re awake! Yes, inside your greenhouse can be a veritable paradise for you and your plants. It’s not going to be easy to achieve but you can make your greenhouse garden a real life fantasy. From planting to transplanting and everything in between you have a lot of work cut out for you. But, it’s not always the gardening that will keep you busy in your personalized microclimate. Cleaning, maintenance and other general upkeep is an essential part of owning and gardening inside of a greenhouse. There are a lot of components that go into a greenhouse and making sure they are all ‘up to stuff’, so to speak, can be a tough job. It may not be very much fun, but it is incredibly necessary. So sit back and read up on how to stay on top of keeping your greenhouse in peak performance shape!

                First things first, keeping things clean! Cleanliness is close to godliness, or whatever the saying is. In this case, most cases if we’re being honest, this is very much the truth. Keeping your greenhouse clean is not only a good way to ensure you have an organized work place, but it can help keep your plants healthy too! Clutter, generally speaking, will end up attracting more clutter and dust which in turn bring pests and pests are bad for greenhouses. The occasional spider isn’t an issue, in fact it might be helpful. Mites and other harmful insects on the other hand, can become a large issue if not taken care of promptly. Clean floors and proper spacing between plants will help you properly mitigate pests and disease. Try and sweep up your floors as often as they need it, at least once a week, but don’t go crazy. Clean up any spills and accumulated dust and you should be more than fine.

                Glazing is another important thing to keep clean in your greenhouse. Both glass and polycarbonate should be kept clean and clear of plants in order to ensure optimal performance. Yes, I said clear of plants! I’m sure most of you know this, but there’s always an exception. Plants should not be touching the glazing if at all possible. Contact between the two can breed mold very quickly due to the trapped moisture and sun exposure which can lead to dead foliage. Beyond that, you glazing should be clear of moisture as much as possible. Extra humidity, not properly removing water droplets from the glazing can result in built up humidity levels which can result in unnecessary dripping on plants. Greenhouse windows, just like those in your house, need to be cleaned regularly. Dirty windows can obstruct sunlight from passing through into your greenhouse. Which is, essentially, their job. You may not be as concerned with being able to look out of your greenhouse windows, but they still need to be clean. Additionally, polycarbonate is open at both ends of each sheet. You should have used some of our Vented Polycarbonate Tape to cover one end and whatever Polycarbonate End Cap fits your sheet to keep them closed off from the outside world. Both should be perfectly suited to do their jobs, but accidents do happen and adhesive often loses its efficacy over time. If and when your end caps or poly tape does show signs of failing, it may be time to clean out the interior channels. To do this, simply remove what caps and tape remain on your poly sheets, then use a hose or other pressurized water/air to spray out any obstructions. Let air dry until all moisture has gone and there is no longer any debris inside the channels. Replace any damaged end caps or tape that has lost its adhesion and you should be good to put everything back in place!

                Let’s talk about vents, shall we? Vents are essential in the proper functioning of your greenhouse as a gardening vessel. Without vents, you don’t get fresh air flowing into your greenhouse in an efficient and effective method. Sure you can open your door, but that can be a bit too effective and invite in strong winds that can wreak havoc on top heavy plants. Make sure you keep your vents clean. Generally speaking the vents will have some sort of wire mesh netting installed to keep bugs and other larger animals or debris from entering the vent system. Point being, that screen will generally get dirty after a while and when it does, it will begin to become less effective. Think of it this way, the vents are the fresh air system for your greenhouse, therefore the air passing through can only be as clean as the vents themselves.

                Aside from keeping things clean, there are plenty of other things that need to be kept up with. Integrity of the structure is probably one of the more important things to keep track of. It doesn’t happen very often, but there are times when parts of your greenhouse may need to be replaced. Wood can begin to swell and crack apart due to outdoor weather conditions after many years of usage, even if it’s properly treated. Metal, likewise, can begin to rust after years of being exposed to rain and other moisture. Some of these parts are easily replaced while others may be a more time intensive project. Consult your original instruction manual in order to make sure you’re replacing pieces correctly. Normally our greenhouses and pieces involved will generally last quite a while before needing any replacement, some of our customers have been using our greenhouses for 30+ years. But, I wanted to provide some of that info just in case!

                Keeping glazing clean is all well and good, but sometimes there are bigger problems than dirt. For minor cracks in your glazing, we do offer solutions that aren’t as drastic as replacing an entire window. Here are a couple of great solutions for small fixes in your glazing; Clear Glass Sealant and Silicone Polycarbonate Sealant. These sealants will assist if you have small cracks or holes that don’t seem like they will cause much larger problems if properly treated. If you have more major concerns, this quick fix might just prolong a larger issue. Some cracks will be too large to fill with sealant and will likely result in you needing to replace the whole window. Any cracks or damage to your glazing should be dealt with pretty much as soon as discovered. If left alone for too long the problem may end up getting bigger, or they could cause problems for your garden. Cracks in glazing can allow both nasty weather as well as pests into your greenhouse. These sealants should also be used along the sides of your glazing to both hold it in place but also keep them watertight.

                When it comes to appliances inside your greenhouse, the upkeep may be a bit more complex. Keeping any and all appliances clean will not only let them do their job better, but often times, will let them do their jobs longer as well. Fans should be kept clean like vents in order to keep the air circulating inside the greenhouse as clean as possible. Replace any burnt out light bulbs in your lighting systems to ensure they are doing their job as best they can. While you may be tempted to hold onto any appliances that may be working but not entirely, this may be costing you. Slightly broken equipment is not only not doing its job to the fullest extent, but it can also be costing you a lot of money. These pieces of broken equipment will still be drawing the same amount of energy, despite its performance. Replacing older appliances can have multiple benefits towards your greenhouse. Newer appliances are, generally speaking, smaller than previous models saving you space inside your greenhouse. Additionally, newer appliances are generally able to do the same job as previous models all while using less energy. In fact, some newer models of heaters or lights can come with new features, cementing their superiority over their predecessors.

                 Stay on top of your shading! If you are using shading cloth, you will likely need to replace it every few years. Being that shading cloth should be applied to the exterior of your greenhouse, it will be in contact with the elements. Rain, wind, hail and even just sun can really take a toll on the cloth itself. Tears and holes will result in the cloth not working as well as it should. So just be aware that every few years you will likely either need to patch up, or entirely replace your shading cloth. Shading paint is a great alternative in that it will help keep your plants happy, but it will have to be reapplied every year once it has begun to chip away. If you are looking for a more permanent solution, you can plant some deciduous trees around your greenhouse to help provide some shade. If you do choose this route, you will need to put more effort into plant spacing inside your greenhouse to ensure the plants that need shade will get it. Due to the natural pattern of the sun, the shade inside your greenhouse will shift throughout the day if you choose to use natural sourced shade, so just be careful.

                For the most part, this should cover the up-keep you will need to do in order to keep a successful greenhouse. You may come across a few, uncommon problems, but staying generally prepared will go a long way in making sure things go smoothly in your garden. I don’t want to make it seem like this is an end all be all in terms of greenhouse maintenance, so again, be prepared. Thanks everyone for reading, hopefully you found some useful information. See you again next week!

 

-Brian Bill

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