Gardening Vivian | 30 Mar 2011 01:39 pm

Is Your Greenhouse Eco-Friendly?

Greenhouses are a great way for even the home gardener to grow top quality and nutritious vegetables and fruits for many months of the year. One of the more popular and eco-friendly trends in gardening is to become an organic or natural gardener. If you grow vegetables or fruits in your greenhouse, you may want to make your greenhouse eco-friendly.

Growing your own food is a good way to reduce your energy consumption. Think of this – the produce you buy at a grocery store may have been grown in fields, or even a greenhouse thousands of miles away. It has to be trucked to your store, or even flown in – using energy. The store must keep it cool, so that takes more energy, and your trip to the store takes even more energy! So, you can save a lot of energy by growing your own foodstuffs.

If you plan to use your greenhouse in the cooler months, it will require more energy in the form of heating and additional light. You can’t cut down on either and expect to grow healthy plants. However, you can save on your utility bills by increasing insulation in cool months and using lower energy supplemental lighting. Just adding a layer of bubble wrap at night can reduce the heating needs.

Another way to stop heat loss is to keep the glass clean so maximum sunlight can enter the greenhouse during the day. If your greenhouse has a fiberglass roof, make sure any moss or algae is scrubbed off and it is kept clean. Seal any cracks and make sure the door fits well. If you have poly sheeting on the walls, put a second layer inside on the studs so there is an air space to prevent heat loss.

Plants within the greenhouse need watering, and since they can’t get rainwater directly, set up a rainwater collection from your roof. You can fix simple gutters in place with downpipes that feed into a storage tank right inside the greenhouse. Rainwater is much better to use than tap water, since it does not contain chlorine.

Within the greenhouse, you may still have pest or disease issues. One of the best ways to prevent disease is to pay attention to the ventilation. Plants need warmth, but they also need some ventilation. In warm or hot months, you may need to open all the vents – top and side – to control heat buildup. Even in cool months, you should open the roof ventilator about an inch at midday for a few hours to allow air change. Stagnant humid and cold air is the main cause of grey mold and other diseases.

Use good quality sterilized soil in your greenhouse pots or beds. This will ensure it is pest and disease free. If you are using your own compost, you can sterilize it by baking it at 180 degrees for about 30 minutes. Alternatively, solar sterilizing can be done outside, and you can find directions for this on the internet. The soil within a greenhouse should be kept on the dry side in cool months, since cold wet soil encourages root rot.

So why not have a look at your greenhouse this year, and see what changes you can introduce to make it greener. Your greenhouse will be much more eco-friendly as you make these adjustments, and you will enjoy healthy nutritious foods with less energy consumption.

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