December 14, 2013

How to Use Greenhouses and Hydroponics Together

Hydroponic greenhouse gardening combines two techniques which are well known to avid gardeners. 

Greenhouse gardening allows gardeners to extend the growing season well beyond what would normally be possible as well as providing gardeners with much greater control over growing conditions.

Hydroponic gardening also offers gardeners a large degree of control over their plants as well as, in most cases, a significantly higher yield than conventional gardening and more consistent quality in a comparatively small footprint.

How to Use Greenhouses and Hydroponics Together

Hydroponic greenhouse gardening is an especially attractive option for urban gardeners who are often limited in terms of outdoor space;

Modern Agriculture of Hydroponic Vegetable_Green_House Indoor Gardening System

The Greenhouse

Type and Size of GreenhouseWhat type and size of greenhouse you build will depend a great deal on how much space you have available and of course, the type and number of plants you that you intend to grow in your hydroponic greenhouse

While you may be surprised by how large of a yield you can get from a relatively small space, it’s also a mistake to build too small of a greenhouse;
  • It’s easier to add to your hydroponic set up later than it is to tear down your greenhouse and build a new, larger one later on.
  • As with any other greenhouse, the key is to make the best possible use of space and to make sure that you have room for everything you need – in other words, plan ahead based on not only your current needs, but those that you anticipate in the near future.

Hydroponic Greenhouse Seedlings Picture

Hydroponics Vegetable in Green House Picture

Hydroponic Systems

There are several different kinds of hydroponic systems that you could choose from for your hydroponic greenhouse.

Which system you go with will again, largely depend on the size of your greenhouse, the extent of your experience as a hydroponic gardener and how much time, money and effort you’re willing to put into your new gardening venture.

Hydroponically Grown Strawberry Vines

Perhaps the easiest system to set up in your greenhouse is a simple Mittleider system.
  1. It’s versatile, easy to maintain and costs very little to build.
  2. You also don’t need very much in the way of supplies.
  3. You’ll need to build (or buy) raised boxes and fill them with a growing medium (pea gravel is an excellent choice for this) and water the plants once, perhaps twice per day with a nutrient solution.
  4. You don’t need electricity, pumps, hoses or anything else.
  5. If you’re just getting started with hydroponics or are working on an especially tight budget, this may be the best way to go.
Hydroponically Grown Strawberry Vines

Modern Agriculture of Vegetable Green House Indoor Picture

However, if you’re feeling more ambitious and have a little more money to work with, you can build an ebb/flow system for your hydroponic greenhouse.

This is more complex, but by no means too complex for the average gardener to build themselves even if they’re not particularly mechanically inclined – there are also kits available which make things even easier to set up. You will need significantly more equipment if you choose an ebb/flow system; you’ll also need electricity in your greenhouse.
Small Hydroponic Greenhouse_Grown Seedlings in Tray Picture

Greenhouse gardening and hydroponics are a winning combination for the avid gardener looking for a higher yield, lower maintenance garden, especially in a situation where outdoor space is limited.

It’s not the right environment for every plant (cold weather crops like cruciferous vegetables tend to do poorly in the warmth of a greenhouse, for instance), but a hydroponic greenhouse is an excellent addition to any garden and can allow virtually anyone to enjoy the bounty of a large garden even in a small space without access to soil.
Vegetables Hydroponics Cultivation & Production using Greenhouses

Mini Greenhouse Kits: Greenhouse Gardening Tips

December 13, 2013

What Are the Best Plants to Grow in a Greenhouse?

Learn Which Choices of Plant Life Variety, Are the Best and Most Popularly Grown Plants using Greenhouses

A small greenhouse, even a miniature greenhouse that is covered in plastic rather than glass can be your very best friend. In the summer months, the unheated greenhouse requires no real outlay so far as energy outlay, but rather, relies on the sunlight to get the heat that it needs for the evening hours. 
Teenage Girl Harvested Squash Carrots Peppers Fruit and Vegetables in Basket

If you are new to gardening, a greenhouse is quite a lot less work intensive once you have the greenhouse than an in-ground garden may be.

The many things that can be damaging to the garden are often precluded when you are greenhouse gardening.
  1. There are far fewer insects to combat and the sunshine can be much more easily controlled. 
  2. The ability to control the heat and to ensure proper watering is also easier to accomplish inside a greenhouse.
  3. Greenhouse gardening is actually container gardening in a more controlled environment, and may prevent some of the more difficult issues that you can find with outside gardening.
Young Boy Emptying Composting Bucket of Scraps into Green Homemade Compost Bin Picture

In a small greenhouse you have a wide array of options for plants. There is no one single plant that will grow a vast array more than another. Each of the plants may be able to be grown very well inside the greenhouse, but some will of course have a bit of a different flavor than they might otherwise.
Pretty White Woman Getting Prepared to Do Container Gardening Activities

Insofar as the ability to grow the plants and vegetables over the course of the winter, so long as you have a bit of warmth or can guarantee the climate and temperature.

Greenhouse plants can be grown over the winter as easily as they can be in the summer time if you heat the greenhouse to approximately 78-80 during the day and keep the temperature above fifty degrees at night.
  • If you have some means of climate control and heat, as well as a circulation, so that your plants receive the air flow that they need, you will achieve just as much growth during the winter months as you will in the summer time inside a greenhouse.

The greenhouse offers the means to the ability plant the best greenhouse flowers and fresh fruit and vegetables all year long.
  • It protects them from the bugs and from the weather.
  • As the greenhouse is limited in area, you will want to select the vegetables, the flowers, and fruit that will give the best yield of food, or flowers for the space that you use.
  • The highest yield vegetables, fruits, and flowers are listed below, so that you can select from your favorites and those which offer the best production from the allocated space.

Plant the Best Greenhouse Flowers

Greenhouse Vegetables

Depending on the type that you select, carrots should be one of the vegetables that you consider for your greenhouse planting.

  1. They take a great deal less space than most of the other vegetables take and can grow very well with a space of only a couple inches between them.
  2. Two to three inches will give them ample room for growth in the green house.
  3. They do require some space below, but 7-8 inches will suffice in most cases and the carrots can yield a very large amount of vegetables for a very small relative space taken up inside your greenhouse.
  4. They will continue to produce over the summer if you continue to sprinkle seeds. If not, they will produce for about 6 to 8 weeks, offering fresh vegetables the entire time.
Portrait Picture Woman Holding Plant and Potting Basket

Peppers are another vegetable that you want to consider for your greenhouse gardening.

Offering you a mild flavor from the green or red bell peppers, they are useful for seasoning nearly anything at all and can grow remarkably well in the greenhouse, producing about twice what they might if grown in ground.
They grow better when defended from the heat of the sun and may grow up to 18 inches tall, producing for several months over the summer time. So long as you prevent freezing of the plants they continue to offer vegetables all season. Peppers can be used in canning, can be frozen and can be dried in the microwave so that your harvest, even if excessively large will not go to waste.

Picture of Senior Woman Holding Garden Box Container with Vegetables

Tomatoes are also a great addition to your greenhouse.

  1. Tomatoes in the greenhouse will ideally be the patio variety rather than those which are grown in ground.
  2. While these tomatoes will grow in your greenhouse and will do well, they ultimately take up a great deal of growing space that you may want for other items.
  3. Limit your tomato plants to the items, that will give a super yield in a smaller space, such as the less bushy tomato plants. Small container spaced tomatoes are very efficient and simple to grow.
  4. These offer nearly as big a harvest from them as the bushier variety of tomato plant, but will be able to be grown in smaller spaces, and be more easily harvested.
  5. The biggest benefit that you will get from tomatoes indoors, is that they are quite prone to insect pests and in the greenhouse you will not fight nearly as many.

Another of the wonderful greenhouse garden plants that you don't want to do without is the leafy vegetable class.

  • Leaf lettuce will produce for most of the summer, is fast and easy to grow and takes less space than nearly any other kind of vegetable.
  • The lettuce plant at the peak, when it is ready to be harvested will take up less than six inches square of your green house.
  • The plants will be mature in a very short time and can be harvested typically in 4 weeks from planting time.
  • The plants will continue to produce as long as you continue to clip and harvest from them, regrowing in a relatively short amount of time.

Your greenhouse can offer you a veritable treasure trove of vegetables, fruits, and flowers all year long for your table and your home.

Mini Greenhouse Kits: Greenhouse Planning & Reviews

December 12, 2013

How to Grow Truffles in a Greenhouse: Greenhouses 201

Truffles are a culinary delicacy that can be grown in a greenhouse.

They are a mushroom-like type of fungus that grow to be bumpy, white and small in size. Truffles grow on the roots of certain types of trees – oak trees are the easiest of these to cultivate, though hazelnut trees are also sometimes used.

Growing truffles in a greenhouse can be useful because the greenhouse environment allows you more control over growing conditions and truffles do not grow well in temperature or humidity extremes, nor do they tolerate sharp changes in these conditions.

Close up Photograph of Large Summer Truffle Tuber Aestivum Duo Tone

Greenhouse Growing

  1. Position your greenhouse to get as much sunlight as possible.
  2. You may need to use lamps for supplemental light in dark wintry conditions, but this can be expensive, so generally you want to minimize use of lamps as much as you can.
  3. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, erect a greenhouse near the south side of a building if you do not have the money or space to build one in a standalone fashion.
  4. Greenhouses should also be on ground that is either level or only slightly sloped.
  5. Click the following link to learn more about greenhouse positioning.

Photograph of Garden Truffle Plant Life Varieties with Botanical Designations3

Truffles on Oak Roots in Your Greenhouse

  1. Since growing truffles must go along with growing trees, be prepared to create enough space in your greenhouse for oak trees and to be patient enough to give the oaks time to grow.
  2. Mature oak roots can grow many crops of truffles over the years and even over decades.
  3. Oaks require full sun conditions and quality potting soil with lime and compost mixed into at least the top 1'.
  4. This soil should also be free of obstructions like rocks or thick clods of dirt. The ideal soil pH for an oak growing truffles is 7.5-7.9.
  5. Buy oaks to transplant to your greenhouse from an approved, reputable truffle grower that have been injected with truffle fungus.
Learn More About Greenhouse Locations & Positioning

Planting Oak Trees for Truffle Growing

  1. A good heuristic for how deep the holes should be for the transplants is twice as wide as the roots of the oaks and at least 2', with the total soil depth being about 5'.
  2. Tree roots tend to grow horizontally instead of vertically.
  3. Each hole should be around 6' from each other hole to give the roots space for growing horizontally.
  4. Also, be sure that there are no trees within 30' of your greenhouse site, since otherwise water could be directed away from your oaks.
  5. There should be no plants of any kind within 3' of your greenhouse for the same reason.
Greenhouse Truffle Guide How to Tips on Growing to Perfection

Watering and Maintaining Your Oaks

  • Spread the roots carefully apart by hand when planting, and set each sapling into each hole lightly.
  • Fill in the holes with soil and firmly pack the soil down to avoid air pockets.
  • Water right after planting and keep soil consistently moist but not soaked.
  • The area you plant in should be well-drained as well.
  • Temperatures should also be warm but not too hot. Plant in winter or early spring.
  • Irrigation is probably a good idea for a larger crop of oaks, and thus of truffles.
  • Mulch is useful to aiding you in keeping the soil moist and also to keep out weeds and even grass, which can be a problem even in a greenhouse setting, and which can be especially damaging to a truffle harvest.
Planting Oak Trees for Greenhouse Garden Truffle Growing


Harvesting Truffles

You probably will not get any truffles until about a year has passed, at which point you will want to regularly and carefully search the soil around the roots for small, firm lumps that you can then pull upward to harvest. It is important to do this regularly because truffles that are not harvested will go bad. Add more compost to the soil after harvesting to lay the groundwork for the next batch of truffles. If you have a lot of oak trees with truffles, consider using a pig or a trained dog to help sniff them out for you.

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About Guest Author: Whtiney Michael Segura
Whitney Segura Official LogoThis post was published and written by Mr. Whitney Michael Segura, the founder and chief of operations of Mini Greenhouse Kits store and online network of information based websites.