Greenhouse Growing: Tips for Basic Greenhouse Cultivation

Your greenhouse growing can be twice as successful with half the trouble if you follow these suggestions, including those on soil, air, light and space, food and water, insects, and temperatures.

| November/December 1980

A lot of folks are confused by the complexities of greenhouse growing. Well, if an unsure understanding of the many published "rules and regulations" is keeping you from trying greenhouse cultivation, just forget them! All you really have to do to turn your plant palace into a dynamic package of productivity is to put real soil in the pots and benches; give your greenery plenty of light, air, and space; administer water wisely; and feed your hungry charges with nourishing manure "tea."

Besides — by doing without the often-recommended chemical fertilizers, sterile soil mixes, sprays, fumigants, systemics, and such — you'll find that you have a good bit of spare cash left for more essential items ... such as plants and pots. You'll also discover that disease and insect infestations, weak growth, and subnormal performance are (more likely than not) merely symptoms of improper culture, which shouldn't trouble the greenhouse gardener who zeroes in on the basics!

The Soil, Air, Light and Space in Your Greenhouse 

First of all, grow only those plants that are proven stalwarts or have been bred for vigor, productivity, and resistance to disease (in many cases you'll have to do some experimenting to find such varieties, but other greenhouse growers can often give you "best bet" advice). Species that don't do well unless they're constantly fed — or plants that tend to succumb to aphids in spite of good growing conditions — should be classified as "unfit" and removed from your list.

In order to provide your chosen vegetables and flowers with good soil, make up a half-and-half mixture of rich garden loam and compost, or one consisting of one-third each of loam, compost, and peat moss. Then, to each prepared bushel, add a six-inch potful of well-aged manure and a four-inch potful of bone meal or wood ashes. If there's clay in your loam, put some sand in the mixture, too. (Cacti like a soil composed of one part loam, one part organic compost, and two parts sand.)

Next, be sure to give your greenhouse tenants a breath of fresh air . . . often! Insect pests — as well as fungi, mildew, and diseases — just love to attack plants that suffer from a close atmosphere, so make sure that your greenhouse is well ventilated (while, of course, maintaining the desired temperature) and you'll keep trouble at bay.

Remember, too, that full sun on your greenhouse means full production, and can cut down on the need for supplemental winter heat. (The structure can always be shaded with netting, film, paint, etc. to limit sunlight ... but you can't bring sun to it once it's been situated in the shade.)

7/16/2016 5:25:18 AM

Amazing in-depth resource about anyone planning on growing a greenhouse. Measuring and monitor the climate is extremely important, and always be prepared for extreme weather, I did that mistake once. I shared some of my greenhouse tips for anyone just starting out here: Feel free to check it out, thanks.

5/12/2016 7:54:36 PM

How much water should you us in a hothouse? I have a raised bed with good drainage, should I keep the soil moist continually?

1/15/2016 11:10:11 AM

Hello,I live in N. Idaho and have a new green house and want some help or advice to start vegetable plants in it.I've been growing a garden outside for over 30 yrs,but now I have the greenhouse,its 6'x8' and I put shelving completely in a u-shape on inside.Help with advice or tips!!!! Thanks,Pete

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