This summer, I accepted Palram Applications’ invitation to test drive their Snap & Grow® 6×8 Silver Greenhouse. This would be my first foray into greenhouse gardening and, given my gardening experience, I really thought it would be a snap, much like how easily the greenhouse snapped together when it was constructed in my backyard. Greenhouse gardening, however, is a bit different than container gardening or even gardening directly in the soil, as it poses unique challenges that you must be aware of and navigate through. I have summarized some of my discoveries with the 5 tips for greenhouse gardening below!
1. Maintain air circulation.
Without a steady and persistent air flow to keep the plant foliage, soil and greenhouse surfaces dry, you run the risk of incubating moisture-thriving fungus and diseases in your greenhouse.
Palram greenhouses were designed with air circulation in mind. The Snap & Grow® 6×8 Silver Greenhouse included a roof vent which allowed me to manually regulate heat and humidity levels. Propping open the greenhouse door, when needed, also allowed for additional air flow. If you feel inconvenienced at the thought of manipulating a roof vent manually on a daily basis, Palram does offer a solar-powered automatic vent opener, suitable for all their greenhouse models, which opens and closes based on the interior air temperature readings. Some select Palram greenhouse models also give you the option for a Side Louver Window which provides additional ventilation and airflow.
2. Don’t let your greenhouse get too hot.
Plants suffer from ill effects once temperatures skyrocket above 85 F. (29 C.). On a really hot day, the temperature in a greenhouse could easily exceed that, putting your plants in jeopardy. The air temperature can be regulated through the ventilation options discussed earlier; however, this alone may not be enough. Palram has a solution to reduce interior temperatures significantly and, hence, minimize heat stress on your plants via a shade cloth kit that attaches to the inside framework of your greenhouse. This shade cloth will help reduce up to 70% of sunlight exposure.
3. Don’t overcrowd your greenhouse.
A greenhouse newbie, and I’m talking from personal experience, may be tempted to grow too much within the confines of the greenhouse. Overcrowded plants tend to grow more poorly in addition to inviting more pest and disease problems. Therefore, it is very important to be mindful of the spacing requirements (both height and girth) for your plants and to plan out your greenhouse layout accordingly. Palram does offer some great options to maximize your growing space such as plant hangers, shelving and trellising kits.
4. Avoid water stress.
I noticed that the soil in my greenhouse tended to dry out more quickly than the soil outside, which is probably attributed to the higher temperatures and magnification of sunlight inside the greenhouse. Be vigilant about hydrating your soil when it is needed to maintain good plant health. Palram offers ways to help facilitate the irrigation of your greenhouse plants. The Snap & Grow® 6×8 Silver Greenhouse had built in gutters that could be used to channel and collect rainwater. Palram also offers a greenhouse drip irrigation system to help distribute water evenly amongst your plants.
5. Help facilitate pollination.
In the closed environment of a greenhouse, plants that rely on pollination for fruit set may not get their pollination requirements met due to lack of bees or strong enough winds to shake pollen loose. In many cases, this can be worked around with a little human intervention. Depending on the plant’s pollination structures, pollination will be achieved by either gently shaking plants or tapping flowers or by using a paintbrush or cotton swab to transfer pollen from flower to flower.