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GARDENING: Successful Greenhouse growing

Beginner’s Guide to Greenhouse Gardening

1. Gather your supplies. There are a few essential supplies that you will need to get started in your new greenhouse gardening hobby. You’ll need a greenhouse (of any size), a garden hose, plants or seeds, a good sterilizing agent (like bleach), potting soil, and planting pots (plastic or clay work best). A pair of gardening gloves, a hand trowel, and a fan may also be useful in the greenhouse, but are not essential. You can also opt to gather fertilizers (compost is the best), insecticides, gardening books, and gravel to help with any drainage issues you may encounter in the greenhouse.

2. Decide what to grow. One of the biggest decisions you will make in getting your hobby started is deciding what to grow. Will you choose vegetables, fruit trees and bushes, flowering plants, decorative plants, or exotics? The choice is nearly limitless and is purely a matter of individual choice. Easy to grow crops like tomatoes, lettuce, and raspberries are a good choice for beginners. Flowers like begonias, petunias, bush roses, and daylilies are also a good choice for the beginning greenhouse gardener.

3. Prepare to plant. Before you start to plant your seeds or seedlings, you will need to make sure your pots, tools, and soil are sterilized sufficiently. A mixture of diluted bleach water, sprayed on tools and pots, then rinsed with water and allowed to air dry, should be sufficient. Potting soil purchased from a gardening supply store is already sterilized, and should be kept in the original bags and sealed after each use. If you plan to make your own potting soil, be sure to follow directions carefully when baking your soil to ensure that bacteria and pests are removed before use.

4. Plant it! Using your clean plants, fill a pot half way with potting soil. Remove your seedling from the plastic or peat pot gently by squeezing the sides all around before pulling the plant from the container. Gently remove excess dirt from the root ball and place the seedling upright in the new pot. With one hand holding the seedling in place, gently place potting soil around the plant until the roots are covered and the plant is stabilized enough to stand upright without your support. Water gently and thoroughly and move the pot into its new home in your greenhouse.

5. You’ll need to make sure your greenhouse panels are clean enough to allow sunlight in, and that the temperature in the greenhouse is regulated. Follow the planting suggestions provided with your seeds or seedlings to develop a set temperature (tropical plants do best between 60 and 85 degrees, most fruits and veggies like temps ranging from 45 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit) and watering schedule for your plants. It is best to water early in the morning or late in the evening when the sun is not at its strongest. Don’t overwater your plants! If the soil is moist to the touch, leave them alone. You can add fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s directions, or fresh compost every six to eight weeks if you desire.

To enhance your greenhouse gardening experience, be sure to get together with other greenhouse gardeners to glean tips and tricks in the greenhouse. You can also keep a gardening journal complete with snapshots of your progress to help you learn from your mistakes and triumphs in the greenhouse. Beginning greenhouse gardening is a worthwhile hobby, so be sure to enjoy your experience to the fullest and make your greenhouse your own by adding your own personal touches and preferences along the way.

Transplanting Greenhouse Plants

Moving plants form the greenhouse to your outdoor gardens isn’t particularly difficult, but it does take some know-how, an understanding of the growing seasons in your area, and some patience. The real question that bedevils many gardeners is, “When do I move the plants”?

The simple answer to this (for most plants) is “after the danger of frost has passed.” Unfortunately, nailing that down to a workable date is easier said than done. Here are some transplanting ideas to help you out:

When purchasing seeds, pay attention to the information on the back of the package. Generally speaking, you can look at the growing season map and tell when your area is considered safe for planting. Generally speaking, when it’s considered safe to plant from seed, you can transfer your seedlings from the greenhouse to the garden without too much concern for frost.

Many gardeners find it helpful to acclimate their plants slowly to life outside the greenhouse by leaving them in their pots or planters and setting them outside for an hour at a time during peak sunlight. If you do this, increase the time gradually until you are ready to transplant your seedlings to the outside garden permanently.

It is best to be prepared if for some reason, there is a ‘surprise’ late frost in your area after you have planted things outdoors. You can use frost blankets, sheets, newspaper or mulch to cover your plants and protect them temporarily. A mini greenhouse or cold frame can also be set over your garden area.

Hydroponics

The practice of growing plants without soil, is ideal for many greenhouse gardeners for a number of reasons.

Using a hydroponics method rather than growing your plants in soil uses less water, allows you to maintain greater control over pH, produces a significantly greater yield, frees you from having to deal with pests and soil borne diseases and, according to some studies, seems to produce vegetables with higher nutritional content.

Commercial greenhouses have used hydroponics for years, and with good reason. Simply put, hydroponics give better yields while using fewer natural resources.

Here are some simple hydroponics growing tips,

* Choose the right hydroponics system. There are a number of fantastic hydroponics systems to choose from when selecting a new hydroponics method. Some gardeners use gravel or some other substance to support plants while they grow, others allow the roots to grow bare. Some circulate the nutrients (generally with a pump) while others use a wet wick. Some systems recycle nutrients, others don’t. Which system is right for you will depend on how much space you have, what you are growing, your budget, and personal preference.

* Be realistic about your DIY capabilities. If you’re the kind of person who really likes rolling up your sleeves and taking on a project, you can build much of what you’ll need for hydroponics greenhouse gardening. If not, there are plenty of affordable hydroponics kits available that can help you get started. Kits come in several types and sizes, to accommodate everyone from the person who simply wants to grow some herbs indoors to those who want to run a sizeable greenhouse gardening operation.

* Make sure your hydroponics greenhouse garden gets plenty of sunlight. We may have come up with vast improvements in regards to what you grow your plants in, but we’ve never come up with a true replacement for sunlight. While incandescent bulbs or (better yet) HIR lighting can help your plants along, natural sunlight remains, by far, the best source of light for your plants, indoors or out. Set up your hydroponics greenhouse garden in a place where it will receive plenty of natural sunlight for best results.

* Grow your plants in tiers. As long as you’re using hanging hydroponics systems in your greenhouse garden, you can grow multiple tiers, saving space and ensuring yourself the best possible yields for the amount of space you have available.

Discover what so many greenhouse gardeners already have; there is no need to use organic soil, and using inorganic hydroponics systems actually saves you time and money in the long run while producing better yields. By putting these simple greenhouse hydroponics methods and gardening growing tips into practice, you can start seeing incredible results in a short time.

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