Essential Greenhouse gardening tools to get you started

Seeds: Seeds and seedlings are often the area where a greenhouse gardener’s creativity comes into play. Choosing which seeds, saplings, and seedlings to coax to life is one the most exciting things about greenhouse gardening. A greenhouse gardener can choose to try his or her hand at a tropical variety of plant, or can grow common delicious hothouse tomatoes.

Greenhouse Seedling Starters: Seedling starters can be done inside your home or in the greenhouse with a few adaptations. One of the easiest methods of starting your seeds is to purchase a plastic starter kit from your garden supply store. This type of kit often contains peat pellets or cups, a base tray, and a clear cover for keeping in heat and moisture. You add water and your own seeds and place the tray in a sunny window or under a grow light.

If you decide to start your seeds in the greenhouse, you can use the same system, or you can adapt your greenhouse trays for seedlings by placing plastic wrap over the top of the trays until the seedlings emerge. Be sure to disinfect all your supplies before planting, especially if you have left them unused all winter.

Soil: One of the advantages of gardening in a greenhouse over a traditional garden is you can hand-pick the type of soil you are going to use. You can pick soil based on the consistency, types of nutrients, or suitability for specific types of plants. You can match your soil to the type of plant you will be growing. Any given greenhouse might use several kinds of soil. Each greenhouse gardener has his or her own personal preference when it comes to selecting a greenhouse gardening soil mixture. As a beginner, you may wish to purchase a bag of basic potting soil to start and venture into soil mixtures as you grow in experience and knowledge.

Foods and Fertilizers: Plants require essential elements for proper growth. These elements are boron, carbon, calcium, chlorine, copper, hydrogen, iron, oxygen, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, potassium, nitrogen, sulfur, and zinc. A depletion in any of these essential elements can inhibit plant growth. Fertilizers and plant foods supplement these essential elements and allow the plants to thrive under optimal growing conditions. Some common supplements are peat moss, compost, and water-based fertilizers.

Watering Can and Hose: Greenhouse plants needs lots of water, and one of your most trusted greenhouse equipment staples is a watering can and a garden hose. You can spend as much or as little as you want on these item, but basic equipment is all that is required.

Ventilation: Your greenhouse plants need fresh air circulated in the greenhouse to stay healthy so an exhaust fan (to bring fresh air from the outside into your greenhouse) and a circulation fan (to circulate the air once it is inside the greenhouse) are highly recommended.

Benches and Shelves: Shelving is generally something that you attach to the interior of your greenhouse walls or they lay on top of built in framing.  These are not the same things as greenhouse benches, which are free standing and can be moved throughout the greenhouse. Both can help you organize the greenhouse. You can use benches and shelving for growing plants, flowers and vegetables and use the undersides of the benches for storing your pots and tools.  You could also use this area for additional room for your plants.

Greenhouse Grow Lights and Shade Cloths: If you don’t already have them, you will likely need a few grow lights and shade cloths as the daylight hours begin to lengthen in the spring and summer months. Your grow lights can be used to supplement the light for your seedlings until they are ready to harden for outdoor planting.

Greenhouse Flooring: When choosing a flooring option that can really bring your greenhouse to life, remember to consider: drainage, if you are leaning towards a solid material you might have to install drains to avoid mold; decomposition, organic materials (mulch, bark, etc.) will decompose over time and add on additional costs to replace as time goes on; heat some materials, such as brick and flagstone, can help trap and slowly release the day’s heat during cooler nights; comfort, softer materials include pine needles, sawdust and bark mulch, which can be better on your back while spending hours working in your greenhouse; weeds, laying down a weed blocking material underneath a floor base can help avoid pulling unwanted weeds from your greenhouse floor.

Pots: Pots come in many sizes and materials. They can be organic peat pots, clay pots, plastic pots, or even recycled coffee cans, 2 –liter soda bottles, or paper cups. Some greenhouse gardeners even prefer to forgo pots altogether and till and plant the ground directly under the greenhouse roof. Others prefer to plant an outdoor garden and use portable greenhouses or cold frames to gain the beneficial effects of greenhouse gardening without the added expense of constructing a full-scale greenhouse.

Cleaning supplies: Spring cleaning takes place in the greenhouse, maybe even more so than in your own house. Cleaning your greenhouse panels, disinfecting soil, tools, and pots, and clearing out the debris and leftovers from winter can be a liberating and spirit-lifting experience. You’ll need some organic disinfectants, vinegar, bleach, and lots of towels and rags to get your greenhouse back in shape for the growing season. It’s also a good idea to air out your greenhouse during your cleaning routine and be sure to keep your plants away from the cleaning chemicals as you rub away the dirt, grime, and germs from the previous year.

Other tools: pesticides and fungicides, trowels, rakes, and shovels, plant supports like trellises, tomato cages, and twine, fertilizers, Compost bin, garden cart

How to save money while buying greenhouse supplies

Buy Quality: While it may seem contradictory to spend more on quality garden supplies, purchasing high-end gardening tools will save you money over time. Going cheap may work for a season, but you’ll be eyeing up those new rakes and hoes come spring and considering if you budget can stretch enough to take one home.

Shop with the Future in Mind: Many garden supply stores will put items on clearance during the fall and winter months to help make room for new merchandise. This is the time to buy new watering hoses, gardening tools, and seasonal decorations for a fraction of the price you will pay in season for those same items. Always try to shop with the future in mind to help save a few dollars when restocking your greenhouse supplies.

Shop Local: Check around in your area and you may find that you can pick up garden and greenhouse supplies cheaper from a local vendor or private shop. Retail garden centers are handy, and are sure to have that hard-to-find item you are looking for, but for the basics, a local shop might be your best bet. These local finds are true treasures in the money-saving department.

Recycle: Many greenhouse supplies can be repaired or recycled from season to season. That old garden hose can be transformed into a drip line, and those milk jugs can serve as mini-portable greenhouses for your outdoor garden. Gardeners are naturally crafty recyclers, and this trend can help save you money on supplies.

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