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Why Go Green: Greenhouses And Plants

Are you tired of the same old gardening routine? Are you planting your crop in the same little plot of land every year and would like to try something different? Perhaps now is the time to consider a greenhouse. Greenhouses can be a wonderful project whether you want to have access to fresh organic fruits and vegetables all year round or you simply want a relaxing sanctuary to do your flower and container gardening.

Benefits of a Greenhouse
Greenhouses have many benefits. They can protect crops from the harsh elements of summer and winter as temperature can be regulated; they allow for a greater variety of plants to be grown for a longer period of time; limit damage of the soil from rodents and insects and provide a comfortable refuge and activity in a cold climate.

When considering building a greenhouse, you should be aware of the different types of greenhouses available. You will also need to keep in mind how much you are willing to invest in the greenhouse, supplies, and continuous maintenance. There are two types of greenhouses available, freestanding and attached.

Freestanding Greenhouse
A freestanding greenhouse is for the serious gardener that wants to create a greenhouse from the ground up. This type of greenhouse is more expensive and time consuming as it will require plumbing, heating and electricity. You may need to hire or consult a building contractor and a heating expert to help you find the right structural materials for the building.

With a freestanding greenhouse, you can choose a specific area for the greenhouse and the angle and direction it faces towards the sun. Many experts agree that if you have the opportunity, you should build your structure in a north-south direction, with the long side facing south. This direction will allow for maximum sunlight.

Freestanding greenhouses usually have peaked or curved roofs and the square or rectangular shape allows for maximum growing space. You will need to carefully plan the location of your greenhouse and remember that the size of the greenhouse, sunlight, drainage, and ventilation requirements will affect the types of plants you can grow.

The best types of plants for these structures are warm season vegetables due to the fact that they require maximum light intensity, solar heat collectors and moderate night temperatures. Theses variables should be fairly easy to produce if the greenhouse has it’s own heating and cooling system. These plants are generally planted in the spring to grow in the summer and they include lima beans, cantaloupe, corn, tomatoes, pumpkins and squash.

Due to the extra space that a freestanding structure affords, you may decide to add design elements like a small pond, waterfall or a trellis for your plants to grow on. Some examples of plants that work well with trellises are watermelon, passionflower, bougainvillea and cucumbers. Some other varieties of plants to choose from would be orchids, bedding plants, mushrooms, herbs and cut flowers like gardenia, marigold and snapdragons.

Attached Greenhouses
If you have limited garden or backyard space and want to utilize the heating and electricity of your own home, you may want to go with an attached greenhouse. As well as using your home’s heating power, a "lean-to" greenhouse can rely on your home’s existing structure for strength and stability. It will be conveniently located to your water source for easy watering and maintenance of your garden.

Because this greenhouse is attached to your house, it may not receive as much sunlight as a freestanding structure. You may want to consider doing some landscaping work before you purchase the materials for an attached greenhouse, perhaps trimming branches and shrubbery to allow for more light and open space. Carefully choose where you will locate windows and doors in the structure as snow, ice or rain can slide off of your home’s roof onto the delicate greenhouse.

Attached sun-rooms are suitable for container or organic gardening, but in order to grow your plants in the right conditions, you may need to invest in greenhouse misting systems, a humidification system, heaters and heating lamps. Cool-season vegetables may be more cost-effective for an attached greenhouse due to the fact that high temperatures and high light intensity are not as critical for these crops as they are for warm-season vegetables.

Warm-season crops are not compatible with cool-season crops, so you will need to make a list of what types of foods you will want available throughout the year or parts of the year. You can plant all types of flowers including magnolia blossoms, orchids, pansies and carnations in an attached greenhouse. All flowers will need continuous sunlight and watering to be able to bloom.

The Possibilities are Endless!
No matter which kind you choose, a greenhouse can be a fun and relaxing way to grow fruit, vegetables and flowers all year round as well as increase your living space. Depending on whether you want to build your own greenhouse or purchase a greenhouse kit from your local gardening store, purchasing your greenhouse can cost anywhere from less than $500 for an affordable greenhouse kit to $5000 for a fully-assembled solarium. If you are concerned about the environment and the greenhouse effect, you could invest in hydroponic gardening or organic gardening.