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Home > Types of Gardening > Green House Gardening > Tips for GreenHouse Gardening
Tips for GreenHouse Gardening
Tips for GreenHouse GardeningGreenhouses are of many types. Some are merely lean-to structures against the house, garage or other building. Others are electrically heated, but the type most adaptable to the ordinary city lot is a single span type. This can be very simple or made complete. It can be heated by a stove, fired with coke or special coal, at a cost of only a few rupees a year. Other types have miniature hot water or steam systems heated by a small coal or coke fired boiler. Still another type is the gas-heated variety.

For anyone who can afford it, it is best to buy the greenhouse from a firm which specializes in making them rather than to attempt to put it together from miscellaneous materials. There has recently been made available, at a low cost, a practical and attractive house of entirely new design. It is furnished in complete sash sections, sloped sides and pointed roof, which are easily bolted together. It can be used as a portable cold house without foundation, or built with a permanent raised foundation and raised benches.

For appearance sake the exterior may be stuccoed or covered with slate-surfaced roofing, which will further insulate it. Or a good substitute for stucco is awning duck or canvas which will last indefinitely if painted every year or two. It may be stripped with lattice in the corners or to obtain any decorative appearance desired.

For the purpose of preserving the frame it is well to place the house upon a concrete foundation. As the weight to be placed upon the foundation is not considerable, it need not be a very rich mixture and no particular care need be taken with it except to see that the ground on which it stands is firm and the top level.

It should extend from one to one and one-half feet in the ground and may be made by pouring a carefully excavated trench full of concrete, or by the use of forms. If it is brought up three or four inches above the ground it will save the framework from exposure to moisture. Of course the entire bottom part of the greenhouse might be cast of concrete, but this would necessitate form work and expense which we are attempting to eliminate.

It would be best to have the sill or bottom members of the frame made of cypress and all of the frame should receive two coats of good ready mixed paint before being placed together. If this is not feasible, paint each side of the joint heavily when nailing in place. The high humidity in the greenhouse quickly rots lumber unless thoroughly protected. The hotbed sash should also be painted two coats before being placed in position. It is necessary that the roof does not leak. Cold water dripping upon the plants is very injurious. Therefore, in placing the sash the rafters (which have already been painted) should be coated with a mixture of white lead and oil (not too thick) and the sash nailed on while this is wet.

The sash should be butted together on top of the rafters and any cracks completely filled with putty. On top of this joint should be firmly nailed a cypress lattice strip which should also be bedded in white lead.

The entire structure should now be given a third coat of paint. It is best for the amateur not to mix his own paint, but to purchase a well-known brand of the best grade obtainable. It is much more important that high-class paint be used on a greenhouse than almost anywhere else.

The life of such a house without proper painting precautions is from five to eight years; kept properly painted and caulked it will last indefinitely.

Where the sashes come together above the ridge, tack a piece of heavy roofing paper. This is both for insulation and to keep out water. The amateur may get along with this alone, but it is better to place on top of it a piece of sheet metal. This can be purchased from a roofer in a stock form somewhat as shown here and should be nailed to the sash through the roofing, which may then be trimmed off evenly.

Every greenhouse needs a workshop where potting can be done without using the valuable space under glass. For this reason most of them have a potting shed in which there is a bench, with barrels, galvanized cans or discarded oil tanks to contain the necessary planting material. Fifty-pound lard tins protect the various fertilizers from rats or dampness and shelves should be available to hold pots, labels, stakes, etc. The boiler for the heating system is also installed here and, if the shed is large enough, it may contain all of the rest of the garden tools and paraphernalia.

Where a stove is used for heating, it of course, should be located at the north end of the greenhouse and not in the potting room. The interior of the house consists of two benches, three feet wide, between which runs a thirty-inch walk, which may be paved with stone, concrete or brick. Sometimes it may be advisable to use a wooden walk to protect the gardener from the dampness of the soil.

The benches should be well supported and fastened to the frame three feet from the ground. The legs must be placed upon a concrete foundation or flat stones so that they will not sink into the ground when loaded.

Water must be provided; it may run from the house service through a pipe buried in a trench two feet under the ground. Gas may run in the same trench if it is desired to use it for heating. A gas plate in the potting room is excellent for heating water to scour old pots or boiling new ones.

If gas is to be used for heating, a good system for the small greenhouse is to use a fairly large size copper coil water heater. This, equipped with a thermostat, can be obtained from almost any plumber. This will operate a hot water heating system by using ordinary wall radiation hung beneath the benches. Second-hand radiation is all right for this purpose if guaranteed when purchased. The thermostat is placed upon the return to the heater and the temperature of the water can be regulated automatically in this manner. Keep a record of the experience during different kinds of weather for a short time and you will know how to set the thermostat to obtain proper greenhouse temperature. If you are able to adjust the temperature of the water it is always better to have as much radiation as possible. This is economy during mild weather and a necessity under extreme conditions.

Another requisite of every greenhouse is ventilation. In summer time it becomes very warm and it is necessary to abandon the house unless openings are easily available. It might seem more feasible to hinge the sash near the ridge and raise it from the bottom, but this would allow the draught to blow directly upon the plants on the bench and would not permit the escape of hot air at the highest point of the house. It would also admit direct sunlight and scorch certain plants.

The second type of ventilation is made by removing about one-half of the glass in a sash, nailing in a cross member at the end of the remaining glass and placing another on top of this. This sash is hinged near the ridge because sun will seldom reach the plants through it and it is high enough to permit adequate ventilation. It is opened and closed by a rod or strap ending in a hook which may attach to a screweye on the bench.

There should be two of these ventilators, one on either side of the roof, so that they may be opened on the side which will cause the least draught, according to the way the wind is blowing.

As it is necessary to keep the roof from dripping water upon the plants, it must be made as tight as possible. A lattice strip should be nailed about the edge of the movable sash to lap over the joining sash, but should it be found impossible to keep the movable sash from dripping, an inconspicuous metal gutter may be easily nailed to the rafter to carry the water away from the plants to the floor where it will do no harm.

In warmer weather additional ventilation becomes necessary and the side windows above the bench should be equipped with sash as shown, hinged at the bottom to open outward on a chain. Care must be taken to provide strong hooks on all movable sashes, especially those in the roof, as a windstorm not only will injure the sash but also may ruin all the plants.

We show the end of the greenhouse fitted with another hotbed sash. This sash should be attached with hooks and weather-stripped so that it may be fastened tightly in winter and removed, if necessary, in warmer weather. Light is essential to all types of plants, but many can be raised for at least part of their existence on shelves beneath the benches. This sash provides more space of this kind. A full-glazed door may take the place of this and be installed on hinges to open out if desired.

The amateur has often wondered why a greenhouse is first made of glass to let in the sun and then covered with whitewash to keep it out. The reason is that a number of plants will not stand direct sunlight.

Many growers spray the outside of the glass with whitewash. This is done in the early summer and is supposed to weather off before winter. Others smear the inside of the glass with clay, soaking it off with a hose whenever desired.

Many modern greenhouses have slat curtains working on the outside with cords to cast alternate shade and shadow on the plants.
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