HOW TO SET UP A GREENHOUSE?
In Mulberry Greenhouses, setting up a greenhouse is half the fun… and practically 100% of the work. Short of paying someone else to do it, it’s guaranteed to be a laborious process.
Still, that makes it all the more satisfying when you’re done!
🌳 IDEAL Greenhouse Location
Before you buy a greenhouse you need to decide where it will go. It sounds like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many people skip that crucial step.
Choosing where to put your greenhouse can be complicated. There are several considerations:
Is there enough light?
- A greenhouse needs to be in the sun, of course! It’s easy to control the amount of light inside the greenhouse – you can use shade cloths or layer your plants, but without ample light from the outside you’ll need to supplement it with grow lights.
- Ensure the location gets sun year-round. Is it sunny now because it’s autumn and all the leaves fell off the big oak nearby? Will the sun reach this spot during the winter when it changes its trajectory across the sky? Are there any buildings nearby that will cast shade?
- Place an object in the proposed greenhouse location and monitor it throughout the day to be sure it always remains in full sun.
Is the ground flat?
- Flat ground is very important for long-term health of your greenhouse – and the plants inside of it! An off-level greenhouse will have different amounts of sunlight in different places, making plant care more difficult. It could also cause water to pool in unexpected places instead of draining as you planned.
- The foundation of a greenhouse needs to be level, otherwise it will distribute stress disproportionately around the frame of the structure. Long-term that can mean damage like sagging. Even in the short term, a heavy storm or bad weather could cause the greenhouse to buckle when it normally could withstand the pressure.
Is there drainage for water?
- Some greenhouses have packed-earth floors, others have wood slats, and still others have a concrete foundation. Each method has its pros and cons, but it’s vital that no matter which flooring you choose you are sure to include adequate drainage, otherwise you risk water damage to the structure (and an icky, swampy greenhouse).
- You need to consider drainage outside the greenhouse too – a common strategy is to dig a 12″ deep x 6″ wide trench around the foundation and fill it with gravel or another loose medium to divert water from your greenhouse.
🌳 GREENHOUSE ORIENTATION
The orientation of your greenhouse is actually one of the most important factors to greenhouse success. It’s so often overlooked, though, which is a shame because it is the easiest way to optimize for light.
The best orientation for a greenhouse is for the spine to run from east to west. That ensures that the long side of your greenhouse gets maximal sun exposure. In the northern hemisphere, most sunlight comes from a southward direction (which is why plants prefer south-facing windows). In the southern hemisphere, most light comes from the north.
An east-west greenhouse covers both!
If this isn’t possible due to space constraints, the second best orientation is to have the broad side of the greenhouse face west (assuming you’re in the northern hemisphere). That orientation prioritizes getting the most light possible out of the latter half of the day, which will help keep the structure warm through the night.
🌳Building a Greenhouse Kit
If you like to get your hands dirty, or just save a bit of money, there are a multitude of greenhouse kits you can order online. They come in every shape and size (literally), so you are bound to find one that fits your needs.
The cheaper ones tend to be simple, which might be good if you have limited mobility or you think you don’t need to read the instructions (like me). The more you spend on a kit, the more complicated (and useful) it’s likely to be.
You should note that most of these greenhouse kits aren’t meant to be built alone. It’s probably possible to do it, but your experience will be 100% less frustrating if you manage to snag a buddy to help – at least until the frame is up.
A 6-pack as compensation to your friend is surely worth the many hours you’ll save! Plus, you can promise some future produce as an added benefit.
🌱 BUILDING A DIY GREENHOUSE
If you’re a real do-it-yourselfer, you can skip the kits entirely. Sure, it’ll mean lots of trips back and forth to Home Depot because you bought the wrong size of screw, but that’s all part of the experience.
I would recommend getting, or at least consulting with some greenhouse blueprints first. Sure, you’re no doubt capable of building a sturdy wooden box and throwing some plastic sheeting on it, but a greenhouse tends to have some additional considerations.
There are an abundance of free greenhouse blueprints and plans available with a quick google search, so there’s nothing to lose!
🌱 HOW TO MAINTAIN A GREENHOUSE
Upkeep on a greenhouse isn’t as intense as it would be on other buildings of a similar size, but it’s not nothing either.
We’ll skip the plant maintenance – that’s a topic for another website to explain. Besides, if you are so invested in plants that you want a greenhouse for them, you probably already know how to take care of them.
Here’s a list of chores that are necessary to maintain your greenhouse:
- Sweep floors (even if they’re packed dirt!). Dirty floors attracts pests, everything from bugs to mice to disease. Plus it’s ugly to look at.
- Clear out drainage. Just like you do with the gutters on your house, you will have to remove debris from any drainage channels or holes in or outside of your greenhouse to prevent blockages and algae build up.
- Lubricate doors and vents. Since they’re outside, the oil will wear off quicker and will leave it vulnerable to rust.
- Clean paneling. If you allow your glass or plastic panels to become dirtied or cloudy, it drastically reduces the amount of light that makes it into the greenhouse. You’ll want to clean them regularly – at least once a year.
- Maintain any electrical components. Lights, heaters, fans, vents – all of these are likely to be present in a greenhouse. Things break and need to be repaired, so don’t be surprised if it happens. Fortunately, most greenhouse equipment is built to withstand the outdoors, so it should be fairly sturdy.
You’ll undoubtedly find more tasks that need to be done to keep your greenhouse in tip-top shape. Fortunately, most of them are only necessary infrequently. Greenhouses are low-maintenance overall.