Greenhouses forum: Five Common Mistakes Made by New Hobby Greenhouse Owners

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Name: Jim
Stroudsburg, PA (Zone 6b)
Greenhouse Region: Pennsylvania
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MoonShadows
Feb 20, 2018 10:20 AM CST
I wrote a new article for my website Blog and Forum and thought I would share it here. I thought these might qualify for the 5 most common mistakes new hobby greenhouse owners make. What do you think?

Five Common Mistakes Made by New Hobby Greenhouse Owners

Many new hobby greenhouse owners mistakenly think that now that they have a greenhouse, they will have great plants, but that couldn't be further from the truth. These greenhouse owners are prone to making mistakes that work against their goal of a greenhouse full of healthy, thriving plants. A greenhouse is much more than having a bright and warm outside room in which to raise plants; it is a balance of many factors, an art and a science fraught with pitfalls for the new, unsuspecting greenhouse owner. Here are the five most common mistakes made by new hobby greenhouse owners.

Probably the number one mistake made by new owners happens before they ever have their greenhouse up and running. They choose the wrong location to place their new greenhouse. Location is the basis from which all else is built and placing a greenhouse in the wrong location can spell failure from the onset. Obstructions like other buildings and trees are often overlooked. A greenhouse should be placed with its longer side running east to west to take full advantage of the sun and there should be no buildings or trees that block the sunshine other than maybe early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

Ironically, the second most common mistake is just the opposite. Failure to provide adequate shade for plants under intense sun and high greenhouse temperatures puts undo stress on them and can cause heat damage which can kill or weaken the plants enough to open the door to disease and increased vulnerability to pests. Every greenhouse owner should have shade cloth and an easy way to deploy and retract it as needed depending on the sun's intensity and temperature in the greenhouse.

Temperatures must be constantly monitored. Large temperature swings are detrimental. For most common seasonal greenhouse plants this means average summer daytime ranges of between 75-85 degrees and nighttime temperatures between 65-75. In the winter this can be adjusted to 65-70 during the day and 40-50 during the night. Of course, many plants can tolerate, and some may even need, slightly different averages; these can be easily researched, and adjustments can be made, but keeping greenhouse temperatures within moderate ranges, avoiding extremes, only benefits your efforts. In addition to shade cloth already mentioned, properly sized equipment designed for greenhouse heating and ventilation with automatic controls should be a part of every hobby greenhouse.

Humidity control goes hand in hand with temperature control. Relative humidity in a greenhouse affects plant transpiration, the flow of water through a plant; however, because the capability of tracking and modifying the relative humidity is complex and involves expensive equipment, let's keep it simple here. Generally, prevent situations that can cause rapid changes in temperature like letting too much heat build up or allowing your greenhouse to get too cold. Know the average temperature ranges for your plants throughout the seasons and work to keep your greenhouse within these average temperatures. This alone will go a long way to preventing problems that can arise from extreme relative humidity levels.

Circulation of the air in the greenhouse will also aid in keeping temperature and humidity levels constant and avoid such problems as excessive surface soil and leaf moisture which can lead to mold, mildew and harmful fungi. Properly placed fans will equalize the temperature and carbon dioxide throughout the greenhouse and help keep humidity from forming condensate on plants, soil and other greenhouse surfaces. Circulation coupled with a proper watering regimen based on your plants needs in their greenhouse environment is another key to a healthy greenhouse.

If you make it your priority to stay aware of the environmental changes in your greenhouse, you will be on your way to success. It takes work and knowledge, but remember you reap what you sow. The more closely attuned you are to location, light, temperature, humidity and air circulation, the better able you will be to make the needed adjustments, minimizing damage and giving you a greenhouse full of healthy plants.

©Jim Guinn
HobbyGreenhouseGrowers.org and .com
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Name: Frank Mosher
Nova Scotia, Canada (Zone 6a)
Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Birds Roses Clematis Lilies Peonies
Region: Canadian Photo Contest Winner: 2017 Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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fwmosher
Feb 20, 2018 10:47 AM CST
Good article, but #1 in my humble opinion, would be proper anchoring of the greenhouse to a base or to the ground. I have had an 8' x 12' polycarbonate unit for over ten years now. I used reclaimed 2" x 10" planks, all bolted together securely, filled-in with soil, and then "included metal straps" bolted to the greenhouse, and then down over the planks and bolted to same. In the past 10 years, hurricanes etc., I have had the two roof vents fly off two or three times. I have jury-rigged same now with aluminium angle iron. Minor repairs on same occasionally!
Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Region: Arizona Cactus and Succulents Plays in the sandbox Greenhouse Sempervivums
Bromeliad Adeniums Avid Green Pages Reviewer Brugmansias Garden Ideas: Level 1 Tropicals
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plantmanager
Feb 20, 2018 10:49 AM CST
Good article, Jim!
Frank, that's a good point. There are a lot of really flimsy greenhouses sold, so many people have them go flying during the first big wind or storm. Anchoring them down well is extremely important.
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Name: Jim
Stroudsburg, PA (Zone 6b)
Greenhouse Region: Pennsylvania
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MoonShadows
Feb 20, 2018 11:15 AM CST
fwmosher said:Good article, but #1 in my humble opinion, would be proper anchoring of the greenhouse to a base or to the ground. I have had an 8' x 12' polycarbonate unit for over ten years now. I used reclaimed 2" x 10" planks, all bolted together securely, filled-in with soil, and then "included metal straps" bolted to the greenhouse, and then down over the planks and bolted to same. In the past 10 years, hurricanes etc., I have had the two roof vents fly off two or three times. I have jury-rigged same now with aluminium angle iron. Minor repairs on same occasionally!


Excellent point, @fwmosher. I never even thought about that one. I guess the others don't amount to a hill of beans if you have to chase your greenhouse down the road a mile or two! Rolling on the floor laughing

MoonShadows Farm - Good Eats & Treats from the Pocono Mountains
Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Region: Arizona Cactus and Succulents Plays in the sandbox Greenhouse Sempervivums
Bromeliad Adeniums Avid Green Pages Reviewer Brugmansias Garden Ideas: Level 1 Tropicals
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plantmanager
Feb 20, 2018 11:40 AM CST
Rolling on the floor laughing So true, and it's happened!
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Name: harold
Enterprise , Al. (Zone 8b)
Amaryllis Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Seed Starter Roses Lilies Hibiscus
Daylilies Container Gardener Birds Region: Alabama Cat Lover Bulbs
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cuzzx
Jun 17, 2018 2:59 PM CST
Thanks for the above post on my greenhouse. I have one but not put up just yet as I live in south east Alabama where the temp is nice at 86 but with the humidity what it is its just plain Hot. Going to put up in Nov.

Annlovegarden
Oct 31, 2018 2:56 AM CST
Good article, contains new and interesting facts for me. Thanks for the new knowledge Thank You!
Name: Jim
Stroudsburg, PA (Zone 6b)
Greenhouse Region: Pennsylvania
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MoonShadows
Oct 31, 2018 3:27 AM CST
Welcome! to NGA and Thank You!

Do you have a greenhouse or thinking of building one?
MoonShadows Farm - Good Eats & Treats from the Pocono Mountains
Name: Gina
Florida (Zone 9a)
Tropical plant collector 35 years
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Gina1960
Oct 31, 2018 6:27 PM CST
When you say 'hobby greenhouse' what size limit are you talking about?
Happy to consider trading plants, but ONLY with other people who also live in FLORIDA
Name: Jim
Stroudsburg, PA (Zone 6b)
Greenhouse Region: Pennsylvania
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MoonShadows
Oct 31, 2018 11:07 PM CST
Good question....For me, I don't think of size when it comes to the term hobby greenhouse, as much as I think of the "caretaker". A non-professional vs. commercial or farm greenhouse that is growing for profit.
MoonShadows Farm - Good Eats & Treats from the Pocono Mountains
[Last edited by MoonShadows - Oct 31, 2018 11:09 PM (+)]
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Name: Gina
Florida (Zone 9a)
Tropical plant collector 35 years
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Gina1960
Nov 1, 2018 10:14 AM CST
I ask because I have a greenhouse on the larger side but it is still just a hobby greenhouse, While I agree with most of the original posts points, sometimes it depends on exactly what you are growing how you manage heat, humidity. Your choices are also affected by whether you are trying to grow plants with disparate needs, like extremely tropical plants trying to grow with things like succulents or cacti that have different needs.
Happy to consider trading plants, but ONLY with other people who also live in FLORIDA
Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Region: Arizona Cactus and Succulents Plays in the sandbox Greenhouse Sempervivums
Bromeliad Adeniums Avid Green Pages Reviewer Brugmansias Garden Ideas: Level 1 Tropicals
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plantmanager
Nov 1, 2018 10:59 AM CST
Right now I'm growing tropicals along with some succulents and cacti. The tropicals are all happy but I'm finding the cacti and succulents don't do as well as they should. I need a separate drier greenhouse for them. Smiling I don't know if it will happen, but I hope so!
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Name: Jim
Stroudsburg, PA (Zone 6b)
Greenhouse Region: Pennsylvania
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MoonShadows
Nov 2, 2018 9:05 AM CST
Most definitely. Climate control is determined by what you choose to grow in your greenhouse. I have a friend who lives just a few miles from me that has a huge glass greenhouse that she has set up into different micro-climates for her different plant needs.
MoonShadows Farm - Good Eats & Treats from the Pocono Mountains
(Zone 5b)
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MichiganBelle
Dec 11, 2018 2:39 PM CST
Jim, you mentioned on another post that you have The Year-Round Solar Greenhouse book. (I also have the Forest Garden Greenhouse) I was wondering if there are any other books equally as good that might have different aspects of information and would be helpful to either buy or request from the library. Thanks!
Name: Jim
Stroudsburg, PA (Zone 6b)
Greenhouse Region: Pennsylvania
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MoonShadows
Dec 11, 2018 4:18 PM CST
Hi MichaganBelle. I don't have other books. I think The Year-Round Solar greenhouse is about the best I have found. I do have a website that I have learned a lot from: https://geodesic-greenhouse-ki.... This website has it's own YouTube channel, too. https://www.youtube.com/channe...
MoonShadows Farm - Good Eats & Treats from the Pocono Mountains
Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Region: Arizona Cactus and Succulents Plays in the sandbox Greenhouse Sempervivums
Bromeliad Adeniums Avid Green Pages Reviewer Brugmansias Garden Ideas: Level 1 Tropicals
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plantmanager
Dec 11, 2018 4:41 PM CST
I originally got the Greenhouse Gardener's Companion by Smith. It's been a good one. Now I see there is another one:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/1555914500/
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