Greenhouse and garden supply

Have you installed your greenhouse and are you now thinking about growing in it, except that you have no idea how? Do you imagine harvesting your own homegrown fruits and vegetables, but just don’t know where to start? Are you looking for a beginners guide to greenhouse gardening? Then we got you covered! Trial and error can be an essential ingredient of the learning process and patience is indeed power. With this compiled Greenhouse Gardening for Beginners’ manual, you will discover how to manage a greenhouse efficiently.

We understand that you have numbers of puzzles in mind. Slow down. We can assist you along the way in your journey.

Growing in a greenhouse can be so much fun for beginners and experienced gardeners alike but before you pick the plants you fancy to grow, examine and research what conditions, temperatures, and moisture your plants will require to flourish. This is a crucial step in order to make your plans thrive.


Easy plants for greenhouse starters

So what should you start with? What can you grow in a greenhouse? The answer is simple: Literally everything. But there are some plants that thrive easier than others. Begin with these simple plants and develop your knowledge in order to make your first experiences:

  1. Radishes
  2. Peas
  3. Strawberries
  4. Garlic
  5. Leafy greens like lettuce
  6. Tomatoes
  7. Onions
  8. Potatoes
  9. Sunflowers
  10. Mushrooms

See all easy-to-grow greenhouse plants here!

Our easy-to-master pointers below can assist you in how you can use your greenhouse’s potential at its best. Take advantage of every equipment and accessories and it will give you numerous ways to make use of your greenhouse.

By following this basic Greenhouse Gardening for Beginners Guide, you will be more successful and face fewer difficulties – including those on temperatures, insects, water, food, space, light, air, and soil. If you are fresh to gardening, do not be extremely aggressive. Take it one step at a time. We have prepared simple tips for you to start your green thumb journey.

The Essentials for Beginners – Greenhouse Gardening 101

1. Starting seeds

A greenhouse is an excellent controlled environment, especially when you need to extend the growing season for seasonal plants. You can even grow certain veggies all year round. But again you may still be wondering, “Where do I start?”. Now let’s start with seeds.

Starting seeds normally happens in plain level seed trays, hydroponic trays, or single plug trays. They are prepared depending on their particular needs, for example, they may be immersed overnight, stratified, and then set in trays inside the greenhouse.

To do this, you need to understand the following greenhouse gardening basics for seasonal crops:

  • Be seed smart
  • Get a listing of what you’d wish to plant
  • Invest in containers
  • Get sterile soil to prevent plant diseases and pest infestation
  • Add fertilizer to your soil
  • Always water your plants as recommended for each individual plant
  • Check if your climate can handle these plants
  • How much sunlight are you getting

For beginners, it is important to identify the label and date per seed planted and record entries on the seed packets to recognize the plants easier. Start a little and allot your time to the seeds properly. Review the germination rate on the seed pack to decide how many seeds will provide you with the expected quantity of seedlings.

Hybrid seeds

Hybrid seeds are a healthy option because they are accessible at any garden stores. They are generally identified as F-1 by seed companies. Hybrids crossbreed two similar plants. Here are some more pros and cons of planting hybrid seeds:

  • They are bigger and healthier plants that look more identical.
  • They have greater and more consistent production.
  • You can harvest earlier than expected with improved yields.
  • They are not really influenced by ecological stress, pests, and diseases.
  • They are more expensive compared to other seeds.
  • Seeds from hybrid plants cannot be stored longer.
  • Some assume that the result is not that appetizing.
  • They will not be like their parent plant.

Heirloom seeds

Heirloom seeds are gardeners choice. You simply cannot defeat the flavor of heirloom vegetables. Heirloom types were produced particularly for their awesome flavor.

  • They produce a genetic variety for future cultivation.
  • The seeds are usually adjusted to the local environment.
  • They are passed on for generations.
  • Great for seed swaps.
  • Gardeners can keep the seeds for another year.
  • They are stable.
  • Your plants will not be quite like each other.
  • The cross-pollinated species must be separated.
  • Unusual plants must be removed.
  • It is difficult to buy some varieties in some stores.
  • There is no hybrid vigor.

Seed labels and their meanings

The government expects that every seed set that is offered for sale should be accurately labeled. It helps you buy the best quality that will satisfy your needs.


These seeds are also called true-to-type which will produce a true plant. It means that they will generate plants that are related to their parent plant which is essential for seed conservation.


These seeds came from plants that followed the USDA organic standards of a certain territory or region.


These seeds are not grown with “recombinant DNA technology”. Non-GMO seeds are developed through specific or random pollination.


GMOs cross genes from separate plant kingdoms. Any type of seed can be GMO or open-pollinated, hybrid, and heirloom unless it is approved organic or non-GMO.

Percent germination (germ)

This shows how many seeds will sprout easily.

Hard seed

These seeds that don’t develop readily because of a thick seed coat.

Dormant seed

These seeds don’t sprout readily because it needs a pre-treatment or weathering.

2. Temperature control

Another lesson for greenhouse gardening beginners you must learn revolves around temperature control. Identify precisely what is happening inside your greenhouse.

You already have a head start with controlling the temperature of your garden by just using a greenhouse, however, no matter what you are growing you should consider getting an electric or gas heater to extend your growing season through the winter months or an Evaporative Cooling System to make it through the summer months depending on where you live.

In warmer months, you must keep it cooler in order for plants to survive. Moisture within a greenhouse is nearly always close to the peak due to the volume of greenery. Leaves generally perform a method called transpiration, in which they discharge moisture within the environment from pores in their exteriors.

It is essential to convince your plants that they are in a different climate. Greenhouses are intended to trap the warmth from the sun. If no one modified the temperature, it would keep rising or falling depending on the weather.

Its own environment is uniquely dependent in you. You should ensure that whatever heater/cooler you decide to acquire is economical, to keep your bills down.

Evaporative cooling helps regulate temperature and operates to add moisture back. It works perfectly in environments where the atmosphere is hot and dry similar to places like Arizona, Colorado, and California. Have a look at our evaporative cooler here!

A heating system needs to be effective to sustain the desired temperature throughout daytime and nighttime. A programmable heater with automated timers is required if the temperature normally drops below a particular period. Gardening experts also advise that these heaters are useful for propagating seeds and seedlings in cold weather. You can even opt for propagating heating mats to further cut down on your energy bills. Learn more about the best greenhouse heaters here!

3. Light

There are some things a greenhouse cannot achieve. One of them is making days lasting. Most of your plants require light to flourish because the light is vital for photosynthesis. But not every light is alike. You should analyze the following aspects:

  • The variety of plant being grown
  • The season
  • How much daylight is achievable

Plants react in a different manner to the intensity and span of light. As plants develop and grow the number of leaves, the demand for light rises. Most of the light utilized by plants is in the noticeable light spectrum. Red and blue colored light are the wavelengths of light most widely used in photosynthesis. They are ingredients of white light or sunshine. Numerous man-made light sources have diverse color blends that may or may not suffice the photosynthetic requirements of your plants.

In summer and late spring, your greenhouse should receive adequate light for plant germination and growth. However, if you wish to plant in winter or late autumn, you might want to invest in an additional lighting system.

LED grow lights and fluorescent lamp strips are high output lighting products that will serve you well in this regard. They are a crucial element to photosynthesis and satisfactory plant germination. They are particularly effective because they will cover a larger surface area and output the full spectrum of light your crops require.

Supplementing grow lights is the best alternative if you live in the North and don’t receive several hours of winter sunlight. Application of grow lights to extend the day’s period will be very beneficial. Whether you simply need to provide your specific plant a boost, or you intend to grow right over the winter, this will be an excellent choice.

Fluorescent lighting is commonly used in the greenhouse simply when a weak natural light is possible. It is applied in propagating spaces or germination room that experience no natural light.

Check out our greenhouse grow lights collection here!

4. Watering

There are certain watering systems and techniques depending on your plants but the basic rules of greenhouse gardening for beginners dictate that you understand the water requirements of every plant you intend to grow. Instead of watering your crops using a general timetable, learn what is required to ensure you do not over or under-water your crops.

Signs of inappropriate watering include irregular drying, decreased shoot, and root growth and immature plants with bad quality and shelf life. This can also increase the usage of pesticides and growth controls to compensate for incorrect watering routines.

Not every plant wants the same volume or frequency of water. Over or under-watering can make plant dilemmas. Overwatering doesn’t happen when your plant is given huge amounts of water at a time. It happens when water is done too often before the soil has an opportunity to drain. To stop this, you may install a drip system, which can be utilized to regulate greater or smaller streams of water straight to pots or flat grounds. You can set this kind of water with a timer and drip gauge.

Check each plant for its watering requirements. If the plant appears light then it requires watering and if the compost is dusty and dry it means that water is necessary. Remember that it is the roots that require access to water and not the leaves. Sprinkling the leaves is a misuse of water and may increase the scope of the disease.

Check out our greenhouse watering systems here!

5. Accessories

Apart from these accessories above, many other accessories and supplies will make your work easier. Depending on your budget and commitment, you can add mist systems, fans, tool racks, potting benches, and shelving, along with many other accessories to make your job easier.

One of the greenhouse gardening basics to keep in mind while shopping for these accessories is to consider what your plants need, what you would like to have, and the amount of space your greenhouse provides.

For example, some plants require a slow steady supply of water from a drip irrigation System in order to maximize their growth while other can handle general watering techniques with no adverse effects on their growth.

Here are some basic greenhouse accessories that you may need:

  • Shelvings are excellent space savers for small greenhouses. It is important for maintaining your greenhouse neat and organized. Pick the right shelving for your greenhouse here!
  • Fans can serve various purposes inside an enclosed structure. Small fans help with bug and pest problems by drying up excess dampness or condensation. Larger fans can do everything and more. More particularly, they assist in purifying and even cooling your structure, especially when matched with the suitable ventilation systems. Find the perfect ventilation system here!
  • A simple thermometer, like this one, may be a tiny accessory, yet it is unquestionably one of the most critical when it comes to greenhouse gardening. Some plants thrive best in particular temperatures, a thermometer will help to ensure the precise temperature is reached and if it falls under a safe limit.
  • The demand to regulate the daylight getting into the glass is properly reached by the application of shading. It is particularly used to nourish plants that do not require a lot of light to grow. Check out our shade cloths here!

Pests control for greenhouse starters

A greenhouse setting favors the fast spread of pest populations. The friendly, humid environment and plentiful plants in a greenhouse give an attractive, steady habitat for pest growth. Immediate discovery and analysis of pests are required to execute the appropriate pest control decisions before the issue gets out of hand and you may experience financial loss. You can find all our organic pest control posts here!

These are the top pests to look out for:


Everyone knows aphids. These delicately colored, soft-bodied insects that fill the leaves of your beloved and precious greens. Take a peek at the bottom of the leaves, this is where aphids prefer to gather. Careful pruning and cleanliness are solid habits to stop aphids from damaging your precious plants.


Thrips vary in color from brownish to black. Thrips may leave damage extending from moderate to critical. You may stop these invasions by using screens on vents, examining new supply entering your greenhouse and regulating weeds will help to control thrips.


Bloodworms are elongated, roundworms comparable to fungus gnat larvae in lacking limbs and having a well-defined brown head. The red color is because of the appearance of hemoglobin, just like in human blood. The existence of hemoglobin lets them grow in water with extremely low oxygen content.

Slugs and Snails

Slugs and snails may increase when the moisture is high. These are nocturnal, fleshy, and slimy creatures. Cleanliness is necessary for slug and snail control. make sure your greenhouse is free of plant wastes like uprooted weeds, leaves, used boards, bricks or rocks that give a cooling and moistened hiding spots.

Common greenhouse gardening mistakes

The actual system of nurturing plants in a greenhouse needs a bit of confidence and ability. It may require a little practice beforehand so you won’t get caught up in one of these common greenhouse gardening mistakes. Here are some things to watch out for.


One of the significant mistakes inexperienced gardeners make is skipping to observe their greenhouse temperature on a regular basis. Use a basic thermometer, or buy a digital thermometer that also has the corresponding humidity, which is so crucial to identify for stopping heat loss.


Too much humidity may let mold, mildew, and bugs to run wild in your greenhouse. Too little will make your plants die of thirst. Misting is the best approach to improve humidity.


If your greenhouse has limited or no ventilation, your plants may die. You can utilize roof vents to release the warm air. Or sometimes a small fan may be required to keep sufficient air circulation.


Soil control is important, but it includes some additional challenges. Aside from the basics of combining compost and fertilizer occasionally, think of applying a blended soil mixture when preparing your bases. Do not apply old potting soil, which will carry pests and disease.


Roots from neighboring trees can invade your plants from underground, feeding up nutrients and moisture that is intended for your plants inside your greenhouse. It can also dump leaves or branches all year round. Shades can be a constant obstacle in restricting light as well. To care for your structure and plants, do not place your greenhouse near trees or position it accordingly.

The tips above will get you started on your blooming greenhouse gardening journey and ensure that your investment in a greenhouse is worth all the time, money and effort you put into your greenhouse. Having a greenhouse means any season is a planting season. Savor the excitement of having your homegrown fruits and veggies on your dining table. Have fun gardening all year round!

Do you have any questions or anything to add? Join our discussion by leaving a comment, question, query, or suggestion in the section below.

6 Essential Greenhouse Growing Tips for Beginners

Growing your own produce in a greenhouse is an incredibly fulfilling and enjoyable pass time, but as with any hobby that requires a degree of skill and knowledge, the learning curve can be quite steep. Even when growing the hardiest of plant species, there is a large number of variables that can affect growth rates and the success of a yield.

For those new to greenhouse growing, it can be hard to get everything right in your first season, and while trial and error is an important part of the learning process, these 6 tips will give any greenhouse novices a head start.

1. Seasonal Starting Seeds

One of the biggest advantages of having a greenhouse is that you can extend growing seasons, getting an early start on spring and summer and even growing certain vegetables all year round. Our growing guide gives you a good insight into what should be planted when, but before you even start planning your growing schedule, it is important that you load up on the vital seed starting supplies you’ll need for a successful yield. At a minimum, you should invest in:

  • Containers
  • Sterile soil (very important to reduce the chance of pest infestation and diseases)
  • Fertiliser
  • Water

We also recommend you invest in heat sources to help propagate seeds at the beginning of the season when temperatures are cooler. A propagation heating mat is an inexpensive and easy way to heat seed flats and encourage growth, but there are other methods such as heat cables buried in seed benches.

2. Light Sources

During late Spring and Summer, any Swallow or Elite greenhouse should be getting enough natural light for the plants, but if you want to grow in late Autumn and Winter, a supplementary lighting system is a must-have if you want healthy, strong plants.

High output fluorescent lamp strips and LED grow lights are amongst the most popular lighting products because, unlike some other lighting systems they output full spectrum light, are very energy efficient and can cover a larger area.

However, if you’re in a small and cheaper greenhouse, or are growing a smaller crop, a normal fluorescent strip hung 3-7 inches above the plants will often suffice.

3. Heating

Heating a greenhouse in the cooler months can be quite the learning experience in and of itself! For those new to greenhouse growing we recommend using electric heaters as they are easier to install, more economical and have a wider range of applications. A small 120-volt heater will usually heat a small greenhouse just fine, although larger greenhouses will need a 240+ volt heater, controlled by a reliable, waterproof thermostat.

Gas heaters work just as well, but tend to be less economical and come with the added nuisance of sorting out proper ventilation, with both a constant supply of fresh air for combustion and a means of fume exhaustion.

For the eco-minded out there, less energy intensive forms of heating include setting up ventilation systems which use unneeded warm air from your home. Some growers with small greenhouses also use items like large rocks and other heat-absorbent materials which absorb heat during sunlight hours and slowly release it throughout the night. Even with supplementary heating sources, these methods are a good way of keeping the temperature inside the greenhouse more consistent throughout the course of a day.

4. Cooling

Even with the UK’s milder climate, during the height of summer it can be hard to maintain a consistent temperature in a greenhouse. Because they are specifically designed to maintain and trap heat, cooling down a greenhouse that has become too hot is far harder than heating a greenhouse that is too cool.

Therefore consistently and regularly measuring the temperature inside the greenhouse or potting shed during the hotter months is hugely important. Measuring temperatures regularly can mean the difference between being able to regulate temperature by simply opening the greenhouse door and having to use positive cooling. If your greenhouse does regularly overheat, we recommend using evaporative air coolers, which maintain humidity.

5. Ventilating a Greenhouse

Seasonality plays a huge role in ventilating any size greenhouse. During the summer, convection currents created by the natural heat is more than enough to maintain good circulation. By keeping both the wall vents and the roof vents open during summer, cool air will be pulled in through the walls while hot air will escape through the roof, drawing in a constant supply of fresh air.

During winter, however, maintain air circulation and preventing the growth of mold can be more difficult. Making sure that the soil is not over watered will help a lot, but many greenhouse growers keep an oscillating fan running throughout most of the colder months.

6. Watering the Plants

One of the most common mistakes new growers make is watering plants according to a set schedule. A number of variables dictate when plants need watering, with temperature, humidity and the growth stage of the plants themselves having a huge effect on how much water is needed.

While in the middle of winter you might only need to water a seed bench every 10 days, during summer the frequency will be increased. The best way to know when to water the plants is to measure moisture in the soil, either with specific moisture metres or just by sight and feel of the soil.


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Have the thought of combating rising food costs by growing your own fresh fruit, produce and even herbs crossed your mind lately? Maybe it has but you aren’t familiar with gardening inside or outside a greenhouse! If the thought of supplementing your income by reducing weekly or even monthly grocery costs is intriguing to you; then you have definitely come to the right place! In a society where it seems the only thing not increasing at a rapid rate is wages earned through our chosen fields of employment, it can be beneficial to cut costs when and wherever you can. Food insecurity is a bigger issue than most would realize in numerous towns and cities around the globe. If you want to learn how to grow fresh but plentiful produce in your own home or backyard, you may have heard of how a greenhouse can increase your chance of success. Unsure of where to start? Not an issue, as this article will tell you how to use a greenhouse for beginners! Let’s begin, shall we?

Table of Contents

Why is it a Good Idea to Grow Your Own Produce?

Growing your own produce has not only financial benefits but also health-related ones with the lack of chemicals and preservatives used throughout each stage of the growing process. Thanks to scientific and clinical studies, there is a greater exposure and understanding on what negative effects different chemicals and preservatives can have on the human body. With these new discoveries, it should come as no surprise that numerous households are turning to fresh fruit and vegetables to boost their immune system and reduce the amount of harmful material put into their body. Also, fresh produce can add new flavors to dishes or increase the taste of a well-loved favorite! A quick summary, it is a good idea to grow your own product because not only is it:

  • cost-effective when looking for ways to reduce your household grocery budget, but
  • it is a tastier option when given the choice between fresh, canned, or even frozen produce, as well as being
  • less harmful to put into your body due to a lack of pesticides, chemicals, preservatives etc.

What is a Greenhouse and Why Should You Use One?

A greenhouse is a wooden or metal structure that has been “walled-in” or surrounded by plastic sheeting. Other material may be used as the walls of a greenhouse, as long as it allows for light to penetrate and air to circulate. It is generally the shape of a small building with four walls, a roof, and a single entry/exit point. Greenhouses can be purchased already assembled through your local hardware store or even nurseries while some hardware stores carry “greenhouse kits” – which are starter kits to building your own greenhouse. As a convenient alternative, you can also buy them online!

A greenhouse reduces the chance that intermittent weather and seasonal issues could hamper the progress your garden makes not only during the germination-of-seeds (the initial stage of allowing a seed to root and start to grow) process but also during the crucial growing season. It also allows the gardener to grow their own produce in comfort and can be less physically demanding for those with limitations. The lack of physical demand compared to an outdoor garden comes from the majority of plants being waist high in rows opposed to down in the ground.

A greenhouse will encourage the moisture needed to boost growth to stay in the air while also allowing for the proper temperature control needed for certain produces and plants. It offers weather and pest protection to delicate plants and increases the length of the growing season versus an outdoor garden. Some people tend to use a greenhouse only for the beginning of the growing process before moving their plants to an outdoor garden whereas others use it year-round due to space, time or other restrictions. Neither way is incorrect but instead, the correct way to use a greenhouse is to use it completely how you would prefer to!

What You Will Need?

There are a few things to consider when it comes to constructing or purchasing your greenhouse once the decision has been made to grow your own produce. To ensure a positive and productive growing season, it is recommended that your greenhouse has the following features:

  • Ample height for taller plants and yourself
  • Room for heating and air systems, if needed
  • Room to maneuver other plants and yourself around the greenhouse without damaging plants
  • Tight plastic or other reflective material as the walls of your greenhouse to allow light in but stop heat and moisture from escaping
  • The proper location to provide natural sunlight or shade, depending on your climate

There are a few things to consider when it comes to constructing or purchasing your greenhouse once the decision has been made to grow your own produce. To ensure a positive and productive growing season, it is recommended that your greenhouse has the following features:

  • Ample height for taller plants and yourself
  • Room for heating and air systems, if needed
  • Room to maneuver other plants and yourself around the greenhouse without damaging plants
  • Tight plastic or other reflective material as the walls of your greenhouse to allow light in but stop heat and moisture from escaping
  • The proper location to provide natural sunlight or shade, depending on your climate

How to Use a Greenhouse: Step-by-Step

1. Choose the style of greenhouse that will suit your needs

There are multiple types and styles of greenhouses available from free-standing structures to leaning ones. The freestanding structures are placed in your backyard and a leaning one has only three walls; with the fourth being the wall of an existing structure – i.e. your house.

  • Freestanding structures need a higher level of space than that of the leaning structure. Leaning structures are a good option for those short on space but it is to be remembered that one wall will not receive any natural sunlight due to the wall being made from a material that cannot be penetrated by UV rays or water.

2. Research the additional features you may need for your greenhouse

perhaps the current climate where you live does not allow for a particular temperature during growing season or you plan to grow produce year-round. Determine if grow lights, heating systems and/or fans are needed to make your greenhouse suitable for the produce you want to grow.

  • If you live in a climate where sunlight exposure is decreased in accordance with the seasons, a grow light system may be recommended

3. Select the location of your greenhouse

Regardless of the style of greenhouse you choose, it is crucial that the location has maximum exposure to the sun, as the natural UV rays will enhance the growing ability of any type of plant.

  • If your current location does not allow for at least six hours of sun daily (even in the winter months), grow lights can be installed to ensure that your plants receive the UV exposure as well as the temperatures they need for positive growth. The most commonly-purchased type of grow light tends to be the LED light; as they are efficient but low-wattage, decreasing the amount of money added to your monthly electricity bill.

4. Check for air circulation

Any plant you will grow to completion will need a certain level of ventilation for survival. Oxygen is as important to plants as it is us, humans. Most gardeners tend to increase ventilation by the use of fans and air movers to circulate the air throughout the greenhouse.

5. Ensure that a level of shade can be found

While all plants thrive under sunlight, they also can dry out and burn from too much exposure. Using trees or other means – such a shading sheet for greenhouses – increases the odds of survival of both delicate and sturdy plants.

  • Shading sheet – a sheet of dark material designed to roll down over the greenhouse similar to a window shade.

6. Check for pest interference

Yes, a greenhouse would have a higher chance of maintaining pest cost but it is possible for pests to wreak havoc on your plants. Outside foliage should be kept away from the greenhouse to reduce the risk of contamination.

  • Some people will install insect screening around any open area – this includes the doorway, air vents, and water systems.

7. Use correct growing seasons

In the spring, start seeds inside the greenhouse. Summer, start growing flowers and small plants. Fall, start growing seasonal plants. Winter, grow cold-resistant plants


Hopefully, with this tutorial, you are now ready to start showing off your own green thumb while saving money at the same time!

As previously stated, the rising costs of today’s society can be hard and stressful for a household to contend with. By reducing your grocery budget by introducing home-grown fresh produce into your diet, not only will you reap the financial benefits, but also the physical ones. It has been proven that fresh vegetables contain a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals than their frozen or canned counterparts.

So by using a greenhouse to grow your own fruits, vegetables, and even herbs; you can be on the way to looking and feeling great, both inside and out, with a few extra dollars in your pocket for a rainy day.

If you enjoyed this tutorial on how to use a greenhouse for beginners and found it informative, please feel free to share it with your family and friends. If you currently use a greenhouse or you have previous experiences growing with the aid of a greenhouse, and you have inventive ideas or tips on which produce grows the fastest; share these thoughts down below in the comments!


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The dream of a greenhouse is hard to deny, with rows of healthy plants growing happily together indoors. But once you have the structure in place, what’s next? Below is a list of some basics to get you started, as well as some suggestions for other items you may want to add as well. Luckily, you probably already have many of these items. All you need to do is put them in place.

The Basics

The greenhouse provides the warmth and light. You need to provide the plants, something to grow them in, a place to put them and enough water, and you have to manage the temperature. Listed below are some basics to get you started.

1. A mix of pots. Having pots in a range of sizes readily available will let you do everything from seed-starting to growing specimen plants. Begin with a collection of small pots, whether plastic or biodegradable, for starting plants early in the gardening season or encouraging seedlings.

Add a mix of larger sizes as well, so you can transplant seedlings as needed and continue to add plants to your collection. A few larger pots will let you use your greenhouse to protect tender plants that may get large but won’t do as well outside.

2. Seed-starting trays. If you plan to use your greenhouse to start plants from seed, it’s worth investing in a few seed-starting trays. Ones with removable clear covers can help you keep the humidity levels high enough to encourage germination, even when it’s cold outside.

3. Potting mixes and fertilizers. Keep potting soil and other mixes readily available. You can keep them in their bags; store them in a closed container for better protection against the elements and pests. There are a number of options available from commercial suppliers, but a simple metal can with a lid will work well.

4. Garden tools. Have a set of hand tools — such as a pruner, scissors, a small trowel, small stakes, string, a dibble or unsharpened pencil and a small paintbrush or pot brush — readily available to make it easy to get to work. Store them in a terra-cotta pot and throw in a set of thin gardening gloves as well.

5. Labels and markers. Keep a stash of plant markers, a permanent marking pen and a sharpened pencil nearby to label plants and trays.

6. Sprays. Keep on top of possible problems by keeping your favorite disinfectant mix and natural pest spray nearby as well.

Note: Keep in mind that many insects are beneficial to a healthy garden

7. Benches and shelves. You can put your pots on the floor, and you will have to with the largest plants, but having them on a counter-level surface will make it easier to take care of your plantings.

Many greenhouse manufacturers have ready-made shelves that are designed to work with their products. You can also build your own from materials you have around your home or that are available at home supply centers. Having a non-solid top will allow water to drain easily away from the plants.

If you’re working with plants, table or counter height is ideal. You can also mount narrower shelves higher up to keep lighter objects, such as tools, labels, markers and sprays, out of the way of the plants. Lower shelves are ideal for holding heavier objects such as soil mixes and storing larger pots and trays.

8. A place to work. While you’re installing shelves, add in a workbench for yourself as well. It should be large enough to work comfortably at but can be larger. Desk height or counter height works well, especially if you have a stool or chair. Add a solid top to write on.

9. Ventilation. No matter what your outdoor climate, your greenhouse can get too hot and too humid. Be sure you have a way to cool off the interior. It might be as simple as opening up the doors, but many greenhouses come with ceiling vents as well.

Look for hydraulic systems for these, which are easy to install and will open and shut automatically. If you have an easy way to access electricity, consider adding a fan as well.

10. Temperature monitoring. It’s a good idea to add a thermometer to monitor the temperatures inside your greenhouse. It will let you know if things are getting too hot inside when it’s warm, which may mean you need to move plants outside or provide some shade. Likewise, in winter you can use the thermometer to determine if it’s warm enough to start seeds or keep cool-season plants happy.

Beyond the Basics

Your greenhouse can be as elaborate as you want, including turning it into a garden room. But, if you just want to move beyond the basics, here are some ways to start.

Upgrade the flooring. A dirt floor is an easy-care option, but you can also add pavers, which can provide added stability for benches, or gravel to keep it from getting muddy. Lay down landscape cloth first to help keep weeds at bay.

RELATED: Outdoor Rugs for Your Greenhouse

Include a sink. Having a sink nearby is a plus when it’s time to plant or transplant. A dry sink will give you a space to work, but you can also put in a full wet sink if you want to add plumbing.

RELATED: Install a Utility Sink

Add some heat. Consider adding a small space heater or other heat source to keep things a bit warmer, especially in cold-winter climates. You can find ones designed specifically for greenhouses or use a commercially available indoor-outdoor one.

Add lighting. If you have access to electricity, consider adding some lights inside the space. Not only will it allow you to work later during the fall through spring months, it will also create a cheerful glow from inside the space.

Greenhouse Gardening Supplies: What Are Common Supplies For A Greenhouse

Greenhouse gardening opens up a whole new world of techniques for eager gardeners, even allowing those in colder or unpredictable climates to extend their growing season into all or most of the year. When your shiny new greenhouse finally arrives, you’re going to need greenhouse gardening supplies. Read on to discover the most common supplies for a greenhouse.

Hobby Greenhouse Necessities

Installing the greenhouse is only the first step on your indoor growing adventure. There are many other things to consider, like lighting, temperature and humidity control, watering, sanitation and even the type of benches you’d prefer. Storage bins can help protect delicate soil mixes from invading pests and disease. Below, you’ll find a general greenhouse supply list, broken into the major types of items every greenhouse needs eventually.

Basics – Your list of items for greenhouse gardening has to include pots, containers for mixed growing mediums, hand trowels and seedling flats. Some greenhouse hobbyists prefer to use biodegradable pots and, if you do as well, make sure to store them in a water-tight container. Growing mediums can be mixed in buckets with lids in small greenhouses or stored in large plastic tubs with lids in larger greenhouses – these containers protect your home-blended mediums from insect eggs and pathogens.

Benches – Benches are nice, but shelves will do in a pinch. At the end of the day, you just need something that will get your plants up off the ground. Make sure to paint any wooden surfaces with a semi-gloss paint to protect against mold and make cleaning a snap.

Sanitation – Sanitation in a greenhouse is vital. There’s nothing more frustrating than fungus, bacteria or bugs that infiltrate a greenhouse, causing chaos and ruining a whole season of plants. Bleach and disinfectant spray are as vital as sinks and large washing tubs in keeping your greenhouse pest-free.

Irrigation and Drainage – Your greenhouse plants need water. Large greenhouses often employ drip irrigation, but a smaller setup may be able to be fully watered by hand with a watering can. Avoid watering plants directly with a hose-sprayer, since this can encourage and spread mold spores. Drainage is also vital, so make sure your benches are slightly slanted to keep the water shedding, or designed with lots of holes or slats to allow water to drip through.

Ventilation – Ventilation in your greenhouse is important. Install a vent or two to help release built-up heat and humidity in the summer. This will help keep plants healthy and looking their best.

Lighting – Many greenhouses need artificial lighting to properly light the plants inside. If your greenhouse isn’t naturally lit most days, or your plants need longer days than are generally available at your location, fluorescent lights can get the job done if you raise them as the plants grow. Greenhouse lights are available, but may be cost-prohibitive for small greenhouses.

Shades – Shade-loving plants appreciate artificial shade as the summer’s bright sun begins to appear on the horizon. Shade cloths are also helpful for keeping the hottest rays of the day out of your building.

Climate Control – A small heater or evaporative cooler may be necessary if you intend to use your greenhouse year round. Greenhouse heaters can be relatively inexpensive for small spaces, and fans will sometimes do for cooling greenhouses in mild climates if you install them so they move hot air out of the building. Always use thermometers and hygrometers with a climate control system for precise control.

Now that you know about the basic hobby greenhouse necessities, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying the gardening season all year long.

By extending the growing season, greenhouse growing enables the cultivation of organic, pesticide-free produce all year around. Breaking into greenhouse growing can seem like a daunting task, but with the right information, you can decide which greenhouse is best for you.

This is a stand alone greenhouse at Stephen Shellard’s home. Stephen Shellard / Flickr (Creative Commons)

Greenhouse Structure

The design of a greenhouse greatly impacts its productivity and energy-efficiency. Though other materials are available, many people use metal frames to create a free span interior. The basic structure of a greenhouse includes rafters, an end wall, side posts, side walls, and purlins (horizontal beams to the rafters). From these components come three types of greenhouses, the lean-to, detached, and gutter connected.

Each of these structures can be used for commercial or personal use, but some may be better for different purposes. For example, the lean-to greenhouse is usually attached to houses, and for this reason, it is mainly used for personal gardens. In contrast, the detached greenhouse can be placed almost anywhere, making them usable for commercial and non-commercial use alike. Lastly, gutter connected greenhouses are used by commercial growers because you can attach multiple greenhouses together.

A large greenhouse that is used for commercial purposes. Ken_from_MD / Flickr (Creative Commons)

The structure, flooring, and coverings can each be made from a combination of materials, each changing the effectiveness of your greenhouse. Plants are only as strong as their greenhouse, making it important for you to use the right building materials for an environment your plants will thrive in.


The structure of the greenhouse can be made from aluminum, galvanized steel, wood, or plastic. Each material has a different structure and panel type they work best with. Steel, for example, is best for polyethylene sheets or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) based fabrics. If you’re on a budget, plastic is also a good option that won’t rot from moisture like wood.


Typical flooring materials for a greenhouse are concrete, porous concrete, gravel, and dirt. Flooring material affects both your greenhouse’s heat efficiency and light transmission. You should be wary of using gravel or dirt flooring because they do not retain heat or protect your plants from pests. Alternatively, porous concrete allows water to drain, retains heat better, and protects your plants from pests by creating an impenetrable barrier.


You can use glass, fiberglass, double-sheet polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride, and polycarbonate to cover your greenhouse. The covering is the most important aspect of your greenhouse because it will affect how much light your plants receive. The different material allows a specific amount of light to pass through, and offer varying amounts of diffusion. You should be careful when deciding the material for your cover because too much light can overheat plants, while shading can cause plants to die from a lack of energy.

Greenhouse Types


When people think about greenhouses, a glass structure usually comes to mind. Glass greenhouses are probably the best looking option, but they often lack energy efficiency and can be costly. If you choose to use glass, keep in mind that glass does not diffuse light, so you will need to decide on a diffusion method for your plants. There are two main types of glass greenhouses you can choose from, single pane and double pane.

A large glass green house. Elliott Brown / Flickr (Creative Commons)

Single Pane

These greenhouses aren’t suitable for northern gardeners, where crops are grown in colder climates. Single pane glass greenhouses are fragile, break often, and can’t withstand the weight of snow. The single pane greenhouse is also the least energy-efficient greenhouse, because the single pane allows heat to escape. Single pane greenhouses are fantastic for light transmission, but this can still be an issue in areas where too much sun will burn your plants. These downsides, coupled with the fact that the glass is costly, means that single pane glass greenhouses are more suited for form than function.

Furthermore, the heating costs can be double, or even triple, the amount of a double pane or PVC based fabric greenhouse. The thermal insulation value, or R-value, of a single-pane glass greenhouse is about 0.9, so you will need to find a way to heat your greenhouse in colder months.

Double Pane

Double pane glass greenhouses are designed to be more energy-efficient without compromising traditional style. If you still want a glass style greenhouse, the double pane glass can reduce your heating cost by half. These greenhouses have an R-value of 1.5 to 2.0, making them better than the single pane glass for insulation. Double pane glass greenhouses can also have a coating applied to the inside to reflect heat and add more insulation to the greenhouse. Before you buy a double pane greenhouse, you should also know that these are usually the most expensive type of greenhouse.


Polycarbonate greenhouses are made from a thick plastic, making them cheaper and more versatile than most glass greenhouses. This material is superior to glass in some ways, however, there are still many issues. These greenhouses most commonly come with a single-wall or twin-wall polycarbonate sheet.

A greenhouse with yellowing of the panels. Kristine Paulus / Flickr (Creative Commons)


While single-wall polycarbonate is more durable than glass, it still has many issues that you need to take into consideration. The single-wall polycarbonate sheets do not diffuse light or insulate heat well. In fact, the R-value of single-wall polycarbonate material is 0.83, while horticultural glass has an R-value of 0.93.

Single-wall polycarbonate is also inferior to glass in terms of light transmission. About 94-96% of light passes through single-wall polycarbonate, while 97-98% of light goes through horticultural glass. Single-wall polycarbonate is not ideal for growers because the material is flammable, making it difficult to insure.


Twin-wall polycarbonate is better than single-wall polycarbonate in almost every way. The R-value of twin-wall polycarbonate is 1.42, making it better than single-pane glass or single-wall polycarbonate. Twin-wall polycarbonate also diffuses light, but only 80-84% of light passes through the panels. In addition, polycarbonate panels are known to cloud over time. This clouding is called the yellowing affect. If you buy polycarbonate panels, you need to monitor the yellowing affect because it will reduce the light that passes through the panels. Condensation is an additional issue for twin-wall polycarbonate, which can lead to diseases in plants and poor light retention.


Polyethylene is inexpensive and lightweight, making it easy to use. The polyethylene (poly) film is typically made of one or two layers. Oxygen and carbon dioxide can pass through the poly film because it is porous, allowing plants to breathe in a tightly sealed greenhouse.

Tomatoes in a greenhouse using plastic covering. Jennifer C. / Flickr (Creative Commons)

Poly films are great for growers because you can customize the material with different coatings. A UV stabilizer can be used on the poly film to reduce sun degradation and yellowing, while an anti-drip coat will prevent excessive condensation. Another useful coat is the poly glazing that diffuses light. The diffusion coat allows growers to maximize space by ensuring all plants receive sunlight.

In comparison to glass, poly film reduces heat loss by 30-40%. Most poly film also ranges with an R-value of 0.87 to 1.7. The single layered poly film has an R-value of 0.87, whereas double layered poly film varies from 1.5 to 1.7. Unfortunately, poly film is still moderately flammable, placing it between glass and polycarbonate.


Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic (FRP) is another good option for your greenhouse. FRP scatters sunlight, providing good diffusion and light transmission throughout your greenhouse, and can last up to 10 years. The panels of fiberglass have an R-value of 0.89, which is slightly better than glass. However, UV rays break down the fiberglass over time, making the cover brittle. To maintain the strength of your fiberglass panels, you need to apply a new UV coating every few years.

PVC Fabric

In terms of durability, Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) fabric is the best choice. Some PVC fabrics can withstand heavy snow loads and offer increased insulation, making them good for growers in colder climates.

Translucent PVC fabrics with UV-treatments, including types engineered with UV stabilizers, allow light diffusion for your plants. The UV-treatment also prevents a yellowing affect in the fabric. For safety and insurance purposes, the PVC fabric can also be made flame retardant. Another benefit of PVC fabric is that installation is easy and doesn’t require special skills, so you can set up your greenhouse quickly.

Other Tips for Proper Light And Heat Efficiency

The greenhouse may do most of the work, but there are some additional ways you can increase your greenhouse’s efficiency. One way to give your plants extra installation is by using black pots. The black pots will hold heat, keeping the roots of your plants warm, due to the fact that black color attracts light. If you live in a hot climate, you should be careful using black pots because too much sun can cause your plants to overheat.

When you make your greenhouse, avoid using dark colors for anything other than the pots. Dark frames and mirrored surfaces, like aluminum, can absorb light your plant needs.

Benches and shelves in your garden should be painted in light colors, preferably white, because they will diffuse light. For this same reason, you should not use light colors for your pots.

Caulking is important to the energy efficiency of your greenhouse, especially in glass and polycarbonate greenhouses. Caulk is used to seal the panels of the greenhouse, and in the process will insulate, weatherproof, and pest-proof your greenhouse. You can also reduce excess moisture that introduces disease to your plants by using caulk.

Whatever you choose to build your greenhouse out of, it will provide a shelter for sustainable plant cultivation all year around. This means fewer trips to the store for produce, and reducing your contribution to companies shipping vegetables across continents for the sake of convenience.

As a greenhouse grower, you are taking proactive steps to become self-sufficient and sustainable like other gardeners, except that you can grow in any season.

Article contributed by Rory Bagley.

Greenhouse Supplies

Professional Greenhouse Equipment & Supplies

Indoor growing is a delicate process with many moving parts, and we’re committed to ensuring our customers receive the highest-quality greenhouse equipment from the best brands and manufacturers in the industry. From the largest greenhouse frames to the smallest timers, pots, and warming cables, we have every step of the garden supply process covered.

Our greenhouse supplies, structures, and accessories provide the ultimate protective environment for your plants. The oversized Jeuwel cold frame is nearly five feet long and offers a great space for growing vegetables away from the harsh elements. Alternatively, A.M. Leonard has partnered with Ginegar Plastics to offer their greenhouse supply customers the durable protection of extra-strength Overwintering Plus films, perfect for protecting plants from rain, wind, and snow.

For more winter protection, check out our plant covers and frost blankets, available in both medium and heavy weights. These greenhouse supply blankets are designed to contain and maintain heat while allowing continued irrigation. They are a great option for ornamentals and vegetables.

Pots, trays, mats, cables, pouches, lights, and pellets — A.M. Leonard has all the greenhouse supplies you need to help propagate your plants. We are your one-stop garden supply shop, no matter the weather.

Growing Supplies and Accessories

  • Greenhouses
    • Hydroponic Greenhouse Packages
      • NFT System
      • Bato Bucket System
    • Greenhouse Structures
      • Gutter Connect
      • Hoop House
      • High Tunnel
    • Storage Structure
  • Greenhouse Supplies
    • Commercial Lighting
      • Fluorescent
      • HID
      • LED
    • Cooling and Ventilation
      • Aluminum Wall Shutters
      • Fan Jet System
      • Fan and Pad Cooling System
      • Fans
      • Roll-up Sidewall
      • Slant Wall Fans
    • Environmental Controls
      • CO2 Generators
      • Electrical Panel
      • Sensaphone
      • iGrow
    • Greenhouse Coverings
      • Accessories
      • Film
      • Polycarbonate
      • Shade Cloth
    • Ground Cover
    • Hardware
      • Brace Bands
      • Cross Connectors
      • Doors
      • Endwall Bracket Assembly
      • Pipe Straps
      • Tape
    • Heating
      • Convection Tube
      • Heating Accessories
      • Natural Gas
      • Propane Heaters
  • NFT Systems & Supplies
    • Fertroller
      • Complete Fertroller System
      • Fertroller Accessories
    • NFT Growing Accessories
    • NFT Introductory Systems
      • NFT 10-36
      • NFT 4-6
      • NFT 8-25
      • NFT 8-4
      • NFT Desktop System
      • NFT Starter Kit
    • NFT System Components
      • Channel
      • End Caps
      • Top Covers
    • Vacuum Auto Seeder
    • Commercial System
  • Bato Bucket Systems & Supplies
    • Bato Bucket Introductory Systems
      • 10 Bucket Bato System
      • 24 Bucket Bato System
    • Bato Growing Accessories
    • Bato System Components
    • Commercial Systems
    • Nutrient Injection Systems
      • Injector System
      • Injector System Accessories
    • Pollination
  • Fodder and Microgreens
    • Complete Fodder Systems
    • Complete Microgreens System
    • System Components
  • Aquaculture and Aquaponics
    • Aquaculture Accessories
    • Aquaculture Systems
    • Aquaponic System
  • Growing Supplies and Accessories
    • Cleaners and Sanitizers
    • Containers and Trays
    • Growing Media
      • BioStrate
      • Burlap
      • Jute
      • LECA Stone
      • Oasis
      • Perlite
      • Rockwool
    • Irrigation
      • Emitters
      • Filters
      • Pumps
      • T Strainers
      • Tubing
    • Nutrients and Additives
      • Biowish
      • Nutrients
      • Raw Minerals
      • pH Adjusters
    • Packaging
    • Pest and Fungus Management
      • Beneficial Insects
      • Fungicide and Insecticide
      • Insect Traps
    • Propagation Supplies
    • Seeds
      • Basil
      • Cucumber
      • Eggplant
      • Lettuce
      • Tomato
    • Testing Equipment
      • Brix
      • Humidity and Temperature
      • pH and EC
    • Timers and Controllers
  • Training and Education
    • Frequently Asked Questions
    • Business Plan
    • Leaf and Water Analysis
    • Intensive Workshop Program
    • DVDs
    • Books
    • Grower’s School
      • Instructors
    • Technical Assistance
      • Custom Fertilizer Recipe
      • Phone Consultation/Support
      • Technical Service Package
      • Interpretation of Tissue/Water Analysis
  • Cannabis

Greenhouses: Pros & Cons

The Greenhouse Effect (Is a Greenhouse a Good Idea for Your Garden?)

Greenhouses can be beautiful and useful structures for a gardener. If you have ever wondered if it would be worth it to construct or buy one for your garden, we have some thoughts to help you sort out the pros and cons.

What is the Purpose of a Greenhouse?

Greenhouses serve as a shield between nature and what you are growing, and thus allow growing seasons to be extended as well as possibly improved. They provide shelter from excess cold or heat as well as pests. While we use it tongue in cheek, the term “greenhouse effect” in regard to our earth is a more complex and serious consideration for our global environment, but for the home gardener the effect of a greenhouse on plants can be very positive. The idea behind a certain type of greenhouse is to create a place to keep heat in. The structure impedes the flow of thermal energy out, and the sunlight that passes through the transparent “walls” of a greenhouse heats up the ground in the greenhouse which radiates warmth and heats the air. Or, if too much heat is a problem, a greenhouse can help you create or regulate a more temperate environment for plants by adding a cooling mechanism.

Types of Greenhouses

What type of greenhouse you need depends on where you live and what you want to grow. Greenhouses are categorized in a variety of ways.

Temperature – The spectrum of structures based on the environmental temperature needs include the following types:

Cold Houses – (Temperature: Falls below freezing) Provide protection for plants, but temperatures still can get below freezing because this type of greenhouse has no additional heat source installed. The purpose of cold houses is to extend growing season in the spring by allowing starting crops earlier and in the fall by allowing crops to grow longer.

Cool Houses – (Temperature: 45-50F) This type of greenhouse will maintain temperatures above freezing so that plants that die from extreme cold can survive.

Warm Houses – (Temperature: 55F) Allows for a broader range of plants to survive cold winters.

Hot Houses – (Temperature: above 60F) Hot greenhouses are used to maintain tropical plants. In order to heat they require supplemental heat.

Within each of these general types, there are many other considerations. There are very simple greenhouses and highly complex ones. The more technology that is involved the greater the ability to exactly control the growing conditions, from temperature to water and moisture levels. Greenhouses can also be constructed simply to minimize direct sunlight (a shade greenhouse) and not have walls, or a screen-only structure to keep out insects.

Design –Greenhouses can also be evaluated based on the design style. This is the fun part. Some of the traditional types of greenhouse “architecture” include A-Frame, Dome, Gothic (arched), Lean-To (can even be designed to use the wall of a home or garage as one side), and Quonset.

Materials – For the residential gardener, the choices are almost unlimited. Price will likely drive some of the decision making on this, as will aesthetic considerations and your purpose. All have advantages and disadvantages.

Support/Framework Options: wood (rots easily), aluminum, iron and plastic. Some have curved eaves; others have flat eaves.

Environmental Control Options – Budget will impact what you are able to do in this area. Automatic controls are ideal in a greenhouse, but obviously will be more expensive. Your options for heating equipment include a simple space heater, forced-air heat, radiant heat, steam or hot-water systems, as well as soil heating pipes underneath plants. Automatic watering systems for larger greenhouses are nice. Planning for ventilation is also essential for the health of your plants.

Some Pros and Cons

After immersing yourself in the overwhelming amount of information about the vast number of choices and decisions about what type of greenhouse you could build, let’s revisit what some of the reasons you would want to do this – or not.

The Benefits of a Greenhouse:

  • Fresh greens, vegetable and fruit
  • Transplant availability and success
  • Fresh cut flowers all year long
  • A warm place to go in the middle of a cold, gray winter
  • Ability to grow things you wouldn’t otherwise be able to grow (exotic flowers, tropical fruit)
  • No more battles with squirrels and insects
  • Do more of what you love to do, longer Add beauty and visual appeal to a landscape

The Disadvantages of a Greenhouse:

  • Can be expensive to build
  • Can be expensive to heat
  • Requires constant monitoring, maintenance and care
  • Could increase electrical and water bills
  • May detract from aesthetic appeal of a garden

Your greenhouse garden can be constructed cheaply or expensively, it can be made of glass or plastic, it can look like an adorable glass cottage or simply serve a practical purpose. Ultimately, the decision to get a greenhouse will be based on whether you believe the effect of having a greenhouse will be one that will enhance your life or detract from it. If you would like more information about greenhouse designs, this is a good place to start:

Tags : greenhouse, Greenhouse benefits, Greenhouse ideas, Greenhouse pros cons, greenhouse tips, Greenhouses

How To Build A Greenhouse: DIY Tips & Contractor Cost Guide

Whichever contractor erects and assembles the greenhouse you will have to ensure that certain requirements are being met.

  • All electrical, plumbing and HVAC work must be done by a licensed professional.
  • You will probably have to organise the construction of the level foundations yourself or pay extra for a contractor to do the job.
  • All required permits are in order and the zoning regulations are complied with.

Greenhouse cost

The cost of buying a greenhouse kit will vary depending on the size, materials and what accessories you choose. Obviously it will be cheaper to build the structure yourself but using a contractor will ensure the job is done quickly, professionally and with a warrantee. You will have to factor in the cost of excavation to provide a level area on which to build and the preparation and pouring of concrete foundations. Likewise the cost of installing electricity and plumbing will need to be considered. Larger structures may require permits which will cost extra. Considering an average sized greenhouse:

Item Costs Notes
Contractor installed $14,000 Average size
DIY installation $3,500 Average size
Basic beginner’s greenhouse $250 6ft x 8ft hoop polytunnel
Experienced grower’s greenhouse $3,000 to $7,000 For a 12ft x 12ft greenhouse
For commercial use ?13,000 to $30,000 (average cost is about $25 to $30 per square foot. For a 500 to 1,000 sq. ft. These also have HVAC systems as well as automatic watering and extra grow lights. Flooring is permanent concrete with proper drainage.
Glass $2.50 per square foot. Minimum specification is double strength glass
Polyethylene $0.15 per square foot. Plastic film. Can be strengthened using a woven mesh. Very popular with hoop greenhouses.
Fibreglass $75 per 6ft x 8ft panel
Polycarbonate $55 per 8ft x 4ft sheet Can be single skin, double or triple skin providing insulation from cold and protection from hot sun.
Cedar wood $1 per linear foot Insulating, beautiful, durable
Steel $2.50 per linear foot Strong, harder to work with.
Concrete $10 per squarer foot Requires nonslip texture and drainage.
Paving slabs $8 to $12 per square foot
Gravel $0.75 to $3 per square foot Needs weed block fabric underneath.
HVAC & lighting Over half of the total cost would cover this including installation by licenced contractors. On average over $8,000 on a $16,000 structure. Automatic systems are only necessary on larger structures. On smaller ones the gardener can do this manually
Grow lights $30 to $150 each
HVAC systems $100 up to many thousand dollars
Potting benches $100 For 6ft long bench

Useful video resources

Today we have talked about the various types of greenhouse and associated structures that are available. In order to learn how to design and build a greenhouse for your own personal requirements we had to understand a little about the history and evolution of the greenhouse phenomenon. We discussed the materials that can be used and when to choose the different types of material. We talked about building your own from new materials as well as from upcycled alternatives and we also talked about buying a greenhouse kit or ready made structure from the various manufacturers available. To erect an average sized greenhouse is easy to do if you have basic DIY skills but for anything larger it is always worth employing a professional contractor or asking the manufacturer to supply their own installers.

With a greenhouse it is so easy to expand your ideas and experience of what gardening entails. As well as making it easier to grow plants that commonly occur in your area; you may be able to grow many new and exotic vegetables that were only a dream before buying or making your own greenhouse.

With the increasing occurrence of variable weather conditions, gardeners and growers worldwide are learning to take control and provide a stable and welcoming environment for their plants. They can achieve this partly by using greenhouses and partly by using other garden sheltering structures. Though the wind may blow, temperatures fluctuate and nights are chill, in the greenhouse all is calm, warm and constant and your plants will always flourish.

Let us know what you think of the information provided in this article.

Greenhouse Business: Start-Up Costs, Profits, and Labor

As real estate prices continue to reach historic highs, Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) is emerging as a solution for landlocked urban and suburbanites.

This article will feature an entry-level greenhouse that can fit on a 1,000 ft2 footprint and can be operated as a part-time job.

We will take some time to understand which crops are appropriate, seasonal variations, and market pricing for several popular crops. Finally, we will take a look at the startup costs involved and the potential profits.

Why is this important? As farmlands disappear at an increasing rate, many suburban and urban farmers are turning to high density CEA techniques to bring greenhouse businesses into the suburbs and, increasingly, into the urban core.

The greenhouse shown here can be built for a total cost of about $35,000, including the costs to install new water and electric lines. This type of greenhouse can be used to add a line of business to an existing property, or for first time farmers who are thinking about growing for market.

Because it is a relatively small structure, it can be operated in about 20 hours a week, including the time for harvesting, packaging and delivery to market. One of our farm partners is a couple in their 30s. Both have day jobs, and they are able to manage their farm on nights and weekends.

If you are thinking about starting a greenhouse business with hydroponic techniques…

You are probably familiar with the benefits of hydroponics.

  • No weeding and little or no herbicides
  • Simplified pest management
  • Faster crop turns
  • Higher density crop yields
  • Depending on the application, resource use can be lowered dramatically (water, electricity, fuel).

The good news is that hydroponics has also gained more consumer trust in recent years. Scientific research shows that the crops taste just as good as organic ones, and that they are just as nutritious also.

Crop selection and growing season

In Controlled Environment Agriculture, the aim is to “provide protection and maintain optimal growing conditions throughout the development of the crop.” This is done by housing production inside an enclosed space (a greenhouse or building).

Many CEA operations focus on growing a few specific crops as consistently as possible throughout the year. The goal is to provide a steady supply for customers and – as much as possible – to avoid seasonal interruptions. For wholesale customers, having uninterrupted supply is just easier, and may be the difference in their purchase decision.

Although it is possible to grow several crops at the same time, CEA is focused carefully on economics, and often the best way to beat the market curve is to become very good at growing a few crops.

For growers interested in broadening their crop selection, you may choose to build a separate greenhouse for crops that require a different growing environment.

This could mean warm weather herbs like basil or chives (with supplemental heating) from March through October. Or, it could mean cool weather herbs like mint and cilantro (with evaporative cooling) from March through October.

Recommended crops

This article is focused on high water-weight crops that enjoy a rapid crop cycle. These are primarily leafy greens and herbs.

We operated a 4-season greenhouse for a number of years, with sales to a local CSA. Our results are recorded in our guide, “The Best Crops for Hydroponics”, which you can purchase on our shop. This guide will help you determine the temperatures required for each crop, with additional information on planting and harvesting schedules.

We chose to focus our study on two crops that grow well together: basil and chives. These crops require similar conditions in the greenhouse, and they are also some of the most profitable plants to grow hydroponically. The goal is to find a market for roughly 110 lbs a week for these herbs.

Finding the market can be a slow, time consuming process. Some farmers will grow a secondary crop like miniheads of lettuce, which are popular and easier to sell, but bring a lower price. This approach gives the assurance of having more consistent sales while building sales capacity for higher margin herbs.

In a warmer greenhouse climate, you can test your market for oregano, lemongrass (popular in Thai and Vietnamese cuisine), Bok Choy, and others.

Cool weather crops will include arugula, kale, mustard greens, cilantro (coriander), tarragon, fennel, nasturtiums, and peppermint, among others.

While choosing an approach to CEA can be challenging, your customers will appreciate it. Many crops are in demand throughout the year, and to meet this demand your customers are turning to imported crops from California or Mexico. Greenhouse growers will have the opportunity to provide a local option for them.

How much can I grow? Verified crop yields in a vertical greenhouse.

In most northern climates, this greenhouse should be productive with natural sunlight for roughly 8 months out of the year. Southern regions will be able to enjoy a longer season, but will also have to manage heat and humidity.

The crop yields provided here are based on several years of production testing, completed with peer oversight for a doctoral dissertation.

The testing was done using aquaponic techniques in hardiness zone 4b. The location was southeastern Wyoming, at an elevation of 7,200 feet. As you may guess, this is a climate that is cool and dry, with limited natural sunlight in the winter months.

Hydroponic growing may result in increased yields from the ones shown here.

These are popular crops that also fetch a good price in the market. With some basic market research you may be able to find a strong demand with local food coops or restaurants.

We wanted to use conservative pricing to help you gain easy(er) access to the market. These are popular crops that can be grown effectively in a greenhouse environment.

This pricing leaves some room for upward or downward pricing, depending on your market. Keep in mind that these are usually sold as a fresh, local variety, which can be highly desirable for the quality and taste. Distribution strategies are very important in determining profitability. Wholesale pricing can open up larger markets, but may also bring prices down (wholesale prices may range from as low as $6 a pound for low quality commodity pricing to $40 a pound for premium fresh, local pricing).

Direct to consumer pricing will be higher, but will also require smaller unit sizes and additional harvesting/packaging costs.

If you look at the basil at mainstream retailers like Walmart and Target, you will see that a single ¾ ounce clamshell of (organic, imported) basil can be priced as high as $2.75. This comes out to almost $59/lb, before subtracting the retail margin.

Most produce on the shelves is marked up 35% to 50% from the wholesale price. To calculate the wholesale pricing, you can multiply the price on the shelf by .667 (50% markup). This should give you roughly an idea how much the farmer is getting. Keep in mind that if you are going through a distributor, they will also take another 15% to 25%.

This means that sales to a retailer, through a distributor, will leave you approximately $0.25 to $0.50 for every $1 in sales. This approach is usually recommended for established farms that can meet larger volume sales requirements.

If you plan on reaching the produce section of your local grocery store, the single best thing you can do to prepare for success is to (a) start with smaller customers (b) grow consistently high quality produce and (c) provide a professional level of customer service.

The Bottom Line

With the prices we have set here, we are looking at a weekly revenue potential of $1,750. If we estimate that we will lose 10% of our crops (just to be safe – could be a pest outbreak or a problem with your pH balance), then we will see revenues of $1,575 a week.

This greenhouse is able to generate revenues over $50,000 in an 8 month growing season (32 weeks). Before we move on to the costs involved, it is important to emphasize that pricing is a complicated subject. Pricing will vary depending on your geography, market access, marketing savvy, and other factors.

If you want to validate the concept we describe here, we recommend growing a sample and doing some basic market research. There is simply no way to verify these prices without speaking to a customer. With some good market research, you may be able to find a number of eager, ready-to-buy customers.

Not sure where to start? Try the ZipGrow Greenhouse Kit

Assuming you already have the land, the total cost for a 20′ by 48′ ZipGrow Vertical Greenhouse is around $35,000 (including the Towers, site preparation and new water/electrical lines).

This price does not include the costs for new utility lines. It may be necessary to grade the land for the greenhouse, and install an electrical feed and a new water pipe buried below the frost line.

If you know your way around a construction site, you may be able to install this greenhouse in a weekend. Some folks will need to hire a contractor for assistance.

We estimate that total costs will run from $32k to $40k.

Operating costs

The nice thing about this size greenhouse is that it can be managed fairly easily on nights and weekends. Because we are depending on seasonal sunlight, we will plan on shutting down the greenhouse in November and opening it back up on March 1st, when the days start to get longer.

This gives us 8 months of productivity. The weekly workflow looks like this:

Obviously, labor costs are near the top of the expense sheet. We have not accounted for a lease or mortgage here. If you are planning on hiring staff, or paying a mortgage payment, you may need to wait until you have an established customer base that can justify a lease or mortgage payment.

Instead, the approach we are taking here will depend on having access to land (at least 1,000 ft2) and on running the business yourself. With some good customer service, this will provide a healthy part time salary for an owner/operator.

If you choose, you could also pay a neighbor or one of your kids to manage the greenhouse. At $10/hr, this comes out to $740/month in labor costs.

This said, labor times can fluctuate depending on production, facility layout, the type of crop you choose, and any special trimming/packaging needs.

Chives are a tough crop that will survive a wide range of temperatures and can even go without water for a while without impacting quality. Chives are also fairly pest-resistant, rarely infected with diseases, and rarely are targeted by insect pests. Chives can be harvested multiple times per planting, usually 4 weeks or so from the last harvest.

Fortunately, the rest of the operation is fairly low cost. Additional expenses will be for seeds, seed plugs, utility costs (water, gas heating, and electricity) and nutrients. These can be estimated as follows:

  • One-time supply of chives seeds: $25
  • Annual supply of basil seeds: $20
  • Annual supply of seed plugs: $300
  • One year supply of nutrients: $200

Heating costs

To calculate utility costs, you will need to factor in several expenses:

  • Evaporative cooling in the warmer months
  • Heating in the cooler months (roughly 3 months a year our of an 8 month growing season)
  • Electricity to run the pumps
  • Water

Of these, heating and cooling are the most expensive. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the cost for residential natural gas averaged about $12 per 1,000 cubic feet in 2016. For reference, 1,000 cubic feet of natural gas will provide 1,000,000 BTUs, or roughly enough energy to warm the greenhouse from 25 (outside temperature) to 75 (inside temperature) for 11 hours.

This means that to heat the greenhouse overnight might require approximately $12 in natural gas costs. We usually expect that the greenhouse will quickly warm up in the morning from the warm sunlight.

While it is difficult to calculate utility costs for every situation, the approach we describe here can be used to estimate your heating or cooling needs.

  • Identify optimal growing temperatures. In our case we want to maintain a temperature of 70-80 ºF for basil and chives.
  • Find average temperatures for your region for the season you plan on growing. In our case we are planning to heat the greenhouse March 1st through June 1st, and also for the month of November while we are planning our final harvest.
  • Use a BTU calculator to estimate daily heating needs. 12 hours a day is usually enough, since the sun will quickly warm the greenhouse during the day.
  • Calculate how many hours of the day the greenhouse will require supplemental heating.
  • Estimate costs to provide these BTUs using natural gas or propane.

This approach will “smooth out” the daily highs and lows for your region, and give you an estimate of daily costs. This will help you estimate the costs for your region, for the months you choose to operate the greenhouse.

For example, we estimated costs for the average greenhouse located in Kansas City, Missouri. The average daily temperatures for our season are:

This tells us that we can expect to pay about $742 to heat a greenhouse for 4 months during the early season and late season. Please keep in mind that this is a napkin sketch, and there are other factors that may lower or raise this cost.

Other costs will include water and electrical costs to maintain the greenhouse. The electrical costs are pretty low, with two low wattage pumps required for the whole operation. We will estimate water and electric at around $300 annually, just to be generous, and also factor in another $2,000 for miscellaneous costs.

Cooling the Greenhouse

In especially warm climates, you may need to consider evaporative cooling. In this case, we are planning on operating the greenhouse without evaporative cooling. This will be done by rolling up the sidewalls on hot days and with several ventilation fans to move the air through the greenhouse. This means that cooling costs will be limited to the electricity costs to run ventilation fans.

You can learn more about cooling your greenhouse here.

Our expenses will run roughly as follows, not including labor:

  • One time supply of chive seeds: $25
  • Annual supply of basil seeds: $20
  • Annual supply of seed plugs: $300
  • One year supply of nutrients: $200
  • Annual heating costs: $742
  • Cooling, electrical costs and water: $300
  • Miscellaneous costs: $2,000
  • Total costs (generous estimate): $3,587

With $1,575 in weekly revenue, over an 8 month growing season, we can reasonably anticipate $50,400 in revenue.

With $3,587 in estimated operating costs, and leaving some room for miscellaneous expenses, this can provide a net income over $45,000. Even if we only sell half our produce in the first year, this may be enough to get off the ground and to justify a part time greenhouse operation.

Are you interested in Controlled Environment Agriculture? If you would like more information, please contact us at (307) 288-1188 or view the greenhouse bundle.

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