Greenhouses allow you to plant and harvest crops and flowers throughout the coldest months of the year. For those who love gardening, a greenhouse is the perfect way to extend those growing seasons and increase your annual yield. Enjoy year-around flowers and vegetables and increase your gardening satisfaction.
Selecting your greenhouse depends largely on how much money you are willing to spend, how much space you have and how much time you want to spend in there. There are two basic greenhouse categories: attached and free-standing.
Attached greenhouses are generally of the lean-to variety. They will be a glass or plastic structure that is connected to your house or garage. Greenhouses attached to a house will cost less to heat and can be accessed via a door leading directly from your house. With an attached greenhouse, water and electricity can be easily connected to the house.
Free-standing greenhouses stand on their own, separate from any building. These independent glass structures are detached, with their own two sides and two ends and at least one entrance. Heat, water and light can be an expensive installation, but these greenhouses provide a more permanent structure for your plants and can typically be built bigger than the lean-to variety.
Once you choose the type of greenhouse you want, choose the style that suits you best. You can choose straight or curved eaves, a low-pitched roof or a tall one. These are usually personal preferences. Hobby greenhouses can be purchased from DIY stores such as Lowe's or Home Depot. Those handy with tools and ready to invest a few weekends can assemble their own prefabricated greenhouse.
Construction and Location
To maximize transmission of sunlight, hobby greenhouses should feature wide sections of glass, a condensation control system to control moisture dripping onto plants and fixtures, a regulated roof ventilation system and glazing or vinyl plastics on the outside of the greenhouse to diminish heat loss.
It is typically recommended that greenhouses face south, southeast or southwest, with south-facing being the best option for getting excellent sun exposure. West exposed locations are fine if there are no other alternatives, but you must find some sort of shade during the summer to protect plants from burning. Remember that a site that gets good summer sun might not get good sun in the winter. As the winter days approach, the sun's angle to the horizon decreases, so keep this in mind when choosing a location with good sun exposure.
If you only have a north-facing location, the best option is to make a winter garden in your greenhouse. Foliage plants and shade-loving plants such as orchids and African-violets will do well in the winter without direct sun. You can also provide fluorescent lights to grow sun-loving plants, but bear in mind that heating and lighting costs will be a bit higher.