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How to Start a Greenhouse

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Our culture has seen a turn back toward organically grown, non-GMO foods that will better nourish our bodies. And while grocery stores have followed this trend, the majority of goods are not certified organic, which can make that weekly trip to the shop stressful when the vegetables you’re looking for aren’t available.

For someone so dedicated to putting healthy foods into their body, this is the time to start thinking seriously about starting your own greenhouse. You’ll spend less time and money at the grocery store, caring for your own food instead--food that you know is well cared for and unaffected by pesticides. So, how can you get started?

Plant Choice

Your motivation for starting a greenhouse may be the tomatoes and onions you go through super quickly, but don’t look over the other plant choices available. You’ll want to start out with plants you’re comfortable with caring for and can be sure will be used, but when you’re ready, branch out to more fruits and vegetables.

Consider things like leafy greens, herbs you love cooking with, mushrooms, lemon or peach trees, and even bamboo and wheat. With careful planning, you can have the perfect crop year-round to eat at the dinner table, and you can start selling some of that surplus to neighbors and friends who value good produce as much as yourself.

Don’t forget that a greenhouse is also a wonderful place for a year-round flower garden or exotic plants that you can’t typically grow in your home climate.

The Right Greenhouse for You

One of the biggest concerns you have will be the greenhouse itself. The three big questions you’ll need to answer before getting started are:

  1. How much space do you have for your greenhouse?
  2. What type of structure and production system will work best for you?
  3. Should you buy a pre-manufactured structure or build your own?

You might have the ideal yard to put in a greenhouse: tons of space with exposure to the perfect sunlight and proximity to water and gardening tools. But it’s more likely that you’re working with a unique space. Choose a structure size and type that will fit comfortably into your space. Depending on where you live, you may need to acquire a permit for your greenhouse.

There are many types of greenhouse structures to choose from, but a few basic types you can start researching are:

  • Cold frame – placed in your normal garden and accessible by an opening frame.
  • Attached – shares a wall with your home where water and electricity are easily accessible.
  • Hoop House – uses PVC pipes and is covered using plastic sheeting.
  • A-Frame – uses minimal construction materials and most commonly covered with glass.

Take a look at some different systems for regulating your greenhouse as well. Irrigation can be done with a drip system, ground and sprinkler systems, or hydroponics. You’ll want to pick a good soil and set up controls for ventilation, temperature, and pest control.

With so many options, you may choose to build some parts of the greenhouse on your own and purchase others.

Storage

With all this extra produce you expect to come in throughout the year, it’s a good idea to look into storage space at the same time as your building your greenhouse. You may want additional wheat storage or space to store canned fruits and vegetables. This is something to keep in mind from the beginning, making sure you don’t produce more food than you are able to eat, store, and sell cumulatively.

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