Sunday, February 9, 2014

Greenhouse Gardening: Pots verses Planting in the Soil

Greenhouse Gardening is awesome, I will say that much. Everyone with a greenhouse says so, they rave over their crops, and all use them differently, which actually makes is super hard to get good advice.

In a previous post I talked about choosing a greenhouse. This post is all about deciding how to use your greenhouse.

Basically there are three main ways of using a greenhouse:
1- For seed raising and germinating young plants.
2- With pots for extending growing seasons
3- in-ground planting

Each has it's own advantages and disadvantages.

Using a greenhouse for seed raising is brilliant... The seeds germinate quickly and grow in a warm, protected environment. Plants can then be transferred into an outside garden when their true leaves have sprouted. However, this does mean having a lot of shelving, and being super careful not to under or over water the seeds. Also, you have to be really good at labelling plant trays and making sure you don't germinate too many seedlings at once.

Growing in pots is a low maintenance solution. Plants grow quickly and weeding is not an issue. The greenhouse can even have a wooden or concrete floor to reduce workload even more. However, you have to be careful to monitor soil quality in the pots, and watering as there are no natural methods for the plants to gain moisture.

Planting in-ground has the advantage of using the soil, and gaining nutrients and worm activity. It does however mean weeding and having to monitor the condition of the soil. You also have to build a pathway in your greenhouse or some sections can't be easily reached, and no one wants a well trodden veggie patch the ground is also susceptible to cooling over winter and reducing growing periods.

So it's a lot to weigh up. Firstly, decide how you are going to user he greenhouse. We decided we wanted to grow a wider range of crops, and for a longer period (eg, all year). To this end, we opted for planting in-ground. We did how ever decide to build a raised garden inside the greenhouse to try and limit the cooling of the soil over winter. Time will tell if we are right.

We do need to water daily, and keep an eye on the temperature inside the greenhouse. Often the doors and windows are all left open, and he temperature is still over 30 degrees Celsius inside. We bought a thermometer... And in winter we may invest in a heat pad to keep the temperature up, as we have planted subtropical tamarillo and a taro inside.

We are also planning on installing a seed raising shelf soon. This will attach to he interior wall, rather than stand on the ground. We have chosen low lying crops for below the shelf and the taller crops on the opposite side.

Hopefully this post will give you some ideas about how to use your greenhouse.

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