Why do you need a greenhouse for the garden?
What is a greenhouse?
A greenhouse consists of a metal or plastic structure, covered with translucent materials to achieve maximum light inside. Inside this greenhouse, we create artificial conditions (microclimate) that allow greater plant productivity with a minimum of effort and in a minimum of time.
Protects plants or crops that are inside from the harmful effects of the environment, such as frost, strong wind, hail, insect pests.
So we can grow in the greenhouse at any time of the year and they will be much more productive.
What recommendations should I follow to place my greenhouse?
- Light : sunlight is essential when growing in a greenhouse. Get at least 6 hours of light a day, take this into account when placing your greenhouse and don’t place it in excessive shade or it will harm your crop.
- Temperature: The ideal temperature for growing different crops varies between 20°C during the day and 7°C at night. If the temperature is higher in the greenhouse, we can open doors and windows to lower it.
- Humidity: Most of the plants or crops need between 45% and 60% relative humidity. It is very important that the humidity is not higher, as this will encourage insect pests and fungi.
- Aeration: As we mentioned before, we must consider the importance of windows and doors to reduce the temperature inside and provide proper ventilation for the plants. We can install mosquito nets or anti-skid fabrics in the doors and windows to prevent insects from getting in. If opening doors or windows does not bring the temperature down, we can install fans inside to lower the temperature. In very cold times, we can also install a heater or heat pump inside.
What plants can I grow in a greenhouse?
Greenhouses are a very profitable and beneficial tool in our gardens or orchards. In the greenhouse we can do any kind of growing, especially the more delicate ones.
It is used to protect the seeds from germination and growth. In the garden we will make beds and crops outside their normal season. Through this we will achieve greater profitability and improve the quality of fruit .
It is also widely used to grow flower crops for cutting, with the help of the greenhouse we can program the date of flowering.
Regarding the advantages of growing plants grown in greenhouses compared to growing them outdoors, we will note some of the most important below:
Intensification of production:
Greenhouses are considered elements of intensive farming for several reasons, firstly, because the conditions for good plant development can be created in them, because there is some isolation from the outside environment; also because more plants can be placed per unit surface than in the open ground; and the last aspect, also important, is the possibility of using climate controls that improve the condition of crops to an optimal point.
After much research, it has been confirmed that yields per unit crop surface increase 2-3 times in the greenhouse, but in the soil compared to the open field , and with hydroponics, yields can be several times higher than those obtained. in weather and can be 10 times higher if the necessary care is invested.
Less production risk:
Whether climate change is natural or human-caused is not addressed here, but it should be recognized that it affects everything equally, including crop production; and is that when crops are protected by structures such as greenhouses, it minimizes the damage they can suffer from the randomness of natural events, which in the open field can represent total losses.
More efficient use of resources:
With techniques such as fertigation and hydroponics, only the elements that plants need at each stage of their development can be provided, so only the necessary fertilizer is used, minimizing waste, which ultimately means wasted money. The same is true for water, as modern irrigation system installations allow it to be used more efficiently, in this sense I am referring to localized or precision irrigation (drip, microspray and nebulizer).
Enhanced pest, weed and disease control:
For a greenhouse to promote pest, disease and weed control, it must be properly designed and constructed, finding itself where many fail, because its tightness is the key to successful control. In addition, growing in greenhouses simplifies programming applications because you can control who has access to the crop.
Possibility of cultivation all year round:
Because there is a relative independence from the outside environment inside the greenhouse, production is possible at any time of year, regardless of whether the winter is very cold or the summer favors high temperatures, because heating can be realized for the former case. and ventilation and cooling for the latter. Thus, when using greenhouses, it is possible to produce without interruption due to weather conditions.
Obtaining products out of season:
As a consequence of being able to produce all year round, there is also the advantage of obtaining products out of season, with which you can find better markets because of the lack of competition and because markets are not saturated as they are in the market. case in the peak production season. This requires knowing the timing of crops in the open field so that products are sold without a lot of competition.
Getting produce in regions with restrictive conditions:
Environmental conditions are not always suitable for growing crops or severely limit the species that can be grown to those that are adapted to the conditions of the place. Thus, greenhouses can be used to take advantage of expansions of land where production is very difficult because water can be used to the maximum, and plants are given only the elements they need for their development. Inside the greenhouse, the plants enjoy a certain insulation from the outside environment.
Obtaining quality produce:
Inside the greenhouse, the plants are not exposed to the physical wear and tear caused by environmental elements such as rain and high winds, hail or high solar radiation, for which the quality of the resulting products is higher, as demonstrated both in their presentation to the end user and by their internal composition. This allows us to make higher profits when selling our products or find better markets, being able to export products of high quality.
More comfort and safety:
Not only are the plants protected inside the greenhouse, because the workers also find shelter from inclement weather, and it is in the open ground that it is easier to suffer from solar radiation causing high temperatures, or at any time it can start raining and hailing. Inside the greenhouse, previously scheduled growing activities can be done, and the weather is not a barrier to leaving them for another day.
Ideal conditions for research:
Greenhouses, mostly having automatic control of environmental variables, allow the behavior of production elements to be studied without being distorted by climatic factors. Thus, it is possible to study the productive potential according to the genetic information of cultivated species and determine the optimal factors for their development. This aspect becomes relevant in agronomic schools and institutes involved in research on the development and behavior of agricultural plants and crops.
There are some disadvantages to building and managing greenhouses that must be considered and thus be prepared to face or minimize negative consequences.
However, it is easy to get carried away by the positives that these structures offer us and start the project without even stopping to analyze the negatives that also exist. For this reason, let us now do an analysis of the main disadvantages that can be encountered when deciding to start a production in which the construction of greenhouses is projected. This is not done to discourage projects of this kind, but just the opposite, because knowing the possible weak points will allow us to pay more attention to them in order to avoid the failure of the company.
High initial investment:
Greenhouses are structures whose construction costs are relatively high, so the initial investment required is high, and the primary goal of the grower must be to recover these costs, so it is only appropriate to use them for growing crops of high economic value. such as some vegetables and ornamental plants, since they are not economically justified for major crops or have little commercial value. The investment in building greenhouses is relatively high.
Ignorance of structures:
A greenhouse must be designed and built with several aspects in mind, among which the environmental conditions of the area and the climatic requirements of the crops to be grown stand out. Thus, the fact that the type of structure required by the project is not defined implies additional future costs for the renovation of the premises.
High production costs:
Operating costs are higher in a greenhouse than in an open field, which is logical because the costs are much higher due to providing the crop with ideal conditions for its development. If there are low temperatures outside, the cost of electricity and/or gas for heating will increase the cost of production, just as it will if there are high temperatures outside and you want to cool the environment; just to mention a few examples.
High level of training:
Inside the greenhouses, workers are fully responsible for the plants because the fact that they can control all environmental variables means that any problem that arises makes the person directly responsible. For this reason, workers must be continually trained to be prepared for any inconvenience that arises. This training involves higher production costs.
Optimal conditions for the development of pathogens:
One of the goals of greenhouses is to keep plants in optimal conditions for their development, hence pathogens will enjoy the same benefits. It is true that these designs isolate crops from pests and diseases found abroad, but if appropriate phytosanitary measures are not implemented and introduced, it is most likely that their development will be accelerated and their effects will be immediate.
Last but not least, the commercialization of crops produced in greenhouses requires a reliable market with pre-tested marketing channels, because it is useless to get high yields if the products will end up being sold at low prices or the same price. open field products. Let’s remember that garden products such as flowers and vegetables are very perishable, and the longer they stay in storage, the lower their selling price due to a decrease in quality.