Category Archives: Articles of Interest

Infrared Plastic Coating

Another variation on greenhouse plastic is with an IR (infra-red) coating.

  • The IR plastic can reduce your heat loss by up to 20% over a regular double poly installation.
  • Even though this plastic has a hazy look to it, the light transmission properties are actually a couple percentage points better.
  • This plastic comes standard with an anti-condensate coating which means there will be less dripping in the greenhouse.

All of these features make IR plastic an attractive alternative for many people in spite of the fact that the cost is roughly  20% more then regular plastic. This plastic does not have an inside or outside.

The cell structure that the Infrared plastic is made from is significantly different from the regular plastic. This gives the plastic a much softer texture and feel and contributes to it not being as strong as regular plastic. This is why we suggest that it only be used as the inside layer of a double plastic installation.

The slight restriction for people with shorter greenhouses is that the IR plastic only comes in 100′ and 150′ rolls. You would either have a friend who can buy/use the extra or be prepared to “waste” some. There are also not quite as many choices for available widths as with regular plastic.

Please call Norm to specifically inquire about more information regarding these special coatings.

you can see more information on our covering options page

Choosing a Cover – Poly vs Tarp

Everyone wants to save money but they also want value for the dollars invested. One of the things that sets MSS apart is with the cover choices we offer.

The two main areas of covers we offer are the 12mil woven tarps and the 6mil plastic. (Other options available, call to confirm)

Both of these choices are by no means the heaviest that are out there, but they do provide excellent life span for the investment.

When you consider the cost per year on our 12mil white tarps, which have an 8-10 year expected lifespan, they stack up very favourably to the 20-24mil covers that are available.

  • The main reason 12mil is even an option for us to use is that our hoops or ribs are much closer together and therefore provide much more support to the cover.

Using 6mil plastic gives even more options.

  • Going clear (greenhouse) allows the necessary light transmission for plant growth.
  • Going white (livestock) allows light while still providing a shade factor.
  • The option of a double layer with air between, provides even more benefits for heat loss and condensation reduction and added stiffness in extremely windy locations.
  • The biggest attraction for the 6mil plastic is the life span you get for the investment.

Call to get your custom quote today. We would be happy to help you.
You can also see our covering page for even more detailed information

So You Want to Buy a Greenhouse…Your Guide For Planning a Greenhouse Purchase

Norm published a book that we wanted to let you know about.
 “So You Want to Buy a Greenhouse: Your Guide to Planning a Greenhouse Purchase”

​It’s available on Amazon for purchase, or you can go through our facebook page

We appreciate your support!

We are quite excited and know it will be a valuable resource for many. You can email or call the office and we will ship you out a copy if you don’t want to purchase online.

Based largely on Norm’s Greenhouses 101 speech from the Guelph Organic Conference, with many extra tidbits and stories from Norm’s experience along the way over the last 45 years, it’s certainly a useful resource for anyone considering, or maintaining their structure of any application. Please contact us if you have any questions. We hope you’ll enjoy the book and would love to hear what you think!

“I should have known that I would get into this business when I was younger because the highlight of my birthday was always getting new pieces to my Mechano set. Now, I often describe these structures as big Mechano sets. It feels very fitting.”

Are you considering purchasing a greenhouse to start your own operation?
Are you unsure of all your options and what you should know?
Do you want to know what you’re getting into?

Using Norm Eygenraam’s 45 years experience in the industry, we have created this book for you to help! Through illustrations, tips, stories, photos and more, we help you understand all you need to consider. We do use Multi Shelter Solutions examples throughout, as that is what we have easiest access to, but this is by no means a sales book.

This guide is meant to inform you of your choices and show you key considerations in your planning journey. We have tried to make this book as informative as possible, no matter which direction you choose to go.

Enjoy, and happy planning!

Available on Amazon for purchase, or you can go through our facebook page
We appreciate your support!

Building Permit Questions

A question that we are asked regularly is “Do I need a building permit for this building?”

The simple answer is “Generally, yes”

And to get a permit for one of our structures, you need to have engineered drawings from us (which we have for most of our standard buildings)

However, there is seldom a month where we do not hear a strange interpretation of some rule which we have not heard before.

There continues to be a huge variation in the interpretation of the rules. This goes beyond the fact that certain areas get more snow and wind then others and therefore require sturdier buildings.

Our focus will continue to be getting an understanding of what it is that you are dealing with so that we can put together a structure package that will serve your needs for years to come. Educating our customers on weather dynamics on these buildings continues to be a valuable component of that process.

Many of our customers, who are putting their new building out of sight and they get along with their neighbours, will put up the building without asking questions.

This is certainly not a practice we recommend or encourage but acknowledge as a reaction to officials who do not understand these buildings or how they work. It is difficult to understand why identically fabricated building, installed on nearby locations, can run into a problem simply because of what they are using the building for.

As an example, in one week, we received calls from two prospective customers, the first had been given a 10 page form to fill out and the other was ready to order his building since he had been specifically told “you do not need a permit for a tent”.

In most municipalities these buildings are classified as low human occupancy, temporary buildings. We have engineer approved drawings for a number of our standard buildings as governed by the Farm Building Code.

With the large amount of variations that we offer, we are sometimes in a situation where the building is somewhere between two approved units. It is quite easy for us to upgrade the building to a higher wind or snow rating but that does not mean it will be automatically acceptable without a specific set of engineer evaluated drawings for your site.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for clarification on any point of confusion.

It is your responsibility to verify these things before building.

We are not familiar with regulations in each municipality.

Please also see our building permit page for more updates

Season Extension: Hanley Caterpillar Tunnels

The third area to discuss regarding season extension are those structures that are simple enough to disassemble and relocate to another spot-primarily referring to Hanley Caterpillar Tunnels.

The real lure of these buildings is their low cost and simplicity to move. Generally the area is prepared in advance and then the tunnel is moved over the area when the planting is to be done.

Since the original design specified 6′ hoop spacing, the intent was always to remove the cover before risk of heavier snow fall. More often now, growers are going to 5′ spacing (and sometimes 4′) to allow the covers to remain on longer or even permanently.

By having a smaller hoop spacing, it allows the cover to stay on permanently, which allows for a much earlier start in the spring.

The key to the concept of the hanley working is in the rope.

  • The back and forth pattern of the rope resembles the way a person would lace up a boot.
  • Typically there is a spring loaded clip at the base where the rope passes through.
  • Once the rope is fully installed, it is important to tighten it through three passes from end to end.
  • If the rope is not tight enough, the wind will create wiggle and movement sideways.
  • When the plastic is tight enough, it also allows the grower to slide the plastic up the hoop to allow ventilation.

Generally the plastic is about 25′ longer then the tunnel.
This allows the installer to bunch up (pig tail style) the extra poly at both ends between a pair of posts.
It is important to get the plastic as tight as possible lengthwise first.
There must also be a rope from the top of the last hoop to the tie off post.

There are a couple of challenges to consider with the hanley tunnels.

  1. One of these challenges is to create a proper entrance. Typically entrance is achieved by slightly lifting the plastic and ducking underneath.
  2. The other are of challenge is the low shoulder height of the structure. This restricts the use to a couple rows of taller items in the middle and a couple rows of shorter plants along the side. The width of the tunnel does lend itself to three regular size beds.

Once you have learned about the nuances of the hanley tunnels, and asked any questions that come up, you will be better prepared to have these efficient season extenders work for you and your application.

Feel free to look at our Hanley Application page for more information and photos, and give us a call with anything else you require.

We are pleased to have many happy customers these structures are working for, and look forward to you being next!

This concludes our week long series of Season Extension. Check out our new book if you want to know more “So You Want to Buy a Greenhouse…Your Guide to Planning a Greenhouse Purchase”

Season Extension: Ventilating & Heating

To make your greenhouse more of a year round functioning entity, there are two main areas in which you have to make the structure more efficient-Heating and Ventilation.

1. Heating is your biggest expense for the winter so retaining heat is a priority.

The easiest way to retain heat in your greenhouse is to install a double poly cover with air in between. A small squirrel cage blower attached to the inside layer of plastic aids in maintaining air between layers.

The more dead air space between these layers you can create, the closer you will be to achieving a 30% reduction in heat loss. Holes will result in air movement and therefore less efficiency. 3″-5″ consistent space is ideal. It is a given that you would have less then that around the edges and over the ridge.

Double plastic will have a considerably longer life span. It is important to realize that as plastic gets older, the light transmission will be reduced which will reduce production.

Infrared plastic (IR poly) does further reduce heat loss and increase light diffusion so it can also be a consideration when looking for ways to reduce heating costs.

2. Ventilation is also one of your biggest considerations for the warmer times of the year. Ventilation can be done through forced or mechanical methods or passive through vents or roll up sides.

Vents are extremely effective since they can be placed higher up where the heat needs to be expelled. Mechanical ventilation is more costly both up front and to operate but it is easier to control since it is attached to a thermostat. For mechanical ventilation to be effective, it needs to be sized and located properly.

Roll up sides are less costly and simpler to install but are restricted by the fact that you have to be there to open and to close.

Climate control is especially challenging in the spring and the fall since most days you will have the need for both ventilating and heating.

One area that you need to be especially aware of is stagnant air. Without proper air movement, circulation and exchanging, stagnant air can cause many different types of diseases. It is important to understand what your plants require

Stay tuned for the third and final installment of our series about Season Extension and Your Greenhouse coming soon!

Season Extension: Moving Your Structure

A significant part of season extension involves moving an intact structure.

This basically allows you to get two (or possibly three) plots of production from one investment.

The idea is to start a relatively cold tolerant crop very early in the season (the timing will be different in different locations).

  1. Once the crop is firmly established in location A, (and it has warmed up) you will move the structure to location B and start another crop.
  2. You will harvest the crop in location A and then after working the soil, plant another crop in location A which is intended for fall harvesting.
  3. After location B is harvested and before frost you will move the structure back to A.
  4. Instead of doing twice in location A you could also choose location C.

A structure can be equipped with wheels which will run over the soil. There is quite a bit of flexibility where you go and the terrain you navigate.

The structure can be equipped with rollers on a track. This will determine where you go and this is usually intended for moving a bigger structure with fewer people.

The most common method of moving is sliding the structure on the soil. The base rail can be wood or steel.

It is critically import to understand the logistics of moving on a structure before you start. It is not hard to move a structure but it is also not hard to do damage.

Having a plan for proper anchoring is very important for a moveable structure. Your structure is at a vulnerable state when you release the anchors. Once you start, the job must be completed quickly. You have to be aware that the anchors may not come out or go back in easily so you may need to give yourself some extra time.

One other area of consideration on a moveable structure is the ends. There must be some sort of a flap or vent along the bottom so that when a structure is being moved, the ends will not uproot plant material. Generally speaking to have this ability in the ends takes away from the structural integrity, so some extra anchoring may be required.

You can see more information and photos on our movable information page. Please don’t hesitate to call us with ANY questions you may have. This can be a very useful addition to your structure, but must be understood correctly.

Stay tuned for part two and three of our season extension series later this week!

Winter Care & Maintenance

These buildings are not industrial grade shelters and, as such, some caution must be exercised under some winter storm conditions….

Please see our Winter Care & Maintenance Page and  the WINTER CARE & other key points page in our installation guide for additional information

Our structures are designed in a gothic shape with a slippery cover to be lightweight and snow resistant. This encourages the snow to slide off quickly.
This is not an industrial high snow load building. We do our best to always point out applications where the capacity of the structure is being compromised. Extra hoops or thicker steel are an economical way to increase wind and snow load capacity. We take pride in the sturdy shelters we manufacture and supply, but must point out that we cannot warranty against weather conditions.

Snow removal, when occasionally required, is a simple task. DO NOT GO INSIDE A BUILDING WHERE THERE HAS BEEN OBVIOUS STRESS!

PLEASE READ MORE………

Installing Before Winter

There always seems to be so much pressure and panic at this time to get a building before winter. The only thing that is important to get done sooner then later is the foundation work.

There will be lots of decent weather days between now and Christmas to get the job done.

If you think that it is too late to get it done and you will simply wait until next spring, please remember that you said the same thing last spring (or even a few months ago) and as usual the busyness of life got in the way.

Give us a call today to see how you can get that foundation taken care of before freeze up.

For those of you who want to get the structure up now and cover it in the spring, I urge you to cover the building sooner then later for a couple of reasons.

  1. First is that there will be lots of other things vying for your time in the spring
  2. Secondly, the more snow you have on that spot which has to melt, the more moisture you will have in the building.
    The more moisture you have in the building the more condensation issues you will have.

You want to give that ground the most time possible to dry up before you need to start using the building.

In my humble opinion, even though putting the cover on in late fall or early winter is more difficult and not pleasant, the benefits of having more time for the ground to dry, far outweigh the time spent to adjust the cover  in the spring

Building Permits

A question that we are asked regularly is “Do I need a building permit for this building?”

The simple answer is “Generally, yes”

And to get a permit for one of our structures, you need to have engineered drawings from us (which we have for most of our standard buildings)

However, there is seldom a month where we do not hear a strange interpretation of some rule which we have not heard before.

There continues to be a huge variation in the interpretation of the rules. This goes beyond the fact that certain areas get more snow and wind then others and therefore require sturdier buildings.

It is difficult to understand why identically fabricated building, installed on nearby locations, can run into a problem simply because of what they are using the building for.

As an example, in one week, we received calls from two prospective customers, the first had been given a 10 page form to fill out and the other was ready to order his building since he had been specifically told “you do not need a permit for a tent”.

In most municipalities these buildings are classified as low human occupancy, temporary buildings. We have engineer approved drawings for a number of our standard buildings as governed by the Farm Building Code.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for clarification on any point of confusion.

It is your responsibility to verify these things before building.

We are not familiar with regulations in each municipality. Please see more information on our Building Permits Page