How Can I make my greenhouse its best?

Different tips to make it more efficient, proper space for plants, proper light,
when to heat and not

There are numerous ways of making your greenhouse more efficient and a better return for your investment.

The first question which needs to be answered, however is, “What does it need to be efficient for?” The answer to that should be in line with your goals and priorities for your greenhouse.

As an example, if you are not going to be growing in the winter, you will not need to make the structure “heat efficient” but you will need to ensure that it is “snow efficient”. If you are growing in the greenhouse through the summer time, the efficiency of your ventilation system is critical.

Making your structure more heat efficient (summer perspective) will be expanded on in post #5 and more heat efficient (winter perspective) will be expand on in post #6.

When you intend to start plants in early spring and then move the greenhouse to start another crop, the moving process can be made more efficient by installing “skis” under the base.

Anchoring concerns are touched on in post #3. This is also a way of making more efficient use of your property with investing in more greenhouse space.

When you implement a trellising program, you will make more efficient use of the floor space in your greenhouse. It is important to consider the need for your plant load being balanced on your structure.

Another important thing to be mindful of is the shading that is created when you implement vertical growing. Under certain conditions you may need to consider supplemental lighting to make things grow.

One consideration that is important to be mindful of as well, is that in the confined space of a greenhouse, you can not grow everything. This is not just a space limitation, but a climate limitation.

Certain plants prefer it warm and some like it cool. Other plants prefer wet and others dry. It will be more efficient use of your greenhouse if you collaborate with a like minded person. You grow more of certain things and the friend does likewise and then you trade the extras.

Here is to working together and growing together!

What is the best size and shape for what I want to do?

Covering the sizes we are offering and when it would be best to choose from the website for a more custom situation.

Determining the space that is required to meet your objectives will be your first consideration. This goes beyond the foot print or floor space which you would need for the plants you wish to grow.

In our Self Sufficiency packages, we are offering the convenience of 3 choices. There may be a situation where none of these choices will meet your short term objectives or long term goals. If that is the case, it would be advisable to explore our website for a more suitable package in the context of what you are learning here. The self sufficiency packages are meant as a simple starting point, but sometimes simple isn’t always the best choice

If it is your goal ultimately to have more than one greenhouse, consideration needs to be given for how the second or third building would fit on your property. As an example, if you have a total of 50’ wide available and you build 16’ now, it restricts your future options. Going a little longer now (if that fills the space) is much cheaper and simpler than doing an addition.

If it is not your intent to grow (and heat) through the winter time, it would be important to have a structure which would efficiently shed snow. Using a more snow efficient shape does not mean that the structure can be left totally unattended for extended periods of time. If that is going to be your situation, we have options for building structures to meet that requirement with closer arch spacing.

A very important reason for needing a taller building would be the need to use the vertical growing option. You will be able to grow more rows on that foot print because of the side clearance provided. If you plan to only grow short crops in the soil a lower greenhouse will work.

A point that many overlook in their consideration of the importance of side height is that they intend to work the ground with a rototiller.

A final point for the shape consideration, has to do with wind load. Wind load increases exponentially as the building is taller. Especially if your property dictates orienting the building across an extreme prevailing wind, it would be advisable to go with a lower profile.

Here is to comprehensive planning!

Where is the best place to put a greenhouse?

Considerations for determining optimum location for growing, air flow, snow shedding and ground moisture

The first bit of advice we share when asked that question is “Do not put a greenhouse in a place that is not good for anything else”.

You need to pick the best spot to accomplish the goals for your greenhouse. Any of the reasons why this spot would be less than desirable, will come back to haunt you.

This is particularly true when it comes to ground water. If a particular piece of land is always moist or has a very high water table, moisture will be an ongoing problem. A greenhouse will trap and exaggerate excess moisture and become a very unhealthy spot for plants.

If the soil is sub-standard or undesirable where you put the greenhouse, you will be putting extra effort into bringing the soil up to standard.

Proper consideration needs to given to shading on the property. Plants grow in direct proportion to the amount of daily light they receive. Really analyze where and when shade happens. Vegetables and flowers need sun.

A greenhouse needs to be level from side to side so shed snow uniformly. With uneven snow load on a building, it will surprise you how little snow can be a problem. 

Excavation to level a site is usually expensive and messes with the make up of the soil. There are ways to build up the low side if that becomes necessary for the location of your choice.  Some end to end slope is not a problem structurally.

It is generally acknowledged that a north/south orientation will pick up the sunlight better but this is not a serious consideration unless you are into production crops.

If your prevailing winds are constantly hitting the side of the structure, there will be a sideways push which is good to avoid. This orientation will also encourage uneven snow loading. Ventilation is typically easier if the prevailing wind hits the end of the building.

Since the chances of having the “perfect” location, is not likely, it is important to evaluate all of the angles.  Some of the undesirable points can be worked around better than others.

By doing a thorough assessment and then prioritizing, you will be able to come up with the closest to perfect that is practical. You will also have an idea beforehand on what needs to be done sooner than later.

Here is to happy planning and planting.

Organic Month Q&A Recordings

Norm hosted a Q&A on zoom to cover the topics we posted about throughout the Organic Month in September and answer any attendees’ questions. Below are the video recordings from that event.

  • organic shelters uses & benefits
  • ventilation options and ideas

  • season extension technologies

Contact us today for your custom quote 1-866-838-6729 multisheltersolutions@gmail.com

Anchoring: Base Brackets vs Anchor Posts

edit-Base Bracket
anchor post photo

We offer two main types of anchoring for our structures: Base Brackets (left pic) and Anchor Posts (right pic).

Which one you decide to go with largely depends on your application and location. They are not to be used together, it is a one or the other option. No matter which option you choose, please be aware, there is no such thing as too many anchors!

Although the building can be anchored directly into the ground with Anchor Posts, it can also sit on a slab, curb or beam or it can be elevated on some sort of a wall. Base brackets with lag bolts are supplied standard to fasten the building to the chosen form of foundation. Anchor Posts are available at an additional cost.

Anchor Posts must be set into concrete when:

  • the soil has been recently excavated (within the last 5 years)
  • it is required by the building code (use of concrete usually classifies the building as permanent)
  • extremely windy and exposed areas exist (at least use on the corner posts)
  • more than 10% of the anchor post will be out of the ground (upgrading anchor post size may be needed)
  • there are areas where erosion has been a problem in the past

Anchor Posts SHOULD NOT be used (and base brackets used instead) when:

  • the soil is a very heavy clay (heaving would be a constant problem)
  • there is a shallow rock layer
  • there are major amounts of rocks interfering with the accuracy of anchor post setting
  • the structure will be moved shortly (anchor posts must be cleaned out before reusing)

Recommendations are based on years of experience. Ultimately the customer is responsible to properly anchor a structure
Please see our installation pages for a more detailed breakdown of this topic Base Brackets vs Anchor Posts

Adding a Softcover Structure to the Side or End of Another Building

There are two ways of adding a structure to the side of a building. It can be done as a lean-to (half structure) that goes parallel to the building and up to the eave, or it can be a complete building at 90 degrees to the existing building. This article applies to the latter option.

When considering attaching an MSS structure at 90 degrees to another building, there are some important considerations to be mindful of before the purchase.

The first is that these buildings are almost always considered high humidity (especially when it is a greenhouse). This means that you will be subjecting that wall to a higher level of moisture. Extra waterproofing should be considered. This high level of humidity should be an extra concern if the intent is to use the warm air as a source of heat for the solid building.

The other thing to bear in mind is the potential snow shedding patterns from the bigger building roof. If the height difference is more than 2’, measures should be implemented to slow the process of shedding snow. Without slowing the rate that the snow comes off the taller building, the force of the impact could be triple or quadruple the weight of the actual snow.

If there is a likelihood of significant snow levels being shed, we recommend reducing the rib spacing of the first 12’ of the building. Going from 4’ to 3’ spacing will increase the strength by 1/3. Going from 3’ to 2’ is a 50% increase in strength. This will give your building the added strength for the impact of shedding snow and the volume that would potentially be on the roof.

The third thing that needs to be considered is how the cover will be fastened to your shelter at the wall. For a stand-alone building, you would be on a ladder or platform off the end but this is not possible if the end hoop is right against the wall.

One option is to have the first hoop about 2’ from the wall and then cover that section with something solid (plywood, sheet metal, Lexan, etc.). This will give you a place to crawl up and secure the cover into the wirelock.

Another option would have you put the first hoop about ½” to 1” from the wall. The wirelock channel would be installed on the underside of that hoop. During the cover installation, you would slide the cover through the gap and then wrap the cover around to the bottom. The wire inserts would be installed from the underside. This option is a little more tricky when doing the double plastic cover. After the cover is installed, the gap can be filled with square foam strips which are available at the building centers. Extra care must be exercised to protect the cover from bolt heads and nuts.

The third option would be to install the structure as per normal but about 1’ from the wall. The covering would be done as usual and once this is complete, the building would be slid up against the wall. This process is a bit risky since the building is not secured to the anchors for a short period. The longer the building is, the more challenging this option is.

The last challenge which needs some attention has to do with the method of ventilation which will be used. Typical ventilation flows through the building. In this scenario, ventilating though the building would also mean that you have to go through the attached building. It can be done, but you would be best to get some additional advice on the process.

If roll-up sides are going to be used, it must be noted that the attached building will interfere with proper airflow.

The challenge with using forced ventilation is “where does the air get into the building. It would be best to create a sketch of the building with thoughts as to what you intend to do. We will use our experience to advise you.

It is important to understand and work through these challenges before you purchase. We are here to advise.