GARDENING WITH YOUR SHELTER SYSTEMS’ GREENHOUSE
Your Shelter Systems greenhouse will allow you to sow and harvest crops months earlier than you could otherwise in temperate climates or cool locations. Your growing season will be extended and your annual yield should increase. Certain crops can be harvested continuously and frost-tender plants can be protected with your greenhouse. You’ll be able to raise many plants from seed. Growing from seed allows you to pick any variety you choose, rather than just the expensive, narrow selection offered by a nursery. You can grow plants not local to your area and protect special plants from environmental extremes. The relatively high temperature your greenhouse creates can increase the quality and yield of tomatoes and eggplants.
Your Shelter Systems greenhouse will repay its initial cost in the increased choice, quality and quantity of the plants you can grow, and the space it takes up could not be put to a better use!
Take some time to think about where to put your greenhouse. Choose a place that has good sun exposure. Remember that a site with good sun in the summer will not necessarily have good sun in the winter. The same spot might be shaded by trees or tall buildings. As the shortest day of the year approaches, the sun’s angle to the horizon decreases.
Your greenhouse will get more use, and the plants in it will get more care if you have easy access. The best site is often close to your home if it is not shaded. If you attach your greenhouse to you house you can use the same heating system as -your home, if you decide to have a heated greenhouse.
A site in your garden is a good idea also, since the soil there is likely to be rich and drain well. This will allow you to garden right in the soil in your greenhouse. Since Shelter Systems’ greenhouses are very easy to move you’ll be able to move it about in your garden to plant a succession of crops and there by avoid diseases and pests that would otherwise accumulate and become a problem.
If your chosen site does not drain well, then prepare the soil so it will drain. Try for a spot that is protected from the coldest prevailing winds. The stronger and colder the winds blowing across your greenhouse, the greater the heat loss. Shelter can be provided, if a suitable site is unavailable, by planting a hedge of building an open weave fence.
Ideally your site should be level. If your site is not, move and conserve topsoil to create level site. Do not compact the soil as this damages the soil structure and can lead to drainage problems and loss of fertility.
Access to electricity can be handy for automated fans, heaters, misters and propagators but is generally not needed unless you plan a heated greenhouse.
Heating can be prohibitively expensive and many plants can be grown in a greenhouse with out heating.
Your greenhouse is designed to collect and store solar heat.
If the temperature inside your greenhouse gets too hot, your plants will wilt and die. Try to develop a daily routine that maintains an optimum temperature. It takes but one hot hour to destroy all your work. It is better to leave your greenhouse open, and have it be a little cool, than to kill your plants with heat.
To monitor the temperature of your greenhouse, set up a thermometer inside, in the shade, and a the level of your plants (a minimum-maximum thermometer is preferred). The usually excepted optimum temperature for most plants is 80′ F. At higher temperatures your plant’s growth will decrease and the may die if they get too hot, too long. Use your thermometer to record the daily extremes of temperature, and try by careful ventilation and heating adjustments, to even out the differences as much as possible.
Lower temperatures decrease plant vigor and growth. Consider adding “thermal mass” to your domes interior in the form of containers of water. Buckets, jugs, and drums work good. Flats can be set on them. The water will absorb heat in the day and give it off at might. Electric propagators, heaters, and clean burning heaters are effective in a cold spell in keeping the frost away.
Make a good path to your greenhouse and walk it everyday.
It is important to establish a regular daily routine when greenhouse gardening. Failure to do so will lead to disappointments and the failure of seedlings and young plants.
An example of a daily routine might be: If the day dawns clear and warm be sure to visit your greenhouse by midmorning. Check the temperature. If it is higher than preferred, or is rising rapidly, open doors and set vent tubes so the temperature will come down and stays at an appropriate level all day. Consider damping down your plants but save the main watering until later in the day.
For the first few days, check the temperature several times and open the doors more and/or provide more vents if Necessary to maintain desired control. Additional “vent tubes” can be made of 3″-4″ plastic pots or cans. Late afternoon or evening, visit your greenhouse and close it up, when there is no longer a danger of over heating. Water your plants and flats at this time if they need it.
Once you become more experience you will be able to know how much ventilation is necessary and you will not need to check out your greenhouse, except in the morning and towards evening.
Stale air is bad for plants. Your dome’s shape will help to create healthy convection currents of air. Also, the small spaces around the dome’s doors will provide a much change of air. To not make your dome air tight.
The doors of your greenhouse should close with a slight tension on the covering. You can adjust them by removing and moving the door clips. Follow the instructions given. If the lower door span is too wide to allow doors to close, move the stakes at the door’s base towards each other 1″ to 3″ This should correct the span. The small gap around the doors is important to provide fresh air. Do not seal up doors tight or stale air will develop. To wheel in tools
and soil, unhook doors fully. To simplify opening and closing doors when you just need to check out your plants, try leaving the ground hook attached and release only the ground hook attached and release only the hook at chest level. This creates a triangular opening which you can step through.
Resort to shading only if your plants are shade loving ones, or if all other methods of cooling do not work. The reason for this is that shading decreases the available light to your plants, and slows their growth.
Setting up flats is a proven method. Set the flats off the ground. It will be easier to work with the seedlings and the soil will be warmed all around. Purchase flats from your local nursery or make them of wood. A small table can be used to hold your flats, or you can support them with 55 gallon barrel, jugs or cinder blocks. You can build a bench for holding your seedlings by driving 2″ X 2″s into the ground to create 4 upright posts on which to set your seed flats.
Obtain or make a good soil mix for starting your seedlings. one mix you can make is 1/3 garden soil and 1/3 well seasoned compost and 1/3 sand. Mix well and spread in flats. Plant seeds as directed on the seed package in rows about 3″ apart. Plant a small number of seeds every week of two of each type of plant. Then you can be assured of a continual harvest later on.
Water lightly to avoid causing the seeds to float up to the surface. Keep the soil damp at first but not soggy wet. If your soil turns green you are watering too much. When the seedlings are up they can be thinned if necessary, and weeded. After they reach 2″ to 31′ high, transplant in the garden.
Properly formulated soil mixes contain nutrients needed for at least the initial stages of plant growth. As these nutrients become depleted “feed” your plants with a balanced fertilizer designed for your plants. Follow directions, being careful not to over feed as this is much worse than under feeding. One type of feeding mixture is liquid seaweed. Another is homemade animal-manure tea: Fill a burlap sack @2 full of animal droppings. Hand from a stick in a bucket so it is covered with water. After two weeks remove sack and your tea is ready to use. Tomatoes and cucumbers demand feeding each time you water.
GROWING VEGETABLES IN YOUR GREENHOUSE
You can grow to maturity many garden vegetables right in the soil Of Your greenhouses The soil should be rich and drain well. Sow the plant as you would in the garden, but plant earlier. Since Shelter System’s greenhouses are
easy to move you’ll be able to out run diseases and pests by moving your house to new soil each time you plant. Another way to go is to start a crop at one site in early spring e.g. salad plants, then as the season advances leave the crop to mature in the open and move your house to a new site; where you can start, for example, your tomatoes, early. Never grow the same crop in the same spot two years in a row. Heat loving plants like tomatoes and eggplants can be grown in bags of soil mix by planting right in the bags. Watch you don’t over water, since there should be no drainage holes in the bags. They also grow vigorously on bales of wheat straw. The idea is to provide a disease free root run. Set bales on polyethene. Apply a liberal amount of nitrogen rich manure. Water until manure enters bales and they are thoroughly wet. This triggers fermentation, heat builds up and carbon dioxide is given off. Both are good for young plants which are placed on mounds of soil on the bales. To determine the right time to plant: test the temperature in the bales every few days during the fermentation; plant when it drops to 100′ F.
Most permanent fruit plants occupy little space if they are confined to the wall or roof of the house. Some grapevines may exclude light but only during the summer when shading is often welcome. A vine or a peach is certainly worth considering as the fruit will be far superior to those produced outside.
Many flower and foliage plants can be cheaply raised from seed and used either as house plants or to decorate the greenhouse itself. The range of possible plants is almost limitless and they will require no heat in most areas once frost danger is over. Grow your plants in peat mixture, potting mixture or your own soil-based medium, depending on your preference. Feed them all with liquid seaweed or animal manure tea while they are growing vigorously.
In temperate climates, the earliest crops have to sown in a heated greenhouse but the sowing dates of many vegetables can be brought forward by at least a month by using Gro-Rows outside with no heating. After raising an early crop of salad plants, cover frost-tender vegetables like squashes, beans, and tomatoes. Since you will harvest these well before outside sown crops are ready, you’ll be eating them while shop prices are still high. At the end of the season, the Gro-Rows can be used again to grow late vegetables while those in the outside garden are finished. Once you have used Gro-Rows, you will not want to be without them. They will certainly pay for themselves easily in the first season.
GRO-ROWS THROUGH THE SEASONS
- January: Put your Gro-Rows over soil one month before planting. This will dry and warm the soil. Do not close the ends.
- Early Spring: Protect newly sown seed and seedlings.
- Summer: In cool climates, cover mature tomatoes, egg plants and pepper plants to set and ripen fruit.
- Winter: Use Gro-Rows to protect alpines and cactus from rotting in wet soil. Gro-Rows also make handy covers for compost and equipment.
- January: Plan year’s crops; order seeds and seedlings. Sow onions in flats. Sow radishes in greenhouse soil. Bring in bulbs’ to flower in greenhouse. When bulbs are dome flowering, plant outside. Ventilate greenhouse on sunny days.
- February: Ventilate when needed. Water sparingly. Sow lettuce, carrots, beets, parsnips, and bulb onions. Sow tomatoes with additional heating such as an electric propagator or composting manure. Bring in more bulbs to replace those that have flowered. Pot or divide ferns.
- March: Sow lettuce, celery, mustard, and cress. Sow with additional heat eggplants, peppers, beans, tomatoes. Thin lettuce seedlings (put out at end of March). Sow leeks, celery, peas, corn. Bring in more strawberries in pots. Sow alpines. Take ornamental cuttings. Plant more bulbs in pots. Plant out rooted cuttings from winter. Sow half hardy annuals and alpines.
- April: Sow more lettuce, radish, mustard, cress, endive, parsley, corn, beans, and cucumbers. Pick radishes and lettuce. Thin and begin to harden off seedlings. Take cuttings.
- May: Plant eggplants, sweet peppers, okra, cucumbers and melons. Harvest early carrots turnips and beets. Plant out tomatoes after last frost. Harden off more seedlings and plant out after frosts are over. Sow for winter flowers.
- June: Harvest lettuce, radish, beans, etc.
- July: Harvest peppers, lettuce, tomatoes in greenhouse etc.
- August: Sow lettuce, radishes, alpine strawberries. Plant apricots, peaches, and grape vines. Harvest lettuces etc. Sow hardy annuals for spring flowering in greenhouse. Pot hardy biennials for spring flowering. Plant bulbs.
- October: Sow lettuce for spring. Plant fruit trees. Bring in tender perennials for over wintering. Sow annuals. Sow sweet peas.
- November: Sow onions for transplanting. Box up rhubarb crowns, chicory (insulate if needed). Bring in pots of herbs for winter supply.. Plant grapevines. Bring bulbs into greenhouse as shoots appear.
- December: Harvest chicory. Bring in bulbs for spring flowering. Clean greenhouse.
HAPPY GREENHOUSE GARDENING
This booklet will give you general information about how to use your greenhouse effectively. However, it does not contain the detailed information that would better enable you to utilize all your greenhouse’s growing potential. We therefore strongly recommend that you obtain some of the many excellent books on gardening in greenhouses from your library or bookstore.
A broken pole can be repaired with a wooden insert such as a broom handle. Or replaced with class 200 or 125 PVC from a plumbing, hardware or building supply store.
Broken connectors can be replaced with class 200 or scq. 40 11-4″ PVC. Cut to 5″, and drill 1-4″ hole in the center.
Wear eye protection when setting up you dome. The domes’ poles could break and parts of the pole could fly toward your face.
In heavy snow your dome could collapse which could damage what you have in it or compromise your shelter.
Your dome will blow away if it is not anchored properly. Study the anchoring instructions carefully and apply all appropriate means to secure your dome to the earth. Rain will soften the ground and greatly reduce the holding power of the stakes. We provide good general purpose stakes, but they cannot cover all ground conditions. Wind will at times come up unexpectedly. Be prepared!
Remember that the dome is a lightweight, portable structure. Its strength comes from tension, not mass or rigid components. Exposed sites with unusually extreme winds are not recommended. It is apparent that you could not climb on top of the dome, nor can you expect it to support heavy snow loads. Accumulated snow, must be melted or shaken off periodically.
Keep all flames and heat away from your domes covering and other objects in your dome.