Climate Concerns in Designing Your DIY Greenhouse
The main reason humans invented greenhouses is to try to control nature and grow food when the outside conditions are not suitable for it. By building a DIY greenhouse, we are creating perfect growing conditions, and in order to do it, we need to take into consideration all that Mother Nature can dish out: sun, wind, cold, too much rain, too little rain, too much snow, bad soil, swampy terrain, slope, not to mention bugs and pests.
Although we do control climatic conditions in our greenhouse, it makes sense to
be aware of our local climate and specific conditions for our area, in order to make better decision on what kind of greenhouse is the most suitable, what materials are going to cope better in our area, how much to budget for the maintenance and upkeep etc.
Building a Greenhouse in a Hot Climate
Climatic conditions in the area where we live will determine to a great extent the kind of greenhouse we can build. In hot countries and in parts of countries where summers get scorching hot, greenhouses have to be designed to minimize the amount of heat that enters the greenhouse. That can be accomplished by using white greenhouse frames, opaque instead of clear glazing, shading cloth that can stop up to 70 percents of sun from entering the greenhouse, and an automatic system of vents, fans and misters. Israel, which has an arid climate and very poor, desert, soil, has 3,000 hectares of greenhouses, growing everything from vegetables to flowers and spices.
Building a Greenhouse in a Cold Climate
A cold climate has its own challenges. Again, the type of greenhouse chosen makes a big difference. Lean-to greenhouses take advantage of the heat and insulation of one wall of your house. Black framing heats during the day and slowly releases heat during the night. Double glazing prevents heat from escaping the greenhouse. Automatic heaters are often necessary to keep the temperature stable.
In a very cold climate, a power outage can mean quick death from freezing of the entire greenhouse plant world. If the power supply is unstable in your area, you might be forced to get a gas or diesel generator hooked to start automatically in case of power failure.
Soil Conditions For Your Greenhouse
The great thing about greenhouses is that we can bring in any type of soil we want, so that we do not depend on the quality of soil in our area. Raised beds, trays and pots are confined growing spaces with limited quantity of soil that we can pre-mix outside and bring in as needed. Small greenhouse growers prefer to buy already premixed soil with a large percentage of mulch, which retains moisture longer.
Water Supply For Your Greenhouse
Areas that at times get large quantities of rain require careful consideration of drainage, inside and outside. Excess rain has to be channeled through a system of gutters and drainpipes into the outside drainage ditches and reservoirs. Considering that the greenhouse excess water contains fertilizer, we cannot just let the outflow go anywhere. In urban environment, laws are strict about the water flow into neighbor’s property, and if we live close to the nature preserves, excess fertilizer can damage fragile wild ecosystems.
In areas with large average rainfall, it is not wise to build the greenhouse on a slope, since the rain water running downhill can cause flood in the greenhouse and damage plants and the infrastructure.
Lack of water in our area can cause different type of challenges. If water is limited, hydroponics growing trays in the greenhouse are an ideal growing medium. Water and fertilizers are circulated in a closed loop, limiting the need for fresh water and cutting costs for both water and fertilizer drastically.
Wind Effects On A Greenhouse
Strong prevailing winds in our area require us to build strong greenhouse frame that would sustain gusts of strong wind. Dome type greenhouse cope with winds very well. Strong, sturdy frame requires solid foundation, what means cement, which can provide good support for the frame and the roof. Glass glazing can be fragile in the areas where wind can throw large branches from the surrounding trees on the greenhouse roof.
Dealing with extreme climatic conditions when building your greenhouse just means that you have to invest time in careful planning and make educated decisions in choosing the right type of the DIY greenhouse, right materials and a climate control system that will make your job a bit less challenging.
Photo source: http://www.growingwithplants.com/2009/12/why-arrow-gas-company-sucks-more-than.html