Believe it or not, greenhouses have been around since as far back as the Roman times. The emperor Tiberius was fond of a particular vegetable and required it at every meal. His gardeners devised a primitive greenhouse system to ensure he had this vegetable every day. The first official greenhouses, called botanical gardens, came about in the 13th century in Italy. These greenhouses were built to ensure the survival of exotic plants brought back to Italy. Temperature controlled greenhouses didn’t come into existence until the 15th century in Korea. The first modern greenhouse is credited to French botanist Charles Bonaparte and was introduced in Holland. Only the rich could afford these conveniences at first, but greenhouses soon began to appear at universities. The first French greenhouses were called orangeries due to the fact their primary purpose was to prevent the freezing of orange crops.Plant nurseries use greenhouses to grow their plants.
At its simplest, a greenhouse is an enclosed space in which plants are allowed to thrive in a controlled environment. This enclosure protects plants from the elements. The size of the enclosure varies depending upon the number of plants you have. Greenhouses can be metal- or wood-framed structures with either glass or plastic as the primary component of construction. This allows the sun to warm the ground and air inside of the greenhouse and creates a moist environment in which the plants can thrive. Greenhouses design lets us manipulate the thermal properties of air to control and suppress thermal convection.
Benefits of a Greenhouse
There are numerous advantages to gardening with a greenhouse. Using a greenhouse provides more consistent gardening output. Using a greenhouse also allows you to garden years round. This means you don’t need to wait for your favorite fruits and vegetables to be in season. You are in control. Growing your own fruits and vegetables is also more cost effective. The main benefit, of course, is the ability to keep your plants, fruits, and vegetables in a safer environment and not at the mercy of plants and the elements of nature. The biggest downside for most gardeners when considering a greenhouse is the cost factor. Depending upon the size of the garden you want to keep or what types of plants you are growing, cost can be substantial. The benefits, however, will outweigh the investment.
Building a Greenhouse
There are several ways to build a greenhouse. As mentioned earlier, the cost of building one will be proportionate to the size of the project. Before starting, it is a good idea to sit down and plan. What will you be growing? How much space will you need? How much do you want to spend? Visiting a professional nursery for suggestions is a good idea as well.
You’ll need a piece of land to build on. A flat piece of land is best to start with. This will save you having to go to the time and expense of having to level an area. If you’ve already got a garden in place, all you’ll need to do is build around it. You’ll also need materials for the frame of the greenhouse. Wood is easiest to work with. If you’re not skilled with tools and carpentry, you’re either going to need a set of blueprints or you’ll have to hire someone. The main cover of your greenhouse will need to be transparent, which means you’ll be using glass or plastic. Plastic is much easier to work with and less expensive.
Concrete blocks or sturdy metal posts can act as anchors for the corners of your greenhouse. If you can afford it, pour a perimeter of concrete to create a full foundation. The foundation and anchor is especially important if you live in a region with high winds and you’re using plastic as the main component of your greenhouse.
You can find greenhouse blueprints online, purchase them in some garden centers, or plan your own if you have some skills in this area. If you’re paying someone to do it for you, have a plan in advance for what you want and then shop around for the most affordable company to do it for you. Always make sure the company you hire is capable of making the greenhouse you want.
If you have the resources to get started, a greenhouse is a great way to save time, money, and to create a year-round supply of your favorite foods.