Most common greenhouse maintenance problems are caused by neglect. It’s not that growers deliberately leave maintenance until it’s too late; rather, they tend to be so busy that arranging for it to be done, or doing it themselves, gets put off to a more convenient time. The trouble is, there’s never a more convenient time.
According to a blog post from GVZ Glasshouses in Essex, UK, the most common problems often come from a lack of cleanliness and faulty equipment. Here are a number of tips you can follow in each of these areas.
In a greenhouse, everything gets dirty. Soil is literally at the root of everything you cultivate, and it has a way of finding itself onto many of the surfaces under glass. As if that wasn’t enough, the glass itself also gets dirty. Water vapor is distributed around the greenhouse, condenses on the inner surfaces, and then when it evaporates, leaves condensation behind. Aluminum-framed greenhouses accumulate dirt in the joints between panes of glass and also where the glass comes in close contact with the framing itself. Once the dirt and grime are allowed to settle, they can attract pests and mold. And as the weather worsens, so will the problems associated with it.
Keeping Your Greenhouse Clean
The most effective way to clean glass and other surfaces is with a power-wash in-between seasons, when the greenhouse is likely to be empty or nearly so. Gutters are a nuisance to clean out and are probably best left to the experts who are used to climbing up and onto greenhouses. But you can sweep the floors anytime, and doing so as you go makes the job a lot easier than waiting until it’s really a mess.
Heaters tend to corrode when pipes leak. It’s much cheaper to catch a leak early than to wait until it becomes a steady drip or worse. You also want to make sure you have enough fuel stored up before you need it. Buy it during the off-season. Then you’ll have it when you need it.
Door and window seals should be checked each season. They tend to break down with use and from changes in the weather. Grease your racks and pinions, too, at least annually. And check your windows periodically to make sure that they close all the way. Do this at least every season. You want to find out that they don’t seal properly before the cold weather sets in, not after.
Screens also wear with use. Be sure you check them for tears and holes. You don’t want one coming apart when you need to open it, especially if it occurs on one of those days where the sun is in and out of the clouds.
Keep fans free of the dirt and grunge that builds up from excessive lubrication. Wherever there are moving parts, apply only as much lubrication as you need to do the job, and be sure to wipe off the excess when you’re finished.
Check everything that transports or stores water for leaks or cracks. Remember that water finds its own level, so you may have to do some investigating to find the actual source of the problem.
Check for cracked or broken glass and replace damaged panes as soon as you notice them. Gaps can let insects in, and water that freezes in the cracks can make the situation much worse. Look over all of your greenhouse, not just in the obvious high use areas. It’s worth taking a close look after a day of high winds or a strong storm. Look especially for signs of corrosion or breaks in the metal itself.
There are likely to be parts of your greenhouse that you don’t visit very often. Don’t overlook these. Check your wires, for example, for evidence of wear and gnawing. If you happen to have a back-up power supply, then run it at least once per year so that you’re confident that it works. And check your lights. LEDs and high-efficiency bulbs last longer than the old tungsten lamps, but nothing lasts forever. Inspect these things before you need them.