Ways to Avoid Beginner Mistakes in the Greenhouse
Are you new in the business of growing greenhouse vegetables? Or, are you just thinking about getting started? There is a lot you need to learn to succeed in the greenhouse hydroponic business. But you can learn a lot in advance of taking the plunge. In other words, learn from other people’s mistakes so you can prevent doing the same thing.
We’ll focus on a few of the most common areas that have tripped people up in the past with some quick-and-dirty advice.
Water has to go somewhere. So plan for drainage.
A 1% to 2% slope for the greenhouse helps the water drain out easily. Also, the floor should be porous so excess water can percolate through the floor. Gravel works well. Puddles are an invitation to diseases in the greenhouse.
Also, build the greenhouse so it does not get shade from tall trees or structures. Shadows will be a continuous problem in limiting light, and trees or branches may fall and cause damage.
Fertilizers. Use a fertilizer formulated for greenhouse hydroponic tomatoes, lettuce, or whichever vegetable you are growing. Do not use an all-purpose greenhouse fertilizer, such as a 20-20-20. This works great for ornamentals but is far from ideal for vegetables.
Pest Management. Learn in advance what the most common insect pests and disease symptoms look like. Scout the greenhouse daily so that as soon as a problem occurs, you’ll catch it and have a plan of attack to ameliorate the problem before it spreads and becomes a crop-threatening situation.
pH. Try to get your fertilizer solution pH close to the range of 5.6 to 5.8 for tomatoes grown in containers in the greenhouse. pH that is too high or too low causes nutrient uptake problems and limits your yield potential.
Varieties. Choose varieties that are bred for greenhouse production. These have superior disease resistance over garden or field varieties. In addition, they will yield better in the greenhouse than field types, with fewer physiological defects.
Problem Resolution. If problems pop up (and they will), contact your Extension educator and ask for help. Often a few, well-taken pictures go a long way to document the problem, whether it be environmental, pathological, insect, nutritional, or something else.
To learn more about growing your greenhouse vegetables business, including how to make smart business plans, read the full article at GrowingProduce.com.