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Choosing Greenhouse Accessories

By selecting the proper greenhouse accessories for your particular greenhouse and region, there are no limits to what you can grow!

Ventilation
Fans and vents are among the most important greenhouse accessories. These will help to assure that your plants can get plenty of fresh air and that your greenhouse stays as cool as possible. Good ventilation also helps with pest management and pollination. There are two types of fans, which each serve different functions. Circulation fans are used to keep air moving and are especially important for larger greenhouses. Exhaust fans, which are typically placed above doors, are used to help push stale air out of the greenhouse and to allow fresh air to move in. Fans should always be used in conjunction with vents. For best results, a greenhouse should have both roof and base vents in order to encourage healthy cross-ventilation.

Temperature
In order to enhance the ability of your ventilation system to cool your greenhouse, a shade cloth should also be used in sunny weather. Shade cloths are typically made of polypropylene or aluminum and are attached to the exterior of your greenhouse with screws or strings. These filter out the harshest rays of the sun, allowing your greenhouse to stay up to fifteen degrees cooler naturally. There are many sizes available, but you should choose one that covers both the roof and the majority of your side walls. Even if your particular area does not become too hot, the greenhouse could still easily overheat without a shade cloth. Consider adding a simple min/max thermometer to your greenhouse to ensure that your greenhouse is not becoming too hot or too cold without your knowledge.

Tie-Down Kits
One accessory commonly forgotten is a tie-down kit. Greenhouses, due to their shape and size, can easily be blown away in wind if not properly secured. The tie-down kit you choose will vary by greenhouse, but it should always be used - even during construction. If you live in a particularly windy area, don’t hesitate to add extra tie-downs in order to best protect your greenhouse.

Heating
When it comes to choosing other greenhouse accessories, many people seem to get lost among all of the available options. There truly is a wide variety of products available to make your greenhouse gardening experience more successful, but this does not necessarily mean that the equipment is appropriate for your particular situation. For example, heaters are wonderful for those who would like to grow year-round and overwinter their favorite plants. However, in order to operate a heater the greenhouse should be insulated and you must have the proper power or gas supply available. Many people also purchase heaters with higher heat output (BTU) ratings than are necessary, thinking that this is advantageous. In reality, this only wastes power and increases the chance for your greenhouse overheating.

Cooling
While most worry about their greenhouse freezing, many people find that they have not prepared for their greenhouse overheating. This is certainly a valid concern since more plants actually die from overheating in a greenhouse than from the cold. There are evaporative coolers available that can dramatically reduce the temperature in your greenhouse, but these again are not always the best solution. Before making such an investment, other fixes should be tried. Ventilation should be increased as much as possible, with the greenhouse featuring a high-quality exhaust fan as well as circulation fans and vents. Adding a shade cloth will also filter out some of the sun that causes the greenhouse to become overheated. If you do live in a particularly hot area and choose to purchase an evaporative cooler, be sure to choose one that is appropriate for your greenhouse size.

Lighting
Grow lights are one of the most helpful greenhouse accessories, although they seem to be perhaps the most confusing. For those living in sunny areas, a grow light isn’t necessary in most cases; rather, grow lights are best used in cloudier areas with short day lengths. If you choose to purchase a grow light, it is important that you select both the proper size and type based on your greenhouse and what you are growing. There are three basic types of light output available, each of which has a different effect on your plants.

Other Considerations
Many other greenhouse accessories are designed to simply make gardening more enjoyable and convenient. Options include watering wands, high-quality tools such as pruners, containers, potting benches and drip irrigation systems. Once your greenhouse is well-established, you will have a better idea of which tools will be of particular help to you.

As a general rule, always look for high-quality products that are designed to withstand the rather harsh conditions of a greenhouse. Of course, good information sources are also key to your greenhouse gardening success! A good greenhouse gardening book is absolutely indispensable. The best books include information about choosing and equipping a structure with the proper greenhouse accessories. They will also inform you about the best plants to grow in your greenhouse, how to manage pests and general problem-solving.

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