SELECTING A GREENHOUSE
There are so many choices and decisions that need to be made when purchasing a greenhouse!
Below I’ll walk you through the decisions we faced and settled on, add-in’s we purchased (and why) as well what mistakes we made along the way.
1. Size of greenhouse
First we had to decide what size we wanted the greenhouse to be. We both knew with Aquaponics and/or hydroponics we would need a larger sized house as the bigger the fish tanks and grow beds the more stable your system will be.
So we decided on a 24’w x 40’l x 8’h would suit our needs. We also made sure we could easily add to it in the future to make it longer if we wanted to.
2. STYLE/TYPE of greenhouse
We next needed to decide which style of greenhouse we wanted. I spent hours online researching and visited several local greenhouse businesses asking them for advice as to the different styles and why they chose the greenhouse types they had.
We knew we wanted a kit- something we could put together ourselves- hiring someone to erect the greenhouse would be expensive – approximately $850 or more. We considered purchasing a used greenhouse but after calling several people that were selling them, we learned it would be our responsibility to come to their property, remove the greenhouse piece by piece, transport it to our home and try to reassemble it again. Being our first greenhouse, this wasn’t a good option for us so we opted to bite the bullet and buy a new greenhouse kit, with instructions.
I loved the Gothic style and gable roofed greenhouses with the tall peaked ceiling and considered it… but we also had to consider the weather here in New Jersey. The winds can get pretty bad and we didn’t want to cement the standing poles into the ground as it would make it a permanent fixture. They have their benefits but we also didn’t want to take a chance of losing it to the winds we some times get here. After much research, we decided to go with the Quonset type kit with 3.5′ sidewalls.
The Quonset type (rounded roof) can withstand a higher level of snow load and it’s rounded roof allows the winds to just blow right over it, helping to remove the lighter snow. Our first winter taught us that by purchasing a second poly roof and inflating (like a sealed pillow) it acts as a layer of insulation and helps the snow slide right off of it. The heat from inside the greenhouse warms up the space between the two poly sheets, helping to melt the snow as it first falls onto the poly.
And, as suggested to us by Jacob from Grower’s Solution (see below), the winds also weren’t an issue… and as it goes, the first winter after constructing the greenhouse was a doozy- the worst we had seen in many, many years but the greenhouse stood up to it with no issues.
3. WHERE TO BUY A GREENHOUSE
We learned that not all greenhouses are not equal in quality. If you’re looking for a sturdy, higher quality structure that will last long and withstand vast weather swings in areas such as New Jersey, you probably don’t want to buy it at Home Depot, Graingers, etc.
Again, after doing A LOT of research, I decided to purchase from a Company online called Growers Solution.com , based out of Cookeville, TN. Since we had such a great experience with them, I’d like to tell you more about them.
I spoke with Jacob, who was extremely patient with my many phone calls and thousands of questions. After talking with him about the type and size greenhouse I thought I might want, he confirmed our selection would be fine for the type of weather we experience here in New Jersey. He also gave us tips for setting up and maintaining the greenhouse.
After six years when I purchased from the greenhouse kit from them, I still order new poly, fans, etc. from them as needed, and I have recommended them to many friends and other newbie Aquaponic friends.
I am comfortable placing a call them with questions I may have; I always get the answers I need and have never had a bad transaction or conversation with them. I highly recommend them if you are considering a greenhouse or accessories yourself!
4. OPTIONS: GREENHOUSE SIDE-WALLS
The greenhouse we chose has 3’high sides before the ‘arch’ starts. We purchased the roll-up greenhouse sides that allow you to roll up the sides for more ventilation in the greenhouse in the summer. After putting up the frame to the greenhouse I began to think about the groundhogs and other tenacious critters that would undoubtedly try to get inside at the food. My after thought told me that with just one swipe of a groundhog’s powerful nails would rip the poly to shreds so we opted to board the sides with stained plywood instead.
While knowing this would help keep critters at bay, we also knew we could have problems with mold in the winter. If you choose this route, be sure you place several coats of stain or water resistant paint on both sides of the wood before installing it. You will need to re-stain or paint it periodically.
WHEN USING WOOD IN A GREENHOUSE...
We were so busy trying to beat the approaching cold weather that we put up the wood sides, staining the outside but figured we would stain the inside later. BIG MISTAKE. “Later” never came. Throughout the winter the inside of the greenhouse became like a rain forest- every day. We ended up getting a lot of mold in the wood, which was really hard to remove. In the Spring we had to scrub the wood walls down with bleach and a mold removing product, let it dry then scrub it down with Peroxide, let it dry and then finally paint the walls with multiple layers to help protect the wood.