Today, we learn Greenhouse Gardening Ideas and Techniques. In recent decades, greenhouse area has raised worldwide, due mainly to the increased use of plastic greenhouses for growing vegetable crops. Site selection is a key factor for profitable & sustainable greenhouse production.
The challenge of supplying high-quality vegetables all year round can be met by adopting one of two essential strategies:
- Growing in high-tech greenhouses, avoiding strong dependence on the outdoor environment.
- Growing in two or more locations with complementary harvesting periods, enabling a continuous & coordinated year-round supply to markets.
When you talk about the intensive system of crop production, then you must think of greenhouse farming. A greenhouse is one of the mediums where large quantities of crops, in the best quality, are formed using a small piece of land area with the aid of some agronomic practices. It is a highly productive organism of crop production.
There are some agronomic practices that must be carried out irrespective of the system of farming. They are essential for good growth & high productivity. Agronomic practices are scheduled activities aimed at providing a favorable environment for good crop growth & development and an unfavorable environment to control plant pest & diseases. They are pre-planting and post-planting operations.
Agronomic practices are a vital component of gardening systems. These are practices that farmers incorporate to improve soil quality, enhance water usage, manage crops & improve the environment. Agronomic practices focus on better fertilizer management as a method of improving agricultural practices.
Read: Hydroponic System Components.
The agronomic practices in a greenhouse are similar to the conventional or traditional systems of crop production, but they are carried out using different procedures, skills, and technology.
The agronomic practices that must be carried out in a greenhouse to ensure good yield & better production. Best practices to increase crop yields with greenhouse gardening are;
- Soil treatment in the greenhouse
- Biosecurity in the greenhouse
- Transplanting of greenhouse crops
- Weeding of greenhouse
- Crop nutrition in the greenhouse
- Pest and disease control in a greenhouse
- Pollination of greenhouse crops
Soil treatment in greenhouse gardening:
The easiest method to get started in greenhouse crop production is to use the existing soil on the site, but soils must be well drained. Soils can be improved by affecting ample quantities of well-rotted livestock manure, compost, or composted livestock manure. Apply all manures before fumigation. Soils should be fumigated or sterilized with steam at least 2 weeks before planting. If the soil is steamed, maintain a temperature of 180°F for at least 4 hours. Avoid deep tillage after sterilization to prevent reintroduction of weed seed & disease organisms from below the sterilization or fumigation zone.
Although not all greenhouses use soil as the growth medium, where the soil is used or to be used, you should ensure the soil is treated. A greenhouse is a controlled environment, all that contains a greenhouse, such as water, air, soil, etc., must be controlled.
A soil test must be taken before planting to determine the amount of fertilizer to apply for each crop. All phosphorous & potassium fertilizers should be applied before planting and incorporated directly into the soil. Nitrogen fertilizers must be applied in split applications, the part before planting and the rest as needed during the growing season. Nitrogen fertilizers can be applied as side dressings or during a drip irrigation system. Secondary and minor fertilizer elements must be applied as needed.
Biosecurity in greenhouse gardening:
Biosecurity is very important in an intensive system of production, either livestock production or crop production. The first defense method in a greenhouse is biosecurity. It is the cheapest and most effective way of controlling pests and diseases.
Biosecurity in greenhouse involves the use of disinfectants in hand bathtubs & foot deep tubs to facilitate sanitation before accessing the greenhouse; this prevents any biological threat from entering the greenhouse. You can as well use instructional signposts to restrict movement within & outside the greenhouse. Biosecurity is a pivotal element of the success in greenhouse farming.
Transplanting in greenhouse gardening:
For the small grower with separate freestanding greenhouses, it is generally more convenient to work right in the greenhouse. Seedlings & flats are supplied to each greenhouse as needed. To save labor & time, prefilled flats or pots can be brought in stacked on pallets.
For greenhouses where the flats are developed on the floor, movable potting benches on wheels work best. Seedlings are transplanted into the flats which are then placed directly into the increasing space on the floor. The potting bench is changed from one end of the greenhouse to the other as space is filled.
Transplanting is easier if good dibble holes have been produced in the growing medium surface of the flat. This requires good moisture content that varies with the type of growing mix used.
Weed control in greenhouse gardening:
Impact of Weeds in the greenhouse can definitely have a negative impact on the bottom line. Weeds will quickly exploit ornamental growing areas such as pots, beds, walkways & under benches robbing crops of valuable nutrients, water & light. Besides detracting from the aesthetic appearance of the process, weeds can lead to reduced crop growth, crop losses & lower plant quality. Weeds can harbor insects, mites, rodents & other pests that can attack crops and vector plant diseases. Also, weeds can serve as alternate hosts for plant diseases.
Weed invasion is a greenhouse can be controlled easily because the land area is generally small, though the yield is very high. You can control weeds by using preemergence herbicides before transplanting, or manually, using a hoe, before & after transplanting. Some non-conventional ways to control weeds such as:
- Covering the surface of the soil, thereby, denying the weeds access to sunlight to facilitate the procedure of photosynthesis.
- The soil surface will be covered by the materials like sawdust or wood shavings or any dried material to keep the sun away from the soil.
- The use of herbicides after transplanting is not always advised as the herbicide can be injurious to the crops.
Crop nutrition in greenhouse gardening:
Plants are capable of synthesizing, through the process of photosynthesis, all organic compounds required for their life (e.g. amino acids, lipids & vitamins). Therefore, unlike animals, plants want only inorganic compounds to cover their nutritional needs.
Traditional management of nutrients in greenhouse production is based on the assumption that plant growth is not limited by water & nutrient uptake. In greenhouses, if fertilization is not well managed in soil-grown crops, a water surplus is often necessary to avoid soil salinization & to keep soil moisture high.
Fertilization of the crop and soil is important in greenhouse farming. Immediately after soil treatment, to fertilize the soil, by adding decomposed manure or compost manure to the soil. Please ensure the manure you are using is well decomposed because undecomposed or decomposed manure may host pests.
Similarly, you can use synthetic fertilizers in the form of NPK to supply some necessary nutrients to the soil. The method of fertilizer application in a greenhouse is not the same as used in an open field.
In a drip irrigated greenhouse, it is best to apply the fertilizer during the fertigation method, that is, adding the fertilizers in the irrigation water. Foliar application is used to apply fertilizer in the greenhouse. They are easy & very effective. Use compost or manure to replenish the soil fertility & synthetic fertilizers to supply essential nutrients to the soil.
Pest and disease control in a greenhouse garden:
Choose crops & varieties that are resistant to pests and diseases if feasible. Many cultivars are resistant or tolerant to several diseases, including Powdery Mildew, Downy Mildew & viruses. However, no cultivar is resistant or tolerant to all diseases. Before moving new plants into the greenhouse, verify them for any sign of pests or diseases. Do not plants that are, or appear to be diseased, or infested with pests.
Control insects and weeds inside & outside the greenhouse. The control of pest is a must in crop production, irrespective of the system of cultivation. While pest invasion is as a rule reduced to below economic threshold in a greenhouse. However, in case of pest emergence, use this homemade insecticide or this neem oil pesticide to prevent pests.
You must try as much as possible to avoid the depositions during a flood, water, and other particles, into the greenhouse. Most disease-causing agents enter into the greenhouse during the flood. In cases of disease emerged in a greenhouse, use this detailed crop rotation value to control the disease; it is the best method of disease control in a greenhouse. It involves the planting of another crop out of the family of the infected crop.
You can as well use any of these fungicides & bactericide to manage fungal and bacterial diseases respectively. Prune or thin out completely several infected plants to prevent the spread of the disease. Diseases can be prevented in a greenhouse if stringent biosecurity compute is adopted.
Pollination of greenhouse crops:
Pollination is important in crop production; it is the move of the pollen from the male flower to the stigma of the female flower. Without the pollination process, crops cannot be produced. Crops grown in the open field are freely pollinated by pollination agents, chiefly honey bees & other insects. Pollination agents are not present in the greenhouse because they can host pest & disease pathogens. Pollination can be achieved mechanically using electric vibrator & air blower.
As ever, nature is good at taking care of addressing challenges such as pollination. Some plants are able to self-pollinate, such as peaches, peas & lettuces. However, others get around the challenge of pollination by producing most of their surrounding environment. However, if plants are removed from a natural setting & grown in a contained greenhouse, clearly the chances of the different types of natural pollination taking place are limited, mainly in smaller greenhouses.
To assist pollination in a greenhouse, you should first look to nature for a helping hand. Bees are your best bet, so you must try to encourage them into your greenhouse. You can do this by leaving vents & doors open on windless, sunny days to increase the chance of the bees making their way inside.
You would also advantage by planting plenty of nectar-rich flowers such as lavender & other flowering herbs around the outside & inside of your greenhouse, and in the general vicinity. In fact, the more wildlife- friendly your garden is, the more bees will pass by & drop into your greenhouse.
However, if you’re going to encourage bees into the greenhouse, it’s best to stop using any pesticides or insecticides. This is because bees can thrive in insecticide-free environments. So if you desire a helping hand from nature’s most prolific pollinators, then you should probably think about going organic in your greenhouse. If you’ve managed to attract bees to the greenhouse, the chances are that other natural predators such as ladybirds will drop in to help in the battle against greenhouse blights such as aphids.
A greenhouse produces crops in high quantity & good quality only when these agronomic practices are carried out duly. If you want to set up a greenhouse for farming, I suggest when using these agronomic practices your production will give higher yields.