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Choosing essential equipment to fit out a heated greenhouse such as benching and ventilators as well as desirable accessories is an exciting if somewhat expensive task. It can make or break a greenhouse gardener.
For the gardener who wants to make maximum use of his or her greenhouse, choosing a heating system is just the start of an exciting journey into the world of protected cultivation. Essential equipment for the greenhouse gardener includes benching (or staging), ventilation, propagating systems, and probably some form of automatic or at least semi-automatic irrigation system.
Essential Equipment for the Greenhouse Gardener
Adequate Greenhouse Ventilation is Essential
There must be sufficient ventilation to keep a greenhouse cool in summer. Most standard models don't come with adequate ventilation, so it is essential to buy extra. To get good airflow, there should be ventilation in both the roof and low down at the side. This creates the desired chimney effect whereby cool air enters low down, and hot air escapes through the roof.
For efficient ventilation, the open area of vents should be around one-fifth of the floor space. Louvre vents are useful near the bottom of the greenhouse, where they can be easily fitted into the existing structure. Vents on both sides of the greenhouse are desirable, so at least one can be opened on the leeward side on windy days.
Automatic vent openers are invaluable for the greenhouse gardener who is at work during the day.
Greenhouse Benching also Known as Staging
Some benching will be necessary to bring pots and trays of plants to the waist level and above. Perfectly good plants can be grown on benching made from recycled timber, or old doors resting on breeze blocks. But for lightness, flexibility, and good looks, it's necessary to invest in new purpose-made equipment.
The wide selection available includes wood and aluminum in a range of widths and lengths to suit the size of the greenhouse. The choice includes a single or double tier with solid or slatted surfaces.
Slatted surfaces allow for maximum air circulation and are ideal for plants such as cyclamen and orchids, which are liable to attack from botrytis and damping-off diseases in stagnant air. Staging, which has a solid surface with a low lip around the edge, can be used to hold moisture-retaining capillary matting, sand, or gravel.
Greenhouse Propagation Equipment is Essential
An electrically heated propagator is a must because it provides the ideal temperature and level of humidity for germinating seeds and rooting cuttings within a confined area, thereby saving the cost of heating the whole greenhouse.
Where large quantities of cuttings are to be rooted, the installation of a mist propagation unit takes propagation to a professional level. These systems provide thermostatically controlled heat on the bench and have overhead nozzles, which automatically spray a fine mist when required to prevent the cuttings from wilting and scorching. Warm feet and cool tops result in the rapid growth of roots.
Irrigation Systems Save Time Watering Plants
Automatic watering systems are beneficial when regular individual attention is impossible at holiday times, for example. Drip watering kits put the water via nozzles to different plants at compost level or onto matting for smaller plants to draw up water by capillary action.
Wide Choice of Essential Equipment
Good garden centers and specialist suppliers sell a wide range of both essential and desirable equipment. But you can save money on things like compost: How to Compost Kitchen Waste for Your Yard and Garden