Dampened by the winter? You don’t have to be. In fact, you can still carry on gardening like nothing has changed – if you have a greenhouse.
A greenhouse provides the ultimate way to override any climatic changes, and grants you the chance to grow many kinds of plants that otherwise will not survive in your local climate. You get to grow tropical plants inside a greenhouse, even as its snowing heavily outside. Basically, a greenhouse provides the best way to override external climatic factors, and carry on gardening, observing, and studying plants, without being at the mercy of the weather.
Greenhouses (also sometimes called glasshouses), are basically any type of building (it can even be a converted shed) that enables growing and cultivation of plants in a controlled climate. The walls and roof are basically made of either transparent glass or plastic, or in the high tech ones, they are supplied with artificial lighting. Many hydroponically grown plants are also grown within greenhouses, as the environment within them is just ideal for this.
The first workable greenhouses were built during the 16th century in Europe, although there existed various forms of rudimentary “greenhouses” even much earlier than that. Travelers and traders to Asia and Africa brought back various plants that could only continue growing in a tropical climate. How was possible? The greenhouse was born out of necessity rather any bright idea on anyone’s part. Plants can grow almost anywhere, provided you give them what they need.
To date, the most expensive and largest greenhouse ever built would be the Biosphere 2 project in Oracle, Arizona, USA, which features several ecosystems inside, ranging from rainforest to coral reef.
The usefulness of a greenhouse
A greenhouse can be as large as you want it to be, or little larger than a garden hut or shed. It doesn’t matter, as long as it functions to provide plants with suitable growing conditions.
A greenhouse is desirable when:
- Establishing new cuttings and seeds which require warm, frost free environments.
- Starting the planting of seeds of vegetables like tomatoes, and annuals extra early, so that they can be transplanted to the outside garden as soon the weather turns suitable.
- Growing exotic tropical plants like orchids or pitcher plants, which naturally won’t grow in normal temperate climate conditions.
- Nurturing plant growth out of season, especially if spring is delayed, or a spate of frosty weather is hitting your area.
- Wintering tender plants which would perish under winter conditions.
- Conducting your own studies on growing plants in a clean and regulated atmosphere.
Mechanics of a typical greenhouse
Infrared light, which is part of the sunlight spectrum, doesn’t get out through the glass panes as easily as visible wavelengths. This causes the air inside the greenhouse to warm up, and since a greenhouse only allows a portion of the warm air to escape, it ensures the air temperature within – is constantly kept warm .
Anyone sitting in a closed car in the summer sun can attest that the temperature inside can be pretty hot. That’s why greenhouses used to be called hothouses. By letting a portion of the hot escape, they can maintain the temperature consistently. In addition, wind, amount of sunlight, and pests can be monitored and controlled.
Let’s not forget the comfort factor too. It’s a whole lot easier to do gardening inside a greenhouse rather than outside! Planting, watering and potting plants is less messy than the outdoor garden, simply because plants are often grown in pots while inside a greenhouse. If it gets too bright and hot, you can use shutters or screens to tone down the light. Isn’t that convenient? And nowadays, anyone can own a greenhouse, because they come in pop-up types as well! Setting up is super fast and easy.
Works of art
Fancy “showing off” your greenhouse to your visitors? Well designed greenhouses like The Royal Greenhouses of Laeken and the Kew Gardens, show just how good a greenhouse can integrate within properly landscaped surroundings, and stand as architectural attractions unto their own, notwithstanding the splendid showcase of plants they contain within.
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