Greenhouse Equipment

How Make Biodome

Above: A mist propagatot greatly facilitates the rooting of cuttings, and is a boon (of the busy gardener Below: Staging can be made of various materials Here, the top drawings show wooden slats, and the lower one corrugated asbestos covered with gravel Tiered staging is particularly useful when an attractive display is re quired in the greenhouse

An extremely wide range of equipment is available for greenhouses, some essential and the rest aiming, in one way or another, to make life easier for the gardener. Naturally, we all have our own ideas about what equipment is worth spending money on and what can be done without. My intention now is to briefly outline the most essential and interesting component parts of a greenhouse and related ancillary equipment, defining their role in the scheme of things.

There is certain basic equipment for which even greenhouse gardener will feel a need. For example, staging (even a greenhouse in which the plants are normally grown in beds, can benefit at times from the erection of portable staging!, a well-balanced watering-can and. possibly, a water tank, with mains supply. There are few things more irksome than haung to carry water from the home to the greenhouse day in day out. A professionally installed supply of electricity is important, too. not only for providing lighting so that work can continue in the greenhouse after dark, particularly on winter evenings, hut also to provide power for the many pieces of electrical equipment that are now available for greenhouse use. Ventilators and shading devices are extremely important. hut these are described in detail in a chapter of ibeir own on p. 125. Staging. As I have already said, siaging is not always required in the greenhouse, for some crops, such as tomatoes, are best grown on the ground or in rings of prepared soil (for details of ring culture

Above: A mist propagatot greatly facilitates the rooting of cuttings, and is a boon (of the busy gardener Below: Staging can be made of various materials Here, the top drawings show wooden slats, and the lower one corrugated asbestos covered with gravel Tiered staging is particularly useful when an attractive display is re quired in the greenhouse see p. IOX) standing on a bed of ashes or gravel. But siaging is convenient for the cultivation of many pot plants and, ir it can he screwed or bolted together, it can be remo\ed from the house when necessary.

Staging can be eilher open, i.e made of wooden slats, with air spaces between, or closed, i.e. made of asbestos sheeling. concrete or other solid substance usually covered with a layer of gravel or small stone chipiping& to hold moisture. Open staging causes dry air to circulate around the plants and does not usually provide such a good growing atmosphere for them. Tor most purposes staging at one height, usually about 2 ft, above ground level, is convenient but in wider greenhouses or where displays of plants aa- to be arranged, it is sometimes convenient to have tiered staging at several levels. Insulating Materials. The amount of artificial heal needed to maintain a greenhouse at any desired temperature can be reduced by proper insulation of the side walls and the glass area (with clear

Shading DevicesOne Sided Glass And Wood Greenhouse
A small electric propagating ftarne to stand cuttings The rod thermostat m this par-on the greenhouse staging is an invaluable ticular model ensures that the correct piece of equipment for raising seeds and temperature is maintained

A trickle watering system releases water automatically at set intervals from outlet nozzles along its length. The nozzles can supply water directly to the pots, or they can rest on a bed of sand so that the plants receive water by capillary action polythene sheeting) and by eliminating alt cracks through which cold air may enter or warm air escape. Wooden-sided houses are particularly in need of extra insulation and this may be done with glass wool, asbestos packing or any other heat-insulating material.

Lengths of' glass fibre, the kind used by builders For insulation, may be placed against the wood on the inside of the house. They can then be held in place with pieces of asbestos-cement sheet cut to fit. These add further to the insulation and also protect the woodwork from water.

If the greenhouse is lined with clear polythene sheeting during the winter months this gives the effect of double glazing and can reduce the cost of healing the house by almost half. It can be Iked in position very easily with a stapler, placing a piecc of strong paper between the stapler and the polythene to avoid Leanng. The polythene is stapled or otherwise fixed (drawing pins or tacks can be used) onto the glazing bars, running up and down these rather than across. In this way condensation runs down to the eaves rather than dropping onto the plants. It should not be placed over the ventilators. Naturally, it does reduce the light factor within the house to some extent and this must be balanced against the saving in fuel.

Propagating Frame. A small propagating frame to stand on the greenhouse staging, with soil-warming cables in the sand-covered base and air-warming cables round the sides, is of the greatest value. In such a frame it is possible to maintain a minimum temperature of If) to IS C, (6(1 to 65"F.) for a cost of about I Op. a week. I use such a frame lor rooting cuttings such as carnations and chrysanthemums. and even more for seed germination in spring. The great advantage of a propagating frame is that the temperature necessary for plant increase does not have to be maintained in the greenhouse as a whole. Fully automatic models are available with a thermostat giving a wide range of temperature options. It will be readily understood how much more SCope such a unit gives the gardener in terms of extended propagating seasons and general interest.

Mist Propagation I nit. A more ambitious aid to propagation is what is known as

A trickle watering system releases water automatically at set intervals from outlet nozzles along its length. The nozzles can a mist propagator, a device which has made it so very much easier to root cuttings of shrubs of many different kinds (some notoriously difficult to root by other means) and oilier plants. Like so many other ingenious pieces of equipment it is more simple than might be imagined. Basically the unit consists of a device which ensures that (he leaves of cuttings are kept permanently moist by subjecting them to a fine mist spray either at set intervals or when moisture evaporation activates a water valve. Further details of this equipment are given on p. I IS), Such a unit is normally set up on the greenhouse staging over a bed of sand or other rooting medium. Soil-warming cables are threaded through the bed and can be thermostatically controlled to provide a temperature oi'about 18 to 21 C. (65 to 70 F.).

Capillary Bench Watering. This method of watering ensures that pot plants gel water automatically, when they need it and in quantities appropriate to their needs. The value of this equipment to the busy gardener needs no emphasising. Again, the system of operation is notable for its simplicity.

Water is supplied from a feed lank or large jar (see illustration on p. 125) to a sand tray on which the pot plants arc stood. The water is fed by gravity into channels beneath (he sand and the height of the water tank is adjusted to ensure that the water level in the sand tray is jusl below the surface The water supply comes from a tank connected to the mains supply and controlled by a ball valve, or from a large bottle which must be regularly topped supply water directly to the pots, or they can rest on a bed of sand so that the plants receive water by capillary action up by hand. The plants in the pots take up water from their compost as they need it. and this in (urn is replaced by capillary action between the compost and the wet sand. Plastic pots have a distinctive advantage in this respect over clay ones for their thin bases make it easier for contact between compost and sand, which is essential if capillary action is to take place. Clay pots, however, must have a piece of wick threaded through their base to connect the water supply with the compost. Water is only taken up as it is needed so this is a far more precise method of watering than the traditional way with a watering-can. Trickle Watering. This system utilises a plastic hose with outlet nozzles at set intervals along the length corresponding to the average distance between quite closely set pots. The hose is connected to a storage tank which fills slowly from the mains and releases its water when full. Plants in pots or beds can thus be given set quantities of water automatically at determined time intervals. It is not such a precise method of watering as the capillary bench, but nevertheless it is useful for the busy gardener. Outlet nozzles which are not needed can be blocked off. Watering-cans. However much use is made of automatic watering devices, there will always be a place for the watering-can. It is important that it should be well balanced, and the kind with a long spout enabling plants at the back of beds or staging to be reached easily is the besi choice for greenhouse use. More and more plastic is taking over from metal in this field, and it will be generally agreed

When mixing one's own compost, the loam should always be partially sterilised An electric steriliser makes this an easy job

Watering-cans are available in various shapes and sizes and they are made in plastic or metal A long spout is particularly important in a greenhouse so that plants at the back of the staging can be reached

Soil Moisture Tensiometer Quick Drop

A soil moisture meter or tensiometer tells at a glance whether plants need watering or not. It is quick and easy to use

A soil moisture meter or tensiometer tells at a glance whether plants need watering or not. It is quick and easy to use

An accurate thermometer is essential for good greenhouse management. A soil ther-mpmeter (left) is used when sterilising soil that its lightness, durability and, often cheapness give it a distinct advantage.

It is essential to have a tine rose attachment for watering newly potted plants and seedlings and for spraying plants overhead. A coarse rose is also useful for damping down and for other jobs where a heavier spray is required. For watering pot plants 1 would recommend a can of 1- to l+-gal. size, but much depends on individual circumstances: how much water do you wish to lift, how far w ill you have to carry it ? Soil Moisture Meter. A tensiometer or soil moisture meter which indicates whether the soil is dry. moist or wet is a useful item of equipment. When a pointed probe is inserted in the soil a needle gives a reading on a calibrated scale. Thermometers. Maintaining an equahle temperature in the greenhouse is essential if plants are to give of their best. For this reason a thermometer is an essential item of equipment. The most useful kind is that which registers maximum and minimum temperatures by leaving a small needle in position as the mercury retracts. Many thermometers of this type are re-set with a magnet but the more expensive ones have push-button readjustment. A soil thermometer is useful for soil sterilisation, this being calibrated to include the high temperatures involved. Soil Sterilisers. A small soil steriliser with which to partially sterilise the soil one intends to use for potting and plant propagation, is enormously useful. Several di tic rent methods of sterilisation are used but the best and most convenient is steam sterilisation with an electric soil steriliser unit. These are compact and reasonably cheap to buy. If you do not wish to go to this expense, though, it is possible to do a good job with an ordinary bucket, standing this in a copper of boiling water. The idea is to raise the temperature of the soil to about 93 "C. (200 F.I and keep it at that for about 20 minutes. Flower Pots. 1 find it strange to think back to the time when we were told that plants would grow in nothing but porous clay pots. There was the introduction of the glass pot but that did not last long and we went back to clay: but now plastic pots have almost superseded the clay ones. This is not surprising considering the advantages: lightness, durability, ease of storing and cleaning and cheapness compared with their clay counterparts. I do not think that (he plants are any the worse for the changeover and the pots are certainly much more pleasant to handle. There is one thing, though, on the debit side: we have to be very much more careful not to overwater. Plants in plastic pots dry out less quickly than those in clay pots, and it is very easy to cause Waterlogging.

When mixing one's own compost, the loam should always be partially sterilised An electric steriliser makes this an easy job

Watering-cans are available in various shapes and sizes and they are made in plastic or metal A long spout is particularly important in a greenhouse so that plants at the back of the staging can be reached

Potted Plants

When potting plants, one should be careful not to choose too large a pot

The accompanying diagram shows the sizes of flower pot available. The most frequently used are the 34-in.. 5-in., 7-in. and 8-in. sizes. The 2-in. size is useful for rooting single cuttings. Seed Boxes. In seed boxes, too, plastic is rapidly taking over from wood. These have a standard measurement of 14 in. by 84 in. by 2 in.

A 'Presser'. This is a wooden block with a short handle which is used for firming and levelling compost before seed sowing. It can be easily made at home. Sieves. For grading soils to the texture necessary for potting and seed sowing a sieve is essential, For general purposes a jj-in. mesh sieve should be used with a finer one for lightly covering seeds with compost after they have been placed in position. This last can easily be made at home from a small wooden box by replacing the bottom of the box with a piece of perforated zinc. A Measure, There is no need to emphasise the value of a measuring cylinder or jug in the greenhouse, it is needed frequently for measuring liquid feed, insecticides and fungicides.

A Bucket. The uses for this simple piece of equipment need no explanation. In this area, loo, plastic now holds top place. Sprayers. Pest and disease control must always be at the back of one's mind for any infestation or infection in the confines of a greenhouse spreads very rapidly indeed. A small hand sprayer for insecticide and fungicide application is a 'must'. One that can be used for spraying the plants with water during the hot weather is also useful.

Labels. These are available in all shapes and sizes, in plastic, metal and wood. Which one chooses is purely a matter of personal preference.

Tying Materials. There are various

Flower pots are made in a very wide range of sizes, but the most frequently used are the 2-in.. 3^-in.. 5-m . 7-in and 8-in sizes materials that are suitable for tying plants, and one or other should always be close at hand so that plants may be supported as soon as necessary. Raffia has been used for many years and it is reasonably priced. I find that it is easier to handle if it is soaked in water for a few hours before use. When tying small shoots, the raflia can be split and when stronger ties are needed, it can be doubled.

Fillis, a specially prepared soft twine, is available in various plys, and green gardening twine is also suitable. Split rings, the kind used for supporting sweet peas to their canes and small plastic- or paper-covered wires can also be used for greenhouse plants.

A Dib'jer, This is a small, wooden tool, rather like a thick pencil. It is used to prepare holes for cuttings and seedlings. The end of this tool can be slightly pointed, but if it is too sharp it leaves an air space below the cutting or seedling with, probably. fatal results.

Right: Liquid fertiliser and other chemicals should always be measured accurately. A measuring ¬°ug or cylinder provides the most satisfactory method. Below: A sprayer is essential if pests and diseases are to be kept at bay. Various designs are made, covering a wide price range

When potting plants, one should be careful not to choose too large a pot

Builders Sieve Price

When mixing composts, the loam be passed through a f-in sieve, sowing, a fine-mesh sieve is also must first For seed useful

When mixing composts, the loam be passed through a f-in sieve, sowing, a fine-mesh sieve is also must first For seed useful

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Organic Gardeners Composting

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  • georgina ritchie
    How to make Sand Sieve?
    8 years ago

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