Monday, March 2, 2015

How to install a drip system in your greenhouse

I have always wanted a greenhouse to compliment my vegetable garden. Now that I have one, I am finding there are so many little details I had never thought of.

  • How big should the seed pots be?
  • What should I used to water the seeds so they don't wash away?
  • When should I plant what vegetables?
  • How warm does it need to stay at night to get the seeds to sprout?
  • How do I keep the seeds from rotting when it gets so humid in the greenhouse?
  • How do I keep the soil moist when temperatures can reach 100 degrees for a few hours in February?

Thankfully, my husband is helping me with the watering question.

Last year, he installed a drip system and had two tall misters, one for each side of the greenhouse. That didn't work out very well. The plants a foot or so away from the misters got really soaked, and those right under it and those too far away didn't get enough water. I had algae growing on the top of my soil and some seedlings would come up and then just disappear. I assumed they rotted.

We are going to try a couple of things this year. My husband found three options: an individual drip, a short mister, and a small fogger. My preference would be to have drips for the seed flats, but I don't see a way to water more than one pot at a time, and my flats hold six six-packs! That would be a ridiculous number of drips. Instead, I am thinking of trying some foggers for the hanging baskets and some short misters (two per flat?) for the flats. We'll be using half-inch hose that will loop around the greenhouse in a U-shape.

The individual drippers would be great but I'd have hoses snaking all over my greenhouse.
The flat on the left is more or less what I have. Lots of drippers!

The fogger attaches to a bendable-memory arm. I might use these on the hanging baskets I am starting impatiens in.

The mister is likely to be what I go with for most of the seed flats since it can mist about half the flat at once. Fortunately, these parts are inexpensive.

To combat the humidity, I will be installing a wall-mount oscillating fan. The problem I forsee is that the fan will simply blow the mist or fog away from the plant. That means I will have to have the fan on a timer as well as the water. I had already planned to have the water on a timer, but now I am going to have to time it so that the fan is on when the water is not. My thoughts now are

  • How soon after watering should I have the fan come on?
  • How long should the fan be on?
  • Does it need to be on at night?
  • Can I find a timer that allows me to turn the fan on and off multiple times?
  • What is the best time of day for the fan to be on? (i.e. the most humid time?)
  • What is the best time of day to water? 

So many details!

NG Gardener

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