Commercial growing operations rarely revolve around just one greenhouse; no matter how big it is or how valuable the plants. Even small-scale operations added to existing field crop farms tend to include at least one production house, one propagation house, and a separate or attached framed structure known as a headhouse. Find out what these greenhouses do, how they differ in design and function, and how to know which ones you need and how many to build of each type.
These agricultural structures are rarely greenhouses themselves, but they’re essential for supporting the operation of them. Headhouses are usually small framed and insulated structures like sheds or utility buildings. They’re used for all the indirect tasks required for the operation of the greenhouses, including storing tools and supplies, housing company offices and bathrooms, and providing comfortable workspace for potting and other repetitive tasks. These headhouses are easier to heat and cool than greenhouses, making them ideal for any work that doesn’t need to be done in the greenhouse itself. Headhouses aren’t required, but they are recommended for any commercial property with extensive plans for growing.
Propagation greenhouses need warmer temperatures, higher humidity levels, and greater control over fluctuations in these conditions than structures used for finishing off more mature plants. Greenhouse growers may start the process entirely from scratch by seeding plants or just order in cuttings and seedlings from a larger supplier. Either way, these tender plants need extra care during the early stages of growth to mature into profitable and attractive plants.
Energy costs tend to be higher for these greenhouses due to the need for extra heating, making it ideal to time your use of propagation houses. Aiming to propagate with natural outdoor temperatures that are closer to your goal reduces heating costs and reduces the risk of overheating of the plants. Building smaller propagation chambers from hanging curtains and layers of poly film can help you raise humidity and temperature in a smaller area for greater efficiency. This technique of compartmentalization also allows you to propagate various types of plants with different preferences for growing conditions in the same greenhouse.
Whether potted or in-ground plants, they’re going to spend most of their time in a production greenhouse. These greenhouses can vary greatly in their ideal conditions based on the needs of the plants. That’s why most operations separate plants by type or growing needs and have multiple production greenhouses to cover them all. Greenhouses used for growing edible crops in ground tend to serve as both propagation and production spaces since they’re planted with seed or tender transplants early in the season. Production greenhouses are often cycled with plants that match the seasonal conditions to reduce the need for intensive heating and supplemental lighting in these structures.
Other specialty types of greenhouses also exist, such as hydroponic racks and vertical grow systems that take advantage of every square foot under cover. These specialty structures still tend to fall into either propagation, production, or combined space categories depending on your growing plans. Regardless of the number and type of greenhouses you’re building, the durable cover will work for all of them to provide heat retention with minimal light loss.