It’s not enough to simply put together a great greenhouse and then turn a steady profit from it year after year with no further work. Profitable greenhouses receive plenty of maintenance each year. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that maintenance will cost you a lot. Many common tasks require relatively free materials and only basic supplies. Aside from a small amount of labor costs, you should find that maintenance costs far less than the additional profits it generates by keeping your greenhouses efficient and running smoothly.
Ventilate and Deal with Condensation
Internal algae growth is all too common on greenhouse covers, especially in humid areas or when plants with high humidity needs are cultivated. Condensation is best controlled by using double and triple wall designs with drainage tiles at the bottom to carry away moisture. The majority of condensation will form on the inside of the outermost layer of film due to the temperature differential between interior and exterior air. By keeping the greenhouse as dry as possible, algae growth is slowed and should only require a single annual cleaning to keep light transmission levels high.
Paint the Frame
Whether you’re using wood or metal, consider painting the structural components white with an acrylic based paint before stretching the film over them. This reduces the heat absorbed by the structure and therefore extends the lifespan of the film touching those parts.
Keep the Film Clean
In most agricultural areas, with regular dust clouds rolling through from fields, greenhouses become coated in grime within a year. You’ll need to use a low-pressure sprayer to wash away as much dust as possible. If a detergent is necessary to strip off sticky dust or debris, make sure to rinse the film as well as possible since these soap compounds can shorten the lifespan of the material. Use an outdoor supply of air rather than recycled air from inside the greenhouse for inflating any double or triple wall structures to reduce dust build up where it’s tricky to clean out.
For interior cleaning of algae and dust, you’ll need to stick to cleaning products that are safe for plants since they will inevitably drip down off the surfaces. Quaternary ammonium chloride salts are available for basic cleaning, and sodium chloride based algaecides are also recommended for greenhouse uses. Some of these products may not be safe for use on plants intended for consumption, so read labels carefully before selecting a cleaning product.
Check Channels and Other Pressure Points
Whenever possible, film is secured to the greenhouse frame with interlocking aluminum channels that hold the material firmly without pinching or cutting it. This works far better than fasteners like staples and nails that quickly wear holes in the material as it constantly shifts back and forth. However, these channels still need checking every six months to a year to ensure they’re not loose or wearing through the film. Loose channels that are repaired before material comes free won’t affect your profits by secretly leaking out valuable heat or reducing the effectiveness of your cooling program.
Apply Chemicals with Care
Pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and other sprayed treatments that are safe for your plants aren’t necessary so safe for your greenhouse cover. These products can be compromised and wear out sooner than expected from high levels of build-up of reactive chemicals. To minimize exposure and build-up, turn off all ventilation equipment while applying sprays and drenches. This keeps aerosol particles from drifting so far and adhering to the interior surfaces of the greenhouse. Keep sprayers as low as possible rather than installing them high on the ceilings since that will spread chemicals throughout the structure. If workers are applying the sprays by hand, ask them to avoid spraying the walls and to use short bursts rather than continually running the nozzles as they walk back and forth.
Handle New Film with Care
Some greenhouse owners order replacement films when it’s on sale or even years before they plan to need a replacement. Mishandling the film while you’re waiting to use it can greatly shorten its lifespan or even leave it unfit to apply by the time you’re ready for it. Make sure your films are stored in cool, dark environments with minimal moisture. Letting rolls of the material sit in the hot and bright greenhouse, even just for a few days, can have a negative effect on its durability. Keep rolls laid out flat on a sturdy surface like the ground or a table and avoid dragging them since that will damage the outer layers, even through protective wrappings.
With a quality product like ArmorClear, just a few annual chores and some monthly inspections, you can help your cover last for decades. Depending on your climate and growing plans, you may need a slightly more aggressive maintenance plan to deal with excessive algae growth or dust accumulation. If you select a cover boasting high light transmission, you shouldn’t have to clean the interior or exterior of the greenhouse more than once every six months to keep transmission rates high. If you’re cleaning monthly, you may need to invest in a higher quality cover that is less rough to capture less dust on the surfaces.