The productivity and efficiency of operating a greenhouse is primarily dependent on the kind of growing materials used. Kinds of Greenhouses Detached greenhouses generally independently stand from each other. However, they can be joined to gain access by way of a corridor to the other greenhouse. The Quonset is the most common detached type of greenhouse for use in commercial production. These types are constructed using arched rafters that normally have end solid walls for added support. Quonset greenhouses types are appropriate for most crop varieties however the growing capacity is to a certain degree restricted close to “the side walls” which reduces productivity and efficiency. Ridge greenhouses are joined through the eave with a shared gutter. Normally, an interior wall located underneath the gutter is absent permitting increased productivity. Ridge greenhouses can either be curved arch or gabled. Gabled greenhouses are generally suitable for substantial coverings such as fiberglass or glass, whereas curved arch greenhouses are usually covered with much lighter materials such as polycarbonates or polyethylene. Many connected ridge greenhouses often are called “range”. Planning This is one of the very important steps which have to be taken into careful consideration by the grower. Proper area selection with connection to labor, markets, utilities as well as future expansion really makes a lot of difference in how the business will profit and grow. Here are basic things to consider: • Crops that you will be growing (potted plants, Bedding plants, perennials, herbs, vegetables, etc.) • The growing period of the crops (seasonal or year-round) • Plants that will be grown (flats, pots, hydroponics bed, troughs, etc.) • Growing medium (no soil, soil, mix, compost, nutrient solution, etc.) • Growing methods (flooring, movable or fixed benches, growing bags, beds and flood) • Annual productivity (space that is required) • Marketing technique (retail, wholesale or both) • Investment or capital Here are things to be considered when constructing a commercial greenhouse: 1. Space. The area required greatly depends on your kind of business whether retail or wholesale. The minimum space must be more or less two acres so to make available parking for employees and customers, driveway access for deliveries, area for storage and also for future expansion. A wholesale venture generally will require much more because the greenhouse will be a lot more bibber and wider. 2. Zoning. These are local regulations that controls land use and encourage safety, health and the community’s welfare. Note that greenhouse operations are permitted in particular zones only. Frontage, distances of side yards, signs and also parking spaces should be specified. You should confirm with your zoning officer and ask what is required and ask regarding building codes so you will know if a permit will be needed. 3. Highway Access. Site location with regards to highways must be taken into account. For retail business, a location beside or along a high traffic road or beside a considerable residential site can greatly increase business. Wholesale business needs access to some interstate highway so to deal with heavy truck road traffic. 4. Environment. Select a location that is away from “industrial pollution”. 5. Climate. Avoid areas with extreme temperatures, as in the winter plant growth is directly related the light that is received. 6. Slope. Ground slope to provide water drainage is very important. Greenhouses must be situated on gravel base, 6-12 inches above grade. 7. Water. Plants need sufficient moisture supply for optimal development and the highest production of flowers. As to how much water is required will greatly be determined by how big is the area that will be watered, weather conditions, crops grown, time of the year and “the environment control system”. Note that water that comes from “natural sources” have some amount of impurities present, and are at times harmful to plant growth. You should have the water tested for chemicals that can be present in your water system, to address the problem, if there is a problem. 8. Electricity. Your commercial greenhouse should have enough supply of electricity as well as distribution system must be provided so to supply and manage environment in the greenhouse. As early as in the designing stage of the greenhouse, you should already call on your area’s electric utility regarding power availability and also call on your electrician to design the electrical layout. 9. Expansion. All throughout the development and planning stage, provisions must be considered for later expansion. Note that before going into the business, as in any business, careful assessment should be made before a decision is made. Plan it carefully. Good Luck.
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