Garden Basics with Farmer Fred

290 More Greenhouse Basics

November 03, 2023 Fred Hoffman Season 4 Episode 44
Garden Basics with Farmer Fred
290 More Greenhouse Basics
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Before the weather chases you back indoors, maybe it’s time you considered a greenhouse to continue your gardening year round: a greenhouse is perfect for starting seeds, maintaining tropical or semi tropical plants such as citrus or orchids, a place to keep your  potted plants alive and well in the winter, or growing vegetables year round.

We talk with Mark Seibert of Sturdi-Built greenhouses in Oregon about the questions you should ask yourself before purchasing a greenhouse. Originally aired in June of 2020, this primer on greenhouses includes: tips for installing water and electricity ; tips on installing a foundation;  flooring ideas;  choosing the right door;  ventilation tips;  and, things to consider if you're thinking of a lean-to greenhouse, one that attaches to the side of your house. 

Plus, in an interview that has never aired on the Garden Basics podcast, we get more greenhouse tips from David Branca of Conley’s Greenhouse Manufacturing and Sales in Montclair, California. 

We’re podcasting from Barking Dog Studios here in the beautiful Abutilon Jungle in Suburban Purgatory, it’s the Garden Basics with Farmer Fred podcast, brought to you today by Smart Pots and Dave Wilson Nursery.

Previous episodes, show notes, links, product information, and TRANSCRIPTS  at the home site for Garden Basics with Farmer Fred, GardenBasics.net. Transcripts and episode chapters also available at Buzzsprout.

Pictured: Sturdi-Built Trillium Greenhouse


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290 More Greenhouse Basics TRANSCRIPT


Farmer Fred

Garden Basics with Farmer Fred is brought to you by Smart Pots, the original lightweight, long lasting fabric plant container. It's made in the USA. Visit SmartPots.com slash Fred for more information and a special discount, that's SmartPots.com/Fred.

Welcome to the Garden Basics with Farmer Fred podcast. If you're just a beginning gardener or you want good gardening information, you've come to the right spot.


Farmer Fred

Before the weather chases you back indoors, maybe it’s time you considered a greenhouse to continue your gardening year round: a greenhouse is perfect for starting seeds, maintaining tropical or semi tropical plants such as citrus or orchids, a place to keep your summertime potted plants alive and well, or growing vegetables, year round.

We talk with Mark Seibert of Sturdi-Built greenhouses in Oregon about the questions you should ask yourself before purchasing a greenhouse. Originally aired in June of 2020, this primer on greenhouses includes: tips for installing water and electricity ; tips on installing a foundation;  flooring ideas;  choosing the right door (if you're going to be hauling citrus trees inside for the winter, you'll want a double door);  ventilation tips;  and, things to consider if you're thinking of a lean-to greenhouse, one that attaches to the side of your house. 

Plus, in an interview that has never aired on the Garden Basics podcast, we get more greenhouse tips from David Branca of Conley’s Greenhouse Manufacturing and Sales in Montclair, California. Tips include info on installing a shade cloth inside a greenhouse, instead of over the greenhouse roof. ( https://www.conleys.com )

We’re podcasting from Barking Dog Studios here in the beautiful Abutilon Jungle in Suburban Purgatory, it’s the Garden Basics with Farmer Fred podcast, brought to you today by Smart Pots and Dave Wilson Nursery. Let’s go!


GREENHOUSE BASICS WITH MARK SEIBERT, STURDI-BILT

Farmer Fred

If you've listened to the show long enough, you know that I've owned a greenhouse for a long time I couldn't picture gardening without a greenhouse especially in the springtime. Great for getting an early start on pepper seeds and tomato seeds, and then growing specialty item,s too, in the greenhouse. If you want orchids, hey, you need a greenhouse really. But if you've never had a greenhouse, what are some basics you should know before you plunk down your money? We're talking with Mark Seibert, he owns sturdi-built greenhouses up in the Portland, Oregon area. They've been building greenhouse kits for something like 60 years. And Mark when somebody comes in who's never owned a greenhouse, what are their usual questions?


Mark Seibert 

Hey, Fred, it's certainly a welcome thing to be speaking with you. You know, as a former Californian, I get it living in the Sacramento area, how can be hot sometimes and windy and such? So the first question that comes to mind is where do I put my greenhouse? Because I've got a choice. I've got a shaded area over here. I've got full sun over there. I can put it up against my house. Is there any benefit there? So where you put your greenhouse should follow some basic guidelines and it's all Mostly to the pirates Code, right? No rules.


Farmer Fred 

Why? I like to say all gardening is local. So I imagine all greenhouse placement is local too.


Mark Seibert 

it is local because if you've got a, let's say, a large pine tree that likes to drop, you know, bombs of, of pine cones or you've got, you know, kids are throwing softballs learning how to throw, you've got, you know, a lawn mower that's kicking up rocks, you know, all these things are considerations. But the first consideration is, the sun is your friend, but too much sun is not your friend.


Farmer Fred 

Well, we know that we know that well here in Sacramento that the people I know who own greenhouses basically abandoned their greenhouse in the summertime because you can easily get up to 120 130 degrees in there.


Mark Seibert 

You don't abandon your greenhouse is a solution, but it doesn't need to be. Because a greenhouse needs to breathe. If it's well ventilated, meaning the hot air escapes and the cooler air comes in. That's the first thing you can do. Other things you can do is to use shade cloth, which is attached to the outside of the greenhouse, which can lower the temperature inside your greenhouse. That's two things you can do. Beyond that, you always want to have a fan going in your greenhouse to make sure the air is being mixed up, and the hotspots and the coolest spots are being mixed together. The last thing you can do if you really want to use it year round is you put in a evaporative cooler that will basically act as an air conditioner in your greenhouse while adding a little bit of humidity.


Farmer Fred 

I have a question about shade cloth, is it more effective to suspend it over the roof instead of laying it on the roof?


Mark Seibert 

Suspending it over your roof is perfectly fine. I find it's more effective if it's right on the roof and it's attached to the roof. For this reason. If you have a wind or a gust come up, you don't want to be chasing your shade cloth down to your neighbor's house. If it's attached to the roof, we particularly prefer a solution that has grommets on the outside that are hung on pan head screws, and it's like snapping it on, because it's made to fit. I have customers that will just take a large sheet of Shade cloth and drape it over. I have another one that bought a structure that goes over her greenhouse that has a sheet that goes automatically across, you know, that's not necessarily for everyone and quite an expensive solution, but just simply keep it attached to the greenhouse so you don't end up flying or having it fly away and having to chase your neighbors. of course then again, you may have wonderful neighbors and you may be able to have a nice story when you pick it up.


Farmer Fred 

So getting back to placement of a greenhouse, which exposure is best?


Mark Seibert 

You know the, the basic rule, Fred, that I like is a southern exposure because that gives you full sun you get the sunrise in the in the east, you get the full sun and and the sunset in the West so that way there it also gives you a shady side as well. So the long part of your greenhouse if you have it Southern facing is the best. is it's fatal If that is not if your greenhouse is oriented, 90 degrees different. Where's the short end here, greenhouse? No, it is not. what if my location is totally shaded. What do I do? Well, you still get light in and most of the season you will. But if you still need more light, we can thank our friends in the cannabis industry who invested in LED lighting. That lighting which is so, so effective in the green and or excuse me, the red and the blue spectrums. It can provide great lighting to assist in growing for anything you need if you're in a totally shaded location.


Farmer Fred 

Well, that brings up another question that I bet a lot of first time greenhouse buyers kind of forget about and have to approach it in the back end, and that's what your greenhouse needs in the way of power and water.


Mark Seibert 

Great question because the last thing you need Is to having to be take buckets of water out your greenhouse. What I like to do is I like to have a hose bib inside my greenhouse. I don't want it up against the wall, I want on the outside of my benches because I don't like crawling under benches to turn it on. But the first thing you need is water and get it into your greenhouse, get a hose bib in there. And if you can find a solution that you don't have to have one of those Home Depot hoses that you trip over. That's a better solution for your water. And a water wand is always helpful. Going on to electricity. One of the things you're gonna need in your greenhouse is a fan. You want that fan going 24 by seven. The best ones are wall mount oscillating fans, because they mix up the air. And as we all know, when we close the door on a greenhouse, It's a stagnant air situation. Do plants grow strong if they're in stagnant air? No of course not. Take your tomatoes. If your tomatoes grew up without any wind tension, they grow up weak once the fruit comes the plop over. not a good situation. so you have a fan so you'll need electricity for your fans. If you have an electric heater because you want to heat your greenhouse, in the winter season or fall season you'll need electricity for that. And if you want to put a heat mat in or if you want to start have starts heat mats are terrific aids when you're doing starts, you'll just put that heat mat down put your peat pots on with your seeds in them, and that heat will just go right up into those pots and they'll start to start to grow and pretty much you're off to propagating. So, heat mat, lights fan, all that is needed for electricity. I like running it underground from your house. Same with the water you run an underground and have come up inside your greenhouse that way there there's no trip hazards, shock hazards, and it's all of course the the electricity I prefer a GFCI protected circuit.


Farmer Fred 

and that goes back to the foundation of the greenhouse because electrical and water would have to be done before a foundation can go in if you're pouring a concrete foundation, but what are some of the other foundations Besides concrete that you could use for a greenhouse?


Mark Seibert 

You know, the foundation that you choose is a function of two different things, the soils and the size of greenhouse. As the greenhouse gets larger, you're going to need a masonry foundation. more modest sized greenhouses hold a seven by seven, you can use a treated timber to bed of gravel, and that treated timber. And that bed of gravel is, you know, screwed together on all four corners. And I would recommend putting stakes on the inside perimeter of those those treated timbers to keep and you strap them together and you know, stakes strapped to those and then that keeps those stakes from wiggling around. So at the wood foundation in a bed of gravel so there's no water. There's no soil contact or water contact on those treated timbers and they stay dry. So that's a treated timber. masonry foundation is always good, you want to have good footing on it. And then from there, you'll probably put up mud sill on top that masonry Foundation allow you to Screw your greenhouse or attach your greenhouse easily to that foundation. But it gets even better Fred. If you if you let's say you have a home with a, beautiful faux finish on your, on your walls, you know on your on your home, so it's like a stone or a brick. How do you get it so that greenhouse integrates into your garden. So when someone goes into your house and I say that belongs there, it matches versus Where did that come from? So what you do is on that, that foundation and base wall, which is the sturdy part of the greenhouse at the bottom, you can put let's say a cinder block, maybe one or two courses up, and then you on top of that, you would put a piece of wood a treated timber then you screw your greenhouse on top that. The idea is once you have that masonry wall, you can put a full finish call it brick, call it stone, and have it match your home, your garden design, and so it looks like it belongs there. How's that


Farmer Fred 

You went beyond Me, I'm just a gardener, but I could see where a lot of people would want that matching situation. Yes. there Yeah, there you know, foundations I, having built a couple of greenhouses myself, I can tell you when it comes to foundations make it whatever you want, but make it level.


Mark Seibert 

Yes, it needs to be square. You're absolutely right. You know, the old adage is if it's square and level, you're if you're going to be putting a door in your greenhouse, that's going to be more than a zipper tie the door that's going to be in there and like a standard door you need, it's going to go much easier if it's a level and square foundation. It's not hard to do. There's techniques that are available to find out if it's square, and you can always use levels. So just a little bit of advance work because you want that greenhouse to last year more than one or two seasons. If you do a good job on the foundation, you will have a long lasting little greenhouse.


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Greenhouse Basics with Mark Seibert, part 2

Farmer Fred

We're talking greenhouses with Mark Seibert of Sturdi-Built greenhouses In Portland, we were talking about greenhouse placement, about foundations about how you can get it to match your home, things like that. But there's a lot more to greenhouses that you may not realize until after you've purchased a greenhouse and go, Oh, I wish I had done this or that. So Mark, let's talk about some of those, this or that. And one area that I noticed on less expensive greenhouses are the doors and we talked about how you really need a good level foundation to hang a door correctly. But at Sturdi-Bilt you pre hang those doors, don't you?


Mark Seibert 

Yes, we do. We pre hang we actually manufacture the doors in our shop, we give options for the customer. Let's say a customer wants a Dutch door. Think of the old show Mr. Ed, you remember those Dutch doors where the top half you can open the top half the bottom half stays there? that's sometimes a great solution. But again, when that top half is open, you're gonna be letting flying critters in. So that's another consideration. That's why God invented screen doors right?


Farmer Fred 

Exactly, do you have screen doors?


Mark Seibert 

We don't offer screen doors but our frame we use standard doors so you can put a screen door on there if you want. so you've got Dutch doors, you can take your door and you can put a ventilation in your door, we have a type of window, it's, we call it a jealousy window, some would call it a louvered window. Other people may call it a Florida window depending on where you grew up. But that louvered window could be in the top half of your door. So that way the doors doing double duty. So we had Dutch doors we had we have doors with glass that you can open. And then thirdly, you can have either what they call full light door so there's glass from top to bottom, so you're getting more light in which is a good thing. Or you can have a half light door where though it's just in the top. So there's always options when you're looking at doors, about how you want to appear even on door handles and stuff like that. So There's some answers on doors.


Farmer Fred 

I would hope to then you have a selection of wider doors because I remember with my old greenhouse I could I could fit my wheelbarrow through. on my new greenhouse. I can barely get through.


Mark Seibert 

Oh my goodness, I've you know, I've seen those greenhouses where the it's like a 20 inch opening and something like that you feel like you have to suck in your tummy when you walk in. So yes, we when you can get a 24 inches, the minimum door we offer but our door widths go up to 36 inches in that 35 inches, 30 inches. And of course we can do double doors that when you have a double door, you can open it up and have a five foot opening to pull just about anything in that gets to be you know, one of the things people want to use a greenhouse for is for overwintering their citrus. Let's say you have a Myers lemon, and you want to get it in for the wintertime so it doesn't frost over and freeze. So you want to be able to have a big enough opening so you can get your hand truck, bring it into that door. If you had a 24 inch opening. It's a little bit hard sometimes. But if you got a 30 inch or 35 inch or 36 inch Opening, you're golden.


Farmer Fred 

Yeah, that's a great idea for anybody with sensitive plants that when the temperatures here in Sacramento get down to 30 degrees or 32, if you have your plants in containers, you need a place to put them. What better place than a greenhouse.


Mark Seibert 

And I like that. In fact, in my own greenhouse here in Portland, what I do is I over limit, overwinter my Myers lemon, I put my orchid in there, and I even put my strawberries in there. And even today, you know, my Meyer lemon is blooming and boy, those flowers smell wonderful.


Farmer Fred 

Oh yeah, that's that's the other beauty of a greenhouse are all the aromas that are there. You brought up something earlier that I know is very vexatious to anybody who owns a greenhouse. And that's flying critters who come into the greenhouse. And in a lot of situations, it's white. It's white flies, but then I've seen situations in my own case where it's been a paper wasp nest.


Mark Seibert 

Yeah, and, boy, you know, from the south, we picked the word critters And boy, they are pesky. So what we want to do is if we have any windows on the, on the sidewall, let ventilation just want to make sure there's a screen on the outside of those. Number one, if we have a roof vent that opens, we want the screens on though the whole point is get screened in. We were talking previously about having a Dutch door. And the challenge with that is you open that up and you'll get those flying critters in. So that's just the downside of having a Dutch door. But that door is not for everybody. The point is, what you want to do is keep those flying critters out. Some people will say, Hey, don't you want those? The Good, good critters in to do pollination? I think that's a great point. The challenges is how do you produce screening that only lets the good in and not the bad? I think it's very hard in my personal experience, so I'd rather just just put out, put a you know, just put a screening in there, keep my greenhouse as a controlled growing environment. So that whatever you're growing, you're doing it to the type of soil type of temperature type humidity for your greenhouse. Fred, can I give you a thought or two on adding humidity in your greenhouse? Sure. Okay, you know, the cheapest and easiest, easiest way to add humidity greenhouse is to get a misting system on a timer and just spray your floor. Whether your floor is crushed gravel, bricks on sand, or in concrete and let the evaporation do its thing in the summer. That's how you add humidity in your greenhouse. Just easy.


Farmer Fred 

And not only that, it controls the temperature too. Yes. Let's talk a little bit about walls of a greenhouse. I noticed that the sturdi-built website you use a lot of glass in your greenhouses instead of polycarbonate. Why is that?


Mark Seibert 

Well, glass is , when you're in your greenhouse you want to be able to look out and also glass has the ability to you know let a lot of light in so it's got that double good there. The glasses also architectural because itself has has rigidity And then help the structure for for that. So polycarbonate is also a material that we use. You know, as far as exterior glazing we use the term glazing in greenhouses. You can use standard glass, which is a Neal glass agent an inch thick, or you can use tempered glass, which is four times now we're in the other. The third material we can use on the outside is a polycarbonate that is such a great material, you look at it on the side and looks like cardboard. That's why they call it twin wall polycarbonate. And when you do use polycarbonate, you want to make sure that you have a UV coating on the outside because that polycarbonate and that wonderful California sun will end up eroding itself and you'll end up getting brittle. So the idea is you can use twin wall but the twin will have some other attributes you need to be aware of. Some are good number one is lighter than glass. So with these, your honor frame number two, it can take a hit. So you can take twin wall and as long as it's mounted in a good channel. You can count on it. So say a softball hits it. Not a problem. So the other attribute is R value. Now R value is a term we hear mostly with insulation. So you have your R 19. r 24 that you can see at Home Depot, it's this pink insulation and stuff will the same value is used when we're talking about the glazing on a greenhouse, but let's go back to glass. Glass has a very unimpressive R value one. Okay, can we do better? Well, tempered glass is still glass, so it's still one. What about that twin wall polycarbonate at twin wall polycarbonate, depending on which how thick it is, is about 50% more thermally efficient so it has an R value of one and a half. How's that for exterior glazing?


Farmer Fred 

Well, at least polycarbonate is lighter than glass.


Mark Seibert 

Oh yeah, easier to put in. But it does have its downsides here and there.


Farmer Fred 

Another thing you do with the greenhouses that you sell are the The walls the the frame, it's redwood.


Mark Seibert 

Oh, yes, it is, you know, we all have, there's a lot of choice in the frame of your greenhouse. And there's reasons why you would choose one or the other. Let's start with metal. And then we'll go to plastic, and then we'll go to wood. We'll kind of compare and contrast. First of all, you can have a metal frame greenhouse, it's going to be the strongest greenhouse material out there. Great framing. The downside is most of the metal we use today is aluminum. Where's the aluminum come from? It comes from strip mining. I'm not personally a fan of strip mining. So I would rather not use the material for that. The next thing to know about metal is from a thermal efficiency. Metal will allow heat and cool to transfer for far more than other materials. So that's metal. The next thing you go to is plastic. Well, plastic is fine, but over time, plastic will get brittle. And not only that, where's the plastic come from? I don't want to have dinosaurs growing anymore. So I bet not reduce the amount of plastics I use and be more more economical and more ecological. So that leaves wood what I like about wood is that it's more thermally efficient than any other material. It looks great and can be in a strong enough and when you looking at wood there's different species of wood and each one has a positive negative, you can use cedar For example, we choose to use a California Redwood, clear heart Redwood and that clear heart Redwood compared to Cedar is 20% strong work more stronger, has natural oils in it. And it's just a just drop dead gorgeous when you get that stained up and just looks great.


Farmer Fred 

Yeah, we didn't even have time to get into lean-tos, but there's that whole phase of greenhouses as well besides free standing.


Mark Seibert 

Yes, there is. So you know, just, you know, you may have the side of your garage, you may have the side of your home, we say that would be a great place to attach a greenhouse. You may want to do use it for multiple use. It is possible to do that. Of course, it's always a horticultural space, not a living space. So it's a little bit different on the building codes. But it is possible to attach it to your home, use your existing home siding. So your home is fine, and then go out from there. But you know, attaching your greenhouse or having a lean-to your on your greenhouse, you always have to think about where it will attach to because the every greenhouse should have a roof pitch, because we want the water to go down, you're down the roof and to the ground. And that roof pitch will will affect how wide your greenhouse can be. So if you've got an eave, that's eight feet, and you have a roof pitch of a greenhouse, you may only be able to go out about six feet on your greenhouse, if it has to go under that eave if it has to go out and around eaves, a different story. But if you're, you know, depending on your situation, it's best to call your greenhouse manufacturers ask them how it's going to be attached. Ask them what's possible.


Farmer Fred 

Good point, we should I want to point out something. If there is one business that truly lives by the phrase, you get what you pay for. It comes to greenhouses and if people are greenhouse shopping, you're gonna see a wide range of prices will trust me any greenhouse, less than four figures is going to be a greenhouse, you may soon regret right after getting it, that you need to spend a little money to get a good quality greenhouse that you're going to be happy with. And happy customers is the name of the game, I would think, at Sturdi-Built.


Mark Seibert 

It is the name of the game because the greenhouses we built should last to 20 to 30 years. How do we know that? Because I'm, I have we have avid gardeners or using our greenhouse. And when their greenhouses run its course it's usually a greenhouse in 20 or 30 years old. The other green at the only other greenhouse that was younger than that, that we've replaced is one that had a bad foundation. We were talking earlier about foundations. Well, that foundation went South because the customer used railroad ties, when they cut those railroad ties, they were treated on the outside, but that cut, they did not retreat. So they rotted out, bad foundation, whole green house had to be replaced. But when you when you invest, it's like an investment. Because you know, you can, you can spend a little bit of money and the economically, you know, fine on that. But you'll end up having to re spend the new dollars to replace that effort balls down. You know, we've had customers that they ended up being our customers, they come to us and they say, Okay, how much is my greenhouse, let's say, a 7 by 9 Trillium greenhouse and they'll say, look at the price on that and I'll say, golly, gee, you know, we can do better. So they'll go to another source. They'll purchase that, and they'll come back and I've had customers come back says A) we never had, we were never able to finish it because the kit was incomplete. B) the kit was never delivered or C) it fell down. So all those things Things happen and I've seen this happen over and over again that I can almost tell the customer says you're going to be coming back and here's three reasons. Yeah. And when you do we'll be glad to see.


Farmer Fred 

Sturdi-built is based up in the Portland area. Their website is sturdi-built.com and I'll spell that for you. It's S-T-U-R-D-I dash B-U-I-L-T dot.com Mark Seibert, owner of Sturdi-built greenhouses. Thanks for giving us some greenhouse basics today.


Mark Seibert 

You're very welcome Fred and good growing for you and for your audience.


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Farmer Fred

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MORE GREENHOUSE BASICS, CONLEY’S GREENHOUSES

Farmer Fred  

We're talking with David Branca of Conley's Greenhouses in Montclair, California. Homeowners who have a garden are missing out if they don't have a greenhouse. And David, there probably are some basics that people must ask themselves and figure out before they rush out and get that greenhouse. 


David Branca    

Of course, a few things that you might want to look out for in a residential greenhouse is, of course, your size, do we need permits, and then when we figured out those two little elements, then it's, we figured out the perfect house for you that will fit in your backyard or in your residential area. 


Farmer Fred  

What size do most home greenhouses come in? And what do you recommend? Do you recommend buying more than you need? Or, perhaps I should ask, what's the usual size, what's your best seller?


David Branca    

Well, for residential,  we have a hobby house that starts off, I think about nine feet wide, you can go all the way up to 12 feet wide on that one. And we can make that as long as possible, in six foot sections. So if you want a nine by 24, hey, that could be a nice little project for you in the backyard. I don't recommend going too large, you got to start somewhere. But you always want to plan for maybe growing your project, no matter how small it starts out, it could turn into something large.


Farmer Fred  

Now a greenhouse is just a building, and you need a lot in it to make it grow. Heating, irrigation, cooling. What is the best course of action for people to take in that regard?


David Branca    

Well, it depends on your area. There's different avenues you can go. There's exhaust systems where you can just kind of get an air change per minute through your greenhouse, something more of the residential style, we offer like a swamp cooler, that is kind of like an AC unit that you can run inside your greenhouse and it will meet your cooling needs at that point. And if it gets really hot in your location, we can offer a shade structure inside that building, as well, up to certain extents of the building you have.


Farmer Fred  

Now that's interesting: a shade structure inside the building, I've seen a lot of covers, shade cloths for the top of the greenhouses. What does an inside shade cloth look like? 


David Branca    

Well, it's it's similar to your outside shade cloth. And it just depends on what kind of shade you're looking for, and what crop you're growing. It’s an internal shade system. And basically, it's hooked on a rack and pinion system. And, basically you can open or close it, depending on what model of greenhouse you purchase.


Farmer Fred    

An inside shade cloth, would also have the advantage of not being ravaged by the weather, especially the wind.


David Branca    

That is very correct. And also with a shade curtain, you could also, depending on what fabric you put up there, it's also a great way to store in heat. So in the winter months, you can keep that thing closed, and now you're trapping your heat in a more tight area.


Farmer Fred    

For the backyard gardener, a greenhouse can have many uses:  starting seeds in the spring, maybe you're an orchid collector and want a very special environment for that. Or maybe you want a winter tomato crop, you could achieve that with a greenhouse, but that involves heating. Now, you talked about swamp coolers for cooling. What about for heating?


David Branca  

Well, heating is kind of the same principle. We work with some great folks out there in the industry. And, there are certain kinds of heating systems. There's radiant heat, and there's also unit heaters. So there's different avenues you can go. It depends on what your climate is like, how cold it gets. Radiant heat is a great option, we can run that through our bench tops, or you can run that through the ground, but that will probably only make up maybe 80% of your heat loss depending on your area. So you still might need supplemental heating with additional unit heater at that point.


Farmer Fred  

That's interesting, radiant heat. And it's going through your bench system. Explain how that works? 


David Branca    

Well, it's done with the boiler system. And basically you can kind of hook that up to  natural gas or propane. And basically it heats up the water and it goes through tubes that run through the benches and it heats the tubes. They get warm, of course, with the hot water and then the heat actually hits the root zone of your plant. And according to studies out there, that could increase your crop productivity by at least 30%. That Is what I'm told.


Farmer Fred   

Can you also run it via electricity?


David Branca   

That is a great question. I don't see why not. But that’s  the first time anybody's asked me.


Farmer Fred    

As far as cooling it with a swamp cooler, I would think that's a 110 system.


David Branca    

The one usually is 115 volts.  I think we can offer a three phase, as well, on that swamp cooler. But like I said, at that time, you're just dealing with an industrial swamp cooler. We have a certain model that we use and if you've got a better model out there, I have no issues with that.


Farmer Fred    

There are all the accessories that go with a greenhouse that people may not think about when people buy a greenhouse from your company, Conley’s Greenhouses. When they come back and say, “Oh, I forgot to get…” what did they forget? 


David Branca    

Well, basically, things they might forget are things that they didn't know, exactly. they didn’t know what greenhouse life was like. So basically, they might come back to me and say, “Dave, I need more ventilation” or “Dave, I need more heating” or “Dave, I need more cooling” or “Dave, this isn't working out for me, I need a wider door because I got so much productivity going on inside I need to be able to get my carts through”. So there's little things like that. And one thing I like to tell every greenhouse builder out there: it's one thing to buy the greenhouse, but don't forget, you got to worry about a foundation. You got to worry about plumbing, if that's something you're interested in, you got to worry about getting power to your greenhouse. And then most of all, you got to get the concrete to put the footings into the ground.


Farmer Fred    

What do you recommend for flooring in a greenhouse in the backyard?


David Branca  

On something that's small, I would recommend a concrete slab, just because it's clean. Or you know, you can always just do it right off the dirt or gravel and it's really up to the grower at that point.


Farmer Fred   

It's a great place for mulch, too. 


David Branca

Exactly. 


Farmer Fred

David Branca, Conley's Greenhouses of Montclair. Thanks for spending a few minutes with us. 


David Branca  

Thank you, Fred.


FLASHBACK EPISODE OF THE WEEK: #114 ALL ABOUT CROP ROTATION

Farmer Fred

Before you start digging, do a little planning to thwart future problems this summer. Give a listen to our Flashback Episode of the week, #114, All About Crop Rotation and working with clay soil, from June of 2021.

Crop rotation it's not just for farmers. Backyard gardeners can improve their food and flower production while improving their soil at the same time, simply by moving plant families from bed to bed each season. The key phrase there is plant families. America’s Favorite Retired College Horticulture Professor, Debbie Flower, has the lowdown on the advantages of crop rotation for the home gardener. Do you have clay soil? You might be worried that it's not very good for a garden. Well, worry no more. Soil specialist Steve Zien says there's a lot of benefits to gardening with clay soil, and he has tips for improving it as well. 

It’s this week’s Flashback episode. Go to your favorite podcast outlet and do a search for Episode 114 of the Garden Basics with Farmer Fred podcast. Crop rotation, and working with clay soil. You can also find the podcast, as well as a transcript at our home page, garden basics dot net.


Farmer Fred

The Garden Basics With Farmer Fred podcast comes out once a week, on Fridays. Plus the newsletter podcast, that comes with the Beyond the Garden Basics newsletter, continues, also released on Fridays. Both are free and are brought to you by Smart Pots and Dave Wilson Nursery. The Garden Basics podcast is available wherever podcasts are handed out, and that includes our home page, Garden Basics dot net. , where you can also sign up for the Beyond the Garden Basics newsletter and podcast. That’s Garden Basics dot net. or use the links in today’s show notes.  And thank you so much for listening.