Greenhouses effectively extend growing seasons


Modern, large-scale agriculture operations utilize various machines and technologies to provide products to consumers. Greenhouses are among the resources used to help plants thrive.

Greenhouses are not a new phenomenon, even if today’s incarnations have technological upgrades over their ancestors. 

The first attempts to grow plants in greenhouse-like structures likely date back to ancient Egypt, but there are writings from the Romans as early as 14 BCE explaining greenhouse operations. The Roman emperor Tiberius wanted to eat cucumbers all year long. Roman winters would not allow for cucumbers to thrive when temperatures dropped below freezing. Rolling cucumber growing carts into sheds only did so much. Someone came up with the concept of making sheds with sheets of selenite, a transparent rock, to let the sun in and to help keep cucumbers growing indoors warm. The idea took off from there.

Greenhouses are comprised of walls and roofing materials primarily made of a transparent material. The interior of a greenhouse exposed to sunlight becomes significantly warmer than the external temperature, helping to protect plants inside from extreme conditions and enabling plants to thrive even when weather conditions are not optimal. Through the years, greenhouses also may have incorporated some form of additional heating.

Keeping plants thriving for commercial production now gets additional help from computers, as relying on sunlight alone may result in fluctuations in optimal conditions. Modern, smart greenhouses, according to the cultivation technology company Growlink, employ smart technology for heating, cooling and lighting. This technology is connected to a computer to optimize plant growth conditions. Computers can adjust conditions accordingly for the particular plant being produced, like tropical fruits that require more moisture and heat.

Anyone who desires a greenhouse for personal plant growth can build one in their backyard with various plans available for free or purchase. Companies also sell prefabricated greenhouse kits that can be erected with relative ease.

Handy homeowners also can construct basic greenhouses with materials found at many home improvement retailers. A wood frame greenhouse can be built in any size and covered with plastic sheeting. One can purchase a prefabricated greenhouse door or simply use a sheet of weighted plastic that can be tied out of the way for the door. To allow for ventilation in hot weather, a wood-frame vent that can be propped open can be incorporated into the roof rafter design.

Those who want a more permanent structure may want to look into using greenhouse plastic paneling in lieu of plastic sheeting. Either way, home greenhouses can be as elaborate or as simple as individuals desire.

Greenhouses are effective ways to extend growing seasons for both commercial and home gardeners.