Outdoor Greenhouse Growing or Indoors- which is best?

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What is the best solution for growing plants? Is it in a greenhouse, or should you grow them indoors with grow lights?

Outdoor Greenhouse Growing

It is said that nothing beats natural sunlight obtained from an outdoor greenhouse. The greenhouse provides a regulated climatic environment for plants to flourish. It can protect the plants from external unfavorable weather conditions as well as diseases. It creates the optimal growth micro-environment. A greenhouse is also referred to as a controlled environmental agriculture (CEA), controlled environment plant production system (CEPPS), or phytomation system. Lighting is a key ingredient for a plant's success. The wrong kind of light can be detrimental to your plant's growth. Light is broken up into 3 types of UV (ultraviolet) light.

  • UVA- Ultraviolet A is from 320-400nm and comprises about 3% of the photons in natural sunlight that make it through Earth's atmosphere.
  • UVB- Ultraviolet B is from 290-320nm and makes up less than 0.15% -- less than 1/5th of 1% -- of total natural sunlight. UVB light can cause damage to DNA, including inducing cancer in animals. The Earth's ozone layer blocks almost all of the sun's UVB light.
  • Ultraviolet C is from 100-290nm and is almost completely filtered out by Earth's atmosphere and is not a component of natural sunlight. UVC light is used for sterilization purposes-- it kills living cells.

Understanding the types of light that your plants will get in your greenhouse is a worthy step to selecting the greenhouse covering. If you are considering SolaWrap greenhouse plastic, please visit this link to learn about how SolaWrap delivers diffused light and why that is important.

Indoor Greenhouse Growing

When growing plants in an indoor greenhouse that needs supplemental lighting the issue becomes too much, too little, orthe wrong kind of light.

Too Much Light, Really?

How can a plant get too much light? In an indoor greenhouse if the lights are left on around the clock it can encourage fast growth, but that may compromise the health of the plant. Symptoms of too much light are the plant looking pale or even sunburned. Just like humans many plants need 8 hours of sleep/darkness to help them stay healthy. At night is when the plant converts starches in produced during the day into sugars for storage.

Not Enough Light

Plants who don't get enough light will become lanky and stretch out in search of the light they crave. They then become top-heavy and spindly. The energy that was meant for the leaves, fruit or flowers heads to the stems which weakens the plant.

The Wrong Kind of Light

In order for photosynthesis to occur plants use mostly red and blue light. The types of light in the greenhouse have a big effect for the plant. High-pressure sodium lights put out a majority of their light in the yellow range, which is essentially unusable by plants. Incandescent lights put out wider range of light, but they put out heat, something that can harm small, tender plants. Metal halide and fluorescent tubes are better choices. They are cool and efficient and they put out light the plants can use.

There are so many factors to consider when selecting a greenhouse kit and its covering material. Matching the growing environment (city you live in) to the desired needs of the crop is a good beginning for researching what will best serve you.

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