Taking control of your growing environment
Average day-to-day temperatures and light levels play a really important part in how our vegetables grow. Both high and low these levels can affect growth, flowering, pollination and the development of fruits.
If the temperature is too high or too low, leafy crops such as cauliflower may be forced to flower prematurely without producing the desired edible foliage – a lot of work and waiting for no result! This early flowering is called going to seed or bolting. Similarly, if the night temperatures get too cool, it can cause fruiting crops to drop their flowers therefore reducing yields considerably. As an example, peppers may react this way to cold weather.
In warmer temperatures the plant’s growth will increase, but this growth may not be sound structural growth. At lower temperatures the plant’s growth will slow down or stop altogether, so it’s really important that the plants have consistent ambient conditions. Generally, the ideal temperatures for vegetable plant growth are between 5 and 29°C.
A climate controlled environment means you’re more likely to have success with your plants, and it does the hard work for you! Sprout Mini Greenhouses provide protection, and full control over the temperature, moisture and light levels. When you can tailor the growing environment, you end up with strong and healthy seedlings, which in turn create beautiful plants ready to harvest.
An optimal and consistent greenhouse climate is very important and isn’t particularly easy to achieve, but if you can control your greenhouse environment, it can bring several benefits. Let us talk about the two most important aspects of horticulture climate control: lighting and heating.
Lighting: How to increase light into your greenhouse
Sunlight is indispensable for the proper development and growth of a crop, and is therefore an important part of greenhouse climate control. Living in the UK means for many months of the year there isn’t always enough sunlight available, which is where grow lights come in. Grow lights are used to supplement natural sunlight with artificial light, helping to stimulate plant growth – leading to better crops!
Heating: How to get the optimum greenhouse temperature
Besides lighting, greenhouses need the right temperatures for optimal growth and production, which is why it’s important to have sufficient heating and cooling capacity. The infamous greenhouse effect does trap some warmth around your plants, but this isn’t enough to stop the inside from getting frosty on a winter’s night. If you want to grow cold-sensitive plants year-round, a heating element is a must.
If you have a heating element, cooling capacity is also critical. Whether you use natural ventilation or something else, you must ensure that you can provide sufficient cooling to maintain the desired growth temperatures. Some of our Sprout Mini Greenhouses come with a self-ventilating roof to help combat this.
What Can You Do With a Harvst Climate Controlled Greenhouse?
Start Seeds and Bulbs Early
The unpredictable winds and frosts of early spring can kill newborn plants. With a Sprout Mini Greenhouse, you don’t need to wait for warmer weather to germinate seeds. You can start them off well in advance, ensuring that your annuals are growing strong by the time the ground is free of frost.
Overwintering Container Plants
Plants in pots are more vulnerable to the cold than those with their roots insulated by the ground. A mini greenhouse is a good way to keep outdoor perennials alive through the colder months!
Many people germinate seeds inside their home taking advantage of the warmth and stability. Seedlings that start as indoor kids can’t always jump right into the rough-and-tumble environment of a garden, so give them the best start in life and grow them in a climate controlled Sprout.
If you invest in a 4-season model you can grow almost anything in there, even in the depths of winter.
Below, we’ve listed a few examples of good plants to grow in a climate controlled environment, but we encourage you to try growing more food at home, whatever your setup looks like.
Lettuce, spinach, kale, arugula, and other leafy greens are ideal for vertical farming because they have a quick growth cycle and don’t require a lot of space. They can all be harvested like ‘cut and come again’ meaning that you can harvest 2-3 times as a minimum, per plant.
Leafy greens require less light than fruiting plants but will still want a minimum of 12 hours of light a day. An ideal growing temperature is 18C but they can tolerate temperatures down to 10C and still grow well. What they don’t like however is temperatures above 25C as it will stress the plants and make them bolt. Tough to get right without a controlled environment!
Herbs like basil, parsley, and coriander are also good choices for vertical farming because they grow quickly and have a high yield. They also do well with artificial light, and in a controlled environment the same plant can keep on producing for a very long time.
Microgreens like radish, broccoli, and sunflowers are high-yielding and can be harvested within a few weeks of planting, making them ideal for vertical farming systems.
Peppers and Micro Dwarf Tomatoes
Peppers and Micro Dwarf Tomatoes need more light and space than leafy greens or herbs, but they can still be grown. An ideal growing temperature for peppers is 18C and they will grow best with 14-16 hrs of light.
With greenhouse automation you can grow smarter and more efficiently. The more accurately you can control your climate, the better your crop will yield!