heating a greenhouse

hello all, this is my first posting on this forum, as i only joined a few minutes ago. i would like to say at the outset , that i know very little about growing plants , flowers , etc. i just bought a 6x6 greenhouse, and i need a lot of help and advise, i basically just want to grow my own flowers for my hanging baskets,for my home ,and my caravan. i would like to also, fill a lot of boxes , and things like that. i have been reading various articles about green housing,and i want to know what is the cheapest form of heating my greenhouse? and what is the best form of heating for the plants ?Would i need to put in heating, if i was going to use under soil heating cables ? What are the best plants to grow for hanging baskets? considering that i am a complete novice. Also , what would be , the easiest veg to grow in a green house,just to give me confidence, to start of? I would appreciate any help and advise that anyone could give me , on starting up my first greenhouse.
Yours Kindly Paul
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paulkane1


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wrote:

First things first, where are you located? Where I live we have pretty mild winters with a few real cold spells. We used an electric heater with a thermometer and kept the green house above freezing. I was able to keep tomatoes, peas and lettuce over 2 winters. As for plants to grow get online and start looking at seed catalogs. There are tons. Pick out what you like and go from there.
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A pile of manure.
<http://www.plantea.com/manure.htm How to use manure
No matter what kind of manure you use, use it as a soil amendment, not a mulch. In other words, don't put raw manure directly on garden soils. Raw manure generally releases nitrogen compounds and ammonia which can burn plant roots, young plants and interfere with seed germination. In fact, it's recommended that all animal manure should be aged for at least 6 months. Many gardeners spread fresh manure in the fall and turn it in to the top 6 inches of soil a month before spring planting.
A better treatment is to hot-compost manure before applying it to the garden. Hot composting, where the pile reaches at least 150 degrees F) helps to reduce the probability of passing dangerous pathogens on to people who handle the manure or eat food grown with manure compost. (For more information about compost, read my Compost Happens! article.)
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Billy

E Pluribus Unum
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On Sat, 21 Jan 2012 21:11:17 +0000, paulkane1

The smaller the greenhouse, the more the day/night heat difference is without artificial heat or thermal storage. Depending on what you want to grow and where you are in the world, you often can grow cool season crops like lettuce or pansies just fine in an unheated greenhouse. I'm assuming from the gardenbanter address that you're in the UK; I'm writing to you from the PNW US; my area has a temperature regime much like London.
The big problem with greenhouse growing is overheating in the day, chilling at night. There are several ways to overcome this -- vents and automatic vent openers help with overheating, and a fan or two helps counter pockets of stagnant air in the greenhouse. With a small house, some old computer fans tied to small solar panels can do this for you cheaply. If you don't have electronic junk around, a regular electric fan works nicely.
The cheapest controlled way is to heat the plants instead of the air: root zone heating. You put the pots or flats on heating cables or a hot water circulation system on a bench that has insulation underneath it. With this system of growth, the roots tend to develop quickly, while top growth is retarded, resulting in compact plants.
The less controlled way is to use a thermal fly wheel -- big containers of water or rock, usually under the benches, that absorb solar heat during the day, and gently release it at night. With a small house like yours, this can be quite doable unless you get long spells of cool and dark. Sizing the amount of thermal storage can be complex, and depends on the insulation value of the "glass" in the greenhouse, air leaks, how the house is situated, and the general climate. In the winter here we have many overcast or rainy days, not so many bright ones, so a thermal fly wheel may not do well for you this season, but may be something you want to investigate in the future.
And, as someone has said, you can use biological heat --typically manure or a compost pile -- for heating. But in such a small house, the amount of space you need for that may be prohibitive.
Can you get electricity to the house? If so, what I'd suggest is starting fairly small for this year, and using thermostatically controlled electric heating cables under the pots or flats on one side of the greenhouse, and a second bench that isn't heated. Try the same species on both sides of the greenhouse and see which side is better for those species under your growing conditions. If the heating cable plants are growing well and the unheated bench sides aren't, a second heating cable isn't an expensive purchase. On the other hand, if the crops on the unheated bench are doing better, you can always unplug your first cable. Much of this is going to be site specific, and species specific.
Another choice is to use the greenhouse to carry over stock plants like big geraniums or impatiens, then use those plants to propagate new ones from cuttings. If you've got one or two plants you're carrying over inside your home, try taking some cuttings and see how they do in the greenhouse. This can be an excellent way to get fast color in the garden by producing larger plants.
Were you my neighbor, the first thing we'd do is to put in automatic venting of some kind, and a couple of small fans to help circulate the air (it helps keep fungal diseases down). Then we'd plant 6" pots of lettuce, radish, tomato, pansy, marigold, impatiens, green peppers, and make some geranium cuttings from one of my held over plants. And then we'd see how they did for you. If you're going to grow seedlings, I'd suggest using room temperature water rather than the cold water that comes out of the hose. Often the easiest thing to do is to put a bucket or two of water in the greenhouse and allow it to equilibrate with the greenhouse, then water from the bucket.
I'd also suggest you find a quick-reading thermometer (the instant-read sort that are used to check the holding temperatures of food in restaurants are good) and measure the air temperatures in the house at the level of the plants and the soil temperatures in the pots several times a day. That way you start building a picture of what's going in the greenhouse.
Enjoy your greenhouse and spend the time to figure out what works for you. Don't expect results that look like the RHS garden show or the greenhouses at Kew. The first year, triumph may be keeping half the plants alive and ready to transplant in the spring, and a light cutting of early lettuce and a few radishes.
And fwiw, Graham Rice has some nice books on growing from seed, and his website will be helpful to you, too.
Kay
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The time for thinking about power requirements is before you build it. Hopefully you do not follow the manure idea, not much difference in the idea and the material, especially for a 6x.
Kay gives good advice ,let it grow on you. You will adopt and adapt ideas ,views, etc. for what works for you as you go along but do know there is a terrible gardening tax on supplies, equipment and tools, along with a coopful of mythology so read many sources on what you want to do and seperate fact from fiction oh and ask many questions,its how you learn.
Here are two wishbooks so as to see what's out there, spendy, but gives some leads for you to google for prices.
http://www.greenhousecatalog.com/category/cooling-and-ventilation www.sunlightsupply.com
Stay simple. Decide what you want to do the first year, hanging or flats and do that well.
Easiest to start. try spring herbs and mesclun, summer your outside then setting up for fall kales, greens, etc Good luck
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