In today’s society, we’re more aware of the impact we’re having on the environment than ever before. From industrial companies relying on both silenced generators and hydraulic pumps to save on fuel consumption (which reduces environmental pollution by 50 percent), to homeowners installing ENERGY STAR appliances, everyone is beginning to do their part to safeguard the health of our fragile ecosystem.
Greenhouses offer a unique opportunity to live sustainably; if you want to reduce waste and shrink your carbon footprint, you can grow food in your own backyard! Let’s take a look at some of the things you should consider before you head over to your nearest garden store and get building.
How Green Do You Want To Go? 3 Things to Think About
If you’re constructing a greenhouse to live a greener life, you’re going to want to work with—not against—Mother Nature.
- Water: Americans households lose over one trillion gallons of water each year, so reducing water waste should be a priority. Soil mixes that contain coir fiber (coconut fiber) can prevent your plants from drying out by helping them retain moisture. In combination with a slow, deep watering (rather than a quick drenching), using these mixes can help you ensure that you’re only using the water that you need.
- Pests: Although your greenhouse plants won’t be as susceptible to insect damage as those that are outside, infestations can quickly become a major problem if they’re not managed properly. Good greenhouse hygiene can prevent many pests and diseases from intruding, but sometimes insecticides are required; just remember that organic does not mean non-toxic! Neem oil, pyrethrins derived from chrysanthemum plants, and chili sprays or garlic are natural insecticides that are safe to use—in fact, you’ll be able to eat your veggies the very same day you’ve sprayed them!
- Lighting: When it comes to our homes, we know that LED lights are significantly more eco-friendly; they use only 15 percent of the energy that a standard halogen light uses, which seriously cuts down on energy waste. Although most greenhouses don’t require additional lighting, some plants do need longer daylight hours to prosper. In those cases, both fluorescent and LED lights can produce good results without wasting energy.
Choosing Your Glazing And Glass
Insulation is a major concern when it comes to healthy plants and living green. Proper insulation can reduce the costs of heating and cooling by more than 40 percent in our homes, so it makes sense that greenhouse insulation is the key to efficiency in those structures, too.
As one of the earliest forms of solar collection, greenhouses need to be able to hold onto the sun’s energy for later use. Fortunately, good insulation traps the heat from the sun inside, thereby extending the natural growing cycle and supplying you with more homegrown food, landscaping plants and overall enjoyment.
Clear glass is your best option: It lets in about 90 percent of the natural sunlight a greenhouse is exposed to, and lasts much longer than any other greenhouse cover material.
A Thank You to Mother Nature
Owning your own greenhouse can do wonders to reduce your carbon footprint. And when you taste the season’s first vegetables, or enjoy a salad made from your own greenhouse-grown lettuce in the dead of winter, you’ll see that Mother Nature gives as good as She gets!