This Friday we are visiting a greenhouse for the second FarmChat® in our Facebook summer series! Stacie grows flowers, vegetables and herbs to sell to local customers each spring. She also has a flower shop in her basement. Before we visit with Stacie on Friday, I thought it would be good to discuss why and how someone might grow plants indoors.
Many vegetable and flowers farmers will choose to begin their seeds indoors using artificial light and heat or in a heated greenhouse. Starting seeds indoors allows farmers to get a jump start on the growing season. Some seeds can be tricky to grow directly into the soil. For example, Statice is a filler flower and direct seeding is not recommended. Starting seeds indoors also makes it easier to control the environment... no risk of frost, no weeds popping up, and no continuous spring showers.
Seed starting rooms vary in size from farm to farm but basically you need light (a shop light will work) and a heat mat (heat mats are optional, we did without for a few years and it worked fine but the mat does speed up germination).
*Germination is the process in which the seed begins to grow.
A greenhouse is a structure with walls and roof made of transparent material, such as glass or plastic. A greenhouse is the most controlled type of indoor housing for plants. Greenhouses are also more permanent than the structures below. Plants tend to sit up on tables in pots or trays. Where with hoop houses and high tunnels, the seedlings/seeds are planted directly into the soil. Greenhouse grown plants are usually planted outside by the farmer or customer after the frost-free date.
A high tunnel is in-between a greenhouse and hoop house. It is semi-permanent and can be heated but is usually heated with the sun. high tunnels are often taller than hoop houses. The sides can be rolled up to let air flow in and out.
A hoop house is a tunnel typically made from steel and covered in plastic. The interior heats up because the sun warms the soil inside the building faster than heat can escape the structure. The sides can be rolled up on this type of system. Hoop houses are usually semi-circular and more of a temporary structure.
There are so many pros and cons to growing plants indoors but most importantly all of these structures extend the season later into the fall! It is good to remember that crop rotatio, soil health, and pest/insect control is still important!