Pros and Cons of Greenhouse Growing

0fe63a4By: Meaghan Malinowski, MidAtlantic Farm Credit

When greenhouse growing first began in the 13th century, it served as a way to appease royalty’s nutritional demands, house foreign tropical plants for study, and grow medicinal plants. Commonly found among the wealthy class citizens, eventually the science of greenhouse growing expanded to universities where research could be continued and eventually published. Today, with the surge of new and innovative technology within the agriculture industry, operating a greenhouse isn’t limited to just the wealthy and universities, but to anyone with a desire to start their own business or even just to incorporate new methods of sustainable living into their everyday lives. Before you decide that greenhouse growing is the next step for your lifestyle, careful planning and research must be taken into consideration to effectively weigh the advantages and disadvantages to greenhouse growing.

Advantages of Greenhouse Growinggreenhouse

  • Extend your growing season. Any gardener or farmer knows planting crops outside depends wholly on weather patterns and conditions that must be suitable for seeds to take root and thrive. With a greenhouse, many different techniques can be used to keep the temperatures stable, causing less stress to the plants and promoting strong growth much earlier in the year. Some popular techniques involve creating thermal solar mass by using natural materials that readily absorb, store and release thermal heat, and using man-made heaters and heating fans.
  • Expanding the variety among your produce. As vegetables come in and out of season, prices fluctuate accordingly based on availability, demand, and production methods among many others. Investing in a greenhouse gives your operation the opportunity to provide a variety of different produce on the “off season” creating greater availability for your customers in times of low supply and also having the ability to grow new produce or flowers that do not typically thrive in your climate. Not having to worry about external elements gives you almost complete control to provide the best growing environment for your crops.
  • Minimize external threats to your crops. There’s nothing worse than coming out to your newly sprouted seedlings to find that a furry little bunny made a tasty salad out of the dainty leaves that once occupied your defenseless new stems. And just like that, the little bunny doesn’t seem so cute anymore. While rabbits aren’t the worst of your worries when it comes to your crops, in your greenhouse, you control what comes in and goes out. Besides providing shelter from threatening weather, this control allows you to minimize the introduction and spreading of diseases, pesky varmints waiting to snatch up your delicious greenery and to control temperatures to keep your plants from getting too chilly.

Disadvantages to Greenhouse Growing

  • High upfront and operating expenses. In order to utilize a greenhouse to the best of its ability, you’ll need to invest in a kit or supplies that will have a good lifespan and proper characteristics for the plants you want to grow. For example, cheaper film plastics may provide sufficient conditions to retain heat, but more expensive glass windows will last longer and may help ventilate the greenhouse if able to be opened. With maximum climate control, comes the potential for a very high operating cost. If you choose to heat your greenhouse via electronic heaters or by way of gas, you’ll see a serious increase in your monthly bills.
  • Pesky pests and lack of pollination. While having a greenhouse can help you control most of what your plants come in contact with, one or two plants carrying pests like whiteflies or other diseases can quickly spread to the rest of your plants, sabotaging your entire crop. Careful precautions must be taken to eliminate any pests or diseases to make sure your next crop won’t be affected.

Implementing greenhouse growing can be an excellent investment when carefully planned, built, and maintained, creating the potential for an increase in revenue or a means of saving on your monthly grocery bill. Make sure to research all of your options before committing to one style or method.

As always, MidAtlantic Farm Credit is dedicated to providing agricultural expertise and a positive customer experience, so if you’re wondering if a greenhouse will fit into your business plan or what your options are on financing, contact your MAFC loan officer today or give us a call at 888.339.3334.

6 comments

  • Hi there. Greenhouse Please send me instructional videos or PowerPoint. Grateful

  • Thanks for your comment and we hope our article was helpful. We do have another post that might interest you about Greenhouse Maintenance and Upkeep, however we don’t currently have any instructional videos or slideshows pertaining to Greenhouse growing but we’ll be sure to take this into consideration for future posts.

  • Generally a good article; however, I noted that in your section on “Pesky Pests and Lack of Pollination” you do not discuss pollination at all. Is there a connection between the “pesky” pests and pollination? Not sure. It would be nice to also learn about the pollination process, what it normally contributes, what the impact of not having it in greenhouses is, etc. That sort of thing.

  • Thanks for your comment Bob! The disadvantage I was referring to is that the balance is somewhat difficult to find here. In order for most plants to produce fruits or vegetables, we do need some insects to pollinate which would mean either finding alternative ways to pollinate our plants or opening the doors and potentially letting in some of the “pesky pests” that could jeopardize the health of our plants.

    As for pollination, this involves the transfer of pollen from the male part of the plant to the female part to complete fertilization and develop the seed needed to produce fruit. There are different ways this can happen. While some plants are capable of self-pollination, others require manipulation, which includes wild (insects) and human assisted methods. Depending on what you’re growing or looking to grow, not having a pollination strategy would greatly affect your harvest quantity and quality.

    -Meaghan

  • I need more information

  • Rufai, We’re happy to assist you.

    If you’re looking for more resources on greenhouse growing, here are some more blog posts we wrote on the subject:
    Contract Growing for Greenhouses
    Greenhouse Maintenance and Upkeep

    If you’re looking for financing options, we currently service Maryland, Delaware, and areas of Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. You can request financing information here, or if you’re somewhere else in the United States or Puerto Rico, visit farmcredit.com to find the closest Association to you.

    Please let us know if there’s anything else we can help you with!
    -Meaghan

  • Nice Post Meaghan! Really very informative blog on advantages and disadvantages of greenhouse cultivation. Implementing greenhouse gardening can be an excellent investment when carefully planned, built, and maintained, creating the potential for an increase in revenue. Make sure to research all of your options before committing to one style or method. Thanks for sharing the post.

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