GRINDO Indoor quality. Outdoor quantity. Greenhouse grown. It is debatable that this is the best approach to cultivating high-quality plants. Whether grown in soil, aquaponically, or hydroponically with either organic or synthetic, Grindo (Greenhouse/Indoor), offers the best of both indoor and outdoor growing.
For just a moment, forget about the immense amount of electricity that is used to grow plants strictly under lights. Forget about the fact that NO bulb can replicate all the properties of the sun. Remove the fact that the high cost of building an indoor grow room still leaves you dependent on either your local electric company or a fuel-consumptive generator in order to run all the grow lights and fans. These costs become so high that you may as well consider your local meter reader as a very silent partner that receives 20%-40% of your harvest. Toss aside the notion, if you will, that there is not one single agricultural crop cultivated commercially that is grown solely using artificial lighting. Lighting, that so much fuss is being made as to how many lumens or moles are being emitted, not to mention the duct sizing and hood-shape conversation. Don’t even consider, for the moment, the environmental impact from bulbs that are improperly, or even properly, disposed of.
Now that we have stripped away some of the potential downsides to indoor cultivation, let’s consider some of the benefits. One benefit that is dependent on your location and value of your crop is security. An indoor grow room offers the ability to blend in and virtually be unnoticed. Closets, rooms in rooms, garages, outbuildings and warehouses are but some of the facilities that are used for indoor cultivation, depending on the level of commitment from the grower. By having a solid wall and a door to lock, a level of security is achieved that leaves most people feeling pretty good. Complete, artificial control over your grow zone. This would include the amount of hours of light or, more importantly, the amount of hours of darkness. Having complete control of the lighting schedule empowers the grower to determine the flowering schedules of their plants. This allows for optimum efficiency of crop production throughout the year and allows the farmer the ability to bring product to market whenever they choose, often dictated by seasonal demands. The temperature, humidity and wind velocity are all easily controlled by fans that are monitored by an automated environmental control panel. With control over the environment, the outside climate has little to no effect. In the heat of the summer, the room is often cooled by air conditioning units, though this luxury also has impacts when accounting for your overhead. Winter time lows sometimes see the need for heating units to keep the ambient room temperature in a place of comfort for your plants. Though all these benefits do lend a sense of BLING to crops grown indoors, it does leave open the conversation of what might be missing in a photosynthesizing plant that is using a bulb and not the sun’s main source of life force.
Greenhouses offer up the control that indoor grow rooms provide, as well as giving the plants the full spectrum of the sun that will increase the plants’ medicinal and nutritional aspects and will dramatically increase your yield. Traditionally used to extend your growing season through the cold of the off-season greenhouses are now also being utilized with remarkable benefits during the rest of the year. Depending on your specific use, greenhouses can be used efficiently with ease and security by anyone with a green thumb and attention to plants. Most often when people think of greenhouses, they think of a wooden structure clad with old yellowing plastic or a mega gutter-connected greenhouse that covers acres of farmland with millions of dollars of investment glistening in the summer sun. These structures may leave you feeling a little disheartened or with a feeling that a greenhouse for your own yard/land is out of reach. However, there are greenhouse companies that specialize in customer service and making sure that you have the right fit for what you are looking for. In this scenario, you need a greenhouse company that specializes in light deprivation.
Light deprivation techniques allow you the ability to step into the same game as an indoor grower while receiving all the benefits of greenhouse growing. Light deprivation is the ability to cut out sunlight from your greenhouse when you require extra hours of darkness to flower your plants, while the outdoor light cycle is still in a period of vegetative growth. Whether this is done with an automated ‘Light Dep’ greenhouse or done manually by ‘pulling tarps’ of a Breathable Black Out fabric, the end goal is the same, a consistent amount of required hours of light and of darkness. This can be compared to the control that an indoor grower has with artificial lighting and timers. Control over your light cycle gives you control over your flowering cycle.
In the majority of the world growing outdoors, there is only one ‘flowering cycle’ per year. It is the time that the hours of darkness begin to increase with the Sun’s journey from Summer Solstice to Winter Solstice. In the Northern Hemisphere, it is usually the months from August till late October, at which time, Autumnal seasonal aspects become less favorable for the growth of annual flowering plants. In the Tropics, however, there are up to three flowering ‘seasons’ in a year, two short and one long, giving Tropical flower farmers more options and the options as to when to flower their plants. With control over the flowering cycle in your greenhouse, you have now matched one of the major benefits of indoor growing. Harvest what you want when you want it. The ability to Light Dep your plants can be accomplished in a variety of ways. The goal is simple – remove all light inside the grow space for the specified amount of hours so that your plants think they are approaching Fall and the end of their life cycle, therefore causing them to flower so as to continue the reign of their species.
A greenhouse company that specializes in Light Deprivation will have the knowledge of how to work most efficiently and effectively throughout the different ‘seasons’ within your greenhouse. As I mentioned earlier, greenhouses have traditionally been used to extend your growing season early in the spring and late into fall and even potentially through the winter months. This, however, does not address the harshest climate to deal with: a greenhouse. The summer heat can become unbearable in a greenhouse not properly set up. Solar Gain is the term used for the increase of heat in a greenhouse from the inability to properly ventilate the space. Ambient temperature is the natural temperature ‘outside’ at any given time. A properly ventilated greenhouse will not exceed the outside ambient temperature, and therefore will not have much, if any, Solar Gain. To fully comprehend, imagine a car on a hot day driving down the highway. Roll the windows up and you will quickly start feeling the effects of Solar Gain as the temperature in the car begins to soar. Roll the windows down and you will immediately feel a rush of fresh, cooler air coming in. Though the vehicle is filled with ‘fresh’ air, the temperature of it is that of the ambient temperature outside. This is what happens in your greenhouse.
Ventilation is one of the key factors of any greenhouse. Without proper ventilation, the structure will quickly heat up due to solar gain. Proper ventilation can be achieved through exhaust fans or with passive cooling. When using fans, make sure to calculate the cubic foot dimensions of your structure and match it with fans that can exchange that air about every 1-3 minutes in the hotter parts of the year and 2-4 minutes for the rest of the year. CFM, cubic feet per minute, is the term the fan will use in determining how many cubic feet the fan can exhaust in one minute. I prefer to use a dual fan/dual intake louver system so that the temperature and humidity can be controlled in stages with this 2-stage fan system. Take note that exhaust fans only work properly in a ‘sealed’ environment. Some people like to put exhaust fans in a greenhouse and then leave a door open or roll up a sidewall. Though this may intuitively sound like a good idea, what is actually happening is that the fan will exhaust air from its closest location. So if there is an opening in the structure closer than the other end of the greenhouse, where an intake louver is located, the fan will take the air from that point and not pull the air across the whole structure.
A greenhouse grower has the ability, at their fingertips, to supplement the desired hours of light and warmth for the plant during the colder, darker months of the year. This can be done at a drastically reduced cost when compared to indoor growing because of the ability to use the sun. Though the amount of hours of natural lighting may not be sufficient, supplemental lighting need only be used to add a few hours of light in the beginning or end of the day in order to meet your daily quota of light and darkness. On cloudy days, lights can be used to increase the intensity of the light, allowing plants to stay in optimal conditions. The sunlight also adds heat to your structure, reducing the need for a complete heating source.
I mentioned earlier that a greenhouse has benefits in the heat of the summer. When properly covered by a high-quality poly-weave, not film, covering that has the correct amounts of UV stabilization and, most importantly, the ability to diffuse light, your plants will reflect huge benefits. These qualities in a fabric do a couple of things. Most obvious is in the appearance of your finished product. These fabrics were designed for the flower industry and the plant resins just seem to ‘pop’ from the filtration offered by the fabric and wind up resembling, in looks, plants that were grown strictly under lights.
Consider the topic of heat when we look at the next benefit of a high-quality SolarWoven material. It lowers the temperature of your soil, causing less need for water and giving more optimal conditions to your soil microbes. The diffusing properties literally separate the particles of light, ‘bouncing’ them around your grow space, allowing for more penetration into your canopy and to your bottom growth. UV stabilization filters out the harmful intense spectrums of the sun that heat up your structure and your plants. Perhaps the biggest benefit is that it reduces the temperature of the surface of the leaf. The key advantage to this is that now the ambient temperature of the greenhouse can be a little higher than normally desired, because the radiant heat on your plants is going to be lower. The advantage to this is on hot summer days when plants outdoors are putting a lot of energy into transpiration, staying cool and surviving, while the plants inside your greenhouse are putting their energy into photosynthesis, growth and flourishing.
Oftentimes, the winter is the best time to farm when you own a greenhouse, even though it is the most energy-consumptive part of the year to do so. The temperature outside is most likely not a very plant-friendly environment, causing most farmers to finally take a break, and giving you a jump start on your crop.
When considering a winter crop, or getting an early bump on your plants, greenhouses offer the ability to control and monitor your grow space, creating the ability for year-round cultivation. Many people heat their structures with overhead forced heat. Though the initial investment might be a little lower than other options, it can prove to be less efficient in the long run. The more efficient and effective heat comes from the bottom up. By heating the root zone, the most important part of the plant to stay warm, the heat will passively rise up through the canopy and start heating the rest of the empty structure. This allows for a concentration of heat where it is needed, in the plant zone and not in the empty zone of the structure which has a high level of heat loss. This methodology can save thousands of dollars in heating costs. This bottom heat is usually done with water-based radiant heat. A solar collector, a passive method of heating water from the sun, can be installed in the loop to heat the water before the boiler needs to expend energy heating the water on a cold but sunny day, saving you even more on utility expenses.
In a greenhouse, you can grow your plants like you would indoors. This allows more of the benefits that have been mastered inside to be used in your hyper-efficient greenhouse structure. If you grow hydro, in bags, on tables or in beds, or whether you use a trellis system or go vertical, the greenhouse structure is going to allow you to take what you’ve mastered and step it up to the next level in efficiency and production. From my point of view, greenhouse grown crops also have a better quality when you compare the benefits of natural lighting to artificial lighting.
There are special alterations that can be made in your greenhouse when considering its security in comparison to an indoor grow room. There are solutions that can be implemented to still allow for the use of sunshine while offering a peace of mind that comes with having a locked door. This type of system can be ordered, ready for installation from greenhouse companies that specialize in Light Deprivation. An example looks like a metal barn on three sides. On the South-facing wall, there is metal up to 6’-8’, for security, with the remainder of the South wall and the roof being constructed of greenhouse poly-material. The roof and South wall are ventilated passively, allowing for minimal Solar Gain and providing optimal conditions for keeping ambient, or better, temperatures without the need for exhaust fans. A light dep system can easily be installed inside this structure, giving you the benefits of a year-round flowering greenhouse and the security of an indoor set-up.
I trust that it is becoming clear that growing indoors is a very inefficient method for growing plants. The expense to build an indoor room is somewhat comparable to building a greenhouse. The costs to run an indoor room are exponentially higher than operating a greenhouse. The security of running an indoor room is achievable in a greenhouse. Greenhouses have significantly less impact on the environment than running an indoor grow room. They excel in efficiency and offer a more complex finished product. Independence from high electrical overhead is achievable. In a greenhouse, you have the ability to cultivate plants efficiently with indoor quality and outdoor quantity, while greatly reducing your overhead and environmental impact to do so. Go green. Go outside. Or better yet, go outside while still being indoors. In a greenhouse.