Greenhouse environments require some control and monitoring
While a greenhouse can provide a delightful environment where living things thrive, it is an artificial environment in which you attempt to control as many factors as possible for the benefit of your plant denizens. It helps to recall what actually makes plants grow. Plants convert light into energy (sugar) during photosynthesis. This process requires light, carbon dioxide, temperatures between 45°F and 85°F, and water. None of these factors operates independently; rather, they affect and are affected by one another, as well as by your greenhouse design.
Your control of these variables will be influenced by:
- the general type of greenhouse you have
- your local climate
- the climatic controls you have available in your greenhouse
Setting Up the Space
Consider a number of factors when setting up the inside of your greenhouse:
- How many students will be working there at once?
- Will they work individually or in small groups?
- What types of projects will you be working on?
- How can you make it safe, comfortable, and user-friendly?
Invite students to help plan the inside greenhouse setup, personalize some parts of it, or create special areas. A peninsula design for the raised work areas or benches is often well suited for research, experimental projects, and group management. Some schools find that a horseshoe arrangement of planting surfaces provides more room for plants around three sides while leaving room in the center for movement and discussion. Movable planting benches on rollers are efficient and flexible, but can be expensive.
Consider how you will make water accessible and where you'll store soil mixes, fertilizers, and pots. You'll also need a work area for planting and germinating seeds and for taking root cuttings. Consider creating a spot protected from dampness, in or near the greenhouse, to keep plant- and greenhouse-related reference books.