In our previous blog post (Get Away From My Greenhouse!), we touched upon the bane of many greenhouse owners – pests and diseases. We introduced you to Cornell University’s website, which showed a gallery of diseased and attacked plants.
In this post, we will discuss keeping your greenhouse clean, and some tips from the pros.
Another great source of information regarding horticulture is the University of Massachusetts Center for Agriculture. They recommend the following steps for general cleaning:
Cleaning involves physically removing weeds, debris, and soil, and is the first step before disinfecting a greenhouse and equipment.
Some growers use a wet/dry vacuum on concrete and covered floors to remove debris. Soil and organic residues from plants and growing media reduce the effectiveness of disinfectants. There are some cleaners specifically developed for greenhouse use, (For example: Strip-It, which is a combination of cleaning and wetting agents formulated to remove algae, dirt and hard water deposits). High-pressure power washing with soap and water is also an option. Soap is especially useful in removing greasy deposits. However, thorough rinsing is needed, because soap residues can inactivate certain disinfectants (such as the Q-salts).
Begin at the top and work your way down. Sweep down walls and internal structures and clean the floor of soil, organic matter, and weeds. Disease causing organisms can be lodged on rafters, window ledges, tops of overhead piping and folds in plastic. Extra care is needed to clean these areas as well as textured surfaces (such as concrete and wood), which can hide many kinds of organisms.
Install physical weed mat barriers if floors are bare dirt or gravel and repair existing mats. Weed barriers prevent weeds and make it easier to manage algae. Avoid using stone on top of the weed mat that will trap soil and moisture, creating an ideal environment for weeds, diseases, insects and algae.
Beyond the above information is more information involving specific issues, such as algae management and cleaning containers.