History is Prologue
Before you even step foot into your greenhouse, sit down with a notepad and pencil and assess your last growing season. Run yourself through a series of questions:
• Were you satisfied with last season’s yield?
• Did you have enough room in your greenhouse?
• Was your irrigation configuration effective throughout the season?
• What is your budget for greenhouse maintenance or expansion?
• What piece of equipment needs to be replaced before next season?
Having a firm grasp of your greenhouses strengths and weaknesses is a critical aspect of not only planning your growing season, but ensuring that you avoid the pitfalls and errors from the past. When it comes to cataloging problems from last season, be as specific and thorough as possible. Look for patterns that tie your challenges and problems together. Often, if you keep coming back to the same faulty piece of equipment or structural problems, it can be cost-effective to solve the problem at the source. Of course, this all depends on the amount of time and money available to you.
Experienced growers will know the telltale signs to look for when assessing both greenhouses, high tunnels, and equipment. But for growers looking at the first season, or those looking to expand their operation into a larger enterprise, here are some helpful tips:
Prioritize Repairs and Purchases
When you’re working the earth for a living, one of the most valuable asset a grower possesses is time. Especially when a maintaining multiple greenhouses or high tunnels, there’s only so much time that can be dedicated to inspections and repairs. Repairs that might otherwise only cost hours of the day might be better left to paid professionals while you spend time on a greenhouse expansion or teardown. On the other hand, putting in a longer day to tackle a large amount of minor repairs to several greenhouses can save you money in the long-term.
At the outset of a growing season, tough decisions need to be made about where the initial chunk of a budget must be allocated. Often, expansions or modifications to a current greenhouse or high tunnel are put off in favor of saving money for smaller projects or tools. In some cases, a conservative approach can ensure that you’re never over-budget. However, long-term gains made from larger crops provided by larger greenhouses, or an extended growing season made possible with climate control equipment, are forfeited. Nothing wagered, nothing gained, as the saying goes.
Both time and budget must be at the forefront of your pre-season planning. Don’t dodge the tough questions that will determine the success of your next growing season. As older growers know all too well, putting off the big decisions closer to the beginning of your growing season is a recipe for disaster.
The University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension produced an informative series of videos addressing the more practical sides of planning around costs, including direct and indirect costs to consider, long-term goal setting exercises, and tips that can help you make the most out of your growing season. Your growing operation might not necessitate the need of a complex series of spreadsheets and cost-benefits analyses, but a little bit of planning can go a long way in improving your greenhouse’s efficiency and long-term viability.
Consult the Experts
Rimol’s qualified sale staff and online catalog make calculating expansion and construction costs exponential easier to find a solution that not only fits your needs, but your budget as well. We want to work with you to help you develop a greenhouse solution that meets both your needs and your budget.