Greenhouses have been one of the greatest ways to improve productivity of your plants and to lower the impact of weather changes on your crops. As you already know, one of the main parts of our farm in Luang Prabang are actually greenhouses that we introduced in order to stimulate other farmers to do it too. The same as in farming on open field, soil and soil quality plays crucial role in making sure your crops have a good starting point for growth.
Types of soil suitable for greenhouses
Soil is where it all starts from and it is the basic precondition of successful farming. Even if you have decided to create a greenhouse, you need to think about the quality of your soil. The truth is that soil structure cannot be changed but it can be used as a base for further improving the overall quality of the soil. And for doing you can without any doubt refrain from using pesticides or chemical fertilizers because you will do much better without them.
There are two basic options for soil in the greenhouse. You will either use the soil your greenhouse was already placed at, or you will use greenhouse substrates.
If you are a beginner in the process of creating a successful greenhouse you would probably chose to use soil your greenhouse is already positioned at. By doing so you would have to have in mind that soil will act as all of the soil outside your greenhouse. This means if weeds are present in your soil it is great probability weeds will be present on the greenhouse too. This is the reason why you need to pay particular attention to maintaining the soil in your greenhouse safe and free of any weeds, parasites or insects that would lower its productivity.
The other option is to use substrates. Greenhouse substrates are basically a combination of organic and inorganic materials used to provide the basic requirements for plant growth such as: retention of water and nutrients and permitting gas exchange. Substrates are in a way improved soil that you can use for your greenhouse.
Then again you can easily start from the original soil and by slight modification work your way to creating soil that will be improved and productive to the greatest possible extent.
Manure is always welcome
In order to improve the soil, you are building your greenhouse at, feel free to arm yourself with compost and well-aged manure. For start you can mix equal amount of soil from your greenhouse with compost and give yourself a nice start into creating suitable soil for your greenhouse. Another possible recipe is for you to equal amounts of peat moss, compost and original soil from your greenhouse. Either of these two can be followed by adding wood ashes or already mentioned well aged manure.
Wood ash is important because it contains potassium, an important ingredient that helps pertaining water balance in the plants while at same time it increases soil fertility. On the other hand, manure is all about improving fertility and the potential of the soil to create enriched and strong plants. Manure is one of the greatest organic fertilizers that is way better solution than using chemical fertilizers that on the long term deplete the soil and make it dependent. Manure contains ingredients that release carbon, an element that gives “energy boost” to the soil and helps it to transfer important ingredients more easily to the plants. Also, you might want to think of introducing cover crops if necessary to keep the soil relaxed and revitalized from time to time.
In general, treating your soil in greenhouse does not vary significantly from how you would treat soil on the field and all the tricks you learned while trying to improve soil quality on your fields, might as well find place in your greenhouses.