What is a greenhouse and where are they best used?
A greenhouse is simply a building in which plants are grown. These buildings can be merely small structures, or they can also be quite large in size. The concept behind greenhouses dates back all the way to Roman times when the Emperor Tiberius demanded to eat an Armenian cucumber every day, for which his gardeners had to use a system similar to that in modern greenhouses to make sure he had one each day.
13th-century Italy was the site of the first modern greenhouses. Initially, greenhouses were more common on the grounds of the wealthy, but they soon also branched out to universities. The 19th century saw some of the largest greenhouses ever built, while the 20th century popularized the geodesic dome for use in many greenhouses.
How Does It Work?
The greenhouse effect as it relates to actual greenhouses works in the following way.
A greenhouse reduces the rate at which thermal energy flows out of its structure, and it does this by impeding heat that has been absorbed from leaving its confines through convection. The material for greenhouse construction is typically glass or plastic so that sunlight can pass through it. This sunlight is integral to the greenhouse becoming warm, since it heats up the ground inside the greenhouse. In turn, the warm ground then warms up the air in the greenhouse, which keeps on heating the plants inside since it is confined within the structure of the greenhouse.
The purpose of a greenhouse is to shield crops from excess cold or heat and unwanted pests. A greenhouse makes it possible to grow certain types of crops year round, and fruits, tobacco plants, vegetables, and flowers are what a greenhouse most commonly grows. High-altitude countries are where greenhouses are most common; this has to do with concerns related to maintaining a viable food supply. For example, Almeria, Spain, is the site of one of the biggest greenhouses on the planet, where it is spread out over 50,000 acres.
Gardening is one of the world's most popular hobbies, so operating a greenhouse garden is just a logical extension. A greenhouse garden is primarily meant to extend the growing season of prized crops and plants. Horticulture fans should be enthusiastic about greenhouses, too, because it allows them to grow plants and flowers all season long, which can then be brought into the house. A greenhouse garden can be built cheaply or expensively, with plastic or glass, and look attractive or simply utilitarian. After choosing a great location for a greenhouse garden, you can build one yourself by ordering a greenhouse kit from any number of popular manufacturers. These kits are do-it-yourself projects and can be as complicated or simple, or as large or small, as is desired.
Some of the most famous greenhouses have exemplified what the operation of a greenhouse is all about, or they are attached to research facilities that are doing successful work in the field of botany. One famous greenhouse is Kew Gardens in England, which is actually 121 hectares that consist of both greenhouses and gardens. This facility both does research as well as receives tourists. Another famous greenhouse is also in England: the Eden Project. It is a group of geodesic dome greenhouses whose purpose is to educate people on the dependence of humanity on plants. Yet another famous greenhouse called the Glass City sits in the Netherlands; it is a large series of greenhouses that is located in the largest greenhouse area of the Netherlands, which is called the Westland.
Whether large or small, a greenhouse can extend your growing season for seedlings and vegetable plants significantly and is a particularly smart and cost effective investment for those interested in a self sufficient way of life.