Choosing a high-quality plastic pays in volumes throughout the growing season. Although it is a greater investment, it can be an asset that can last many years and pay for itself many times over through the increases in production due to its various qualities. Good plastic provides many more benefits than merely covering a structure. Opting for the cheaper plastic may seem tempting, but a high-quality plastic pays huge dividends in comparison.
The best plastic to use for a greenhouse is one that offers more benefits than solely coverage. A well-rounded greenhouse plastic should provide light diffusion, anti-viral/pest properties, anti-dust technology, anti-fog/mist additives, and a warranty. Bootstrap Farmer sells one of the best 6 mil polyethylene films available on the the market.
Light diffusion helps to considerably improve the growing environment for plants. Photosynthesis and transmission are enhanced for plants by using the right plastic film, which is especially important for trellised plants. This plastic helps with light diffusion by only allowing select wavelengths through its 5 layer technology. Plants are able to take what they need and are less likely to suffer from overexposure with this protection. For further sun protection, shade cloths diffuse light for even more protection for your plants.
The 6 mil greenhouse plastic we carry also comes with a technology of anti-drip additives that have shown a significant reduction in the amount of water becoming trapped under the film. This is due to the increased surface tension these additives add to the film. With a reduction in condensation, humidity is less of an issue. Many greenhouse issues stem from excess moisture which often results in; fungal diseases, reduced light transmission, and leaf diseases.
This greenhouse plastic helps to reduce frost damage, aids in higher foliage temperatures, reduces radiation loss and helps to extend the growing season. The thermal effects of polyethylene films lead to an overall heat cost savings.
Using quality greenhouse plastic can help to block pest problems by reducing the amount of damage caused by insects, viral diseases, blackening of rose petals, and proliferation of diseases. Additives in the film that block UV rays also help to reduce entry of pests, giving an extra benefit.
Greenhouse plastic often builds up with dust throughout the season. With additives this dust accumulation can be greatly reduced. Choosing a plastic with a multiple layer extrusion, permits the inclusion of the dust. The top layer of this 5 layer technology includes a reducing additive that allows for a smooth surface that helps to repel dust and dirt.
Greenhouse film sold through Bootstrap Farmer comes with a 4-year warranty. In order to ensure that this warranty is valid, manufacturers include set instructions and policies. Store your greenhouse plastic horizontally and away from direct sunlight. Be sure to save a sample size of the greenhouse plastic (2 sq. ft) with the product identification tag. This will help if warranty claims need to be made. Avoid direct contact with non-polyethylene plastics or PVC adhesives as this will void your warranty and cause degradation of the film.
When getting started on your greenhouse structure, treat any wooden parts with non-oil based fumigant. Use aluminum slats instead of PVC. Before setting the plastic, paint all surfaces that come into contact with the plastic with a white acrylic paint. After setting the plastic on the greenhouse structure, paint thin strips (20 cm) using a white acrylic-based paint directly on the film surface at points of contact between the film and the structure.
Attaching the greenhouse to the structure can be tricky. It is recommended to start the roll at the top of the gable and unroll it to the length of the structure. Begin this process early morning for cooler temperatures. Stretch the film to size and return to tighten as temperatures increase in the day. This will ensure a good fit. Be sure to install the roof and side curtains in the same work window, end-walls can come last.
Ongoing maintenance will include repair of any holes or tears and tightening the plastic between seasons. It is important to use the correct greenhouse repair tape in order to maintain the warranty.
The use of pesticides and chemical sprays can break down the plastic also voiding the warranty. Avoid contact with the film if ever using a chemical spray. Lastly, shade cloth contact can be damaging to the greenhouse film. Instead of placing it directly on the film, suspend it between high posts directly over the structure.
A few guidelines that should be followed when attaching greenhouse plastic to a structure:
1. Structures with a width up to 26'- use width of the span plus 1 meter
2. Structures with a width over 26'- use width of span plus 1.5 meters
3. With tunnel structures use width of the span plus 1.5 meters
4. The length of the greenhouse plastic should be at least 5 meters greater than the length of the structure
5. Calculating curtains- width plus 50-70 cm (for attachment) and the full length of the structure
For more information around season extension, high tunnels and hoop houses, visit our Building a Greenhouse blog.