Roll-Up sides are the best option for a passive ventilation system in a hoop house, greenhouse, or high tunnel. Having the sides rolled up on both of the long lateral sides of your structure allows for excellent airflow across the plants. This air exchange helps vent hot air and cool plants via evaporative cooling, allowing the leaves to transpire properly and avoiding mold and fungal growth.
Proper ventilation helps to keep plants healthy by preventing fungal diseases from gaining a foothold in the hot, moist environment created by the greenhouse plastic. Rolling up the sides is also the fastest way to quickly cool the inside of your greenhouse when temperatures begin to soar.
Shutter Exhaust Fan, Intake Shutter, Circulation Fans, and Thermostat for Hoop Houses
Side Wall Curtain Ventilation to Manage Temperature
Combining a roll-up side kit with shade cloth allows you to create an ideal microclimate to keep your plants producing in the high temperatures of late summer and early fall. These kits come with all the parts you need for both sides and can be either an upgrade to our DIY Greenhouse Kits or added on to an existing high tunnel already on your farm.
Watch this video to learn more about installing roll-up sides on your hoop house.
Do I Need Insect Netting if I Add Roll-Up Sides?
Roll-up sides can be combined with insect netting to exclude things like aphids and grasshoppers from infesting your plants. This is great for growing leafy greens, cut flowers, and specific greenhouse varieties that do not rely on insects for pollination.
If you are growing crops that rely on insects for pollination, the roll-up sides can be used without insect netting to let those happy pollinators and beneficial insects in at the right time. Interested in learning more about insect netting? Check out Insect Netting for Pest Protection.
Heat Mats For Seed Starting
Bootstrap Farmer carries several heat mats that are helpful tools for seed starting.
A 20" x 20" mat will fit two 1020 flats with cell trays that have the same germination requirements.
A 20" x 48" can fit up to four 1020 trays with cell inserts.
Do You Need a Heat Mat to Start Your Seeds?
The use of a heat mat is optional for most crops. You will find the most benefit from its use with crops such as tomatoes, peppers that require higher temperatures for germination or if you are starting seeds in a room with lower ambient temperatures. Many flowers like zinnias also benefit from the higher temperatures and improved consistency offered by heat mats. For more information on seed starting, read Seed Starting 101: Starting Seeds Indoors for Your Garden.
What Temperature Do You Set a Heat Mat at for Seed Starting?
You will want to check the temperature requirements for germination for the crop you are trying to grow. Most reputable seed suppliers will provide you with all of the information you need to get your seeds started right.
You will find the information on the temperature range requirements under Growing Information or Attributes within a seed's description. This will include days to germination, preferred temperature, proper seed spacing, and differences between indoor and outdoor starting recommendations.
To find the best temperature to set your mat at, you should list the preferred range of each variety you will be starting. Once you have all of this information at your fingertips, you can move forward with examining your ideal ranges. You can also add humidity domes to your seed germination set up to help retain a little extra heat.
How Do You Set a Heat Mat Thermostat?
Our commercial heat mat is compatible with this thermostat. We encourage you to use a thermostat to help manage temperature fluctuations. Seed mats used without a thermostat can overheat seedlings when used in a greenhouse or warm indoor space. A heat mat without a thermostat will heat the soil 10-20 degrees above ambient temperatures which, on an 80 degree day, can be too hot for many seeds.
While in use, the thermostat has a probe that goes directly into the soil right where the seed will be. Although the mat will frequently heat up above ambient room temperature, the use of a thermostat will help to keep soil temperatures at your preset ideal.
The bottom of the thermostat has three parts on the base; the power supply plug into the wall outlet, the probe wire, and an outlet for the heat mat. The plug goes directly into an outlet. The probe wire has a suction cup on it, and whether you're doing soilless media indoors or soil as a growing media inside or outside, you can place the sensor directly into that seedbed.
The little suction cup sticks to the 1020 tray and helps keep the sensor from falling out. Remember, the probe goes into the soil, not into the water or the bottom of the tray. For more information on setting your thermostat, check out How to Use Heat Mats for Starting Seeds.
Do Heat Mats Speed Up Germination?
Yes. Heat mats will speed up and allow for more even germination as the soil temperature will warm to the optimum temperature for germination. With the use of a thermostat- dips in temperatures that would often be detrimental to germination are avoided.
Do Seedlings Need Heat Mats After Germination?
In most cases after germination occurs, heat mats and humidity domes are no longer needed. Simply clean debris from the heat mat and store it for the next season. Place newly germinated seedlings under a grow light.
There are a few exceptions to this rule. Notably, many flower farmers use heat mats through the early growing phase of plants like lisianthus to avoid rosetting. In many climates, heat-loving crops like zinnias, sunflowers, peppers, and tomatoes can stay on the heat mat to give their growth an extra boost, particularly in unheated greenhouses.
How Do You Connect Heat Mats?
Our commercial heat mats can easily be connected with pigtail style, daisy chaining cords used to hook up the add-on mats to the master. When connecting from the wall to the thermostat, we recommend that you put the temperature probe in a tray on the first one, the master mat, and then plug in each add-on mat.
With the daisy-chaining cords measuring 21 inches long, you can do vertical shelves as long as the height doesn't exceed the cord length. You can also spread them out horizontally. Still unsure? Check out this video.
The Best Grow Rack Fans
Bootstrap Farmer carries the perfect size grow rack fans for adding ventilation to shelves for microgreens and plant starts. These grow rack fans are used on our Automated Grow Racks as the included ventilation system. These fans are perfect for microgreens as they provide air flow without the risk of causing damage to delicate greens as these fans are not high-powered. The gentle breeze also helps to strengthen plant stems and prevent overly leggy starts.
Why do you need to use indoor fans?
Stagnant air is the ideal condition for mold growth. Lifting this air and reducing humidity levels helps ward off mold that could cause damping off and other issues with plant starts and microgreens. Check out Mold on Microgreens- How to Combat and Prevent Mold for more information on how mold can damage your microgreens.
Double Layer Inflation Kit
Double layer inflation kitscreate an insulating layer of air between a double layer of poly plastic. This double-inflated layer helps reduce condensation and conserves the heat inside the hoop house.
The second layer of plastic is installed with a lock channel and spring wire system. The space between the two layers of plastic is filled with air using a simple air pump and outside air. Filling the space with air creates a pocket of insulation. This air pocket acts as a barrier between the warmer air within your hoop house and the cooler air outdoors. Check out this article for information on installing and using greenhouse inflation kits.