The reasons when people shade their greenhouses are to protect plants from the direct rays of the hot summer sun and to help keep the greenhouse cool. There are numerous ways of providing the needed shade, all equally satisfactory. Some will require more maintenance than others.
Whitewashing is perhaps the most widely used method of greenhouse shading. Sometime in mid or late spring, a white paint-like solution is brushed or sprayed on the exterior of the glass parts of the greenhouse. The solution can be a commercial whitewash made for use on greenhouses or a white, cold-water paint. Apply the whitewash like paint. One greenhouse gardener used his tank-type sprayer to apply it. Be sure you completely clean out the sprayer, both before and after using it for this purpose. Whatever type whitewash you use, it will gradually wear off, thanks to rain and watering chores. If it has not all washed off by mid-autumn, scrape off any remaining paint; your plants will need all the winter light they can get.
Because both rigid and soft plastic coverings modify the light before it enters the greenhouse, they usually require less shading than glass. All the following methods of greenhouse shading work equally well on all types of greenhouses.
Blinds made of wooden strips, bamboo, or aluminum slats provide good shade on hot, sunny days. Since these can be rolled up and down whenever you wish, you can open up or shade the greenhouse at any time. Most of these shade blinds are operated manually.
Panels made of lath strips can be attached to the greenhouse during the summer. These panels provide adequate shade and can be put up or taken down whenever you wish. Storage could be a problem if the panels are large.
Shade cloth or saran cloth is available from greenhouse equipment suppliers. Made from green or black plastic, shade cloth can be used in numerous ways. It comes in a variety of meshes, each providing a certain percentage of shade, from light to heavy. You can stretch shade cloth
on a wooden frame and suspend it over the greenhouse, cut shade cloth panels the size of the plastic or glass panes and tack the shade cloth to the frame, or stretch the cloth directly above the plants. You can also affix it to the glass or rigid plastic by wetting the glass and applying the shade cloth to the glass with squeegee. When you need to remove it, you just pull the shade cloth off.
There is also an aluminum blind-type shade cloth you can attach to the greenhouse frame or a separate framework. It provides good shade but is more expensive than the plastic shade cloth.
Depending on your climate, you may want to shade only some of the plants in your greenhouse. The best method of partial shading is to stretch pieces of shade cloth only over the plants that require shade, such as ferns. One gardener places lath strips on a metal framework inside her greenhouse to shade lettuce and other tender vegetables; tomatoes and other sun-loving plants are left uncovered. Study each of these methods to find the one that suits your needs the most.
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