In a slight departure from my usual book review topics, the subject of this review is not strictly about orchids. Greenhouse Gardener's Companion by Fulcrum Publishing contains only a small section about orchids, but so much of the basic information applies to greenhouse orchid growing that I thought this would be a useful topic.
This revised and expanded version of author Shane Smith's reference book is packed with information that will be especially helpful to anyone thinking of acquiring a greenhouse. There is also plenty of new information to inspire and educate the seasoned greenhouse gardener.
As you might expect, the early part of the book covers designing and building a greenhouse. Topics covered include laying a foundation, "glazing" or the outer covering of a greenhouse, properties of light, watering accessories, heating and cooling and increasing humidity. The section on interior designs gives suggestions for flooring, planning an efficient layout of the benches, raised beds for direct plantings and pots suitable for greenhouse growing.
Chapter 3 covers seasonal growing in a greenhouse and the various microclimates that can occur depending on the location of your greenhouse and the interior setup of the benches and heating equipment. Plants can be moved from place to place to take advantage of temperature differences.
The next few chapters give information on selecting the right plants, plant propagation, seed starting, pollination and scheduling. The scheduling chapter includes on starting plants from seeds for transplanting outdoors, overwintering outdoor plants and growing ornamentals and vegetables to full-size in the greenhouse. Several pages are devoted to helpful charts show bloom times depending on when you start plants from seed.
Chapter 8 is entitled "A Closer Look at the Plants" and contains about 140 pages of specific information about different types of ornamental flowering plants, fruits and vegetables and herbs that can be successfully grown in a greenhouse. There are about 10 pages devoted to various types of orchids and some general potting and growing information.
"Getting to the Roots" includes information on healthy soils, fertilizers, repotting and hydroponics. Chapter 10 is entitled "When Things Go Wrong" and covers pests and diseases and various methods of controlling these problems. Integrated Pest Management is an important part of this chapter and the author goes into detail on using beneficial insects, homemade insecticides, horticultural oils and commercial insecticidal soaps.
The final chapter of the book is a look to the future of greenhouse growing including community greenhouses and computer technology. There are several appendixes with a variety of resources including links to many web sites.
I would recommend this book to anyone contemplating the purchase of a greenhouse or to the veteran grower looking for new ideas. There is plenty of information that will be helpful to orchid growers.