Consumer demand for organic produce has increased substantially in recent years, and greenhouse growers are stepping up to meet the need. In order for edible produce to legally be sold under an organic label, it must meet certain standards specified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Program. Until recently, however, organic greenhouse production wasn't widely practiced by the agricultural community because this is an industry that depends highly on being able to mass-produce as quickly and as inexpensively as possible — and growing organic vegetables comes with a higher price tag than cultivating its traditionally produced counterpart. If you've been considering offering greenhouse-grown produce for sale, you may be wondering if going organic is right for you — you may not be sure, for instance, if your local market will withstand the higher costs involved in growing organic food. The main reason organic food is more expensive is because of the costs associated with controlling insect pests without the use of common commercial pesticides.
Fortunately, there are several strategies available for greenhouse growers who want to keep costs down so they can pass the savings on to the consumer. Following are just three cost-cutting measures available to those wishing to produce organically grown crops.
Use Trap Plants
Many novice growers fail to realize how problematic insect infestations in greenhouse environments — after all, it stands to reason that the greenhouse itself provides a physical barrier between plants and insect pests. But insects have their ways of getting where they want to be, and once they gain access to the interior of a greenhouse, they usually decide it's a great place to lay their eggs. Recent research concerning trap plants has shown promising results. As the name implies, trap plants lure insects away from other crops. Keep the Air Moving
Good air circulation is another way to thwart insect pests because they much prefer to gravitate to environments in which the air is still. A set of fans on either side of the greenhouse is recommended in order to create a good crossflow. It's also important to leave at least six inches between the foliage of each individual plant to minimize dark, damp spaces where insects love to lay their eggs.
Consider a Planting Crops in Winter
Winter crops can be quite profitable because in most areas, locally grown produce simply isn't available outside of the summer and autumn harvesting season, and the reason for this is that providing heat and light in a greenhouse during winter can get expensive. However, new technology in the form out deep winter greenhouses makes it so you can easily grow cool-season crops that depend on solar panels to provide the small amount of extra light and warmth these crops may need. You also won't have to worry about insect pests because insects remain dormant throughout winter.