A clean greenhouse is not only pleasing to the eyes but also offers a safe and healthy environment for your growing plants.
Simply keeping the greenhouse clean is not enough as some pests and diseases can be introduced through clothing or through physical touch. If gone unnoticed, these pesky little things can slowly cause irreparable damage to your investment.
What does greenhouse hygiene entail?
- Use of protective clothing. This is not only important to your plants but also to you. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) includes a face mask, gloves, a coat/overalls and gumboots.Wearing PPE isn’t enough, one always has to ensure that they are clean. Employees should also use sanitize their hands before coming into contact with the crop. That means having a washing area near the entrances of the greenhouses.
- Having a foot bath. A foot bath is a small area; can be a basin or a cemented area containing disinfectant where people can dip their boots in before/after getting in the greenhouse.
- Clean tools. Always disinfect farming tools before and after use.
- Keeping weeds at bay. A weed-free environment is the best way to ensure grow up strong and healthy. Not only are weeds a breeding ground for pests, but they also tap into the juicy nutrients, water, sunlight and space that are only meant for your crops.
- General cleanliness. Removing debris from your crops. Debris might include crop residue and pruning remains. This debris usually become a perfect breeding ground for pests and diseases which might cause nasty infections to your plant. The debris should be collected and thrown away as far as possible or burnt.
- Always treat any infected plant at first glance. Check the neighbouring plants too for any infection, if need be, treat them as a preventive measure to nip the infection before it spreads to the whole house. If the infected plant (s) don’t recover, its best to cut your losses and remove them.
- Scouting regularly, if not daily, will ensure that any signs of pests and diseases are caught early.
- The greenhouses/areas with the infections should be worked on last in order to minimize the spread of pests/diseases to the healthy greenhouses/areas.
Although it doesn’t fall under greenhouse hygiene, it’s also best to minimize traffic inside the greenhouse. Minimize opening and closing of the greenhouse door to when tending to the crops so that pests don’t gain entry.
Maintaining a clean greenhouse is a cost-effective and stress-free way to minimize pests and pathogen infestations. Money and time that could have been used on pesticides can be allocated to other areas. Remember, prevention is better than cure.