It may not be the most glamorous of tasks, but cleaning a greenhouse is an important one. Routinely eliminating the grime, mold, biofilm, and other organic debris in commercial and hobby greenhouses, garden centers, and hydroponic and aquaponic growing facilities significantly improves the growing environment for crops and plants – and helps control unwanted pests and diseases, too. Generally, this crucial maintenance should be done at least once annually, ideally in the late fall or early winter months between crops, when greenhouses are empty. However, if you’ve had recurring problems with insects such as fungus gnats or diseases like Pythium root rot, your greenhouse, potting areas, and tools likely need a good cleaning, no matter the time of year.
Vital Oxide: The Ideal Solution for Greenhouses & Growing Facilities
Greenhouse surfaces and tools, like trimming scissors, loppers, saws, and shears, for example, require constant disinfection, as disease organisms can be spread from plant to plant during pruning. While conventional solutions such as chlorine bleach, hydrogen peroxide, ethanol, and isopropyl alcohol may appear to be the most affordable solutions on the surface, they do come with a hidden cost. Growers will recognize that frequent disinfection of these tools with solutions like chlorine bleach or hydrogen peroxide will cause corrosion, and ethanol and alcohol-based solutions do not provide total disinfection, leaving the possibility of passing on genetic problems and pathogens to plants and crops. There is a better way.
Vital Oxide is the ideal all-in-one solution for horticultural and botanical use. It can be used to clean, sanitize, disinfect, inhibit mold growth, remove biofilm, and more, all without harsh chemicals, noxious fumes, or harmful residues. Unlike other commercial cleaners and disinfectants, Vital Oxide’s formula is non-irritating to the skin and won’t corrode treated surfaces or tools, even with frequent use. After use, Vital Oxide breaks down to simple salt and creates no harmful byproducts.
When to Clean Your Greenhouse or Growing Facility
Generally, greenhouse cleaning is best done with regard to the plants or crops being grown. For instance:
- For summer crops, such as tomatoes, berries, or cucumbers, plan to clean in the late fall or winter after the crop has been cleared.
- For periodic and successive crops, such as seedlings, plan to clean in mild weather during the early autumn months to help improve light transmission before winter arrives.
- For all year plants, such as orchids, clean periodically, springtime and autumn, for example.
Cleaning the Greenhouse
Cleaning involves physically removing weeds, soil, mold, and debris and is the first step before disinfecting a greenhouse and growing media. By eliminating dirt and organic residue from the space and equipment, the disinfectant will be able to do its job. Set aside a good day for the task (ideally between crop cycles and in dry, calm weather), and then:
Move everything out.
The best way to clean the interior of a greenhouse or growing facility is to first remove everything inside of it. Otherwise, it’ll be more challenging to perform a thorough cleaning.
Brush, vacuum, and power wash to remove debris.
Begin at the top and work your way down. Sweep or scrub the walls, internal greenhouse structures, and all associated equipment, and clean the floor of soil, weeds, moss, and other organic matter. A “shop vac” can help speed up the process of removing debris, especially on concrete surfaces and covered floors. As you’re cleaning, keep in mind that disease-causing microbes, mold, and other buildup can be lodged on rafters, window ledges, tops of overhead piping, folds in plastic, and equipment (drip stakes, crates, irrigation equipment, propagation equipment, etc.) so it’s essential to take your time and clean rigorously to ensure all debris is removed.
Of all the surfaces in a greenhouse, textured surfaces (like wood and concrete) require extra care. These textured surfaces hold many varieties of organic matter, including fungal spores capable of causing disease in greenhouse plants and crops. Therefore, these areas should be scrubbed or cleaned with a commercial grade cleaner such as Vital Oxide and a high-pressure power washer.
At the same time as cleaning the greenhouse structure and equipment, it’s usually a good idea to clean out other systems such as gutters and water tanks. Additionally, previously used growing containers and plug trays should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before reuse.
Clean surfaces and structural parts with Vital Oxide.
Once all debris has been removed, thoroughly clean all surfaces and equipment with Vital Oxide. Use a scrub brush when needed to remove any remaining residue, and rinse with clean water.
Disinfecting the Greenhouse
There are many benefits to disinfecting the greenhouse and growing environment. First and foremost, many pathogens (including bacterial biofilm) can be managed to some degree by using an effective disinfectant, such as Vital Oxide. Once the greenhouse structure and equipment have been thoroughly cleaned, apply Vital Oxide to the clean surfaces by spraying, wiping, or fogging full-strength, and allow it to dwell for at least 10 minutes. There is no need to rinse following disinfection with Vital Oxide.
Steps to Prevent Disease Contamination in Greenhouses & Growing Facilities
- Set up washing stations for handwashing and foot dips at the entrances of each greenhouse, especially propagation houses. Vital Oxide may be used in foot dips. Change the solution daily in foot baths and thoroughly wash floor mats weekly.
- Ensure that trash bins inside the greenhouse are covered so that disease spores do not spread to crops; routinely clean and disinfect trash bins, especially if there has been an infestation or disease outbreak.
- Keep animals off of benches and potting areas.
- Frequently clean and disinfect benches, preferably made of wire or other non-porous material rather than wood, as wood can often be a source of insect infestations and root rot diseases.
- Avoid accumulating dirty, previously used pots, old growing media, or plant debris in the potting area.
- Routinely clean and disinfect potting tables, previously used pots, and tools.
Vital Oxide is Ideal for Use in the Following Horticultural & Botanical Sites:
- Aeroponic growing facilities
- Aquaponic growing facilities
- Basement greenhouses
- Botanical facilities
- Commercial greenhouses
- Compost bins & equipment
- Containers, buckets, pots, trays
- Customer/public/employee areas
- Display coolers & shelving
- Floral shops
- Foot dips
- Garden centers
- Germination stations
- Grafting stations & equipment
- Greenhouse equipment & irrigation systems
- Greenhouse tools, scissors, & measuring cups
- Greenhouse ventilation/air handling equipment
- Grow tents & nets
- Hardscape storage areas
- Harvesting equipment
- Herbal dispensaries
- Hobby greenhouses
- Horticultural facilities
- Hydroponic growing facilities
- Landscape nurseries
- Lawn and garden shops
- Plant growing facilities & nurseries
- Pollination trays
- Transplant equipment