Authored by Jayant Row in Small Business
Published on 05-11-2009
Starting a greenhouse business is like starting any other business. You need to have the finance, the space, the expertise, and the capacity for hard work. You would first need to determine the type of plants or agricultural produce that you think you can grow and market. Do all the necessary homework for this and survey the businesses around you to gain some idea of the products that sell, and also for which there is a steady market. Once you have zeroed in on the things you want to grow, go further into the details of how these things are grown in a greenhouse, the space required, the infrastructure required and the likely time that it will need to set all these things up.
Decide on the type of greenhouse that you want to build. It can be a simple Quonset hut, that requires good end walls with the arched sheeting or roofing materials that enclose the hut. A Quonset hut has the limitation that it has limited headroom. Ridge type roofs are best if you are planning on extending the greenhouse, so that you can expand the business. Roof coverings of glass or fiberglass are best for greenhouses, as they permit natural light into the greenhouse. This is necessary for the health of the plants. You can have lighter greenhouses with polycarbonate sheets. I had once built a greenhouse with very temporary scaffolding made of mild steel iron bars and covered the entire frame with netting that cut out the direct rays of the sun. This was a very temporary affair to take care of seedlings and plants necessary to complete the horticultural requirements on a very large industrial plot. The owner insisted that every bit of the area not covered by industrial sheds had to have some sort of green cover, either lawn, trees or shrubs and hedges. The greenhouse lasted for the two seasons that it took to complete the project.
Once you have your greenhouse in place or well on the way to being built, plan the other requirements. Decide the types of crops you intend to grow in the greenhouse. These could be herbs, flowers, orchids, vegetables, potted plants or any other. Be familiar with the growing period or cycle that each crop requires and the space that each requires. Decide on the growing medium and arrange for the necessary soil with the nutrient mix that will benefit your crops. Also decide on the type of fertilizer and compost that you would use.
Certain plants can be grown in bags. Get yourself an idea of the annual productivity of the crops that you are planning for and you will have an idea of the marketing effort that you need to sell all the produce. During all these exercises, constantly keep in mind the capital investment that you need to set up the greenhouse and start production, as well as the running costs that you would need to incur to maintain the plants.
Ensure that you have followed all local zoning laws and have got in the necessary utilities to your greenhouse so that you have a constant supply of water and electricity. Tie up with local wholesalers and marketing agents to whom you could sell your produce.