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Today is a lovely sunny day for you and your plants. Plants love sunlight because it gives them the energy they need. For plants in a greenhouse, they can only get as much sunlight as they require when the greenhouse glass is fully transparent and clean.
You should clean your greenhouse because it can become dirty, reducing the amount of light that reaches your plants. A greenhouse should be cleaned before the next growing season or if you have issues of recurring plant diseases. The recommended disinfectant for greenhouses is Jeyes fluid.
As a grower who owns a greenhouse, why do you need to clean your greenhouse regularly? How often should you clean the greenhouse? What do you clean the greenhouse with, and what exactly is this Jeyes fluid? Read this article to find out.
Cleaning a Greenhouse with Jeyes Fluid: Why? When? How?
Greenhouses should be cleaned and disinfected regularly. Algae, moss, dust on the glass should be brushed off, and then the greenhouse and your planting accessories should be disinfected with jeyes fluid.
What is Jeyes Fluid?
Jeyes fluid is a highly effective disinfectant that John Jeyes patented in 1877 (over 40 years now). Though Jeyes fluid was initially used for bathing scarlet fever patients, it is now commonly used as an outdoor disinfectant.
Jeyes fluid kills off 99% of germs on the surface of what you are disinfecting. The product can be used on surfaces made of concrete, glass, solid plastic, and more.
Most greenhouse gardeners use jeyes fluid to clean and disinfect their greenhouse, pots, holding tanks, and other gardening accessories.
With a pH of 8.0-10.0, Jeye’s fluid is moderately alkaline. Some chemicals used to make jeyes fluid that is active ingredients, their concentration by weight, European Community Number (EC No.), and Chemical Abstracts Service Number (CAS No.) are listed in the table below:
|NAME||CONCENTRATION BY WEIGHT||EC NUMBER||CAS NUMBER|
|Terpineol (for fragrance)||2.5–5%||232-268-1||8000-41-7|
|Propan-2-ol (isopropyl alcohol)||1–2.5%||200-661-7||67-63-0|
|Tar acids, (poly-)alkylphenol fraction||5–10%||200-431-6||59-50-7|
Why Should a Greenhouse Be Cleaned?
Asides from retaining the beauty of your greenhouse, there are three significant reasons why a greenhouse should be cleaned and disinfected:
To Maximize the Greenhouse Lighting
Light is an essential factor when cultivating plants. Without light, plants will not be able to photosynthesize (i.e., produce food and oxygen), nor will they grow. Most people grow tropical and subtropical crops in their greenhouses. Tropical and subtropical crops like orchids, elephant ears, and sweet potatoes need as much light as you can provide.
If your greenhouse is covered in dust, algae, or moss, a large percentage of light will not be able to enter your greenhouse.
A dirty greenhouse is an unyielding greenhouse. You need to brush algae, moss, and dirt off the surface of your greenhouse to allow plants inside the greenhouse to receive the required amount of light.
Prevention and Control of Weeds and Pests
When you open the doors and windows of your greenhouse, pests and the seed of weeds can find their way into your greenhouse. If you do not clean your greenhouse, weeds and pests will grow and multiply in it.
Because of technological limits, there is a certain amount of food that we can produce per acre. If we were to have intensive greenhouse agriculture, we could have much higher production.Ralph Merkle
Weeds love the cozy environment in the greenhouse. Common pests like snails and red spider mites love the healthy plants in your greenhouse. You need to regularly clean your greenhouse to get rid of and avoid weeds and pests.
The reason why pests may also exist in your greenhouse may be because of a lack of ventilation inside the greenhouse or ventilation problems in general.
A lack of ventilation can let bugs and pests stay in the greenhouse comfortably. This article provides much more information about the importance of ventilation in greenhouses, This link will take you there.
Prevention and Control of Recurring Plant Diseases
Suppose you observe that a particular disease that your plants suffered from in the previous growing season affects your plants in the current growing season. In that case, you need to thoroughly disinfect your greenhouse and everything in it with jeyes fluid.
Examples of plant diseases that can recur, their symptoms, and crops they affect are in the table below:
|Rust||Pale spots called pustules seen on leaves||Beans, tomatoes, snapdragons, etc.|
|Canker||Parts of the plant stem gets damaged by fungi||Apple and other trees|
|Fire Blight||Withering of blossoms, leaves, branches, etc.||Apples, avocado, and other trees|
|Grey mold||Tender plant organs will lose their color and wilt||Vegetables and fruiting plants|
|Crown gall||Round tumor-like growth on the stem of plants||Roses, raspberries, blackberries, etc.|
|White Mold||Leaves and stem wilts, root rots, etc||Beans, lettuce, cabbage, etc|
|Damping-off||Brown lesions at the stem base of seedlings||The seedling of many plants|
|Bacterial wilt||Leaves become pale, and plant wilts gradually||Tomato, cucurbit, beans, etc.|
|Aster Yellows||Vein of leaves turn pale and yellow||Tomato, lettuce, carrot, petunia, etc.|
|Bird eye spots||Eyespots on leaves, leaves turn yellow||Olive trees|
|Tomato blight||Brown spots on leaves or stem tips||Tomato and Potato|
|Powdery mildew||Small, white powdery spots on leaves and stem||Ornamental plants, shrubs, and vegetables|
More diseases can recur if your greenhouse is not disinfected. Disinfecting your greenhouse with Jeyes fluid will stop the diseases listed above from recurring.
When Should You Clean Your Greenhouse?
You now have enough reasons to clean and disinfect your greenhouse. When should you clean it?
Late Winter or Early Spring
Among the seasons, winter has the least amount of plants in most greenhouses. Before planting new crops in spring, make sure that the greenhouse is clean enough to allow light to reach your plant.
Also, make sure that your pots are clean to prevent weeds and pests from the previous growing season from growing with the new plants.
In winter, some pests might find their way into your greenhouse to hibernate. You should find them and remove them before you plant your crops.
When Your Plants Are Diseased
If you observe that many of your plants suffer from a particular disease, try to treat the plants and then clean the greenhouse. Remove every diseased plant from the greenhouse.
If you do not disinfect the greenhouse, healthy plants can get infected, and you do not want that to happen.
Also, disinfect your greenhouse with Jeyes fluid and change your soil when the disease recurs.
After the Growing Season of a Specific Crop
You do not have to wait till winter or spring before you clean your greenhouse. If you are a commercial grower or have just a specific crop in your greenhouse, you should clean your greenhouse before starting the next set.
Greenhouses used as plant nurseries are frequently open, so owners need to clean them to prevent weeds and pests. Also, the weeds outside your greenhouse should be removed monthly.
If not removed, weeds attract pests and diseases that can harm your plants inside the greenhouse.
How to Clean the Greenhouse with Jeyes Fluid
Even though it is not the easiest thing to do, cleaning your greenhouse is not tricky. To clean your greenhouse, you need:
|Brush and sponge||Jeyes fluid|
|Water hose (optional)||Bucket of water|
Are you ready? Just follow the steps below:
Remove Everything from the Greenhouse
When you are ready to clean the greenhouse, you should remove everything, including plants, pots, tools, benches, etc., and take them outside. Plants should be kept indoors if it is winter. You should remove everything from the greenhouse so that you will have enough space to work and have access to the walls, floor, and everywhere you want to disinfect.
Brush or Vacuum Debris Off the floor
It is common to find dead leaves, dust, branches, etc., on the floor of your greenhouse. You can remove these objects by brushing them off or using a vacuum cleaner.
Also, always check if your greenhouse drainage pipes are blocked.
If you can find debris in the drainage pipes, pour Jeyes fluid into the pipes to clear the drainage system.
Remove Visible Weeds and Cobwebs
Search for and remove weeds and cobwebs from your greenhouse. You can use your hands to remove weeds and a broom to clear the cobwebs. Check around the cobwebs for spiders, then remove them as well.
Use Jeyes Fluid to Disinfect Surfaces
Surfaces like the greenhouse floor, walls, tables, and benches should be disinfected with Jeyes fluid. Algae, bacteria, and moss should be brushed off greenhouse surfaces. When disinfecting the surfaces, used a sponge or broom to scrub them thoroughly.
Change the Soil
If you are disinfecting your greenhouse because of a disease that you observed in your plants, change the soil used to grow the plants. It would help if you used new earth because the old soil might be contaminated. If you must use the old soil, bake it.
You should bake the soil to kill bacteria, nematodes, and other pests in it.
To bake the soil, place it in an oven and then heat it for 1 hour or until the soil temperature gets to 82°C.
Remember that used soil has fewer nutrients than new soil.
Clean Both Sides of the Glass Panes
Many gardeners forget to clean the inside parts of the pane because it looks clean. Trust me; you will be surprised when you start cleaning it. Using a bucket of water and Jeyes fluid, thoroughly wash both sides of the glass panes. Start brushing your greenhouse glass panes from the top.
Check between Panes for Dirt
Check crevices in your greenhouse for pests and dirt. You can use a plastic plant label to scrape off dirt and pests from the crevices. When you are cleaning the glass panes outside, do not forget to clean between the panes.
Wash Your Planting Accessories and Tools
Your plant pots, tools like propagation knives, shears, etc., should be washed with Jeyes fluid. Every tool used in the previous growing season should be disinfected before used again in the next growing season.
You must wash and disinfect the gravels and other stones you use to decorate the surface of your potting soil (or trap soil moisture).
These stones are breeding grounds for algae and bacteria. If you do not disinfect them, algae, moss, bacteria, weed, etc., will grow on the new soil.
Thoroughly Rinse Everything
Remember that you are using Jeyes fluid. Jeyes fluid does not just kill 99% of germs; it is harmful to plants, pets, etc. When you are finishing washing everything, rinse thoroughly with water. You can use a water hose when rinsing your greenhouse glass panes and other surfaces.
When rinsing the glass panes with water, reduce the pressure of the hose so that you do not break the glass.
Small tools and other gardening accessories should be soaked in water.
Wash Your Hands or Take a Bath
Before you touch your plants, you have to wash your hands. If you do not wash your hands or take a bath before you handle plants, Jeyes fluid on your hands can kill the plants.
You can wash your hands or take a bath when you are done with the cleaning and are waiting for the surfaces to get dry.
Take Only Healthy Plants Back into the Greenhouse
When the greenhouse becomes dry, you can bring back everything you took from it (and you have cleaned) back into it. When taking plants back into the greenhouse, do not bring back any sick or infected plants. You should isolate sick and infected plants so that they do not infect healthy plants in the greenhouse.
How to Disinfect Greenhouse Water Holding Tanks with Jeyes Fluid
Greenhouse holding tanks are essential in your greenhouse. Greenhouse holding tanks provide your plants with water and nutrients.
In greenhouses with hydroponic systems, holding tanks store a nutrient-rich solution with the right pH, temperature, and nutrients needed by the plants.
Algae and bacteria can grow in greenhouse holding tanks if the tanks are not regularly disinfected. When microbes grow in holding tanks that store nutrients for hydroponic greenhouses, they can alter the water’s pH, temperature, and other required factors.
To wash your greenhouse holding tanks,
1.) Disconnect every irrigation line from the tank.
2.) Pour 15ml of Jeyes fluid into 5 liters of water in a bucket.
3.) Brush the walls (in and out) of the tank.
4.) Rinse the holding tanks thoroughly
5.) Pour water back into the tank
6.) Check the pH of the water in the tank
7.) If the pH is more than 8.0, rinse the tank and drain the water
8.)Keep rinsing the tank until the pH is between 6.8-7.8
9.) Close the lid of the tank and then fill it with water or nutrients.
Jeyes fluid has a pH of 8.0-10.0. If the water in your holding tank is above 8.0, there are residues of Jeyes fluid in the tank. Residues of Jeyes fluid in greenhouse water holding tanks can kill plants or make them sick. Make sure that you rinse the tanks thoroughly.
Drainage of Water Containing Jeyes Fluid
When you are done cleaning and disinfecting your greenhouse with Jeyes fluid, you should dry the floor by using a mop. Do not dispose of water containing Jeyes fluid by throwing it on your lawn or leaving it on the floor to evaporate (therefore, leaving residues of Jeyes fluid on the floor).
Jeyes fluid, like other disinfectants, is harmful to the environment and can cause contamination of soil, making the soil unfit for planting.
When you are done mopping the floor, dispose of the water containing Jeyes fluid by pouring it into a drainage system that can take it to a wastewater treatment plant.
Safety Tips when using Jeyes fluid for cleaning out your greenhouses
You need to be careful when cleaning the greenhouse. Here are some safety tips:
Do Not Lean on the Glass
When cleaning the glass panes above, do not use a resting ladder. The walls of your greenhouse are made of fragile materials and can break if you climb a ladder resting on them.
The best type of ladder to use when cleaning the greenhouse is a climbing ladder.
If you do not have a climbing ladder, you can stand on stable surfaces like tables and benches to reach higher glass panes. Just do not lean on the wall.
Disconnect Water Butts before Disinfecting the Glass Panes
Unless you want to wash your water butts, you have to prevent Jeyes fluid from entering water butts by disconnecting them from the gutters. If you wish to wash your water butts, remember to rinse them thoroughly.
Know the Amount of Jeyes Fluid You Should Use
The concentration of Jeyes fluid to use differs from one surface to another. If you use too much Jeyes fluid on a surface like plastic, the plastic can lose its color or even get burnt. The table below shows some items and how much Jeyes fluid should be used when disinfecting them:
|ITEM||JEYES FLUID CONCENTRATION|
|Seedboxes||35ml in 5 liters of water|
|Water butts||15ml in 5 liters of water|
|Greenhouse||35ml in 5 liters of water|
|Planting pots||35ml in 5 liters of water|
|Animal house||125ml in 5 liters of water|
|Concrete paths||150ml in 5 liters of water|
|Gardening tools||10ml in 5 liters of water|
|Drainage system||Use pure Jeyes fluid, no water|
|Light-colored stones||50ml in 5 liters of water|
Do not increase the concentration of Jeyes fluid when you are disinfecting an item. If you think that an item needs more cleaning, use soap and water.
Keep Out of Reach of Children and Pets
Hide your Jeyes fluid from children and pets. You know how children play with everything. If you have remaining Jeyes fluid, keep it out of the sight of children and in a place where they cannot reach it.
Also, keep it away from pets since it can harm them.
Use Safety Gloves and Glasses
Try to prevent Jeyes fluid from contacting your skin and eyes. You should wear hand gloves when using Jeyes fluid, especially if you have sensitive skin. To protect your eyes from water spills, wear a safety glass.
If Jeyes fluid gets to your eyes, rinse your eyes continuously for several minutes, then visit the doctor.
Open the Doors after Cleaning the Greenhouse
Jeyes fluid has a pungent smell.
To reduce the smell of jeyes fluid in the greenhouse, ensure proper ventilation by opening the doors.
When the doors are open, the greenhouse quickly gets dry. Close the doors as soon as possible to prevent pests from entering your greenhouse.
Take the tips mentioned above very seriously.
Disinfecting Your Greenhouse with Alternative Brands
Other brands can be used for greenhouse cleaning. Some are alcohol-based. Others have chemicals like quaternary ammonium and hydrogen dioxide acting as their active ingredients.
In the table below, examples of products used in disinfecting greenhouses, their active ingredients, uses, and comments are listed (source).
|PRODUCT NAME||ACTIVE INGREDIENT||USED ON||COMMENTS|
|OxiDate||Hydrogen dioxide||All surfaces and tools||Approved for organic greenhouse use|
|ZeroTol||Hydrogen dioxide||All surfaces and tools||It can be used as a fungicide|
|Physan 20||Quaternary ammonium||All surfaces and tools||Best for plant pots and stones|
|Selectrocide||Chlorine dioxide||All surfaces and tools||Best for small holes and crevices|
|Green Shield||Quaternary ammonium||All surfaces and tools||Little residual effects|
|Alcohol-based brands||70% ethanol||Used for cutting tools||Highly flammable|
|Other numerous brands||Chlorine bleach||Disinfects pots, walls, and benches.||May corrode metals|
With all this information on how to clean greenhouses, we will also be giving you tips on how to care for the plants inside and rid of the weeds that may be lining your greenhouse.
Extra things you can do for plant upkeep within your greenhouse
While cleaning the greenhouse may be a major step, of course, we should also look into the actual plants inside of it for their care as well as disease prevention. General ideas also off weed upkeep will be mentioned in this section.
Preventing Plant Diseases in Your Greenhouse
If a plant in your greenhouse is diseased, isolate it from the other plants. If the disease recurs, you have to disinfect your greenhouse thoroughly. Prevention is and always will be the best medicine for cases like this.
Here are a few tips on preventing diseases:
- Apply good fertilizers to keep plants healthy
- Wash and disinfect used pots with jeyes fluid
- Use new soil mix if a previous plant was diseased
- Immediately remove sick plants from the greenhouse
- Disinfect the greenhouse before a new set of plants are grown in it
- Make sure that new plants are disease-free before they enter the greenhouse
Now, since we’ve ensured that the interior and the plants inside our greenhouses are well, let us also look right outside on how to handle the pesky weeds.
Handling Weeds outside Your Greenhouse
Do not allow weeds to grow near your greenhouse. When they are matured enough to reproduce, they will release their seeds into the air. The seed of weeds can easily get into your greenhouse and start growing in it. You should regularly remove every weed from around your greenhouse. You do not have to wait until it is time to clean and disinfect your greenhouse before clearing out the weeds.
Weeds growing outside your greenhouse attract pests. Examples of plant pests are:
|Slugs and snails||Red spider mites, etc.|
If you do not remove the weeds around your greenhouse, a few of the pests listed above will find their way into your greenhouse and harm your plants. Also, it is best to constantly examine the plants that you take out of the greenhouse before you take them back inside.
Conclusion on how to clean your greenhouse with Jeyes fluid
Hopefully, all this information has given you the benefits and the lowdown of using Jeyes fluid to clean greenhouses. Of course, when disinfecting your greenhouse and gardening tools, always wearing protective gloves and glasses just in case accidents happen.
Be extra careful on using it when there are other humans and pets in the area. If your lawn or garden beds get soaked with the solution from cleaning, make sure to wash that soil out to ensure the further dilution of the fluid and for the soil to not be toxic to plants.
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