Gardeners In Glass Houses by Pippa Greenwood
If you can possibly squeeze a greenhouse in to your garden, it’ll be a purchase you won’t regret. A greenhouse will literally transform your gardening activities and open up a whole new range of possibilities - but what should you get and where should you put it? A greenhouse needs to be sited well away from large trees. These not only make for shady conditions that will reduce light getting to the plants inside the greenhouse, but falling branches or other tree debris also increase the risk of damage to the glass as well as the guttering becoming clogged. If you are going to want to install electrical equipment such as heating, lighting or even some electrically heated propagators, bear in mind that the further the greenhouse is from the house or other existing supply, the more expensive it will be to install underground armoured cable. So what size should you go for? The answer is simple, larger than you might expect! Pretty well whatever the size of greenhouse you get, you can be sure you will eventually wish it was larger. Most of the initial costs rise by
a relatively small amount as the size of the greenhouse increases, so save up a little longer if necessary. But any greenhouse is better than none, so if space or budget only allow for a 4ft x 4ft, then still go for it! Most greenhouses have a frame made from wood or metal (most commonly aluminium). Which you choose will really depend on personal preference: many prefer the look of wood, but it will need regular maintenance unless it is western red cedar. Whichever you choose, make sure it is sturdily constructed, especially if you live in a wind-prone area. In the height of summer a greenhouse will soon heat up, and temperatures can rise to the extent that plants will be damaged or even killed. Plenty of ventilation helps to reduce the temperature and also allows for better air circulation, so reducing problems with plant diseases etc. Consider roof vents as well, which aid air circulation and are an especially efficient way to let excess heat escape. Make sure that the doorway to your greenhouse is wide enough for easy access. Occasionally you see some that are so skinny you’d struggle to get through them
if you were carrying anything heavy or bulky. If possible choose one wide enough for you to push a wheelbarrow through with ease – this will make jobs such as changing the border soil or just bringing in compost so much easier. A greenhouse should be erected on a solid base - perhaps paving slabs, concrete or bricks - or on a skirt or surround of paving or concrete. The choice needs to be made at the outset, and your supplier will be able to advise on what is best for the greenhouse you choose. I prefer to have a solid path up the centre of the greenhouse (essential for practicality) and then an open bed up one or both sides. The advantage of a bed is that you can fill it full of quality soil and plant directly into it, making maintenance of crops such as tomatoes an awful lot easier. A solid base means you will need to grow greenhouse crops in containers. When you’re placing the order, try to get some greenhouse staging in your greenhouse. This is usually made from wood or metal and is slatted, making a perfect place to stand seed trays, pots and propagators.
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