Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Growing in Glasshouses

CHOOSING A GREENHOUSE IS THE FIRST DECISION. Unless you adore maintenance, choose a green house that will offer the least amount of long term structural care as all your valuable time ought to be spent on what you would love to do, growing.

IF YOU ARE SERIOUS ABOUT GROWING, choose the size that you will need tomorrow & not today as any experienced greenhouse grower will nod to confirm that you will soon outgrow your space, but be careful not to overdo it !

SITING a greenhouse is very important. If you have a very small garden your choice is made for you. For the larger garden, draw a plan ( you don’t need to be Michaelangelo to do this ) with the greenhouse in a position where it would enhance the overall look of the garden. Ideally, you ought not to move it again ( both costly & a pain ). At first it might look alone in the garden but in a few years when the rest of the garden is gradually planted & matured it will be at home. Preferably away from under huge trees if you can avoid it. Take tips from experts & if you cant find any, there is always the good high street bookstore or the local library. A free-standing greenhouse needs good light and shelter from strong winds as poor light will cause disappointments for growing quality fruits, vegetables, flowers & strong cold winds will cause heat loss during winter.

TAKE full advantage of the low winter sun by positioning the greenhouse with its long axis aligned east west or as near to this as possible.

GREENHOUSES MUST HAVE A FOUNDATION and if you aren‘t an expert in building work, leave it to a professional. If you don’t already know one, ask your trusted friends or family who might be able to recommend one with a proven track record.

THE GREENHOUSE GLASS OUGHT TO BE VERY CLEAR & free from flaws, bubbles & ripples which can act as lenses & burn the plants.

UNLESS MONEY IS NO OBJECT, or you are already an expert, start with the minimum basic accessories such as some staging, shelving, shading & automatic vent openers which are useful for those hot summer days that you may be away from home. Get used to the greenhouse. You could always buy more accessories later.

AS A GENERAL RECOMMENDATION always keep the greenhouse frost-free during winter. A large selection of greenhouse heaters are available on the market. Find a nice & knowledgeable person in a good local garden centre to help you choose the right one for your specific needs. Gas heaters should be installed & checked regularly by an approved contractor. Electric heaters should always be splash proof & connected to a power breaker. Paraffin heaters should be on firm & level surface. Store paraffin away from the heater.

AVOID the temptation to turn a greenhouse into a storage area! In particular don‘t store chemicals as weedkillers can cause serious plant damage. Post a warning sign or lock the structure where chemicals have been used and ventilate fully afterwards.

KEEP the pathways to & inside of the greenhouse clear & prevent slippery surface algae. A greenhouse should, after all, be a refuge &a retreat!!