The Greenhouse Effect


With the cost of living rising and more people turning to growing their own fruit and vegetables, it’s probably no surprise that greenhouse popularity has grown. These garden structures provide much more than somewhere to escape - they open up a wealth of possibilities and the opportunity to grow fruits, vegetables and flowers that would otherwise struggle in our temperamental British weather.

Here’s everything you need to know about greenhouse gardening…

Why should I consider a greenhouse for my garden?

To be honest, it would probably be easier for us to list the reasons not to get a greenhouse, because the positives to getting one are many.

For one, having a greenhouse gives you the opportunity to grow plants, flowers, fruits and vegetables that wouldn’t survive in your typical English garden. By being able to control the climate and the soil, you have the opportunity to grow all manner of tropical and exotic species.

Secondly, a greenhouse offers protection to your plants, especially in winter when cold weather can kill off some of the more fragile plants.

Pest prevention is another factor to consider - a benefit of a greenhouse is it offers a place where you can keep the crops you’ve worked so hard to grow away from pesky garden visitors who might have other plans for them.

For keen gardeners who struggle to garden in the colder months (who doesn’t?) a greenhouse offers additional warmth for both you and the plants, and gives you the chance to grow all year round rather than being ruled by the seasons. It’s also often possible to get a headstart on growing your spring plants by seeding them earlier in a greenhouse.

What’s the best greenhouse to go for?

There are several types of greenhouse, and the best depends on your budget, needs and style preferences.

A wooden greenhouse is the more traditional choice and is what many greenhouses were historically made from. The wood acts as a great insulator, helping to keep the greenhouse warm in the winter and cooler in the summer. However, these greenhouses are usually the pricier choice compared with aluminum framed structures.

Metal greenhouses are the alternative to a wooden greenhouse, and these are often made from aluminum due to its durability (it won’t rust) and its practicality - it’s much easier than wood to assemble yourself if you’re going down the DIY route for your greenhouse. Another advantage is they’re much simpler to dismantle and reassemble should you need to.

Where should I put my greenhouse?

Your greenhouse will need to be sited in a well-drained area of the garden, on a firm, hard surface. You may need to consider putting a base down.

Choose an area that’s fairly sheltered from the wind, but that enjoys plenty of sun during the day. Be careful not to place it where shadows will block the light or where debris could fall from trees and damage the greenhouse.

If you’re installing a lean-to style greenhouse, then the wall it’s located on should ideally be south facing, for maximum sun exposure.

Consider what you’ll need in your greenhouse - electricity, water and compost could all be useful to have nearby, so try to build your greenhouse with these things in mind.

What can I grow in my greenhouse?

There’s scope to grow so many things in a greenhouse, the trouble will be finding space for them all.

Probably the most popular choice for many greenhouse gardeners is growing fruits and vegetables, especially those that are more tender and struggle to grow in colder conditions.

Ornamental plants are another popular choice because their growing climate can be controlled, as can other conditions. This makes it easier to do things like grow plants from cuttings or multiply them.

Tropical plants and cacti that wouldn’t normally grow in the UK can be another good greenhouse choice, especially if you like the idea of experimenting with new techniques, climates and conditions. Try orchids or venus fly traps, or exotic fruits like bananas.

Top tips for growing vegetables in a greenhouse

Growing vegetables in a greenhouse gives them lots of extra light and warmth, but keeps away any animals that might want to snack on your supply, and stops the unpredictable British weather ruining your hard work.

All manner of vegetables can be grown in a greenhouse, from salad staples like cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce, to melons, aubergines, chillies, herbs and more.

Planning is key when it comes to making the most of your greenhouse and produce. Check you have enough space to grow everything you want to before you invest in your seeds and plants. Factor in the space that grow bags will take up, and how much room you’ll need for pots and trays too. Then, work out when each vegetable will need to be planted - some, like cabbage and onions are hardier so can be planted in the late winter, while others, like courgettes and sweetcorn are tender and won’t be ready to plant until mid-spring.

If your greenhouse is unheated then help your tender plants by fleecing and protecting them during colder spells of weather - they need to be kept frost-free, but still benefit from plenty of light.

During the summer months, ensure you water your vegetables daily and keep the greenhouse ventilated to stop plants overheating. Provide shade where you can, too. In the winter, insulation is useful to help protect your plants. You could also invest in a heated propagator to help your crops germinate in the winter