You decided to purchase a greenhouse, you did your research and here you are stood, proud in your brand new and decidedly empty greenhouse. But what do you do next?
Gardening in the United Kingdom can be challenging, dealing with 4 seasons whose exact lengths can shift year to year not to mention those times where the weather seems to pass through all four seasons during the course of one day. But your greenhouse can be a secret weapon that not only allows you to extend the growing season at either end, but gives you to much stricter control over the growing conditions your plants are exposed to. It also gives you a chance to grow those heat loving plants that simply won’t enjoy the uncertainties of the British summer.
You can have a heated greenhouse, but this obviously greatly increases ongoing costs and for the beginner it may be easier to use the greenhouse as it stands. Even without extra heating, the frost protection that the extra cover provides during early spring and late autumn can make a huge difference to plant growth, and for fruit and vegetable plants can greatly increase harvests.
A simple way to use your greenhouse is for protection during spring for your seedlings, thus avoiding filling up all the window sills in your house! Also, the all-around light levels will help your seedlings to grow stronger, hardier, and hopefully healthier. However, it’s important to remember not to overfill your greenhouse – full-grown plants will take it far more room in the future than the small seedlings do now.
Lettuces and heat loving herbs like basil are easy to grow from seed and illustrate another greenhouse use, which is to grow seedlings ready to be transplanted later into beds and borders, offering both frost and added slug protection.
Some plants you will never have been able to grow at all will now be options for you, but don’t rush into growing everything all at once. Start with a few plants you really like to eat at first.
Tomatoes are fairly easy to grow and often the standby plant most greenhouse owners repeatedly grow season to season, but you can consider more exotic plants like chillies, aubergines, and cucumbers as well.
A few simple rules should help you to get the most out of your new greenhouse. Firstly, avoid overcrowding your plants, it encourages disease and pests. Secondly be vigilant about watering – on hot days you may need to water more than once. Thirdly keep an eye on ventilation, particularly in summer, and ensure air flow by opening vents, windows, and doors to avoid effectively baking or burning your plants. Finally, start slowly with just a few types and numbers of plants whilst you get used to growing under cover and by next season you will wonder how you ever managed without it!