Depending on where you live, as a gardener, you have to adapt your plants and garden to the conditions in your area. This may mean a shorter or longer growing season and can limit the things you are able to grow.
This is where the greenhouse comes into its own, providing a controlled growing area, avoiding frost and minimising temperature differences between day and night, enabling you to grow many plants that would either fail to thrive outdoors, or even simply not be able to grow at all.
When it comes to the world of grow your own, the greenhouse can be your secret weapon to a world of new plants and to extending your growing season. Even ignoring the ability to use it for bringing on seedlings during spring, when the ground is too cold and frost is still a risk outdoors, there are some plants that really require the regulated heat under glass. You can, of course, have heated greenhouses, but this is an extra ongoing cost, and for the majority of gardeners, simply having an unheated version is enough to open up a whole world of new plants to try.
The obvious plants for your greenhouse are, of course, the tomato and the cucumber. Although there are outdoor varieties of both, in particular, the tomato really doesn’t do well in a British summer outdoors. Both plants love the heat and struggle against the nightly temperature drops we have on all but the hottest days, and any kind of late spring frost could easily kill either plant. In the greenhouse though, even a handful of tomato plants and a few cucumber plants will provide you with tons of produce for all those summer salads.
Other edible producing plants that need the protection of a greenhouse, are things like aubergines and both sweet and hot chilies. Our summers simply aren’t long enough or hot enough for these to grow well, let alone ripen the fruit. Or for something more exotic, you could try cape gooseberries that like similar conditions to tomatoes, or perhaps try some real heat lovers like melons or sweet potatoes, but bear in mind, the more exotic you go, the increased risk that even in a greenhouse the plant may not do that well if we have a bad summer.
Some of the soft herbs like basil and parsley, whilst they can be grown outdoors, don’t do that well, particularly in wetter years, but will flourish and produce bunches of delicious edible leaves in the greenhouse, where temperature and moisture levels can be controlled.
Finally, there are some beautiful flowers that will flourish in greenhouse conditions, just to brighten your time pottering around under glass, or for gorgeous cut flowers for the house. You could consider orchids, such as the butterfly orchid or slipper orchid or maybe even tumbling sprays of Bougainvillea planted in large pots that can come out onto the patio during the height of summer.