Greenhouse Gardening Needs Careful Planning.

By: Rick Skuw

If your gaden design includes a greenhouse, read on. Any garden, however small, can house a glass structure of some type. Any greenhouse, however small, will add a brand new dimension to your garden.

All sorts of shapes and a variety of sizes are available, but the fundamental difference between one type and another will be the minimum temperature at which it’s kept. The cold house is certainly the easiest - no artificial means of heat are provided and so in the depths of winter the temperature can fall below freezing (33 deg. F). In spite of this vulnerability to frost, the cold house extends the growing season by trapping the sun's heat through the day. This allows you to work protected from the elements with plants which are sheltered from the wind and rain. You and your plants can enjoy day temperatures that are appreciably higher than the warmth outdoors.

Tomatoes are the favourite crop, during the rest of the year there is cuttings to consider, seeds to raise and vegetables to force on. The range of the unheated greenhouse is limited. You can not grow frost-sensitive plants between late autumn and mid spring unless you provide heat. The standard practice is to turn it into a cool house (minimum temperature of 45 deg. F) and so open an entire new world. Now 'greenhouse plants' can be grown - Palms, Orchids, Fucsias and so on. Half-hardy bedding plants can be raised for your garden along with a year round display of blooms can be created for either greenhouse or living room.The installation of a heater transforms growing under glass into a year-round passion.

An average sized greenhouse (8 ft long x 6 ft wide) would cost somewhere in the region of £200 - £300 if staging etc. is to be fitted. Before making this investment, carefully think about the points not made in most textbooks. Constant attention is needed, and that means every day through the summer months. There is watering, feeding, ventilating, misting and so on to do. There is also the fuel - keeping an 8 x 6 ft. house at at least 45 deg. F will cost over £100 during an average winter.

The aim of the previous paragraph isn't to discourage you, it is to avoid adding to the amount of greenhouses owned by individuals with limited time to spare who after a year or two allow the structure to become a home for pots, boxes and various pieces of household equipment.

On a much more encouraging note, many people who buy a greenhouse tend to run out of space for all the exciting things they would like to grow. For them there is another warning. If you have the time, money and are keen on growing things - buy the next size bigger than you have planned! Keep it as a cool house - the attraction of having a warm house (minimum temperature 55 - 60 deg. F) for exotics is clear, but your fuel bill could possibly be as high as £300 per year. Unfortunately stove houses (minimum temperature 65 deg. F) have almost disappeared.

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All of my spare time is spent in my garden, but as I am getting older and things are getting harder to do. I have decided to use a company called Garden Designer London. Up to now they have given me all the help and advice that I have asked for. I still do a bit of pottering around my own garden when I can.

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