Why start a Greenhouse?
Although we won’t so much be going over how to actually build a greenhouse today, the title of the piece does beg the question of why you might want one. Given that they take up a lot of space and are often quite expensive to buy or make yourself, what are the benefits of a greenhouse?
1. Shelter from the Storm
The most obvious boon of a greenhouse, particularly for those who have been following our blog through the winter, is a place to shelter your more fragile plants from cold weather, strong winds, and pests.
The beauty of the Greenhouse Effect means that the structure has the ability to trap heat during the day and thereby maintain a comfortable temperature for plants at night. A benefit we’ll talk more about in a moment.
Alongside this, you can also use your greenhouse as an intermediary space for seedlings that need to germinate under mild conditions but that you don’t want to store around the house.
2. A Second Living Room
Not all greenhouses need to be purely practical, and with the right furniture, rugs, and even electronics like a kettle and lamp, you can turn your greenhouse into a secondary living space.
This means that you can replicate the feeling of being outdoors on colder days without having to actually brave the elements.
3. Your Personal Pantry
The ability to maintain stable temperatures throughout the year also means that you can stagger crops according to your needs rather than the whims of the weather.
A well-organized greenhouse can provide you with fresh fruit, vegetables, and herbs all year long and save you a lot of money on shopping while doing it.
4. The Tropics at Home
Finally, in the summertime, you can use the Greenhouse Effect to its maximum advantage by multiplying the heat that you would get normally to raise exotic plants without having to visit the tropics in person.
The offshoot is that you can effectively have fresh cut flowers all year round alongside your produce. And when the weather heats up you can go for broke on plants you might otherwise never see this far north of the equator.
The major things to consider when thinking of installing a greenhouse are its size, upkeep, and contents. The first is a fairly basic calculation based on the space you have available and how much of it you want to devote to a greenhouse.
The other two centre on what you want to grow in the greenhouse because upkeep also includes any additional water or heating needs alongside basic maintenance.
For today we’ll be assuming a simple set up i.e. four walls and a roof and focusing on plants that are simple to take care of, grow in a variety of conditions, and are relatively cheap.
An excellent crop to start now as they do well in colder conditions, plant their seeds an inch deep in sterile peat mix and mist with water until the soil is damp. Keep the soil damp and make sure temperatures don’t drop below
Another excellent winter project, and even easier than peas since you probably already have garlic lying around the house. Simply plant the whole cloves into individual pots of compost and by the time the ground softens they will be ready to take root outside.
Strawberries are fantastic for the higher points of greenhouses since they have a tendency to spread and drape where they can. Avoid the seeds rotting by planting them fairly close to the surface and making sure that their pots drain easily.
You have some time to relax before these want to be planted, tomatoes for a greenhouse are ideally sown from late February to mid-March and do well with three or four seeds to a pot, regular watering, and good drainage.
Sunflowers are a March starter and perform best with a sibling, in other words, plant them two to a pot approximately half an inch deep. Regular compost or potting soil will do as these are fairly hardy plants, when a stronger twin emerges you should move it to a separate pot so they needn’t compete for nutrients.
You want to be certain that the frosts have well and truly passed before trying to plant Pelargoniums so aim for the middle of May, this will still give them ample time to brighten your garden in the summer.
In terms of care, any multipurpose, peat-free soil will be an appropriate medium, and Pelargoniums like full sun in all but the hottest of conditions, on really bright days consider moving them into the shade so they don’t get scorched or thirsty.
Although our collective greenhouse journey must now come to an end, your individual story may only be beginning, hopefully, this piece serves as a helpful prologue to many future chapters of your tale.