Greenhouse gardening broadens one’s gardening options considerably. There are many things to consider to optimise requirements to budget.
For the hobby gardener or serious gardening enthusiast, greenhouse gardening extends the range of gardening activity that can be undertaken.
In addition to using the garden, containers, hanging baskets and the like, even a small greenhouse can be used to produce its own ornamental displays, to cultivate seeds ready for planting out or to grow crops of fruit or vegetables.
The wide range of options and equipment available can easily lead one into spending inordinate sums of money if the greenhouse is not planned appropriately.
Greenhouse Gardening Purpose
Greenhouses can be put to a wide range of uses. The gardener’s objective starts to determine which set-up best serves the requirements. Common purposes for the greenhouse often include:
- Crops in beds or containers, the most common seasonal crops such as tomatoes or strawberries being adequately served by an unheated or “cold” greenhouse.
- Propagation of seeds, retention of less hardy plants during winter and all-year vegetable or fruit cultivation require the most common, “cool” type of greenhouse.
- Displays and cultivation of less common plants which may well be specialized and require a hotter or “warm” greenhouse
The cold greenhouse is used to capture heat in summer for the cultivation of some plants and vegetables and with the care, it can be used to cultivate alpines, though this latter purpose tends to preclude using the greenhouse for any other purpose.
Though susceptible to the build-up of damp in inclement weather, which will cause disease in most plants, this is an inexpensive if slightly limited form of greenhouse gardening.
This is the most common general use for a greenhouse. A method of heating is employed to maintain the greenhouse temperature above 45F. This allows a very wide variety of crops and/or plants to be grown as well as providing a winter haven for plants that cannot weather frosty temperatures, excessive wind or rain.
The usual form of a warm greenhouse is kept at a minimum temperature of 55F, or higher depending on the normally specialized form of greenhouse cultivation that a warm greenhouse is used for, such as exotic plants or flowers.
Such purposes are not usually employed by the hobby gardener and often require more expensive equipment both at the outset and on an ongoing basis.
Other Greenhouse Planning Considerations
- Even if the greenhouse is not for specialist purposes, it is possible to mix and match various arrangements providing that the temperature stays within the designated range for the purpose.
- Nevertheless, at a minimum, key factors to include in considerations at the planning stage are:
- Glass, whether this be toughened, horticultural glass or polycarbonate
- Base and floor surface of the greenhouse, whether that be a slab base or not, with no soil or some soil and/or gravel
- A heating method which for most purposes would be electric, requiring a power supply
- Ventilation, in the form of vents or louvres in the greenhouse and occasionally fans in some circumstances, which might be a fan heater that will run cold.
Long before one considers all manner of greenhouse accessories to refine one’s purpose, it should be clear from the above list of initial considerations that a good deal of planning will prove time well-spent in order to clarify the suitability of different greenhouse structures, designs and equipment before purchasing items that may not prove cost-effective in the longer term.
Readers might also be interested in learning about the types of greenhouses.