A greenhouse represents a major investment for most gardeners. Even the smallest and simplest types of greenhouse do not come cheap these days. They also demand an investment of your time. So why should you consider a greenhouse. Perhaps the main advantage of a greenhouse is that is provides the gardener with a longer growing season. This is particularly important in colder areas. A greenhouse will provide an early start for seedlings, warmer conditions for tender plants and a frost free environment for plants that will not survive out of doors.
Another, less often recognized, advantage is that a greenhouse allows a gardener with mobility problems to garden at table height in warm conditions. Plants can be raised to a convenient height for the gardener in a greenhouse. Simple staging, either home made or bought for the purpose will create an environment in which a disabled gardener can enjoy all the pleasures of gardening without having to bend or stretch or get chilled.
A greenhouse can become a favorite place to sit and enjoy the rest of your garden. On a cold winter day the greenhouse will keep the wind of and provide a sheltered spot to think about next year’s plans.
What you use a greenhouse for will depend on your own personal preferences. Beautiful displays of alpines can be created in a greenhouse on benches covered with gravel. It may seem strange to grow plants that are essentially hardy in a greenhouse but it makes sense. Alpines hate to get wet. They are used to being frozen all winter but will not survive damp conditions. Their flowers are often small and can best be appreciated when placed on a bench.
Summer bedding plants and vegetable seeds can be raised in an unheated greenhouse. If you want to avoid paying high prices for ready grown plants a greenhouse may be the answer. You can grow many more plants from a packet of seeds than you could afford to buy. Your garden will become a riot of color as you experiment with new annual bedding schemes, hanging baskets and planters.
How to Start And Manage Your Greenhouse Effectively
Vegetables will reach maturity earlier if you raise you seeds in a greenhouse. Your crops will be ready before out door sown plants are ready for harvesting. With all plants sown in the greenhouse you must be careful to harden them to outdoor conditions slowly. Put them outside when the risk of frost has passed. Do this during the day at first. As they get used to the colder conditions you can leave them out at night. When you are sure they are strong enough plant them in their final position.
By this time you will be ready to think about what you want to grow in your greenhouse during the summer. You may wish to grow fruit and vegetables. Tomatoes and cucumbers or melons are always favorites. They are comparatively easy to grow. All of these can be grown without heat.
If you want to use your greenhouse in the winter you must provide heating. Perhaps the best form of heating in a small amateur greenhouse is an electric heater. This can be controlled by a thermostat which will regulate the temperature in the greenhouse. The thermostat can be set at the desired temperature. Regulating the temperature is the best way to keep a check on the cost of heating.
For over wintering plants that grow outside in the summer but are not winter hardy the temperature only needs to be set just above freezing. A few degrees of warmth will maintain tender plants in a semi-dormant state until you can return them to the garden.
To continue using your greenhouse for plants and flowers that are in growth you will need higher temperatures. Summer plants can be grown all year round in this way. If you are going to heat your greenhouse to growing temperatures around 60 or 70 degrees Fahrenheit you should think about insulating the greenhouse with bubble wrap plastic.
It may be necessary to provide additional lighting if you are at a northern latitude with short winter day lengths. Plants need light in addition to warmth and humidity. Plants need light as well as warmth. Some of them need specific day lengths before they come into flower. Lighting allows you to control the condition completely. This is how commercial growers bring flowers into bloom in time for Christmas.