A greenhouse is the perfect addition to any garden vegetable plot, allowing you to safely grow your own for most of the year, and produce a wide variety of hearty crops. If you’re looking for ways to grow tender crops, to cultivate heat-loving plants or to make the most of the autumn sun to raise late salad crops, a greenhouse is what you need. But how to choose the right greenhouse to suit your needs, and what to consider when looking at greenhouses for sale? Our simple guide reveals all.
Investing in a greenhouse means you’ll have a place to safely sow seeds, nurture cuttings and protect vulnerable plants during the winter. You’ll also be able to grow salad crops for longer, and could even try your hand at some more exotic varieties, such as sweet potatoes, okra and cantaloupe melons.
When choosing your ideal greenhouse, there are five main considerations:
The first thing to do is evaluate your available space and work out what your garden can accommodate. There is ample choice available these days, from a mini greenhouse to a larger walk-in greenhouse. Where space is at a premium, you may consider a combined greenhouse shed.
The size you opt for will also be governed by the type of crops you’d like to grow, and how many. If you’re looking to become self-sufficient and feed your family with ample fruit and vegetables, then you’re going to need a family-sized greenhouse. A 6×4 greenhouse would be the smallest size to choose in this case, although it may be better to go for something at least 8ft wide if you want to add shelving and grow bigger crops, such as marrows and melons.
Many people find that once they get a taste for growing their own, they want to try more, so it may be an idea to think bigger when making the final decision on greenhouse size.
Traditional greenhouses are mostly constructed of aluminium, making them lightweight yet sturdy, and pretty much maintenance-free. An aluminium-framed greenhouse maximises growing space, as you can plant all-round and make the most of the sunlight. Frameless greenhouses are a latest trend. Aesthetically appealing, these models are fully optimised for sunlight.
Wood is another choice when it comes to greenhouse frames, but whilst they may look attractive, there’s more maintenance involved.
In terms of glazing, again there is a choice. Toughened safety glass is a wise choice for families with pets or children. Plastic is another option. Styrene is stronger than glass and has the added benefit of being shatterproof. However, whilst it offers good insulation, which is vital for vegetable growing, it is not usually UV-protected. Polycarbonate on the other hand is UV-protected, and offers good insulation.
When growing vegetables, you’ll want to choose the sunniest spot possible in your garden. Wherever gets the most light is where you should be siting your greenhouse. Steer clear of any overly shady areas, or places that may be prone to shade, such as under a tree.
You’ll also need to build a base for your greenhouse. This means you’ll need a level site, and enough space to access the structure all-round so you can easily clean the glazed panels, or in case you need to replace any of them.
Think about whether you’re going to lighting or heating, in which case you’ll need to factor in connecting up power, which could influence where you position the building. The same goes for connecting up a water supply.
Accessorising your greenhouse will transform it into the perfect vegetable-growing haven. Stacked shelving will allow you to make the most of vertical growing opportunities, whilst benches will give you the space you need for potting.
You may wish to think about some form of protection to keep your plants safe from extreme sunlight, so a shade cloth or blind may prove a wise purchase.
It’s vital to moderate the temperature inside your greenhouse for optimum vegetable growing conditions. Automatic roof vents allow hot air to escape without you having to think twice. Requiring no electricity, the vents are fitted with wax-filled cylinders. When the wax heats up, it moves the piston forward, so opening the roof vent. As the wax cools, so the vent closes again.
Rainwater downpipes are a good idea if you want to make use of the water collected from the guttering by channelling it into a water butt. And a greenhouse thermometer is a must for monitoring soil and air temperature and humidity to ensure the very best growing conditions for your vegetables.
Protecting vegetables from overnight frosts is vital, and good insulation and a greenhouse heating system will help you do just that. But if you are growing more exotic vegetables, you’ll generally need to maintain them at a certain temperature continually.
Heating systems for greenhouses are usually controlled via a thermostat, so they only kick in when temperatures fall below a certain level. Other options include soil warming cables and heated propagators. You can read more about greenhouse heating and insulation here.
Here at Surrey Hills, our quality greenhouses come from Britain’s leading manufacturers. All feature toughened glass, as well as a unique capping system to ensure your plants are kept warm and dry. We also supply a range of greenhouse accessories, including plant display staging, fixing kits for hanging baskets, water collection systems, shading and fleeces, together with heating and ventilation solutions.
Why not come along to one of our dedicated show sites and browse our greenhouse collections for yourself? Our helpful experts will be on hand to provide all the advice you need, guiding you through the different styles and models to help you choose the best greenhouse for your vegetable growing venture. Alternatively, you can get in touch to discuss your greenhouse requirements.