How to choose your greenhouse
A greenhouse offers you a way to extend the joy of gardening. Once you are inside, warm and dry, it doesn’t matter if it is windy or rainy outside. Inside this protected environment, plants grow, dependent upon your skill and attention.
What do you want in a greenhouse?
Once you have decided to build a greenhouse, your next decision is to what you want. Think about these factors to help you decide:
- What will I use the greenhouse for?
- Do I want a large or small greenhouse?
- Do I want the greenhouse to be the main garden attraction?
- What is the climate like where I will locate it?
Thrive or survive?
Are you building it so that your plants can grow and produce fruit or are you just wanting your plants to survive? The most fundamental factor to consider is the type of greenhouse in terms of temperature.
Do you want a hot greenhouse, where higher temperatures are maintained to grow tropical plants? Do you intend to have a cold greenhouse, where additional heat is not required, and you use it to extend the growing season but not to winter plants? Or do you want a cool space where some added warmth will allow you to grow many plant types in an environment that may have lower temperatures, but never freezes?
The size and shape will be determined by what you want to grow in your greenhouse. If you are only interested in using the greenhouse for starting garden seedlings, a small greenhouse may be all you need.
If you want to grow tomatoes, cucumbers and melons, then you need a sun-catching tall greenhouse, with the volume to support plants from the floor to the top. Low growing crops like lettuce and strawberries will do quite well in a low inexpensive hoop or tunnel style.
The greenhouse size is partly dependent on what you plan to grow. It is also dependent on the space you have available and your budget. Traditional greenhouses are most useful if they are plumbed and have access to power for lighting and heat. Smaller ones can be as simple and inexpensive as a movable plastic mini-greenhouse or a poly tunnel set up over a raised bed.
If it is intended to be a main attraction in the yard, then a more traditional style and a larger size are desirable. It can be an attached pre-fabricated sun-room type or a lean-to on a south or west facing house or detached garage wall. Both these types have the advantage of easy linking to domestic central heating, water and power.
It can also be a free-standing metal or wood framed and glazed house. These come in a variety of sizes and styles, from curved roof types to domes to Dutch style with sloping glass sides and roof. Look for a greenhouse with good ventilation and staging for plants. Flooring should be both attractive and practical, such as concrete or brick.
Climate must be taken into consideration when siting any greenhouse. A lean-to type has many advantages. It will use the adjoining wall as a heat sink so fuel bills are less. If you live in a windy area, then it will be worth it to buy or build a solid and sturdy structure. If you have hot dry summers, then place it where it can be shaded from the mid-day sun by trees or other buildings.
Regardless of the style or type of greenhouse you build, you will have your own private world, isolated from the weather and your work-day concerns.
One of the gardeners’ enemies are days where it is too cold, wet or miserable to work in the garden. Greenhouses are the answer! I hope this inspires you to research more about how to use greenhouses to extend your season.
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