Winter is a great time to think about installing a greenhouse in your garden – whether you want to start seedlings, grow plump tomatoes, or protect tender plants – and there are models to suit every budget.
If you have the time to reassemble them, there are often bargain second-hand ones to be had in online neighborhood groups.
Whether you are after a classic glasshouse for a larger garden or a mini greenhouse for a smaller patch, a little planning now will ensure it lasts for years.
THE RIGHT BUILD
The first thing to think about is what you want your greenhouse to be made from.
Aluminum frames are popular because they are light and durable and now come in a range of paint colors, from olive to grey.
Sheltered spot: Good planning will help ensure your new addition lasts for years (file photo)
Metal frames also tend to be narrower, letting in more light. Wooden frames can look attractive but require a higher degree of maintenance and are often thicker, casting greater shade.
When it comes to glazing, toughened glass lets in more light and does not degrade.
Polycarbonate sheeting is cheaper and more resistant to breakage, but only lets in 83 percent of daylight, making it a less preferable option for seedlings. Next, consider what size is right for you.
A 6ft by 8ft model will fit in most gardens, but if you only have a small space, there are plenty of mini greenhouses on the market.
These often consist of light frames with plastic covers, although wooden versions are available. They may need to be secured as they are more likely to blow over and the covers don’t let in much light, so in hot weather, the temperature inside can soar.
Cold frames can be a good alternative. These are metal or wooden boxes low to the ground with lids that can be propped open. Most are unheated, but you can fit a heating element underneath during winter.
Choosing the right spot for your greenhouse is vital. Select one that is protected from high winds by a fence or hedge, and away from tall trees to prevent damage from falling branches. The base must be completely level.
Some models can be fitted onto soil, while others require a hard-standing base. If you want to grow plants straight into the ground, make sure you allow for this.
EAST-WEST IS BEST
An east-west orientation is best for good light year-round. If you get a lot of light and want to protect plants during the hottest hours of the day, consider a north-south placement.
If possible, leave space around the perimeter for easy access for cleaning. Ventilation is also key.
If you can, choose a greenhouse that has inbuilt vents on the roof and sides. You can get automatic systems that use mineral wax, which expands and contracts as the temperature changes, operating a piston that opens and closes the vents.
Winter is a good time to give your greenhouse a thorough clean and make repairs. Take out the contents, then wash the glazing with soap and water and allow it to dry before replacing.
Wash and dry staging, pots, and trays before replacing them. Before you know it, the time will come to start filling your greenhouse with new plants.