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White Cottage’s Ultimate Greenhouse Guide

08th June 2017

greenhouse, growing, tomatoes, under cover,
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White Cottage answers all you need to know questions about greenhouses, including where to position them, the importance of ventilation and what crops to grow inside.

What are the advantages of using a greenhouse to grow crops?

A greenhouse can significantly extend the growing season, and not just for plants that need to stay under cover. Sprouts, cabbage, onions and peas can all be sown under glass in late winter or early spring – to be planted out later when warmer weather arrives. As these crops go out into the garden they make way for ready grown tomatoes, peppers and later harvesting lettuce as well as other salad leaves. If you want new potatoes at Christmas, use a heated greenhouse and plant them out in late summer.

What position is best to place a greenhouse in your garden to get maximum benefit from it?

A south facing aspect will ensure your greenhouse benefits as much as possible from the sun. Try to avoid putting it under a tree as this will block out the light and also drop leaves or needles onto the roof, which will need cleaning off. It’s best to catch the maximum amount of sunlight with the greenhouse and then control the temperature through ventilation. Scorching tender plants in the summer sun can be a problem however, so look at using shading to protect them.

Apart from space available what other factors do people need to consider when buying a greenhouse?

Most people grow many plants from seed in a greenhouse so staging and shelving are an essential feature. Consider how many trays you’ll need and don’t forget about storing all your other bits and pieces too. The space beneath the staging can be a great storage area for spare pots, tools, compost and other items especially in a greenhouse with a dwarf wall where it’s all relatively well hidden. Consider saving some floor space so that tomatoes and other tall crops can be grown either in grow bags or directly from the ground and don’t forget to leave some space for yourself! A carefully positioned chair in the greenhouse can be ideal place to spend the cooler summer evenings.

Why is it important to make sure greenhouses have appropriate ventilation?

Ventilation in a greenhouse is vital – not only to keep it cool in the summer, but also to allow for natural air changes that are necessary to prevent the development of diseases, such as mildew and botrytis. These fungal infections are normally caused by overly wet conditions and standing water. Keeping your greenhouse well ventilated, even in winter, can greatly reduce the chance of these problems occurring.

If you only had space in your greenhouse to grow one or two crops which would you suggest?

With only limited space in the greenhouse you’d probably want to grow something that you couldn’t grow successfully anywhere else – I’d probably go with tomatoes. You’re unlikely to get them to ripen out of the greenhouse, particularly up here in the north of England. I’d try to start as many plants off in there as I could before moving them outside and making space for other crops. Don’t be afraid of trying to grow more exotic crops too. Maintaining a temperature of 4°C in the greenhouse means lemons and tangerines will survive even through the winter.

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