- A greenhouse is a shelter – for you and your plants during the winter and in poor weather
- A greenhouse is a starter home – for seedlings and cuttings until they are ready to venture out into the big wide world
- A greenhouse is a climate-defying zone – where you can grow things that won’t grow outside and allows you to greatly extend the growing season
- A greenhouse is a refuge – where you can get away from your busy life and think green thoughts
The opportunity to garden even in poor weather is not to be underestimated. If you are a keen gardener weeks of rain, frozen ground, snowfalls and sudden downpours will all interfere with what you want to do. Even the smallest greenhouse will offer you a place where you can get on with the business of gardening without the need to wait for better weather. It also provides shelter for tender and half hardy plants – instead of buying new ones each year, or trying to keep them alive in the hot and dry atmosphere of your house they can happily tick over in the greenhouse during the winter months.
A greenhouse allows you to steal a march on spring, sowing seeds several weeks ahead of the arrival of suitable conditions outdoors. This is true even in an unheated greenhouse as many seeds do not need particularly high temperatures to germinate. It also allows you to sow hardy annuals in the autumn so that they can grow strong roots over winter and be ready to plant out early in the following spring, meaning that they also flower much earlier. You can extend still further the range of seeds that you can sow before the main growing season begins by having a propagator of some description in the greenhouse.
While a good summer will allow you to grow tender vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and aubergines outdoors, a bad summer can be a very dispiriting business. All that hard work can come to a few measly specimens and you may end up wondering why you bothered. A greenhouse is your insurance against such disappointment – provided of course that you care for the plants properly. Within the protection of the greenhouse your plants can be sown and planted out earlier, resulting in a better and fully ripened crop. Use growbags and you can grow the same crop year after year without fear of a build up of disease in the soil. And once the tender vegetables have finished cropping they can be replaced with cool temperature vegetables such as spinach, swiss chard, rocket and oriental salads that can be picked throughout the winter, whatever the weather.
One of the greatest pleasures of being a gardener is the time that you spend on your own in the garden. It’s when you (literally) earth yourself and engage with the natural surroundings in a way that isn’t always possible in the rest of your life. This is also true of a greenhouse – it’s seldom a place where you go to be sociable – except with plants. As your hands are occupied with sowing seeds, potting-on plants, or taking cuttings, your problems come into perspective or drift away. It’s difficult to be depressed in a greenhouse – unless there has been a horticultural disaster – and even then it is easier to view it as a natural process. Much is made of the shed being the ultimate refuge from modern life – and if all you want to do is hide then it probably is – but for a gardener the greenhouse has so much more to offer. Spend the afternoon in the greenhouse and you can be sowing next summers flowers, potting up plants to give as presents, or harvesting herbs and salads in the middle of winter – trying doing that in a shed!
It’s not just plants that appreciate the protection of a greenhouse – before long less welcome living things will inevitably take up residence too. In ...More »