Hartley Magazine

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The Potting Shed

The back wall of the potting shed. Tools are hung neatly along the back. The pruners are set out for display, normally they are stored in a flower pot. The LED lights on the lower left are hung over one or two flats of seedlings to help get them started.

If you own a greenhouse, where do you keep your tools and supplies, such as trowels, rakes, scoops, shears, pots, potting soil, fertilizers, pesticides, cleaning gear, and other necessities? All these things collectively take up a lot of space, especially in a small greenhouse. Clutter inside a greenhouse competes with and detracts from the plants, and if it is excessive it can even be unsafe. The solution to this problem is having a potting shed.

These Christmas cactus are in full bloom and the pots will be cleaned and moved indoors to be enjoyed for the next few weeks.

A potting shed doesn’t need to be large, just carefully organized. My potting shed is only 8’ x 4’, but it holds everything I need to work in my greenhouse efficiently. The trick is using the space well. In my potting shed, a wide shelf across one end, with a fluorescent light above it, gives me a comfortable workbench. My hand tools are hung along the wall at the back of this bench, and above the bench are cupboards containing supplies packaged in relatively small-sized bags, boxes, and bottles.  Below the workbench, I put pots and potting soil, as well as heaters not used in summer. On one side there’s a mini fridge to store bulbs and seeds to be forced into bloom during winter. To use every bit of available space, the back of the door has a rack for hanging larger tools, and a shelf over the window holds items infrequently used.

This cymbidium orchid on the work table is about to have to flower stalks staked to prevent them falling over. When the flowers die back, the plant will need to be repotted.

This potting shed, admittedly, is very compact, but everything I need in my greenhouse has a place in it, so I can work there very well.  I can sit on my stool at the workbench or stand in front of it repotting plants, pruning smaller plants, or propagating what I want to grow. If I make a mess, the small space can be easily cleaned up using the wet/dry vac that’s mounted on one of the walls. If the mess is really huge the shop vac can do the job easily.

By installing a grow-light LED light fixture in my potting shed, I can start a flat or two of seedlings there until the plants are large enough to go into the greenhouse.  Because field mice and even birds occasionally get into my greenhouse, I’ve found it best not to start seeds in it. Otherwise, the newly planted seeds are at risk to become dinner for some uninvited guest. Having a secure potting shed in which to start seedlings is particularly helpful for replenishing my small hydroponic system, which requires new plants every two to three weeks.