Every gardener wants a greenhouse, but just what exactly are they used for?
A greenhouse in the garden offers a whole new dimension to the garden. Different gardeners use them in different ways.
Greenhouses have been used for decades by gardeners to extend the growing season at both ends, to cultivate and grow more tender plants and to harness the heat and the light from the sun to bring on their plants.
In late winter and spring the protected environment allows gardeners to start sowing seeds long before they can be sown outside. This gives the plants a head start against later sown seeds and provides the gardener with a very valuable earlier harvest. By staggering sowing times, you can create a continuous crop of something, extending its season of harvest and offering fresh ingredients for a longer period under glass. The same applies to later sowings that can continue cropping right into autumn providing precious food crops late in the season.
Ask any gardener what they want to grow in their greenhouse and the chances are tomatoes, chillies and peppers will be mentioned. Now all these crops can be grown out doors too, but a greenhouse gives them more than a head start. These plants all hail from hotter climes and this can be replicated in a greenhouse. You can sow them earlier so they will flower and crop sooner than plants grown outside. The greenhouse is a protected environment that creates the warmth and humidity that these plants require. It also protects them from some pests and diseases such as blight and flying insects. The greenhouse warmth helps to ripen fruits on the vine so that you can pick them at their peak and enjoy their sun rich flavour.
By harnessing the power of the sun under glass the warmth inside your glasshouse can be used in a variety of ways. You can use it to warm your seed compost before sowing so that you seeds get the very best possible start. You can use it to warm the water before you water your plants, to reduce cold shock and stress.
You can use the warmth of the greenhouse to dry onions and garlic after harvesting and before storing. You can dry seeds, herbs, and flower heads or even kindling and firewood.
You can even hang your gardening coat, hat and gloves inside the greenhouse and allow the warmth to dry them after a rain shower.
A greenhouse is much more than a place to grow plants. It quickly becomes the focal point of the whole garden and a haven away from the hustle and bustle of life. But it can also make huge inroads in the costs of your groceries, not just financially but also in terms of your health, plus you will be reducing your carbon foot print, lessening your food miles and keeping fit too. You can choose to grow your plants organically, raising not just their inherent value but also increasing their health benefits. And you will have fresh ingredients to hand whenever you need them.
If you are the only gardener in the family then the greenhouse becomes your own special space where you can raise plants, store a few gardening accessories and site a chair for thinking and reading time. The sloping glass harnesses the solar rays and warms the inside of the glasshouse so that the interior is always warmer than outside. The greenhouse protects your plants (and you) from the wind and the rain and keeps them dry. It can also be sectioned off so that an inner area can be kept slightly warmer or used to house a cold frame, heated soil cable or even a heated propagator to raise seeds or cuttings from tender perennials. Even in the cold the greenhouse is still a haven within the garden away from the harsh winter winds and the chaos without.