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As part of January’s End of Month View post I suggested that I might do a monthly post on my greenhouse.  I don’t think greenhouses get much coverage anywhere in the media, which I think is a real pity.  The response to my suggestion implied I wasn’t alone in this feeling.  So I have decided that I shall do a monthly meme on the 20th of the month on my greenhouse.

2014_02160029So let me introduce you to the greenhouse.  It is probably the smallest freestanding greenhouse you can get – 6′ x 4′.  It’s an aluminium frame and due to its smallness has  no vents or louvres.  The greenhouse  is positioned on my patio about 3 steps from the back door and backs onto the wall that holds the garden up.  It isn’t the optimum location for a greenhouse but there are few flat areas in my garden without a lot of digging and levelling to there wasnt much choice and its location to the house means I have electricity in the greenhouse and its easy to access at all times of the year.  I am trying to remember how long I have had the greenhouse and I think its five or six years and I have never regretted the purchase, my only regret is that it isn’t bigger but there is no room for something bigger there and I have now given up the only other possible location to my son for his workshop.

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My greenhouse works hard, I even did a blog post for Notcutts entitled ‘The hardest working greenhouse’.  It is in use all year round and is kept frost-free with a small electric heater.  I currently have two different types of staging – one slatted bench and one with gravel trays.  If I was starting again I think I would go for two gravel trays as to me they are so much more adaptable.  I find them hugely beneficial for keeping humidity levels up but also I find that seeds germinate well in this environment. The gravel also holds the moisture longer and helps water plants, drawing down their roots.  I also have a heated tray which fits into one of the trays to help with germination and propagation but I haven’t used it in the last year as I find it does dry out the compost very quickly.  Of course you don’t need to have gravel in the trays if you don’t want to.

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One the other side of the greenhouse I have slatted staging which was the original staging and works OK.  However, I find myself frustrated as they allow water to drip down from the top layer to the one below so I don’t like placing seed trays or succulents on this layer which restricts its use a lot.  Personally, I find that the plants on the gravel tray staging do much better.

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I did have a potting bench in the gap between the two sets of staging but this has moved in the last month to my new potting station in the garage.  Removing it has opened up the limited floor space meaning that I can overwinter larger tender plants here.  I was going to put some gravel tray  staging in this gap but now I am thinking a shelf or two on the back wall would be more useful and would help me retain the floor space.

I have such a range of interests in plants that need the greenhouse at some time in their life that it is hard to come up with the ultimate solution especially in such a small space.  Currently, as you can see from the photos, it is used for overwintering succulents, pelargoniums, chrysanthemums, agapanthus, and bulbines.  There are also autumn sown seedlings and a few early trays of seeds.   Over the coming months this will all change.  However, this year I will not be emptying half the greenhouse out to accommodate tomatoes or cucumbers as I have decided that this isn’t really where my heart is.

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I am still working out how to accommodate my bulb collection and alpines.  I have two cold frames and have been using those for these plants and I might continue to do this. It’s all a juggling game and I need to do some more research into whether the bulbs need heat during their dormant period or not.

So welcome to my greenhouse, I hope you enjoy popping in each month for a look-see.

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