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The Greenhouse Guide - From Planting to Maintenance

Sometimes, especially in Scotland, the garden is unable to provide suitable growing conditions for what you need and want. A bitter summer or a frosty spring can potentially ruin your crop of tomatoes or potatoes. So what can we do? Should we stop growing food altogether and rely on the processed supermarket alternatives? Of course not! This is the time to invest in a greenhouse, especially a heated one, for all-year growth. This article will be your greenhouse guide, looking at which vegetables to plant in a greenhouse, when to plant them, and how to maintain the greenhouse all year round.

To begin, where do you put your greenhouse? You want it placed somewhere convenient (assuming you don't want an impromptu obstacle course blocking the path) and on level ground. Most importantly is placing it somewhere most frequented by sunlight. Orientate it from east to west so that it captures both the rising and the setting rays.

Make sure there are no trees or bushes casting shade across the glass panels. This will reduce sunlight and carries the risk of falling branches and leaves causing damage.

Intense heat might not be a huge problem in Scotland but be prepared: have shading ready to cover the greenhouse to stop plants getting burned. Install a ventilation system for the circulation of cooler air so that plants can maintain an ideal temperature.

During the colder months, since even a greenhouse will struggle to keep warm, consider installing a heating system. This will allow all year growth and silence the worries of declining sunlight.

Once the greenhouse is positioned and fully assembled (the instructions of which will be contained in the packaging) you can begin planting.

Plan in advance. Use all the space available as efficiently as possible. If there is room, consider everything from pots and benches (for seedlings) to growbags and even small sleepers. Before planting anything, make sure all the containers have been thoroughly cleaned. Contamination can be fatal for plant life.

When it comes to planting the seeds themselves, follow the instructions on the packet. Everything below is a very general guideline to all vegetables.

When planting anything, make sure the seeds are placed in the optimal soil. Unsure which plants thrive best in which soil? Take a look at this article on the different types of soil in the garden:

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To begin, let seeds germinate in the springtime. Plant them in soil and place them on a windowsill bathed in sunlight, or in a heated propagator in the greenhouse, and allow them to grow. Provide them with water while this process is happening.

Once the seeds have germinated ââ?¬â?? you will know this has occurred once small shoots are protruding from the soil ââ?¬â?? move them somewhere light and warm, continuing to water and tend them.

Finally, as the plants become sturdy and root bearing, move them into their final positions, preferably in the greenhouse.

Following these few simple steps, alongside additional ones from your plant provider, will ensure a healthy growth.

Why plant vegetables in a greenhouse instead of the garden? In a greenhouse, tender and weaker plants ââ?¬â?? including cucumber and tomatoes ââ?¬â?? will stand a fighting chance. Exotic plants such as okra and melon will be able to thrive too. Not only this, but a greenhouse can allow an earlier harvest, autumn planting and an early start on hardy vegetables.

Which vegetables should be planted when? Below is a rough guide to which vegetables should be planted in which months. Of course, as always, double check with your seed provider.

February ââ?¬â?? March

Here is a previous article on planting winter vegetables as an additional guide:

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Some of these crops will be moved outside when the warmer weather arrives.

April ââ?¬â?? May

Many of the above plants are delicate and should be handles with care under very specific, definitely warm, conditions. Consider partitioning an area of the greenhouse specifically for these more tender plants.

July ââ?¬â?? August

September ââ?¬â?? October

When you are planting each of these, be sure to remember their harvesting times. Usually something which is planted and grown in one season will be harvested the next. That is to say that a winter crop of potatoes should be ready by mid to late spring, assuming they have been grown under the right conditions. Again, always consult the seed packet.

For climbing vegetables, make sure they have a bamboo rod, or something strong, to climb around.

Vegetables are not the only thing which can be grown in a greenhouse. Consider placing some more tropical, or at least warm weather loving, plants in there too. Here are a few to consider:

And that's it. Everything is now planting and thriving in you brand new greenhouse. You'll be provided with wonderful flowers and delicious vegetables all year round.

The final step to greenhouse glory is maintenance.

Regulating temperature is, of course, vital. Installing a heating system is important, as is a cooling one. This could mean building a ventilation system or installing a fan. Circulating clean air will not only aid the growth of the plants by keeping a steady temperature, but it will reduce the risk of disease.

Always be on the lookout for pests, rot and disease. Purge any plants displaying these symptoms before they infect the others. Thoroughly wash all contaminated surfaces with an anti-pest soap. In fact, make sure to wash the greenhouse itself regularly (although not so much as to harm the plants themselves).

Constantly be on the watch for snails and slugs attempts to munch your plants into nothingness. Remove them as soon as they are discovered.

Another way to stop pests is by allowing spiders and ladybugs to roam free inside the greenhouse. Our idea of a pest is their idea of a free lunch.

Finally, keep the outside of the greenhouse clean. Sunlight-blocking grime will negatively impact growth, yet can be easily remedied with a bucket of soapy water and a sponge.

Maintaining the greenhouse will make sure growth is optimal all year round.

And that's the Fraser C. Robb Guide to Greenhouses.

By Dylan Blyth.

  • Tomatoes.
  • Peppers (Red, Yellow and Green, as well as spicy).
  • Chillies.
  • Brussel Sprouts.
  • Onions.
  • Peas.
  • Cabbage.
  • Leeks.
  • Squashes.
  • Cucumbers.
  • Courgettes.
  • French Beans.
  • Melons.
  • Sweetcorn.
  • Basil.
  • Lettuce.
  • Salad Leaves.
  • Baby Carrots.
  • Potatoes (Second crop).
  • Hardy lettuces.
  • Peas (Second crop).
  • Broad beans.
  • Roses.
  • Lilies.
  • Chinese Hibiscus.
  • Orchids. (Orchids are sensitive both to the cold and the warm. Regulate their temperature not only with a heater, but with a ventilation or fan system).

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