Greenhouse growing - tips for beginners

The British weather isn't always kind to gardeners but with a greenhouse it's possible to grow a wide range of plants, fruit and vegetables without worrying about the ever-changing forecast. If you are looking to expand your growing capabilities, here are some basic tips that will help you make the most of your greenhouse.

Tips for greenhouse beginners
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What to buy

It is best to buy the largest greenhouse you can reasonably afford, depending on the available space and any planning restrictions. As any garden shed-owner will know, the area will be readily filled when you begin so opting for the biggest you can get is usually best.

A space-saving idea for greenhouse beginners is to go for the lean-to type rather than a freestanding structure and these have the added advantage of using heat from the wall of the house. Ventilation is essential to control temperature so vents either in the roof or along the lower walls should ensure air circulates within. If you struggle to maintain humidity, keeping large water containers inside the greenhouse will help to keep the level steady.

Position your greenhouse out of very windy areas if possible and beware of trees that will cast shade and may damage the structure. Some suggest that the long side of the greenhouse should face south but this is not essential.

What to grow
Whatever you like! A greenhouse is a great place to start off your vegetables or seedlings and its warmth and protection can open up a world of more exotic plants. Melons, cucumbers, sweet peppers, tomatoes and strawberries are just a few of the delicious crops you could be growing this summer, free from the fear of an unexpected frost.

Of course, many of your greenhoused seeds and seedlings will eventually go out into the big wide world but it is still possible to dig up some plants, such as peppers, and bring them inside to carry on producing as the weather turns chillier.

Caring for your plants
Assuming you have the temperature and humidity under control, the most important item that will ensure healthy, happy plants is water. Invest in a water butt to collect rainwater as this provides a (usually) plentiful supply and, because it is warmer than the flow from a tap, won't send your roots into shock!

And remember - just because your plants are indoors, it doesn't mean they are completely safe from nasties. Keep an eye on caterpillar and slug activity as they may be attracted by the conditions inside the greenhouse (regular tidying up may discourage slugs as they prefer shady spaces). A simple solution, however, is to encourage all those friendly, neighbourhood bugs such as bees, spiders and butterflies, by growing some flowers as well as those sumptuous veggies.

Do you have any tips for greenhouse novices? Let us know below...