Whether or not your garden design includes a greenhouse, read on. Any garden, however small, can house a glass structure of some type. Any greenhouse, however small, will add a brand new dimension to a garden.
All sorts of shapes and a wide range of sizes can be found, but the basic difference between one type and another will be the minimum temperature at which it is kept. The cold house is the easiest – no artificial means of heat are provided and so in the depths of winter the temperature can fall below freezing (33 deg. F). Despite this vulnerability to frost, the cold house extends the growing season by trapping the sun’s heat through the day. This allows you to work protected from the elements with plants that are sheltered from the wind and rain. You and your plants can enjoy day temperatures which are substantially higher than the warmth outside.
Tomatoes are the favorite crop, through the rest of the year there are cuttings to consider, seeds to raise and vegetables to force on. The range of the unheated greenhouse is limited. You can not grow frost-sensitive plants between late autumn and mid-spring unless you supply warmth. The usual practice is to transform it into a cool house (minimum temperature of 45 deg. F) and so open an entirely new world. Now ‘greenhouse plants’ may be grown – Palms, Orchids, Fuchsias and so on. Half-hardy bedding plants can be raised for your garden and a year-round display of blooms can be created for either greenhouse or living room. The installation of a heater transforms growing under glass into a year-round activity.
An average-sized greenhouse (8 ft long x 6 ft wide) would cost somewhere in the region of 200 – 300 if staging etc. is to be fitted. Before making this investment, carefully think about the points not made in most textbooks. Constant attention is needed, and this means every single day through the summer months. There is watering, feeding, ventilating, misting and so on to do. There’s also the fuel – keeping an 8 x 6 ft. house at a minimum of 45 deg. F will cost over 100 during an average winter.
The purpose of the previous paragraph is not to discourage you, it is avoiding adding to the number of greenhouses owned by people with limited time to spare who after a year or two allows the structure to become a home for pots, boxes and various pieces of household equipment.
On a far more encouraging note, most people who buy a greenhouse tend to run out of space for all the exciting things they want to grow. For them, there is a different warning. If you have the time, money and are keen on growing things – buy the next size bigger than you have planned! Keep it as a cool house – the attraction of having a warm house (minimum temperature 55 – 60 deg. F) for exotics is clear, but your fuel bill could be as high as 300 per year. unfortunately, stove houses (minimum temperature of 65 deg. F) have almost disappeared.