Greenhouses - Types, Suitability, Cleaning, Heating and Lighting

9th Oct 2004

I don't think I could ever cope with my hobby of gardening without a greenhouse, to me it"s not a luxury, it's a necessity if you are to really excel at it. A greenhouse gives me the opportunity to grow plants that I couldn't possibly even attempt without one. Coupled to that is the sheer pleasure and enjoyment I derive when pricking out my bedding plants with some music from the radio soothing away all my stresses and strains.

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Types of Greenhouses

Greenhouses are not cheap, so do buy wisely and never forget that a good greenhouse will last a lifetime if properly looked after. There are steel greenhouses as well as plastic, aluminium and wood. My recommendation would be for one of the latter two, they are both excellent but each one have different merits. I find the wooden ones, particularly if made from cedar wood, to have a very warm feel about them whilst the aluminium types will never need any maintenance on them. Indeed I have two 12ft by 8ft aluminium houses in my garden and I purchased the first one over 30 years ago and it's still in excellent condition.

Cleaning

This time of the year, before the weather gets too cold, I like to give them a good clear out and a good clean. The last thing you want in a greenhouse over winter are the bugs bedding themselves in the inevitably crannies that you have in them. My first job will be to clear the Tomatoes out as they are now coming to the end of their tether. I find that as the night temperatures continue to drop, so the skin on the tomatoes seem to thicken and toughen and that magic home grown flavour and taste doesn't seem to be there any more.

Any green fruits can of course be used to make Chutney or they can be stored away in a drawer for use later. If you do this make sure that you also have a couple of really ripe ones in there as well, ripe fruit release ethylene gas which helps to colour up all the others. Should you have any other plants in the house, move them temporarily into a nice sunny corner of the garden for a couple of hours. I have washed out my greenhouse for many years now using a product called Armillatox, not only does it clean the greenhouse out leaving it sparkling clean; it smells clinically clean as well. Before you start though, make sure you wear protective clothing including gloves and a head cover, the drips falling from the glass above can be a nuisance to say the least.

Armillatox is a strong and effective cleaner that will, in the course of using it to clean up the glass etc, kill any eggs or grubs that may well be harbouring in the crevices as it has good ovicidal properties. Pour the Armillatox into a bucket at a ratio of 1% (100 to 1) Scrub the product all over the framework and glass and leave to dry. If you have any electrical fittings in there, disconnect them at the mains and also cover over the switches with an old towel and further cover that with a sheet of polythene. I learnt many years ago that water and electricity are certainly not compatible. When you have finished you will have a pest free clean greenhouse that will allow more light in through clean glass resulting in much stronger plants next year.

Heating

If you have an electrical supply close to your greenhouse, it's well worth considering connecting a power supply to it. It will certainly enhance your growing, giving you a much better chance to grow plants that, without proper heat, you'd be struggling with. Think of what you can get when you have the benefits of electricity, a fan heater would be my first essential and I have used the Parwin type for many years, it's very effective, easy to fit parts in when necessary and available at a reasonable outlay.

Next is a propagator followed perhaps by a soil warming cable and thermostat on a bench of sand which will really help you to generate stronger roots on most things early on in the season. If you are going for power, do use a qualified electrical engineer for advice and installation, don't try doing it yourself. The fittings have to be the correct types for use in a damp environment, never use household type power points in any greenhouse, they could be lethal. (picture if needed)

Lighting

If you want a top of the range job, why not go for artificial lights which will really extend you growing season. Good lights are not cheap and the best fittings can cost over £300 but with a Philips lamp, which are considered to be the best horticultural lamps available, there wont be any curtailment to your growing dreams.

Contacts -

Armillatox contact phone - 01773 590 566
Address - 121 Main Road, Morton, Alfreton, Derbyshire DE55 6HL

Philips contact Mr Brian Healy, Tel N0 01159 305 167
email - brianhealy@philips.com

Parwin Fan Heaters 01487 834 630
Address 21 High Haden Road, Glatton, Huntingdon, PE28 5RU


There are steel greenhouses as well as plastic, aluminium and wood. My recommendation would be for one of the latter two, they are both excellent but each one have different merits. I find the wooden ones, particularly if made from cedar wood, to have a very warm feel about them whilst the aluminium types will never need any maintenance on them.
Other 2004 articles of interest

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· The Malvern Autumn Show
· Tomato Troubles and Onions
· Gringo Short Carrots
· National Vegetable Society...
· Seed Catalogues - Potato Lists
· Kelsae and Toughball Onions
· Soil - A Priceless Commodity
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· Growing Your Own Vegetables -...
· Getting Children Involved in...
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· Mix Up with the Mixes!
· Blight Resistant Potatoes

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Prize-winning exhibition vegetable seeds give you the advantage whether growing for show or just for the family. You can see our range of top quality selected seeds and horticultural sundries in our online shop