If you want to live a more sustainable life, one of the big ideas is to grow some of your own food. You can easily grow herbs on your windowsill, but the key to growing more, even with a small garden, is a greenhouse.
The choice out there is overwhelming, so how do you pick the right greenhouse for your needs now and into the future?
Why have a greenhouse?
A lot of the time, you can grow much of the food you want in the garden with plant pots, raised beds and even just straight into the soil. But there are some reasons to consider adding a greenhouse:
- Extends the growing season – having a greenhouse lets you start growing earlier and keep growing later in the year than just in the garden because it is protected from the weather
- All year production – you can even grow some foods over winter or prepare them for early spring crops
- Plants are protected from pests – it is easier to use natural pest control in a greenhouse and avoid those airborne and soil pests that can wreck your crops
- Sustainable planting – you can collect seeds from your plants to grow more plants next year, meaning you don’t need to keep buying new plants every year
Before you buy a greenhouse, there are some major considerations to use to help you make an informed choice.
- Where will it go?
Often, the size and shape of your garden will play a big part in the greenhouse you can add to it. You want to make sure it is located somewhere that gets the right amount of sunlight and is also easy to access. You might also want to put it away from the main garden area where you sit and enjoy your time outside – greenhouses aren’t always the prettiest things to look at! Also, consider any local authority rules about outbuildings.
- What’s your budget?
Another top issue is how much you have to spend on the greenhouse. Remember that buying the structure itself is just one part. You also need the equipment to put in it and plants to grow. You may also need extras such as an irrigation system, temperature controls and other extras. So make sure you can afford all of the things you need before you decide on a greenhouse.
- What will it be used for?
Once you know how much space you have, having some ideas about what you want to grow is the next step. If you can only have a small greenhouse, then what you use it for will be limited so you need to prioritise on the most important foods that you use the most. Larger greenhouses give you more scope to grow more.
- What type of greenhouse do you want?
The other big consideration is the type of greenhouse and the style – because there are different ones. For starters, you can go with either glass or plastic for the glazing. Plastic tends to be more affordable than glass and less prone to breaking but glass is better to conduct that sunlight. You can also get wood and aluminium frames with wood sometimes being cheaper but requiring more upkeep. Glass works well with aluminium and plastic works well with wood.
Armed with information from these major considerations, you can start looking at some of the other things that might need to factor into your plans.
One of the big ones is the construction of the greenhouse. Are you a keen DIY fan who can put it up yourself or will you need someone to do it for you? If it is the latter, remember to leave some of the budgets for this.
Another issue is how will you water the plants in the greenhouse? Water is key to success with growing your own food. There’s nothing wrong with a simple watering can system but if you have a bigger greenhouse, you might want to consider an integrated irrigation system to do the hard work for you.
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