hello all, this is my first posting on this forum, as i only joined a
few minutes ago. i would like to say at the outset , that i know very
little about growing plants , flowers , etc. i just bought a 6x6
greenhouse, and i need a lot of help and advise, i basically just want
to grow my own flowers for my hanging baskets,for my home ,and my
caravan. i would like to also, fill a lot of boxes , and things like
that. i have been reading various articles about green housing,and i
want to know what is the cheapest form of heating my greenhouse? and
what is the best form of heating for the plants ?Would i need to put in
heating, if i was going to use under soil heating cables ? What are the
best plants to grow for hanging baskets? considering that i am a
complete novice. Also , what would be , the easiest veg to grow in a
green house,just to give me confidence, to start of? I would appreciate
any help and advise that anyone could give me , on starting up my first
Yours Kindly Paul
First things first, where are you located?
Where I live we have pretty mild winters with a few real cold spells.
We used an electric heater with a thermometer and kept the green house
above freezing. I was able to keep tomatoes, peas and lettuce over 2
As for plants to grow get online and start looking at seed catalogs.
There are tons. Pick out what you like and go from there.
A pile of manure.
How to use manure
No matter what kind of manure you use, use it as a soil amendment, not a
mulch. In other words, don't put raw manure directly on garden soils.
Raw manure generally releases nitrogen compounds and ammonia which can
burn plant roots, young plants and interfere with seed germination. In
fact, it's recommended that all animal manure should be aged for at
least 6 months. Many gardeners spread fresh manure in the fall and turn
it in to the top 6 inches of soil a month before spring planting.
A better treatment is to hot-compost manure before applying it to the
garden. Hot composting, where the pile reaches at least 150 degrees F)
helps to reduce the probability of passing dangerous pathogens on to
people who handle the manure or eat food grown with manure compost. (For
more information about compost, read my Compost Happens! article.)
The smaller the greenhouse, the more the day/night heat difference is without
artificial heat or thermal storage. Depending on what you want to grow
and where you are in the world, you often can grow cool season crops like
lettuce or pansies just fine in an unheated greenhouse. I'm assuming
from the gardenbanter address that you're in the UK; I'm writing to you
from the PNW US; my area has a temperature regime much like London.
The big problem with greenhouse growing is overheating in the day, chilling
at night. There are several ways to overcome this -- vents and automatic
vent openers help with overheating, and a fan or two helps counter pockets of
stagnant air in the greenhouse. With a small house, some old computer fans
tied to small solar panels can do this for you cheaply. If you don't have
electronic junk around, a regular electric fan works nicely.
The cheapest controlled way is to heat the plants instead of the air: root zone
heating. You put the pots or flats on heating cables or a hot water
circulation system on a bench that has insulation underneath it. With this
system of growth, the roots tend to develop quickly, while top growth is
retarded, resulting in compact plants.
The less controlled way is to use a thermal fly wheel -- big containers of
water or rock, usually under the benches, that absorb solar heat during
the day, and gently release it at night. With a small house like yours,
this can be quite doable unless you get long spells of cool and dark.
Sizing the amount of thermal storage can be complex, and depends on the
insulation value of the "glass" in the greenhouse, air leaks, how the house
is situated, and the general climate. In the winter here we have many
overcast or rainy days, not so many bright ones, so a thermal fly wheel
may not do well for you this season, but may be something you want to
investigate in the future.
And, as someone has said, you can use biological heat --typically manure or a
compost pile -- for heating. But in such a small house, the amount of space
you need for that may be prohibitive.
Can you get electricity to the house? If so, what I'd suggest is starting
fairly small for this year, and using thermostatically controlled electric
heating cables under the pots or flats on one side of the greenhouse, and a
second bench that isn't heated. Try the same species on both sides of the
greenhouse and see which side is better for those species under your growing
conditions. If the heating cable plants are growing well and the unheated
bench sides aren't, a second heating cable isn't an expensive purchase.
On the other hand, if the crops on the unheated bench are doing better, you
can always unplug your first cable. Much of this is going to be site
specific, and species specific.
Another choice is to use the greenhouse to carry over stock plants like
big geraniums or impatiens, then use those plants to propagate new ones
from cuttings. If you've got one or two plants you're carrying over inside
your home, try taking some cuttings and see how they do in the greenhouse.
This can be an excellent way to get fast color in the garden by producing
Were you my neighbor, the first thing we'd do is to put in automatic venting
of some kind, and a couple of small fans to help circulate the air (it helps
keep fungal diseases down). Then we'd plant 6" pots of lettuce, radish,
tomato, pansy, marigold, impatiens, green peppers, and make some geranium
cuttings from one of my held over plants. And then we'd see how they did
for you. If you're going to grow seedlings, I'd suggest using room temperature
water rather than the cold water that comes out of the hose. Often the easiest
thing to do is to put a bucket or two of water in the greenhouse and allow it
to equilibrate with the greenhouse, then water from the bucket.
I'd also suggest you find a quick-reading thermometer (the instant-read
sort that are used to check the holding temperatures of food in restaurants
are good) and measure the air temperatures in the house at the level of the
plants and the soil temperatures in the pots several times a day. That way
you start building a picture of what's going in the greenhouse.
Enjoy your greenhouse and spend the time to figure out what works for you.
Don't expect results that look like the RHS garden show or the greenhouses
at Kew. The first year, triumph may be keeping half the plants alive and
ready to transplant in the spring, and a light cutting of early lettuce and
a few radishes.
And fwiw, Graham Rice has some nice books on growing from seed, and his website
will be helpful to you, too.
The time for thinking about power requirements is before you build
it. Hopefully you do not follow the manure idea, not much difference
in the idea and the material, especially for a 6x.
Kay gives good advice ,let it grow on you. You will adopt and adapt
ideas ,views, etc. for what works for you as you go along but do know
there is a terrible gardening tax on supplies, equipment and tools,
along with a coopful of mythology so read many sources on what you
want to do and seperate fact from fiction oh and ask many
questions,its how you learn.
Here are two wishbooks so as to see what's out there, spendy, but
gives some leads for you to google for prices.
Stay simple. Decide what you want to do the first year, hanging or
flats and do that well.
Easiest to start. try spring herbs and mesclun, summer your outside
then setting up for fall kales, greens, etc
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