The site for a greenhouse should always be as open and sunny as possible. All plants must have adequate light and it is easy enough to shade when required. Plenty of sun means free heating and even in winter a little sun filtering through, the clouds will shoot up the greenhouse temperature.

greenhouse site

However, many popular decorative and conservatory pot plants prefer shady and cool condition. If it is proposed to grow these only, a shady site, such as a conservatory or lean-to against a north facing wall, may be found suitable. When frames are used in conjunction with the greenhouse, and to take over some of the shorter plants, they too can be sited in some shade.

Usually the north side of a greenhouse is convenient. However, a site near trees is to be avoided in all cases. Trees soil the glass or plastic with exuded gums and falling leaves, and also harbor pests and diseases. Small ornamentals are alright at a reasonable distance.

A fence or hedge suitably placed may also act as a wind break. A site in a hollow is also to be avoided if possible. It can become waterlogged and a frost pocket in icy weather. It is useful not to have the greenhouse too far from the dwelling. A lean-to that can be entered from the house is often a delightful place for ornamentals.

When the greenhouse is near, it is easier to run electricity or even to extend the domestic central heating to the greenhouse. A water tap can be fitted with little trouble.

Basic Equipment for Running a Greenhouse

Although much can be done with an unheated greenhouse, its range will be greatly increased by some form of heating-even just enough to keep out frost. The most extensively used heater is the simple paraffin wick type, but it must always be employed in conjunction with some ventilation to allow air in and for any fumes to escape.

The same applies to natural gas heaters with no flue. Both these fuels need air for proper combustion. They both evolve considerable water vapor, and unless there is reasonable ventilation this can cause much condensation.

Hot water pipes can be used, preferably where higher temperatures are required. The boilers can be heated by solid fuel, paraffin oil, waste car sump oil, fuel oil, or natural gas. Electricity is not recommended in this case, since immersion heaters consume too much electricity.

Modern hot water pipe systems are simple to install, and lightweight aluminum pipes have replaced the old very heavy cast iron. Properly used, electricity is practical and should compare favorably in price with other fuels. This is because it allows extremely accurate thermostatic control and none need be wasted.

basic greenhouse equipment

Most other fuels may seem cheaper, but they cannot be consumed to give their theoretical full heat output. The best electric heater is the fan type. However, this should have a fan that comes on only with the heat and does not run continuously. A separate rod type thermostat is also preferable to the built-in type, and gives much more accurate control.

A little extra spent on a good quality accurate thermostat is a wise investment, and will soon recover its cost in lower fuel bills. Electric heating tubes are also reasonably economical on fuel, provided they are not set too near the greenhouse sides.

They are best well distributed around the greenhouse and not all banked in one place as is so often seen. Again, they should be used in conjunction with an accurate thermostat. It is of the utmost importance to choose a heater that will cope with severe cold spells and maintain the minimum temperature you require.

If a supplier of heating equipment is given the size and type of greenhouse you have, details of constructional materials, and lowest outside temperature expected together with the minimum inside temperature required, an assessment of the heater rating will be made and recommended.

The rating is usually in watts for electricity and British Thermal Units per hour for other fuels. Whatever fuel is decided on, it is wise to have a paraffin heater handy in case of breakdowns and, in these days, strikes.

Staging is sold as an extra, but is often useful especially where pot plants are grown. Portable separate staging can be obtained, which can be moved about or put up and taken down to suit growing needs.

The staging top is best covered with polythene and a layer of grit kept moist for the summer months. This helps to maintain a damp atmosphere which the plants like. In winter, dry conditions are preferable and the covering is best allowed to go dry or taken off altogether.

If the staging is topped with slats or wire mesh, a better air circulation will take place during the winter months which helps to keep down fungoid diseases, as well as the circulation of warm air where there is heating. Some shelving is also often useful and if this is easily portable or removable all the better.

Somewhere to do potting is most desirable, and it is a simple matter to make a portable potting bench that can be put on the staging when needed. To do this, take a sheet of aluminum and turn up three of the sides to form a tray. On this compost can be mixed and operations like sowing and potting carried out.

Some form of automatic watering is well worth considering. There are several excellent types now sold. The simplest is capillary matting which can be spread on the staging and kept moist by running guttering along the front. The matting is dipped into the gutter which is kept topped up with water by a small constant level water valve.

An essential piece of equipment is a maximum and minimum thermometer. Only with the aid of this can you keep track of the temperatures and check the efficiency of your heating if installed.