Growing Vegetables in the Greenhouse
Different Ways of Growing Vegetables
This site encompasses all the different growing systems that you as a gardener are likely to come across and use when growing your own vegetables.
Growing Vegetables in the Greenhouse
Growing vegetables in a greenhouse is a specialised area of gardening. The aim of this section, therefore is simply to whet your appetite and to show you what can be done with a greenhouse in the hope that you’ll follow it up elsewhere.
In a rather similar way to using cloches and tunnels, greenhouses make it possible to start growing plants earlier in the year, to continue growing the less hardy ones later into the autumn and, indeed, to grow some that would otherwise be impossible.
The overwhelming uses to which amateurs’ greenhouses are put are for raising and growing on plants which are to be planted out later on and for growing tomatoes. I would think this covers about half the greenhouses in the country. Oh yes, and also for housing rabbits or guinea pigs during the winter. These are obviously important and popular uses but they’re also unimaginative and only take advantage of about a quarter of the potential benefits of a greenhouse.
We do, of course, have to distinguish between the heated and unheated greenhouse because, obviously, this is going to have an enormous influence on what can be grown. Broadly speaking, an unheated greenhouse is one step up from a cloche; its size is the only real difference and it can’t honestly be used for anything even bordering on tricky.
Without any heat at all,should not begin before March. Not only will many seeds probably fail to germinate, the resulting will have difficulty in surviving.
As far as plant raising is concerned, a cold greenhouse of this sort should be used mainly for raising plants that are to go outside in late May after the risk of frosts is past. Good examples of these include early summerand , celery, , from seed, lettuces, outdoor tomatoes and , , , dwarf French and runner beans.
More or less any brassicas can be raised in a greenhouse, and this is very useful if theoutdoors is too wet or lumpy for Sowing in, but you must remember to move the pots of seedlings outside as soon as they’re up to stop them getting drawn and weak. This is especially important in the summer.
Besides their use for raising plants, unheated greenhouses are grand for growing crops of indoor tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, peppers, aubergines and winter lettuces.
It usually pays to buy these plants from a good nursery during April rather than trying to struggle to raise them yourself and ending up with a poor lot a month later than you want them. The only winter crop amongst these are the lettuces but, and can all be forced, either under the staging or some other cover in the winter along with .
All the tomatoes and things can be grown in ordinary greenhouse border soil improved with once-used peat (such as ex-potting or ex-growing-bag) and grit, but results will be infinitely better if you use new growing-bags. The idea that you’re somehow saving money by not using bags is a complete fallacy, as well as being a waste of time, when you look at the difference in crop weights.
If you can arrange for a little heat to be available in the greenhouse, so that it can be kept frost-free during the early spring, you’ll be able to start things off earlier in the year. You can also raise your own greenhouse tomatoes. You won’t find much difference in the range of vegetables which you’ll be able to grow but it will greatly extend the range of ornamentals.
One of the most useful pieces of equipment, especially for the beginner, is an electric propagator. This allows you to raise seedlings early in the year without having to heat the whole structure. There is then, though, the problem of keeping the seedlings alive and well once they’re out of the propagator! If you want to take things even further, it’s quite possible to raise and grow early crops of outdoor vegetables, such asand , in the greenhouse but this demands considerable skill as both heat and the light intensity have to be taken into account.