I bought a small walk in greenhouse[the plastic kind that you put together yourself] in the summer sales back in early June and brought it home. It only cost 40 euro in Woodies and has two shelves on each side. It wasn’t too tricky to build apart from the small but significant fact that I didnt find the manual until after I’d finished! 🙂 It took about two hours to build which I did on the lawn and it was just a question of pushing the poles into each other.I placed it at the side of our small cottage to protect it from the wind and just to be paranoid, put four large stone bricks on the bottom bars. We then had the bright idea of taking 2 long planks of wood [which we had left over from when we had new floors put in, always reuse what you can] and fitted them towards the back on the two shelves which then gave us a lot shelf space to work with!
The fun part! In trays of compost, I planted:
Tomatoes, lettuce, rocket, courgettes, cauliflower, cabbage, parsnip, radishes, beetroot, broccolli and carrots.
Within two weeks, shoots of green were showing and as they grew, I divided up and transplanted the seedlings into seperate containers. If you don’t have any already at home, don’t spend a fortune but use egg containers or roll small sheets of newspaper into small plant holders that you can then put straight into the ground when the seedlings are big enough.
Snails are a constant problem as the heat and dampness of the greenhouse attracts them, place lots of gravel on the bottom and keep a daily lookout.
We found that the plants were drying out quite fast and that the greenhouse was guzzling water,so we went to B&Q and bought 2 long trays [about a meter] and 4 wide trays[like plastic saucers but deeper] so that at least when we water, whatever the plants dont need, is saved in the trays for them to drink the next day. Water rates are coming in next year so I am looking into ideas on how to conserve water. more on that again.
The tomatoes have since gone crazy!from one bag of seed, I have over three dozen tomato plants! all of which had to be potted on, given canes and maintained. As the tomatoes grow, you need to keep picking out side shoots, the final leaf on every branch is okay, this tells the plant to focus on growing flowers as opposed to leaves.I have the tomatoes on the top shelves as they grow tall very fast. As they grow taller, don’t forget to remove any dead leaves.
The courgettes were another big success, I have ten very healthly plants, they grow really wide and are very thorny so watch out when you’re near them! They have gorgeous orange flowers, pick these off the ground when they fall as they will rot and encourage slugs. The stems snap quite easy so use a short stick and twine to keep them from wobbling over. Most of the flowers have gone now so I’m looking forward to having some courgettes in a month or so.
The carrots and the rocket didnt do well, the slugs attacked one night and eat them all so I’m planting carrots straight into the ground from now on!
The lettuce[curly greens] did very well and I divided them up into two large pots [most of which is a old pot turned up inside down and a thin layer of compost as lettuce dont have a big root system] and we have had fresh lettuce for salads, sandwiches, stirfrys and starters for the last two months every day! I planted a new crop of Red Salad Bowl lettuce and they are coming up nicely so that when the green lettuce is gone in a week or so, there will be fresh stuff to move onto!
The Radishes [the long french variety] were very slow growing but had a lovely deep red and bright white colour and I served them finely sliced on a bed of lettuce with a dash of lemon&lime and a pinch of sea salt.
I transplanted the rest outside and they are doing well. more about that later.
I was given a present of two green pepper plants and they are doing nicely, very low maintance plants, very easy to look after, very few if any problems. There is two little peppers growing on them already so very excited about that! 🙂 Plan on growing lots of peppers next year from seed.
I have decided to be brave and see if my little greenhouse can sustain more exotic plants and recently bought a Fig tree and a Grape plant in Aildi! They were under three euro and look healthy and although it will be a few years before they bear fruit, I love the idea of having my own grapes and figs. I also have a slip from an orange tree growing and so far, its doing okay.
A small greenhouse is inexpensive and in our Irish climate, can be an invaluable method of growing organic fruit like tomatoes and peppers that cost so much when bought in the supermarket. I don’t use artifical tomato feeds but natural compost from our compost bin. It so easy to do and so handy, if you want something for lunch, you just pop out the door to the side of the house, open the flap, take what you need and hey presto you have a delicious and healthy meal at your fingertips! 🙂