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Few amateur gardeners devote all their greenhouse space to one crop, In the main, greenhouses are used for growing a variety of food and flower crops and so, as greater and greater demands are made on the available space, plants often suffer needlessly.

Advanced planning

Some simple forward planning is essential if you are to make the best possible use of your greenhouse. The first step is to decide what is to be the prime purpose of the greenhouse. This is easily said, but not so easily done. Hut it really is an essential decision -and once you have made it, you must put all other purposes firmly into second place. The prime purpose may fall into one of seven broad divisions:

  • 1) Growing pot plants for decoration in the greenhouse, conservatory, or in the home.
  • 2) Growing flowers for cutting - carnations, chrysanthemums, narcissus, and so on.
  • 3) Producing salad crops - lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, etc.
  • 4) Growing early vegetables entirely within the greenhouse - courgettes, carrots, early potatoes, and so on.
  • 5) Raising young plants for growing on out of doors - both bedding plants and vegetable plants,
  • 6) Growing fruit peaches, strawberries, grapes, and so on.
  • 7) Plant propagation.

In practice, most people choose mixed cropping - that is. they grow prime-purpose crops plus a variety ot other plants that require roughly simi lar growing conditions and for which space may from time to time become available. In planning the cropping programme, the first step is to calculate the growing area of border soil, benching, and shelving. The scale of the programme can then be worked out by referring to the amount of space required by an individual plant (this is

set out in the chapters dealing with specific crops).

We can now look in more detail at each of the prime-purpose categories set out above, and consider some of the complementary crops that might be grown with them.

Pot plants _for decoration__

II these arc grown as the main crop much of the space in the greenhouse or conservatory is likely to be taken up by permanent benching, and there will be little or no border space that receives direct sunlight. 1 low ever, it should be possible to increase the cropping area in the spring months by in stalling temporary shelving which wilt be suitable tor raising spring bedding plants and young vegetable plants. Beneath the benching, provided there is sufficient light, early potatoes may be chitted in boxes, dahlia tubers - also in boxes started into growth, and chrysanthemum stools overwintered; some species of fern will also grow happily away from direct sunlight, and rhubarb may be forced in the darker areas.

The pot-plant programme can be geared either to producing plants at specific times— for example, in November and December and in the MarchApril period - or to providing some colour all the year round. If the aim is always to have available some specimen plants tor the home, it is as well not to leave them too long in the house; re fresh them from time to time by returning them to the greenhouse environment -and remember to set aside sufficient space for this to be done.

Aboue left Glass lo the ground allows voli to grow plants in the border soil Draw up a cropping plan to make best use ot the space so that you neither overcrowd the plants nor waste this valuable growing area.

Sun Loving Pot Plants

Glass to the ground allows sun-loving plants to be grown in the border sot) on both sides Small pot plants can be grown on shelving above

One side partlv bricked or boarded can be reserved for benching shade-iovmg plants can be grown in the border soil beneath it

Biodome Greenhouse

Lean to wtth vine trained up the main wall When in full leaf, such plants reduce sunlight getting to the border soil beneath them

If both sides are partly bricked the end wall border soil mav be used tas here' for a targe trained plant Note cold frame on side wall

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Building Your Own Greenhouse

Building Your Own Greenhouse

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