As you may know, we have a plastic walk-in greenhouse that sits on the patio right next to the house, along with two smaller greenhouses that are essentially a plastic-wrapped stand of shelves.
Thankfully, they are temporary and are only there to keep the worst of the winter weather off the more tender or younger plants we have. Once the risk of hard frost is past (some time in late March?) then it will all come down and we will have our view out of the patio doors restored as currently it looks like this:
It’s not ideal and I am beginning to tire of it; I want to be able to see the birds again and the orchids could really do with more light. Nevertheless, the greenhouses do a very good job of stopping the cold air, bitter winds and damaging frosts from getting at the things inside. Greenhouses are new to me and I am still learning about how to use them. I’ve made the following observations so far with the ones we have:
- In the larger greenhouse, there will be colder and warmer zones so plants should be placed accordingly if possible. The coldest areas are closer to the door and along the sides at ground level. Warmer places are on the raised shelving closest to the house. This can make the difference between life or death for tender plants such as the lemongrass.
- Plants barely need to be watered and should be kept on the dry side, which is a bonus as it means less work
- The inside of the greenhouse will be constantly covered in water from heavy condensation, it will even drip from the roof as a kind of rain. If you’re not wearing head gear inside, do not hit the roof unless you want freezing cold water to run down your neck and back
- Adding an insulating layer of bubble-wrap on the inside of the larger greenhouse is a must for when temperatures really nose-dive
- Keep an eye out for critters such as whitefly, caterpillars and slugs that will eat your plants alive or suck them dry:
- As it is so moist in the greenhouse, it is the perfect environment for mould, moss and fungus. Plant die-back should be cut out and removed from the greenhouse to keep the mould down. Healthy plants won’t usually succumb to fungal infection so although the mould looks horrible, it’s not a big deal
- Temperatures inside the greenhouse can still drop below zero during extended periods of cold weather. The water on the inside cover and on the bubble-wrap can freeze, but you wont see frost on the plants themselves. I don’t know why this is, but it is a big bonus as frost on more tender plants can cause a lot of damage or kill
- A “thick roof” on the smaller greenhouses (ours is a transparent plastic car mat placed on top) will be better at keeping the heat in
- Ensure you’ve got sufficient weight and pinning to stop the greenhouses from getting airborne in times of windy weather
The points above will be useful “notes to myself” for when the times comes to have the greenhouse back up again next winter.