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13 messages
05/02/2014 at 19:58

I would like to grow a few vegetable plants from seed (sweetcorn, cucumber, celeriac, pumpkins) but don't have a lot of in-door space facing south.  Can these grow well in a north facing room?

The other option is to make/find a cold frame or mini greenhouse.  What temperature does it need to be for these seedlings to grow well in these conditions?

Thanks for any advice.

05/02/2014 at 20:04

Hi Jim

I know from bitter experience that the most important thing for seedlings is to give them lots of light; so even a south-facing window-sill is rarely successful.  A cold frame would be much better.  You'll need to delay sowing until the weather is a bit warmer, but that shouldn't be a major problem - the seedlings should catch up.  For timings you can check the back of the seedpackets in the garden centre,

Good luck!


05/02/2014 at 20:06

You can start them off indoors Jim, and then pop them into a coldframe or mini greenhouse when they've germinated - this will ensure they get enough light and don't grow leggy in a northfacing room - if you tried to grow them on in the northfacing room they'd become etiolated, pale and drawn and susceptible to every bug going and  too weak to support themselves.

But hold your horses - don't start sowing seeds yet - I won't be starting my courgettes off until probably late March - depending on the weather .... if you start them too soon they'll be ready to plant out before the weather conditions are favourable - they mustn't be planted out until all risk of frost is past. 

05/02/2014 at 20:13

I'd suggest making a coldframe or getting a cheap min-greenhouse any way.  Most of the things you mention need sowing at different times, so you might have enough room on the windowsill to germinate each type before moving them into the frame.  The RHS seed sowing guide A-Z is below, but dates aren't fixed by any means and depend on the weather.  Better a bit late than too early as experience shows that plants stunted by a cold spell never do as well as those sown slightly later which grow-on unchecked.


05/02/2014 at 20:16

Thanks for the info, I won't start sowing now and the north facing window is ruled out! I'll search for cheap cold frames or DIY options.

05/02/2014 at 20:29

Hello Lunar Jim,

I don't have much room either and now use one of those cheap mini greenhouses that you can get from Wilkinsons.  I have had mine for several years and placed it in a southerly facing position.  I never start anything off until well into March or even later as everything catches up anyway.  Hope this gives you inspiration.

06/02/2014 at 03:52
I noticed that the cheap mini greenhouses at Wilko were being sold for 10.00 earlier this week - I'll move away from the stampede... I already have two but was tempted!

Edited to add that these are currently in my heated conservatory and will be moved into unheated greenhouse later, they get dismantled for the summer until next January when they are erected to put chitting potatoes in and to raise seedlings. I even put a heated propagator inside one.
06/02/2014 at 09:54

Wow fantastic advice.  I won't start seeds too early, and the greenhouse looks very good.  Hopefully I'll get one before the stampede!

06/02/2014 at 19:45

Just in case there is a stampede for the Wilkinson greenhouse I got this Gardman 4 tier one for £14.99 today from my local garden centre:

It has a reinforced cover so hopefully will be worth the extra £5 compared to the Wilkinson one.

Our garden centre is part of but it is on a deal - double that price normally.

06/02/2014 at 19:51

You can also get fleece covers for these greenhouses.I use mine inside my cold greenhouse to protect my tender fuchsias.Most survived last year.

06/02/2014 at 22:39

That was a good buy Lunar Jim, you are well on the way now.  You can also get replacement covers for the greenhouses when they eventually wear out.

09/02/2014 at 22:59

I use the gardman plastic covered mini greenhouses without the covers as shelving for seed trays in my unheated greenhouse.  I have figured that as the greenhouse is a high sided one, I should be able to put the clear cover over the shelves to provide extra warmth in there instead of bubble wrap.

10/02/2014 at 11:02

Thanks for the extra info about covers and fleeces.

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