A greenhouse is a must for the serious gardener, if space and budget allows. It’s ideal for raising plants from seed, growing tender crops like tomatoes, aubergines and cucumbers, and for overwintering plants.
Watch Monty Don’s video guide to siting a greenhouse.
Once you’ve chosen the right greenhouse and it has been installed, you’ll need a few pieces of essential kit to help you get the most from it.
We explain more about staging, propagators and automatic vents, plus the advantages of a cold frame and a water butt.
You’ll have more success raising seeds and cuttings by enclosing air around pots and trays, using a covered propagator. A heated propagator or mat will speed along germination and rooting. Read our guide to sowing seeds.
Automatic vent opener
An automatic vent opener prevents the greenhouse from overheating on sunny days. This is particularly useful in spring and autumn, when temperatures fluctuate widely during the day. Many greenhouses come with these but if yours doesn’t have one, they’re easy to install. Find out how to install an automatic vent opener.
Staging or slatted benches raise plants off the ground, avoiding cooler air. Most are designed at a convenient height for working. Slats increase air circulation, reducing fungal problems. Some models are also have shelves underneath, for extra storage.
A cold frame is a useful halfway house between the protected environment of a greenhouse and cooler conditions outside. It is used to harden off seedlings and young plants by opening the lid in spring – find out how to use a cold frame in spring. You can buy a cold frame from your greenhouse supplier or garden centre but you can also make your own. Follow our guide to making a cold frame.
It’s easy to fit guttering to a greenhouse to collect rainwater. It’s a great way to save water and means that you can easily water your plants. Where possible, position the butt on the north side of the greenhouse, to stop it casting shade onto crops. Don’t use rain water on seedlings, as it contains fungal spores which can cause damping off.