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Archive for August 20th, 2008

Greenhouse Gardening – Cow Powder

By admin On August 20, 2008 No Comments

Few early ways to heat greenhouses have been as ingenious as a Russian system, detailed in “A New System of Practical Domestic Economy in 1825. It was reported that in Russia, and especially in the vicinity of St Petersburg, greenhouses were no longer being heated by fuel or steam but by the breath of cattle! Its superiority, it was claimed, was proven when in a climate where twenty-four degrees of frost are known, vegetables raised in greenhouses heated in this manner were far superior to anything previously grown.

The byre containing the cattle was attached to the greenhouse and constructed with small holes just above the cattle’s nostrils, so that expelled warm air would pass directly into the greenhouse. The pressure of the expelled air opened flaps between the byre and greenhouses.

It was further claimed that the cattle’s breath provided both great warmth and humidity and so completely eliminated the need to water plants.

Experiments like this were happening throughout Europe, in a vibrant age of discovery, invention and innovation.

Greenhouse Gardening – Mobile Glasshouses

By admin On August 20, 2008 No Comments

During the 1950s and 60s, mobile glasshouses gained prominence in commercial horticulture in temperate regions, enabling crops to be raised earlier than normal as well as late-season plants to be covered while maturing.

There were made of strong, extruded aluminium with a cantilever design that formed a clear span frequently 10.5m/34ft or more wide. They ran on rails, and when initially constructed functioned well but with age and the settlement of supports often became stationary.

The idea of a mobile structure was new. In 1856, “The Cottage Gardener” advertised a moveable greenhouse designed by Mr. Spencer, gardener to the Marquess of Lansdowne. He claimed “such a structure is desirable for a tenant who has an unreasonable landlord”.

Greenhouse Gardening – On A Grand Scale

By admin On August 20, 2008 No Comments

In age of expansion and industrial revolution, when engineers and inventors were practically idolized, it is not surprising that greenhouse and conservatory development also benefited. From the middle of the seventeenth century in Europe, and especially in England, there began social and economic changes that brought about the mechanization of production. By the middle of the following century, changes were gaining speed and by the 1850’s the pattern of industrial production practically complete.

Joseph Paxton, later knighted, was the father of  “grand-scale” conservatories. In the 1830’s he designed and constructed one measuring 83m/272ft long by 37m/121ft wide and 20m/66ft high at Chatsworth, the home of the Duke of Devonshire. A few years later he designed the Exhibition Building in Hyde Park, opened in 1851 and soon Christened the “Crystal Palace” by the magazine “Punch”. More than six million people visited the exhibition. Large-scale developments also took place in Europe.

On the grand scale, few greenhouses have been as extensive as those at Versailles, a few miles west of Paris. In 1685, a huge orangery was constructed, 155m/509ft long, 12.8m/42ft wide and 13.7m/45ft high. It had a south-facing wall, plenty of windows and a solid roof, and housed more than 1200 orange trees and hundreds of other plants.