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Archive for the ‘Greenhouse Gardening’ Category

Greenhouse Gardening – Framing And Flooring

By admin On August 29, 2008 No Comments

Although some greenhouses have been made of steel (which soon corrodes) and modern conservatories are double-glazed and have decay-proof plastic-type frames, to most gardeners the choice of greenhouse is between wood and aluminium. Plastic tunnels are used commercially, but in a garden lack permanency and the attractive visual appeal of traditional wooden greenhouses.

Timber Constructions

The life expectancy of timber-framed greenhouses depends on the type of timber used and its maintenance. Baltic redwood, also known as yellow deal, is frequently used but needs regular painting, as well as being initially treated with a wood preservative. If neglected, extremes of temperature, both inside and outside, as well as high humidity, peel paint off the glazing bars. Additionally, the wood may eventually warp and both doors and ventilators cease to fit properly, allowing in draughts.

Western red cedar is more durable, but instead of being preserved by coats of white paint is coated in linseed oil. And rustproof brass or galvanized nails are used in its construction.

Oak and teak have been used and are long lasting. Unfortunately, they are prohibitively expensive materials. Many early Victorian conservatories were constructed from these woods and lasted well into this century.

Aliminium Framework

Most greenhouses are now made of aluminium and have the advantage of not needing any maintenance. Additionally, the supporting framework and glazing bars can be narrower than wooden ones, enabling more light to reach the plants. This is especially beneficial during autumn, winter and also in the early spring.


The easiest way to create a path is to lay paving-slabs either directly on the soil or a layer of sand. If at sometime later, the layout of the greenhouse needs to be changed.

Conservatories, of course, need more permanent flooring and this is provided by concrete with tiles or some other surface on top.

Greenhouse Gardening – Range Of Greenhouses

By admin On August 29, 2008 No Comments

There are greenhouses to suit gardens of our sizes and shapes. Mini-greenhouses are ideal in small gardens and on patios while on a grander scale, freestanding types enable a wider range of plants to be grown. Sunrooms and conservatories also introduce a new gardening dimension and are especially suitable for growing large, long-term foliage plants, such as palms.

Shapes And Sizes

Whatever the size of greenhouse initially estimate to suit your needs, double it! Invariably, after gardening in a greenhouse for several months, you will wish to extend the range of plants.

The smaller the greenhouse the more rapid and extreme the temperature changes. Those at midday and during the afternoon may be excessive, while at night they fall suddenly. A greenhouse about 3.6m/12ft long and 2.4m/8ft wide is about the optimum size, having a volume of air that avoids sudden temperature changes. There also must be provision for adequate ventilation.

The range of greenhouses now available includes:

Full-span greenhouses, with a ridge and two eaves, are traditional and widely available. Wooden and earlier types often have bricks or wooden panels up to about 75cm/2½ft high. Modern, aluminium-framed types, however, are completely glazed. Greenhouses up to 2.4m/8ft wide have central paths about 60cm/2ft wide and 90cm/3ft wide spaces on either side for staging or growing plants at ground level.

Lean-to types vary in length and width to suit the wall or house they are constructed against. Most have brick or wooden walls up to 75cm/2½ft high, with framework in wood or aluminium. Traditional types are 1.8m/6ft to 2.1m/7ft wide, but some – a compromise between mini-greenhouses and normal lean-to types – are 1.2m/4ft wide, and only large enough for a path and a few shelves.

Some lean-to greenhouses are large enough to form sunrooms and conservatories. Modern forms of these have assumed ornate Victorian styles, with double-glazing and a plastic framework. These create comfortable living areas for plants and people, but ensure they provide plenty of ventilation, in both sides and roof.

Too often, conservatory designers appear more concerned with heat conversation than releasing excessively hot air in summer, which soon kills plants and makes living in them unbearable.

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.