Garden Living   

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A greenhouse has it’s own ecosystem, which you can control, this enables you to extend the growing season and grow beautiful, exotic plants . For the best environment you need to regulate the heat, humidity and light. This is not as difficult as it may sound.

Before regulating the heat check the requirements for your particular plants, but generally keep the heat over 50 degrees f at night and below 85 degrees f during the day. To maintain the desired temperature, good ventilation is important, open doors and windows to ensure ventilation on sunny, hot days. If you can’t open the windows or door for a period of time, a circulating fan will improve the ventilation and increase evaporation in the air. Circulating the air is necessary for plants to thrive.


Shading and ventilation will keep your greenhouse from seriously overheating, however cooling of a greenhouse comes from the evaporation or moisture inside the greenhouse. 
A misting system can disperse water evenly around the greenhouse during the day, automatic systems of misting nozzles are available. Or you can use trays of water with pebbles in, scattered around the greenhouse. Exotic and tropical plants need these humid conditions to grow. A greenhouse has enough protection even during the Winter for exotic plants. Just keep an eye on the temperature, add some insulation ( bubblewrap is good) and add lighting to your greenhouse to keep your exotic plants in warm and bright conditions.

Regulating the heat and humidity can also be achieved by filling a few 5 gallon buckets with water, and place them in greenhouse so that they collect heat during day and retain heat for the night. Ensure the water is changed regularly so it does not become stagnant, this can lead to the growth of algae and mold.


It is easier to remember to water your plants if you water them at the same time each day, when the temperature rises ensure that your plants have adequate watering for their individual requirements.


In addition to heat and humidity light is important, especially for exotic plants, if you are installing a greenhouse for the first time, place it South facing. We haven’t mentioned fertilizing your plants, this can be done on a weekly basis with either ½ or ¼ strength water soluble fertilizer.


If you are a beginner growing exotic plants you could start with a few cacti which are relatively easy to grow. For inspiration and the most beautiful flowers, orchids are an obvious choice, these also make great gifts for family and friends. Each plant may have different requirements, for example, orchids are both cold and warm sensitive. Therefore, a greenhouse is a good environment since their specific lighting and temperature conditions can be adhered to. Opaque windows are required for orchids to thrive since they can filter light to protect orchids from burning. They like temperature requirements 70 to 80 degrees F during day and between 50 and 60 degrees F at night. Orchids should be watered only when they become dry but to maintain humidity levels do mist the greenhouse every few days.


Cacti to orchids is one extreme to another  you can also grow many other exotic plants such as bamboo, passion flowers, lilies, Chinese hibiscus, African violets and Venus fly traps. Research each exotic plant which you would like to grow since they all have their own nuances, for example African Violets like a lot of humidity but their leaves shouldn’t become too wet, lilies will bloom longer if you keep them in a warm environment.

Growing beautiful exotic plants can be challenging. However, they reward you with their colour and beauty in your greenhouse and garden.




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Raised beds of lettuce ( greenhouse - Eden Sherborne )

A greenhouse allows you to grow pretty much any vegetable your family would like to eat. You also know exactly what is added and you can choose to have no pesticides and chemicals. Just fresh, nutritious, locally grown food.

A major benefit of a greenhouse is the ability to control the environment in which you grow your plants. Sunlight enters in through the windows and heats up the air. The heat is trapped inside the greenhouse, creating warmth not available in the open air, which aids plant growth. As the warmth is trapped inside overnight, plants also have to fight less frost or chills and can focus their energies on growing, making them more efficient as well as healthier.

Although it is possible to water your plants by hand, it is also possible to have an automated system installed in your greenhouse which will drip-feed water to the plants. You may also want to consider installing temperature and humidity systems that monitor and track the temperature, turning on a cooling fan if the greenhouse becomes too hot or likewise turning it off if the area becomes too cold.

With no Seasons, but a controllable environment you effectively have an endless Harvest. It can take a bit of planning to get used to, instead of sowing seeds in the garden, transplant robust, healthy plants once the danger of frost has passed. Look for the “Date to Maturity” and the “Days to Germination” information on your seed packets to determine when to start seeds. Count back from the last frost day for your zone then sow the first seeds in your greenhouse. Each week plant a few more seeds until the danger of frost has passed.

Once the danger of frost passes you can begin sowing seeds in the garden. Again, sow a few each week until you can no longer be sure they will mature before the first killing frost. In late summer transplant some seedlings to containers. As the nights get cooler and the days shorter move these containers into your greenhouse. The plants will continue to produce long after the first frost touches your outdoor garden.

Preserving garden produce lets you enjoy your favorite vegetables throughout the year. To efficiently preserve produce it’s helpful if they come to maturity at the same time. Work out when you would like to can or dry your produce, then count the number of days back to determine when to start extra plants in your greenhouse.

In the Winter months it is still possible, to enjoy fresh salad greens all year long. Lettuce, kale, chard, and spinach are just a few of the many crops that thrive in a properly maintained winter greenhouse. Many seed catalogs offer varieties that were developed for greenhouse growing. You will need a supply of containers deep enough for good root development.

Seeds In Hand



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Treasure from the Forest’ 2013

Using a Hall’s Greenhouse, from the ‘Popular’ range

Visual artist Robyn Woolston has responded to the story of Hansel and Gretel and created a vinyl forest and sweet-lined ginger bread house for the bar area of the Key Theatre, to coincide with NIE Theatre’s current production.   In a series of workshops, school children were invited to decorate trees to populate this fictional forest from local schools; The Beeches Primary School, St Thomas More and Hampton Vale, Peterborough. 

Robyn Woolston ( a visual artist who is passionate about people, relationships and the way the world works. She believes the stories we share together profoundly influence our sense of relationship to one another. Her work often examines the parts of society that others shy away from and raises questions concerning our social, economic and ecological perspectives.  She has an upcoming show at Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery and is involved in Canopy, an Eden Arts project and exhibition in trees and woodland throughout the Eden Valley in Cumbria.


The project has been managed by Metal (  Metal are a multi-disciplinary art organisation based in Liverpool, Southend-on-Sea and most recently Chauffeurs Cottage in Peterborough.  They provide time and space for artists and thinkers to develop their ideas and further the philosophy of their work.   These ideas are showcased and disseminated on a regular basis through residencies, exhibitions, events, performance, discussion and publications. 

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Throughout the year there are weekly different tasks to do in the greenhouse. But for a general guide here is a list to prompt good continuing care of your greenhouse.




  • Canes are helpful for plants that need support; such as cordon tomatoes and melons, and any emerging shoots can be tied.
  • Summer pruning and fruit thinning may be required with some plants, such as grape vines. Pot on plants when required as well as pinching and pricking out.
  • Common pests in warm, humid conditions include aphids, red spider mite and mealy bug. Diseases include mildew and botrytis. Ensure you don’t get overrun with pests and diseases and so treat as soon as you are aware of a problem.
  • Water regularly, making sure that the composts and soils don’t dry out. Although avoid watering in the middle of the day, since this can scorch leaves if it’s a hot Summer’s day.
  • Weed around plants and in the beds.
  • Make sure that plants are fed as required.
  • Put up shade nets in early summer to protect plants from scorching by direct overhead sunlight. Shading washes can also be sprayed onto the outside of the greenhouse and washed off in autumn.

Humidity control

  • Some plants prefer high humidity, so splash the floor with water each day in the summer or use a hand-held mist sprayer. You may see this referred to as ‘damping down’.
  • Keep a watering can full of water inside the greenhouse during summer to ensure you have a supply of room temperature water. Cold water straight from a tap can shock vulnerable plant roots in summer.
  • Another way of raising humidity is to place a tray of water on the floor which will slowly evaporate into the air.
  • To lower humidity, keep vents and windows open in the summer. This will help to keep plants cool and prevent scorching in the heat of the day.
  • You may want to invest in automatic vents which open and close according to the temperature. Extractor fans are also useful.



The annual clean

  • A regular clean will help maintain the structure of your greenhouse, particularly if the frame is made from wood and therefore prone to rotting. Dirty windows affect sunlight levels – less light can lead to seedlings becoming straggly.
  • The ideal time for cleaning is just before spring sowing as this will remove over-wintering pests and diseases and the greenhouse is likely to be at its emptiest at this time of year.
  • Try to choose a mild day as you will have to open the doors and vents to clean them thoroughly. You don’t want icy winds damaging valuable specimens.



  • Clean the exterior of the greenhouse by washing the panes of glass with warm water and a sponge.
  • Higher parts of the greenhouse can be reached by attaching a sponge to the end of a broom handle or a bamboo cane.
  • Old plastic labels or a gentle jet wash attachment on the end of a hose are ideal for getting in under the window panel joints to remove the build up of dirt underneath.
  • Clean on a moderately windy day and let the breezes dry out the greenhouse as it’s washed.
  • Once the panes of glass are dry, insulate the greenhouse with bubblewrap to protect any plants you are overwintering, and to encourage the greenhouse to heat up more rapidly in the spring.
  • Check the panels for any broken or cracked glass. They should be replaced. If you are planning on doing the job yourself, then you should wear gloves and goggles.
  • Wooden frames can be painted using a wood preservative, making sure that none of the solution touches the plants.



  • When starting on the interior of the greenhouse, ensure that the electricity is turned off and all electrical equipment such as heaters and radios are unplugged.
  • Clean the interior by removing all the containers, pots and shelving/staging.
  • If some of the plants are slightly tender, then move them into another shed or greenhouse.
  • Otherwise, wrap them in fleeces and try not to keep them outside for too long.
  • If the temperature is cold outside, then you will just have to work around them in the greenhouse.
  • Throw out old used growing bags, remove all the leaves that will have fallen from the plants, and sweep the floor to remove any dirt and spilled soil.
  • Also, pick off any damaged or infected leaves and burn them.
  • Throw out any dead and dying plants.
  • Weed the plant beds.
  • The paths and brick walls should also be scrubbed with clean water and disinfectant.
  • Sterilise containers, staging, propagation benches and capillary matting – although replacing capillary matting each year is better.
  • Also check that all ventilation panels and windows are operating properly and lighting and watering/irrigation systems are working.
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South African spring ephemerals will now be coming in to flower and with a new greenhouse heater (on the wishlist…) I could fill the space with Lachenalia – the Cape Cowslip.

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