Greenhouses – Frugal Buying Guide to a Greenhouse

Why Have a Greenhouse?

I you’re trying to live frugally and grow your own food then a greenhouse is going to really help you. You can start your seeds off earlier and keep plants going when the season changes and colder weather arrives.

Re-Building a Second Hand Greenhouse

Re-Building a Second Hand Greenhouse

Having a greenhouse enables you to grow things you may not be able to in the open soil where our ‘wonderful’ climate is not so suited to them. Tomatoes, for example, only really work outdoors one year in five but greenhouse tomatoes succeed every year, with a bit of luck

Even for flowers a greenhouse can pay. Consider a £1.00 pack of seeds can give you a couple of hundred plants that you’d pay 50p each or more for in the garden centre. That’s quite a profit to be made, especially if you set up a stall and honesty box by the front gate.

What Type of Greenhouse?

Effectively there are two types – wooden and aluminium.

The wooden greenhouse does look better. It blends more with the garden, wood being a natural material. The problem is that wood rots eventually, even western red cedar (the best wood for use outdoors) doesn’t last forever without regular maintenance and applications of preservative.

Aluminium is cheap, easy and effectively lasts forever without needing any painting. There are annoying little niggles sometimes where the doors will move a bit causing stiffness – but overall, the best choice.

Greenhouse Glazing

Plastic sheeting has two benefits in that it holds heat better than glass and it is safer if someone (especially someone young) has an accident but it doesn’t allow light through as well as glass in the spring and autumn when you need it.

Horticultural Glass

This is the usual and cheapest way to glaze a greenhouse. Shop around as some glaziers will charge far more than others for horticultural glass. It’s perfectly adequate but easily broken, especially when it gets older. You may not realise but glass does weaken with age and this is pretty thin to start with

Safety Greenhouse Glass

The best type for growing with safety, but very pricey. If you’ve children running around then consider using safety glass or plastic for the walls and horticultural glass for the roof.

Size of Greenhouse

Yes size does matter! I guarantee whatever size you get you will wish for a bigger greenhouse in the summer when it is bulging full of plants. 8′ x 6′ is a good starter size but 10′ x 8′ is better. You can connect greenhouses together, with a bit of fiddling and ingenuity to create almost any size.

Where to get a greenhouse

OK, you can buy your greenhouse from a DIY shed or a specialist supplier but the best bet is second hand. It’s amazing how often you can get a greenhouse worth £500 for £50 or even free in the local paper or Freecycle. Often bids on Ebay don’t get above 99p!

Cleaning the Greenhouse

Cleaning the greenhouse is of utmost importance. After a long summer season or a damp winter, mould and lichens will build up on the glass and may infect your plants – especially tomatoes. I’ve seen a crop die almost overnight from this and it’s heart breaking after all the work you’ve put into it. Jeyes fluid is the best for cleaning.

Greenhouse Maintenance

Check out the greenhouse after very bad weather with high winds. You will often lose some of the holding spring clips as the wind gets under the glass and lifts it slightly. It’s critical to replace these but you can buy them cheaply enough – check out Wilkinsons if you have one or Ebay

Further Information on Greenhouses

There’s a number of articles on the Allotment Garden web site that will help: Greenhouse Growing

Articles on Frugal Growing Your Own Fruit and Vegetables