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Greenhouses offer a unique and rewarding way to garden year-round. Not only do they provide a controlled environment to cultivate plants and flowers, but they can also be used to extend the growing season. The controlled climate of a greenhouse protects plants from damaging weather, pests, and other environmental hazards, allowing gardeners to maintain lush and vibrant plant life no matter what the season. It doesn’t have to be anything overly ambitious either; even the smallest, unheated structure will produce good crops of all sorts of different fruits and vegetables. Growing your own food is better for your wallet, it’s better for the planet and approaching springtime is the best time to do it.

Why grow your own?

There are all sorts of reasons to grow your own produce. Firstly, the actual act of gardening is inherently good for you. It’s a form of exercise that you can easily work into your daily routine and isn’t overly strenuous. Spending time outdoors is just as good for your mental health as it is your physical health, too. Growing organically has plenty of environmental benefits; it reduces air and water pollution because it’s not being transported and there are no herbicides or pesticides used. Plus it helps you spend a lot less on food. You can just grow everything you want and need, as opposed to adding it to your shopping list.

Use it for...

There are a number of different reasons as to why you’d opt for a greenhouse over growing your veg outside. They’re really helpful for starting off hardy vegetable plants a bit earlier than you’re able to outdoors, as well as if you’re growing tender crops. Things such as cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes or even chillies can easily grow through the summer months. The same goes for any heat-loving plants like sweet potatoes or melons - all that concentrated sunlight and radiating heat creates the perfect growing environment. Greenhouses are also really good at squeezing the last few drops of the Autumn sunshine, so you can grow late salad crops or French beans.

How to grow in a greenhouse

Work out the best way to utilise the space you have, then start thinking about what you want to grow. When sowing seeds indoors, you’ll need clean pots and peat-free multi-purpose compost. A growing tray is great for small plants like herbs. Using a propagator set gives you the best conditions when growing seeds and cuttings on sunny windowsills. Once your seeds have germinated, they’ll need somewhere light and free of frost to grow, so consider insulating your greenhouse in the colder months. Once your crops are sturdy and well-rooted, they can be planted into greenhouse borders, containers or growing bags. After that, it’s all about maintaining your plants.

Greenhouse alternatives

There are alternative ways to grow indoors - a polytunnel is a polythene covered frame that offers protection and creates the ideal growing conditions in the same way a greenhouse does. The biggest difference, however, is cost. Polytunnels offer great value, especially if you’re looking at bigger structures. They’re also easier to customise, can be moved or removed if needed and require less preparation. Similarly, if you’re not looking for something permanent, a plastic greenhouse is similarly beneficial. They’re easily affordable and simple to install, while still offering a lot of the same features if you’re looking for something that’s more short-term.

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