Sometimes, a greenhouse is out of reach. This may be because of the expense or the lack of space in your garden. It may even be due to lack of garden itself! So what are the alternatives to a greenhouse if money or space is lacking?
If you want to increase the range of plants that you can grow and the way you grow them, there are numerous alternatives available if for whatever reason you can’t put a greenhouse in your garden.
Whether it’s a windowsill exposed to indirect sunlight, the conservatory tagged onto the back of your house or a mini-greenhouse squeezed into the only space you have left, there’s always a way to enjoy the benefits of greenhouse gardening when you don’t have a greenhouse.
Greenhouses are not only expensive, but they also take up a large amount of space in the garden and if you don’t have the funds to purchase one, nor the space, then you may feel you will be missing out on one of the most enjoyable forms of gardening. But all is not lost. There are a number of alternatives available and we’ll try and show you some ideas in this article.
Having a windowsill that receives a generous amount of indirect sunlight during the day is a great substitute for a propagator. Simply plant seeds in a tray and cover them with a glass or plastic and wait for them to germinate.
Alternatively, if the windowsill is quite large, you can actually place a heated propagator there during the winter months. There is one drawback with using a windowsill and something you will need to be aware of. The light will only come from one direction and so you’ll need to regularly turn the tray around so that the light is distributed as evenly as possibly so that the growing plants don’t start to lean.
Conservatories have been described as greenhouses of the home and while true that they make an excellent alternative for growing and displaying plants, there are a few drawbacks compared to a greenhouse. Firstly, the glass in the windows tends to be a special glass that is designed to reduce the glare for people and so isn’t ideal for your plants as the light passing through is lessened. Also, due to them being part of the home, they tend to have furniture which disallows given your plants a complete damping down.
On the other hand, due to them being double-glazed and heated, it makes them ideal when growing tropical plants. Ideally, you’ll want your conservatory installed with vents in the roof and with a stone floor tiling to cope with any watering.
A porch is a good area to use as a plant display area but it would be inadvisable to use as a location for growing area and young plants. Too much traffic through the porch would create too many fluctuations in the environment for this to be viable not to mention the effects of drafts or potential damage from people passing by. However, if you have porch that is indirectly exposed to sunlight, is rarely used and is warm on a consistent basis can be, as already mentioned, be used as a display area for mature plants.
You don’t want to be disheartened if your garden is so small that you are unable to site a standard greenhouse within it. As we’ve already seen, greenhouse come in a variety of shapes and sizes and you should be able to find something small enough to fit your needs. Although ideally you’d want one large greenhouse to meet all your needs, having one or two small or tiny mini-greenhouses in the spaces you have available is better than none. As long as you position them in areas of the garden that is exposed to sunlight for most of the day, there is no reason why you can’t grow some of the smaller types of plant.
Cold Frames And Cloches
A cloche is a transparent plastic sheet used to cover seeds and young plants that have been sown directly into the soil. They are perfectly adept at protecting the plants from both predators and the cold weather. More expensive cloches come with a rigid wire structure and can be used to cover and protect a vegetable row but can be tricky to set up or take down.
A cold frame is similar to a cloche in purpose but usually consists of a wooden or plastic box with a lid. They are very good for raising seeds, protecting cuttings and warding off the cold during winter.
Polytunnels are one of the most common alternatives to a greenhouse that are available. You’ll be able find them relatively cheap and they are quick and easy to set up and start using. Their primary use is to protect plants growing in the soil but they are less effective in raising seeds or displaying plants. You must, however, be mindful that you will have no real control of the heating and ventilation within a polytunnel. In time, the sheet will begin to damage but the plus side of this is that they are easier and cheaper to repair or, if the need arises, replace completely.
So as you can see, there are a number of alternatives to a greenhouse if your budget is tight, or if the space in your garden is limited or non-existent. You don’t need to miss out on an enjoyable form of gardening if you lack either of these two things. The joys of greenhouse gardening, even in a lite form, can be available to everybody no matter their circumstances at home.