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mullethunter

Greenhouse fruit

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I got a small (6’ by 4’) greenhouse for Christmas. I’m currently making a base for it (why is it so hard to get something level?!).

So I have three questions for he greenfingered among you:

1) What do you recommend for a base / floor? 

2) Although it’s small I quite like the idea of a small fruit tree of some sort in it - what would you go for and do you think in the ground or a big pot?

3) What things do you use your greenhouse for (so far thinking tomatoes, sweet peppers, cucumbers and cucamelons)

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We have a tiny greenhouse.

It has gravel on the base.

Usually I have tomatoes in pots in it over the summer but will be planting them in the borders again as they did so well last year and the roots were much better than anything in a pot.

I usually have plug plants in there in the spring and right now have my sweet peas that I sowed in October.

It's also a good place to overwinter fuchia plants.

Mine is really too small to do much else but still a useful space.

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Posted (edited)

We have a central path of flag stones in out 6x8.  We have soil on one side that I’m supposed to plant into as it has one of those soaker hoses running through it from the rainwater butt.  I often just chuck growbags on top of it though as it is easier than digging and fertilising the soil every year.  The other side has a metal bench for pots like chillies, aubergines (mini varieties) and peppers.  Tried melons but ended up with a huge for a very little melon. We grow cucumbers outdoors now as it is hard to keep the greenhouse warm and humid enough.  The lunchbox mini cucumbers do well in pots on a sunny but sheltered spot.  In the greenhouse they kept getting mildrew.  

Courgettes, squashes,  beans, root veg, brassicas and peas are better outdoors as they need cooler temperatures.  You can start them in the greenhouse though; Lengths of guttering work well as it makes spacing easy and you can just slide the seedlings into a trench with minimal root disturbance. 

Most fruit trees, even mini ones, are going to take up a lot of space and you need to think about pollination.  Some fruit trees can’t self-pollinate so a single tree in an enclosed space wouldn’t set fruit.  Maybe look at one of the patio fruit trees to grow in a large pot. Some have multiple types grafted onto single trunk as this may get round the pollination issue but would still struggle in a greenhouse due to lack of pollinators. 

 

Apologies for any typos.  My vision isn’t great tonight and autocorrect is doing is best to sabotage my efforts.

Edited by ajm200
Typos

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Depending on the size of the greenhouse, what about a grape? They are easy to prune, so if it gets to big, you can just cut it back.

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I've got a small green house which I got full of anticipation. I've been very disappointing! It's just a dumping place now. I'm going to change that this year. I will pinch ideas and enthusiasm from here and get my greenhouse groove back! 

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Ours in England was set on slabs with exterior grade timber under the aluminium frame to give a bit of extra height. The timber makes it easier to set the base level as well. We grew in grow bags which were folded in half, cut and stood on end, acting like plant pots. We grew tomatoes, peppers and always had one cucumber plant. Started the squashes off in it as well. Needed to watch the wind though as it blew off the framework a couple of times and was eventually bolted to it.

Worth adding extra loose bolts to the roof members which allows the later addition of plant supports, because extra bolts can't be added after assembly of the frame.

Struggling to find somewhere wind protected to put it over here though. We bought one over because they are so expensive here and can't be bought secondhand. Think we have as spot which just means some more soil excavation and removal of years of dumped household refuse from the days before bin collections. It then puts the roof level with the ground to the West, which hopefully means it will survive?

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I have never had a greenhouse so I can't offer any practical advice I'm afraid, although I really like Beantree's post and the bit about growing toms as I would have advised putting them in the ground but his idea is probably the best of both worlds.  My SIL used hers for starting seeds off until she lost enthusiasm, and one of my neighbours in the UK used hers for overwintering geraniums, very successfully.  I think I would deffo do the seed starting thing and also grow toms, peppers, chili and aubergines.  My grandad used to grow (or maybe just start?) his cucs in a home-made coldframe, I suppose that is the same sort of idea.  If you like grapes I would might give one a go; I know someone who very successfully grows one in a polytunnel, and I might explore other sorts of exotica as well.  I know parsley grows very well in a polytunnel, so perhaps other soft herbs might do well as long as they don't get too hot, so possibly under the staging.  Actually my SIL (who lives in N.France) has since bought another greenhouse, a large one, and uses it as her conservatory for humans.  She has a vent in it, an automatic one, which is brilliant as it opens and closes on its own, I think even when it rains.  She grows toms right into November, and has a grape, a fig, and a citrus in pots which go in and out according to the season.  Have fun!

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Posted (edited)

Originally we inherited an aluminium greenhouse that had soil - I say soil, but it had some sort of damp loving plant/algae thing with big leaves. Have no idea what it was although it looked pretty.  We had lots of problems with the glass in high winds even though it was by a fence!  We changed to a larger wooden one 8 x 15 and had concrete for the base but inside was a layer of plastic with gravel over.  We grew oranges, lemons and limes in there (oh the scent!!!!) which were put outside in the summer - then it was for tomatoes in pots with peppers and other veg sowings for planting in the veggie patch.  We didn't have much success with the citrus as I fought a losing battle against scale insect!  We had great success with gherkins though.  Not tried melons, although my FIL had lots of melons in his - and they tasted delicious!  We had a paraffin heater in the aluminium one, but don't recommend it.  The wooden one we had electricity installed which was perfect for fan heater - until we saw the electricity bill!  It was then used for heated propagators, which worked very well.  If cold weather was forecast I just covered everything with fleece.  We stopped using bubble wrap because it was great at sticking to the windows and disintegrating!  

This year in the move we have space for a superduper greenhouse which was put up on the 31st!  So far there are spuds chitting and 40 garlic cloves in pots.  This has no electricity as it is a fair distance away from the house, so the propagator has been set up in the porch - which is like a mini greenhouse and has a socket!  Where there's a will . . . although I have been thinking of some sort of solar power instead along with a battery - a bit like the electric fence!!!!  With regard to the ground, the base is on concrete but soil in the middle.  The tomatoes do so much better in the ground and easier to water.  We had a water butt in the last greenhouse which was really helpful with regard to temperature and not such a shock to the plants - we've done the same with the new one.  The greenhouse is a Rhino and oh my goodness I love it!!!!

Edited by Valkyrie
Oops! Missed a bit out!

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Thanks gang that’s a brilliant set of replies and ideas. I really fancy a fig so maybe I’ll get one in a big pot that can go in and out of the greenhouse (just autocorrected to funhouse 🤣) as needed. Then I think as it’s small I’ll just go for slabs and use growbags - I guess I can always remove a couple of slabs if I change my mind. 

Beantree I like your idea of turning grow bags on their end - I’m definitely going to do that. 

I might get a grape too but I would plant that in the ground I think. We have one outdoors but it never does very well.

Will give physalis (or syphilis as they’re known in my family 🙄) a go too I think DM.

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