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Inherited a greenhouse, can anyone tell me why...?

(14 Posts)
Missybaby Sun 14-Apr-13 09:30:46


Moved house recently and am very excited to have inherited an old greenhouse. It must have been there at least 50 years. I have been clearing it out and found that the floor of the greenhouse has a strip of paving down the middle and then bare soil either side. My mum says this is normal. Why is this? Is it so you can plant straight into the ground??
Is this still the case with modern greenhouses?

I was going to get DH to lay some paving stones down for me, but maybe I shouldn't be doing this??

Seems they had put a plastic sheet all over this soil and up the windows and roof, I am guessing to insulate the greenhouse?? It has all deteriorated and is a nightmare to clear up as has fractured into millions of little pieces. But what's the point of insulating a greenhouse?? Do they get too cold in the winter then??

Ambridge Sun 14-Apr-13 09:40:26

Lucky you to inherit a greenhouse! Yes, some are (still) built with earth beds along the sides so you can plant directly into the ground for eg tomatoes.

However, if it's a very old greenhouse and you think the soil may have been used year after year, it may need attention. Adding compost or some sort of soil improver might be a good idea, though you'd possibly have to cart some of the old soil out.

If you wanted, you could pave over and then grow things in pots or grow bags, which is what I do.

As for greenhouses getting cold, yes they do, but it depends what you have in there 'over-wintering'. I don't use mine to keep delicate things going till spring, so I don't insulate. It all depends on what you're going to use it for.

What sort of things were you thinking of growing?

Missybaby Sun 14-Apr-13 17:18:02

Thanks Ambridge flowers
I have been busy outside today (such a warm sunny daysmile) and in the greenhouse. I have cleared one side of the greenhouse ready for DH to lay some paving slabs. I think pots would be best for me or grobags as you say.
I just need to find some potting benches/shelves which are lightweight and cheap. Most seem to be too expensive! Can't really spend more than £50 hmm

cantspel Sun 14-Apr-13 19:17:03

cheap green house staging in wilkos


Greenhouse bench from greenfingers large £59 or smaller £54

cantspel Sun 14-Apr-13 19:18:31


Talkinpeace Sun 14-Apr-13 20:08:41

greenhouse insulation : to keep plants frost free
bare soil : to plant stuff like tomatoes and aubergines and cucumbers and melons and less hardy ornamentals
please do not pave over it

Doilooklikeatourist Sun 14-Apr-13 20:17:40

Don't pave over the earth .
We grew courgettes , cut and come again lettuce , tomatoes and herbs in our greenhouse last year
Doing the same again this year , but adding green beans and cucumber .

Missybaby Sun 14-Apr-13 20:44:48

oh gosh, really?? ok, i will reconsider. (DH will be pleased ha ha ha!).
But do I put the staging over the plants growing in the soil then??
thanks so much for the links cantspel!

Ambridge Tue 16-Apr-13 12:06:14

Hi again missy. It's fine to leave the beds if you prefer but as I said up thread, I'd be slightly concerned if that earth has been used for years and not given any attention - tomatoes are hungry beggars and you'd probably need to give the soil a good feed and/or replace some of it with new compost.

We inherited an old greenhouse with beds and the soil was pretty much exhausted; when we had a new greenhouse of our own I decided not to have borders and to use pots & grow bags. Never regretted it!

However if you keep them, you can just position staging over the top while you use the greenhouse for growing on the seedlings and young plants, but if you plant into the beds you'd need to move the staging. You can buy support frames for tomatoes....look up sites like Harrod Horticultural for all sorts of useful ideas, though you can often find it much cheaper if you shop around!

willowstar Tue 23-Apr-13 19:39:15

I plant straight into the earth in mine...I rotate my crops and will dig through compost next year but it has been fine the last few years. I'd keep the soil if I were you.

DewDr0p Sun 28-Apr-13 00:11:39

I'd keep the soil too. You can always add a load of compost or better still well rotted manure if it needs a boost. Plants nearly always do better into proper soil, as the roots can reach down deep for moisture. Pots in a hot greenhouse will dry out very quickly. Hth.

purplewithred Sun 28-Apr-13 10:22:41

I'd keep the soil too. Rather than plant right into it every year you could do what I do and plant your tomatoes etc into big pots that have had the bottoms cut off (or planters like these) then they get fresh compost round the tops of them but can put their roots down into the soil which helps stop them drying out. I've currently got lettuce and carrots growing in my greenhouse while the tomatoes get going.

bumperella Sun 28-Apr-13 16:49:42

Is much easier to keep plants watered in a soil border than in pots, which is a big advantage.
BUT soil is hard work, as you will need to dig in LOTS of good compost every year, and even then remove and replace a good amount of the soil every few years as pests build up and nutrients diminish and soil structure gets damaged.

GreenShadow Sun 28-Apr-13 16:53:58

WE have bare soil in about 2/3rds of ours with potting benches over the other 1/3rd.

WE add loads of manure each spring and grow mainly tomatoes plus some peppers, aubergines etc

As others have said, please do not out paving down - tomatoes etc need the full height of the greenhouse to grow.

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