Are Plastic Greenhouses Worthwhile?

Plastic Greenhouse Closed imageThis is a hotly debated subject and opinions are strongly divided though for many people the cost of a glass greenhouse is prohibitive or there is nowhere to put one. Plastic greenhouses when used correctly are incredibly valuable to the gardener and even if you do not have the space for a glass greenhouse, one of these is highly recommended, particularly as you can pick them up for under £30, and often cheaper if you buy at the right time of year.

Whilst a plastic walk in greenhouse isn’t massive, it still has enough space to grow a decent amount of plants. In mine, which is only 4 feet wide and about 3 feet deep I have 2 basil plants, 2 cucamelons, 2 peppers, 3 aubergines and 12 tomato plants! If I ditched the tomato plants I could get loads more in and come spring when I am starting off my seedlings I will be able to get a whole lot more in!

The disadvantage of a plastic greenhouse is that they are fragile. A strong wind will tear one to pieces if it isn’t properly supported and weighed down. A couple of years ago I set one up and then a gale blew through and tore it down, scattering my seedlings everywhere! I would recommend placing it in a sheltered position. Mine is against the south facing back wall of the house so it benefits from sun all day plus the heat and protection from the house.

Plastic greenhouse open imageIt needs staking down properly to prevent the wind catching it. Once the current crops are finished the greenhouse will be dismantled, cleaned and stored over winter. As mine is on concrete I have placed growbags over the poles at the bottom to give it some stability, zipped it firmly shut and placed plants in pots on the edges of the greenhouse to stop the wind catching it.

The advantage of a plastic greenhouse is that it allows you to benefit from a greenhouse without having the cost. it is currently the end of September and my tomatoes are still growing vigorously and producing delicious tomatoes even though the outside ones are starting to give up.

The plants need regular watering because they do get very hot and I would recommend going out in the morning to water them so any excess water has the day to burn off and not damage your plants. You also need to ensure there is plenty of air circulation so on warmer days I open up the greenhouse door and let the fresh air in. This helps dry out the dampness that otherwise accumulates in these types of greenhouse.

Slugs and snails pose a problem as they seem to like the warmth and quality food. I check my plants when I water, taking out some of the pots, turning them around and checking on the soil for pests and remove them when I find them. Also check behind your fruits as I found some snails hiding on the back of one of my bell peppers.

Because of the warm and humid conditions in your plastic greenhouse you need to be extra vigilant for fungal problems. Remove the bottom leaves of your tomato plants and ensure there is some room for the air to circulate. Opening the greenhouse a little during the day will also help the air to get in and prevent any possible build up of these problems.

Plants in Plastic Greenhouse picturePlants such as tomatoes and peppers need heat to ripen rather than just sunlight and towards the end of the growing season they often do not get enough heat to fully ripen, resulting in jar after jar of green tomato chutney. Since I put my peppers and tomatoes in to the greenhouse they have ripened, resulting in the first ever crop of red and yellow peppers! The tomatoes are ripening at a rare old rate and I have to make sure I harvest at least once a day to prevent them from over-ripening and splitting.

In my opinion a plastic greenhouse is well worth the investment. I personally would love a glass greenhouse but space, finances and our current circumstances prevent it. One day I will get one and then I know one isn’t going to be enough! Trust me, you buy one of these and you will soon want more … I’m already planning on buying a second or even a third for next year!

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