Greenhouse Gardening with Jean Gallagher

This edition of Garden Clippings features guest blogger Jean Gallagher, publisher of OnlyGreenhouseReviews.com, a resource for the avid greenhouse gardener. Jean has gardened in her own outdoor greenhouses, in climates both temperate and extreme, and works to help other gardeners consider their gardening needs before investing in a greenhouse of their own.

When growing plants in a greenhouse, creativity is a must to use the space efficiently. Whether you are using a small lean-to greenhouse or one of the fancy large Victorian greenhouses the proper placement of your plants will increase your yield. Being organized doesn’t mean boring though, so use the ideas below as a guide before using your own imagination.

Using different size and shape containers enables you to adjust the type of soil nutrients and additives as well as moisture in the soil. You can increase the bounty of your harvest  by using separate containers to cater to each plant’s special needs.

Here are seven containers for your greenhouse and the plants that love them:

1. Deep Boxes. Plant root crops such as carrots, radishes, beets and turnips in deep boxes placed under your greenhouse bench. This will utilize what otherwise could be wasted space. Also, root crops aren’t dependent on strong sunlight.

2. Tub-Type Containers. Tomatoes, peas, cucumbers and pole beans can be planted in tub-type containers, with lettuce or other low, leafy vegetables planted around the base of the taller plants. You can use tomato cages or make your own with poles and twine or wide mesh.

3. Directly in the ground.  The most amazing corn will grow in your greenhouse. Save space by planting pumpkins or other types of squash between the rows.  Remember the need for good drainage. Before planting seeds, prepare the soil with compost and an organic additive to aerate the soil.

4. Burlap bags or Plastic Mesh Bags.  Potatoes grow well in these types of bags. If you use the plastic mesh type you will have saved a landfill from one more plastic bag. Plant potatoes into the soil from the top of the bag but you can cut 2-inch slits around the sides and add smaller plants as well. You will have a more efficient use of water if you water directly onto the base of each plant. In addition, you can mulch the entire bag. This will hold in the moisture as well as hiding what might be an unsightly orange mesh bag.

5. Small plastic bottles. Hang with “s” hooks from the wall and ceiling frame of your greenhouse. By punching a small hold in the bottom, these make wonderful containers for many small plants. You will utilize space that would otherwise go to waste.

Cut off the top conical part of the bottle and push the cone to the bottom. This will aid air penetration and drainage. (Photo credit: Willem Van Cotthem)

6. Hanging baskets for strawberries and edible flowers. You can plant almost anything in hanging baskets, but lighter-weight plants are preferable. Too many hanging baskets with heavy vegetables will put added strain on your greenhouse frame. A heavy duty greenhouse is strong; however, you won’t have to worry as long as you use good judgment.

7. Old Plastic Water Jugs. Cut off the top third of the jug and use the remaining two-thirds for many small plants such as scallions or chives. The jugs can easily be tucked in between other containers.

You will come up with your own ideas as you become more involved with your greenhouse. The ideas are limitless. Most of all, enjoy! There is nothing like spending peaceful and productive time within the four walls of your own little paradise.

Thanks, Jean, for sharing your top tips for using containers in the greenhouse!


 

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Comments

Excellent review for all container gardeners. For my recent experiments with plastic bottles I only cut off the top conical part, fill the bottle with a mixture of potting soil and sand (not pure potting soil!) and perforate the bottle wall at 1-1.5 inch (2.5-3.5 cm) above the bottom. Thus, a small quantity of water is stored at the bottom, which is gradually absorbed by the substrate above, avoiding acidification by standing water.

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