Mini Greenhouses & More… Grow Veggies at Home for Less

Fruit and vegetabler market stall

Fruit & vegetables

If you’re like us here at Gazebo Jungle then we’re sure you’re fed up with all of the scaremongering about the U.K running out of fresh fruit and vegetables due to Brexit.

Well, it may be true (this article was written before 29th March 2019) but why not take advantage of the situation and buy a mini greenhouse, potato grow bags if you’re a newbie or maybe wooden veggie planters so you can grow your own.

Don’t get me wrong…

We don’t expect you to be able to produce your annual supply of fruit and veg in a small greenhouse, grow bags or planters but what you can do is to start saving some money by growing your own crops and even make money in the future.(don’t tell the tax man…)

Greenhouses, Polytunnels and Grow Your Own Containers

Brand Size Ideal for… Score
Palram 6x6ft Tomatos, Potatoes,
Cucumbers, Strawberries and more…
🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆

Harbour
6.4(H) x 4.6(D) x 4.8(W) ft Spring onions, Cucumbers and more… 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆
Garden Grow  6x4ft Tomatoes, Brussels Sprouts and more… 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆
GardenMate 3×30 litres (8 gallons) Tomato, carrots, potato, chillis, peppers and more… 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆

Palram Harmony Greenhouse | Sizes = 6x4ft, 6x6ft, 6x8ft, 6x10ft, 6x14ft

Firstly, don’t worry if this 6x6ft greenhouse is not the size that you require because this model is available in 5 different sizes as you can see in the title above and two different colours, green and silver.

Palram Harmony 6x6ft Greenhouse

Click Image to view on Amazon

In this instance I’ll be reviewing the 6x6ft version as personally, I’ve always had a soft spot for square greenhouses.

Let’s go, first up is the colour…

I do prefer this green version of the product as the darker colour will hide any scratches or scuff marks.

Whilst we’re on the subject of scuffs and scratches.

I know that this product is outdoors and has a rust resistant coating, however, the frame will last much longer if you do your best to ensure scratches don’t happen as this will reduce the effectiveness of the powder coating protection.

You’ll also be pleased to know that once it’s been built that it is maintenance free and you can enjoy growing your spring to autumn crops inside it.


You will receive everyhing you need to build the 6x6ft greenhouse in the image above.

Delivery Box

  • Clear Polycarbonate glazing panels
  • 1 x Rust resistant aluminium frame
  • 1 x 1 Manual Vent
  • 1 x Gutters
  • 1 x Hinged door
  • 1 x Base
  • 1 x Step-by-step assembly instructions

Dimension:  1.86m x 1.85m x 2.08m

Weight: 36.8 Kg

See on Amazon

PROS:
  • Easy to assemble
  • Good value for money
  • Ideal for allotments or garden
  • Responsive suppliers
  • Polycarbonate panels let in lots of light

CONS:
  • Hinged door and not a sliding one

Once unpacked and handled, the polycarbonate panels (windows,etc) feel quite flimsy to the touch but once they have been fitted into the frame they are extremely strong and a good fit.

Polycarbonate panels have often been described as being unbreakable.

What is polycarbonate used for?  Polycarbonate, or specifically polycarbonate of bisphenol A, is a clear plastic used to make shatterproof windows, lightweight eyeglass lenses, and such. 

This greenhouse can be used on a variety of firm, level surfaces, however, you must ensure that if you place it on a softer surface then it must be securely anchored down to ensure that it isn’t blown away as it is very light.

It could be worth looking for an area in your garden or allotment that is protected from high winds but still has a good few hours of sunlight each day.

The polycarbonate glazing panels provide 100% UV protection (ultra violet rays) which maybe unknown to you but will prevent the panels from turning yellow and they don’t have sharp edges either wehich prevents cuts when fitting them.

This greenhouse measures 6x6ft, which is a great size for those looking for the best greenhouse for first timers growing their own vegetables.

Specifications

  • External dimensions: 250Lx185Wx209H cm
  • Growing area: 4.4m²
  • Peak Height: 209cm
  • Wind load: 75km/hr
  • Snow load: 100kg/m2
  • Colors: Silver, green, blue
  • Warranty: 5 Years

The walk in height also ensures that most people do not have to bend to enter and can walk freely inside too.

Gutter – There is a built-in gutter that helps to chanel and collect rainwater

Vent – Their is a window that has been added that ensures that you can add extra ventilation should you require it.

See on Amazon

Harbour Housewares Greenhouse | Polethylene Cover with 8 Shelves

Harbour Housewares Greenhouse

Click to view on Amazon

This harbour housewares temporary greenhouse is ideal for growing your own vegetables at home.

It’s very easy to build and can be constructed in about 10 minutes by 2 people, especially as the instructionsare easy to follow too.

To the front of the greenhouse you have a walk in height of 1.96m with a rollable door that can be rolled up and clipped with 2 secure fasteners that hold it tight.

To the rear there is a ventilation window that has velcro attachments and can be tied up with the cord that is attached to the cover


Should you click the image above to view this item on Amazon then here’s what will be delivered to your chosen address.

Delivery Box

  • Tubular steel framework
  • Polyethylene cover
  • 8 metal shelves
  • Instructions provided

The cover also consists of a roll up door that can be clipped up and also has a ventilation window.

See on Amazon

PROS:
  • Retains upto 40% more heat than glass
  • Walk in height 1.96metres
  • Easy to Assemble
  • Sturdy tubular frame

CONS:
  • Cover will degrade over time

Constructing this Harbour greenhouse is simple and the instructions are very easy to follow (can be built without using instructions).

The tubular frame is very easy to fit together and the cover just slots over the top of the greenhouse and can be placed over the top of the frame even before you attach the frame legs.

No tools are required to build this product

The 8 shelves provide plenty of room to place your plants or vegetables away from the ground.  The wire shelves fit perfect and just slot over the frame.

There is also room underneath the shelves and also in the walk in area should you require extra growing room for additional crops.

For most people buying this walk-in greenhouse they will be able to comfortably walk straight in without crouching as the max head height is just short of 2 metres (1.96m/196cm).


Garden Grow Polycarbonate Greenhouse | Rustproof with Sliding Door

This great looking 6x4ft polycarbonate greenhouse is ideal for those of you wanting to grow you own vegetables and fruit on your own property.

Polycarbonate Greenhouse

Click Image to view on Amazon

The frame is very strong which gives you added reassurance that it can stand up to bad weather, whilst it has also been painted with a protective coating to prevent rust and corrosion.

The sliding door utilises space and with it sliding sideways it ensures that it cannot be blown shut that could possibly lead to potential damage of the frame.

The twin UV polycarbonate panels that slot into the frame are a great alternative to glass and provide excellent heat retention and diffuses even sunlight.


 

Gardenmate Potato Grow Bag | 3×30 Litre Soft Sided Plant Pots

GardenMate 3 Pack of Grow Bags

Click to view on Amazon

Growbags are a great alternative to buying mini greenhouses or planters as they can be placed pretty much anywhere and are loads cheaper.

With this product you wil receive 3 x 30 litre bags therefore, if you are a newbie to growing potatoes or any crop for that matter you can do a test run by using just one of them to start with.

Testing with 1 growbag will mean you only have to purchase enough compost to fill your first bag, so, once you get your head around growing produce at home you’ll soon get the other 2 out.

You can also buy compost from Amazon too in varying literage.

Below we normally highlight exactly what you will receive, however, in this case we’ve told you already…

So here are the pros and cons instead.

PROS:
  • Non-breakable from frost or if dropped
  • Reinforced seams and stitched corners
  • No assembly
  • Very strong handles
  • Ideal for tomatoes
  • Soft sided
  • High Insect and disease resistance
  • Easy to lift & carry

CONS:
  • Smaller than expected (try buying 60litre instead)

Buy on Amazon

Soft sided plant pots

It may not be obvious but the soft sided material bags provide an environment for better aeration and promote healthy root stucture which will benefit your crop by ensuring they grow better by aiding nutrition absorbtion by the roots.

Water permeable

The bags are porous which means they have very small interstices (very small spaces) which provide adequate and and controlled drainage, whilst ensuring that air can circulate around the bag.

Over watering can often fast track disease and death of your crops whilst poor air circulation can hinder growth, therefore you will not have this problem if you buy this bag…

Easy to use

These bags are easy to use which means as a first time, novice gardeners you can learn very quickly what it takes to grow your first crop and then maybe one day you’ll venture into buying a mini greenhouse or maybe a poly tunnel.

Also, once you have harvested your crop you can empty the compost into your garden and reuse the bags at a later date simply by folding them and storing them away.


Greenhouse Users Guide – What you can expect

With Brexit on the horizon, and the UK importing around 30% of the food we consume from Europe (Source: Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs).

Shockingly, 55% of our broccoli and tomatoes come from the EU aswell!

So, we’ll probably struggle to get hold of many should Brexit happen. That’s where a green house can come in to save your meals.

Once you’ve got your very own greenhouse, there’s an endless amount of satisfaction that you’ll achieve from using it.

It extends the growing season for you, giving you more time to produce more organic, tasty foods.

Brexit shouldn’t be the only reason you invest in a greenhouse, it’s amazing to be able to grow your own food, and healthy!

Where should you put your greenhouse?

Ideally you want one long side of the your greenhouse to be facing south, this allows it to receive the maximum amount of sunlight possible during the day.

Facing it this way ensures whatever you grow will receive an adequate amount of sunlight and stay warm.

Another factor to consider when deciding on the optimal location for your greenhouse is water supply, it’s preferable for this to be close.

Keeping this nearby will save you a lot of effort, yes you can lug a heavy watering can across your garden but it’s not ideal.

Electricity is optional but if you’re planning on installing lights / heaters or an automatic irrigation system for your greenhouse then this might be necessary.

However, if that’s not available, don’t fret as many of those things can be battery operated.

Worst case scenario you can buy a generator to place nearby.

What types of greenhouses are available?

To be honest, there’s many different classifications for gazebos based on the layout or design, but we’re not going to worry about that as it’s purely down to personal preference.

But the most important is the materials that it’s made up of, as this is what will have the biggest impact on the health of your plants.

Deciding on the right material also depends on which type of plants you intend to grow.
So there’s a few main types:

Glass:

Probably the most popular type available, the typical style that comes to mind when you think of a greenhouse.

Strong glass greenhouse

A typical glass greenhouse

I’d consider these to be one of the best looking styles but it does come with its downfalls.

Obviously, with it being glass, it’s not the strongest of materials and can quite easily be broken.

Especially if you elect for the single pane option.

Glass has great light transmission, letting the majority pass through with ease.

However, glass lets light through in a singular direction so ideally you want to find a way to diffuse the light.

Diffusing lights helps reduce the intensity of shadows within the greenhouse that can come from pipes or hanging baskets.

difference between diffused glass and standard

An example of diffused glass vs regular glass

Diffusion works by allowing the light to pass through the glass and then disperse into multiple directions rather than just one direction.

It’s created by treating the surface of glass by essentially damaging the surface and making it uneven, this can also be achieved with sprays. Both methods make the surface uneven at a microscopic level.

Obviously, this is near impossible to do at home and we really don’t recommend you try it as your panes will probably end up broken.

There are multiple advantages to having diffused glass in your green house. For example, it’s been proven to help increase production by up to 10% as well as helping maintain an even climate throughout.

There are two main types of greenhouse glass available: single and double glazed.

Single glazing has poor insulation and tends to let more light in than you need, which can be detrimental for your plant’s health. Often burning them and ruining all your hard work.

Double glazing is definitely the go to option for a greenhouse as it keeps much more heat in, so you don’t really have to worry about your plants even on the colder days. Unfortunately, as you’ll have double the amount of glass, you’ll have to spend a bit more money.

Acrylic / Plexiglass

Acrylic is much cheaper than glass and it’s perfect if you’re on a budget.

It’s also much stronger than glass, with an impact resistance that can be 5 times greater than glass.

So with that being said, if you’ve got children that will be regularly playing in your garden then the last thing you want is broken glass everywhere.

Acrylic doesn’t shatter. if it breaks, it’s much easier to clean up and you not be having to worry about random shards lying around for your children to fall on.

Replacing broken acrylic is also a breeze to, it’s almost like playing with Lego.

Your plants will appreciate the acrylic too!

It will shield them from the cold and due to the tremendous insulation properties it features, they’ll be wrapped in a shield of warmth for hours.

Cleaning tip: To keep it clean, just use a soap and water mixture and you’ll have them sparkling in no time. Ensure you use a soft cloth though as you don’t want to end up scratching it.

Light is well diffused with this material as they manufacture it with the intentions of it being good at diffusing light.

When the acrylic sheets are manufactured, they naturally end up with a UV ray filter, stopping your plants from being over exposed and dying.

It’s also pretty light weight so you don’t have to spend too much on the greenhouse support structure.

Only in recent times has it become more popular for use within greenhouses as it’s always been quite expensive.

This is until recently, the manufacturing process has been greatly improved and thus helping reduce costs for the customers.

Pro tip: If you ever find a sticker on your acrylic sheets (maybe your child stuck them one day when they was bored), you can simply remove it with lighter fluid. Be careful not to scratch it though.

Polyethylene

An inexpensive option, it’s also perfect if you’re planning on creating your own green house.

Plastic film greenhouse

Polyethelene greenhouse, reminds me of a pigsty!

You can easily shape the sheets to fit around your structure, so you can turn nearly anything in to a greenhouse if you really wanted.

It’s very breathable, allowing oxygen through it no matter how tight you end up sealing your structure. This is great for the life of your plants and also for the insulation as it stops cool breezes blowing through.

Unfortunately, it’s not the most durable of materials.

If you have animals running around your garden, cats specifically, then its best to try and avoid this material as they can easily put holes in with their claws. They seem to love doing this, annoyingly.

On the flip side, you don’t have to worry about your children destroying it as balls and other blunt objects will simply bounce or slide off.

It’s prone to yellowing after long term sun exposure but you can combat this pretty easily with a protective coating.

There’s many types of protective coatings available for poly films which gives you great control of the environment based on what plants you are growing.

An example coat would be the anti-condensation, this prevents exorbitant condensation build up which is a common occurrence in greenhouses.

Alone, it’s not great at diffusing light but again there’s a coating available that will increase the diffusibility.

Overall it’s ideal if you’re on a budget or you plan on creating a custom structure and want a tight cover that’s easy to install.

Fibreglass

This is a material that’s great if you think your greenhouse might come under a lot of weather related strain.
It’s pretty cheap and quite lightweight so you don’t need a very robust structure to hold it in place.

frosted fibreglass greenhouse

You can see that these have slightly frosted panes

On the contrary, if you go for the cheapest fibreglass available then you will most likely end up replacing it after 4 or 5 years.

Unfortunately, it’s vulnerable to the sun, I know you’re thinking “how can a greenhouse be vulnerable to sunlight” but that’s the case with fibreglass.

This is due to the actual fibres in the material expanding and in turn end up reducing the amount of light that’s able to transmit through.

Quite unfortunate really, as without this drawback it’s an all round great piece of material.

Safety warning: Fibreglass is quite prone to combustion and should not be kept near any form of open flame. Many gardeners avoid using fibreglass purely because of this reason.

Polycarbonate

This is very thick plastic, essentially, it’s just multiple layers of polyethylene combined to create a single or double wall.

polycarbonate greenhouse with frosted panes

Thick plastic polycarbonate, slightly frosted

Whether you opt for a single or double wall is down to your budget, I’d personally recommend the double wall if you’re in a cooler area as you’re getting twice the insulation.

The heat retention properties that this material has is much greater than glass, so your greenhouse will stay warmer for longer.

It’s surprisingly durable, again another great choice if you have children frequently playing in the garden as it doesn’t shatter when it gets broken (plus it’s quite hard to break).

You can expect it to last around 10 years with good care so you’ll definitely get your moneys worth from this material.

It doesn’t quite let as much light through as glass does but it’s much better at diffusing it so your plants get a nice even coverage and don’t burn.

Another downside to having this material is that it can be quite prone to clouding over time, this is also known as yellowing. Once this begins to happen, less light comes through the panels but with regular care you can avoid this.

On the flip side to these few negative points, it does a good job at keeping the greenhouse very humid. Therefore, it’s awesome for all year round growing.

Caring for your soil

There’s plenty of things that you need to do if you want to have soil that’s optimal for a healthy year of gardening.

First of all, ensure you remove any stones from the area as this can restrict growth for your plants and stop them getting sufficient nutrition.

Stones are especially bad for carrot growth as it can cause forks, meaning there’s multiple growths coming from the carrot.

Second, make sure you till your soil.

This is essentially just a fancy word for churning up your garden, breaking down any clumps of soil so that it’s much easier for your vegetables to push through the ground.

Year round greenhouse guide – What to plant and when

Well, with a greenhouse, this will extend your gardening season by a significant amount.

If it’s really well designed then you could even use it all year round, this would most likely require some form of heater inside though.

Carrots

A personal favourite of mine, hence why I chose to write about these first.

They’re really easy to grow and are just a fantastic addition to any meal. I often give my dog carrots from our garden, he likes to chew on frozen ones too.

The reason carrots are so easy to grow is the fact they are naturally resistant to many pests and diseases, it makes for a great first time growers choice.

Packed with vitamins and antioxidants that are known to help reduce the risk of cancer.

Planting:

You want to get these planted in a soft soil as they like to grow deep into the ground, that’s why they always have the pointed shape.

They don’t necessarily need to be in a greenhouse unless you want to plant them a little earlier.

I’d recommend planting them in March at the earliest (if you’re planting outside) as they prefer warmer temperatures and plenty of sunlight.

When you sow the seeds, you should aim to have them all planted about 1cm deep and with around a 5cm gap between each other due to them mainly growing down.

When I planted my carrots, they I had them in rows that were around 20 – 30cm apart, this allowed me to get sufficient water to all of them.

Harvesting

Your carrots will be ready after around 12-16 weeks after you originally plant the seeds. I like to pick mine as and when I will be eating them, but through this I found that leaving them too long will mean you lose out on flavour.

So, my advice to you is try to get them all picked within two weeks once you begin to harvest them. This will ensure that you keep the full flavour and still have decent sized carrots.

Sweet Potatoes

This is a vegetable that’s constantly growing in popularity throughout the UK.

You’ll be glad to hear that they have fewer calories than their standard potato counterpart, and many more vitamins.

It’s perfect for Sunday roasts, making chips, jacket sweet potatoes. I quite like slicing them thinly and cooking them in the over, it makes for a much healthier alternative to crisps.

Planting

“Slips” are the best way to get this vegetable to grow, you can simply buy some from your local supermarket and wait for the potato to flower.

Sweet potato slips

Potato slips growing (tubers)

Once it’s flowered, you can cut of the slips and plant them, it really feels like you’re a part of nature.

For these you’re going to be needing a moisture retentive soil, you can easily improve the quality of your soil through compost.

Sweet potatoes like warmth, so for that reason I’d recommend you hold off on planting them early.

Try and plant them mid April, this will give spring a chance to kick in a bit more and warm up this cold country.

Harvesting

The disappointing part, how long do you have to wait?

Well, with a sweet potato, you can expect to wait 4 – 5 months before it’s ready for harvest.

A way that I find useful for knowing if my sweet potatoes are ready for harvest is by simply checking the leaves, if they have begun to yellow and wither away then this is a great sign that your potatoes are ready.

You can quite easily freeze what you don’t end up eating, but you must make sure that they aren’t tubers as they’ll rot quickly when frozen.

Also, my advice for freezing them is to boil them first as this helps preserve the potato for longer.

An expert tip that I can give you (not many people know), is that you can substitute spinach with sweet potato leaves.

The taste and texture of these leaves highly resembles spinach, I was surprised and excited when I first learned this as I’m a big fan of spinach.

Brussels Sprouts

Get your Christmas plate ready, the best brussels sprouts are about to land.

Not everyone is the biggest fan of this vegetable, but I absolutely love them and I’m sure you’ll change quite a few minds if you grow your own.

They’re a great project for you to nourish and watch them flourish ready for that prestigious meal.

I see them as mini cabbages and the truth is, they were actually thought to just be a growth from a cabbage plant when they were first discovered.

But the most important point of all, where do brussels sprouts come from?

Belgium, of course!

Planting

You want these to be in an area that’s covered well by sunlight, but you must ensure that no strong winds can get to the plant as they can easily snap (greenhouses are perfect for brussels sprouts)

You’ll want to give quite a lot of space between the plants, I’d say 55 – 60cm and at least 70cm between the rows.

They cover quite a large area with their roots, hence the distance required.

You’ve also got to ensure that you water them well, preferably every 7 days or so.

Caterpillars absolutely love feasting on these, try to remove them when you see them.

Harvesting

You can start enjoying your brussels sprouts in late August.

I always harvest them from the bottom, I take them as I require them for my meals.

It’s widely recommended to leave them growing as long as you can as the first frost will give them an abundance of extra flavour.

Once the season comes to a close, the sprout top can be eaten.

A favourite in our household is just a simple soup:

  1. Blend the top with water
  2. Add some of this years harvest (usually carrots and onions for us)
  3. Salt, pepper to taste
  4. Enjoy

I know my recipe isn’t the most robust but whenever we make it, we play it by ear and don’t usually measure things out.

Extra tips and hints

There’s plenty of “life hacks” you can do to make your gardening more successful and easier.

The first tip I’ve got, black pots.

Often people opt for brown pots, mainly because they are the traditional style and are probably more aesthetically pleasing if I’m honest.

But black pots retain heat much better as darker colours absorb much more light, this makes them great for keeping the roots warmer for just that little bit longer.

Alongside this tip, to get the most out of it, ensure you try to avoid dark colour for any other items in the greenhouse as they will only absorb extra light.

If you’ve got any spare wood lying around, it’s quite easy to craft your own plant/flower beds by simply cutting the wood, placing it in a rectangle shape.

If you ever decide to do this but you don’t have any nails or glue to keep it together, don’t worry, simply dig a shallow trench for each side of the bed to hold the wood upright. A few inches should do it.

Here’s a quick list of tips if this is the first experience you have with a greenhouse (Learned through my own mistakes):

  • Thermometer: Invaluable piece of kit that you will need, it’ll help you ensure your plants are comfortable. Checking this regularly is vital during the more extreme weather periods.
  • Slugs / Pests: Something you must never forget about. Obviously the greenhouse itself will give you piece of mind but before you leave each evening, just have a quick scour for any slugs and remove them.
  • Plastic bags: If you know it’s going to be a cold night, I’d recommend covering your saplings to protect them from the frost.
  • Water, water, water: I can’t reiterate this enough, there was a few days when I just completely forgot. Set a reminder on your phone, anything. Also, I found watering my plants in the evening helped them flourish as less water evaporated than it would in the day time.

You should be proud of yourself for growing your own food. Especially with the uncertainty regarding Brexit, it’ll ensure you have a consistent supply of vegetables or fruit.

Becoming self sufficient helps reduce your carbon footprint, so not only are you becoming healthier but so is the environment and by doing this you’re helping prevent global warming.