Once we’d finalised the layout of the vegetable garden, our first challenge was to get the main feature installed and begin building the greenhouse.
Positioning the Greenhouse
We had originally intended to position the greenhouse in a far corner of the vegetable garden, giving little thought to how it would actually look, and what part it would play in the garden design. I just saw it as a practical ‘tool’ for starting seeds and growing more tender fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes and chillies.
But on our first filming day for Big Dreams, Small Spaces, when we showed our proposed garden layout to Monty Don, he quite rightly suggested that the greenhouse should take pride of place in the centre of the vegetable garden. We were spending a lot of money on this feature, so why hide it in a corner? Put it on show!
So we did just that… Rather tentatively at first, I redesigned the whole layout and placed the greenhouse FIRST, then arranged the other elements such as the raised beds and the compost bins around that. The spot we chose is sunny, on level ground, and sheltered from winds as much as it can be, with an open field directly behind the garden. We also made sure there was enough room to push a wheelbarrow around the outside!
The plan below isn’t exactly how the garden ended up, but it’s the final plan that we worked to and adapted as we went along!
For all my garden planning I use the Garden Planner app on www.growveg.com – it was invaluable for this project and I’ve used it ever since!
Choosing a Design
Back to the greenhouse… we had set our hearts on a brick based, wooden framed greenhouse but unfortunately our budget wasn’t as ambitious as our dreams, but we were determined to find something that was eye-catching and not just a basic shape and frame.
Once we’d established where it was to be situated, we dug out the foundations on a very cold February day and started actually building the greenhouse!
During this time, renovation was ongoing on the inside of the house too, and our helpful builder (who also happens to be our brother-in-law) put down a concrete base for us to start from.
We enlisted my Dad to help construct the framework, but the day that we chose just happened to be the coldest, windiest, winter’s day we’d encountered for a long time! Teamed with the fact that the assembly instructions were challenging to say the least, progress on building the greenhouse was much slower than we expected; in fact what should have taken a day took us well over a week to complete!
My mum and her husband were drafted in for extra help to finish the frame and add the glazing.
We are so pleased with the finished result! It’s a smart looking design with curved edges and a green metal frame rather than the traditional silver. It has plenty of space and good ventilation with the roof windows and also slatted vents at the side and back.
I’m pleased to say that, a year later, the greenhouse is standing strong so although it might have been easier to have paid for the construction, we saved ourselves money and learned a few new skills by building a greenhouse ourselves!
Edited to add: here is the greenhouse a year later in 2015, bursting with plants and standing in pride of place in the centre of the vegetable garden!