A greenhouse erected in the meadow on Tara’s property

Gourmet Gardener: Greenhouse goals

Crispy cold mornings with frost tipped grass are finally upon us. Moving into this quieter period in the garden, we can take time to reflect on the growing successes and challenges of the last year and plan for the year ahead.

Winter can be a good time to plan for structures such as greenhouses or polytunnels, as they will probably have a lead-in time, and will need to be assembled, so organising in advance of the growing season is best.

A good quality greenhouse can be a large investment, depending on the size. It can make a significant dent in the gardening budget – however, there are options for lowering the cost, for example opting for a pre-loved greenhouse.

Second-hand greenhouses can be sourced online. The biggest tip for purchasing a second-hand greenhouse is to dismantle it yourself, as that allows you to take pictures and mark the different sections, to make it somewhat easier to erect.

When erecting a new or pre-loved greenhouse, the first thing you will need to do is build a base. The base is important as it will give support to the structure. You need a clear site that gets a good amount of sunlight and enough room to walk around the greenhouse for cleaning.

Once you know the dimensions of the greenhouse you can decide what materials to use for the base. Wood, brick or concrete are the common options for a sturdy house – the main thing is that the base is level and gives stability.

One tip to ensure the base is square is to measure across the diagonal. If the sides and diagonals are equal then the base is square.

Assembling greenhouses can be challenging as they have many nuts and bolts, and especially if the second-hand structure does not come with a manual. You may also find that many of the nuts and bolts can’t be salvaged or are missing. The good news is they are easy to replace, so have some spares ready before you build.

Building a greenhouse is a two-person job. It is better to get the greenhouse up in one go as the frame alone can be flimsy and a gust of wind can cause it to lean.

Check the weather before commencing the project would be my advice.

Glazing the greenhouse should be done with care, especially if the glass is second-hand and old. Work slow and steady to avoid accidents.

Not all structures need that much effort or attention when erecting. If you have a narrow patio and want to dedicate some space to growing, you can opt for a lean-to.

Lean-to greenhouses sit neatly in a corner, and as long as they get a bit of sun, they make perfect growing rooms for germinating, seedlings and protecting other tender crops. They can be made from glass or plastic.

Whatever your budget or area, there is a greenhouse to suit so take time to treat yourself and plan your year of sustainable living by growing more of your own produce at home.


Tara Kate Linnane is passionate about sustainability and growing all things edible. Together with her husband Barry, she has embarked on a journey of designing edible spaces and getting others started on their gardening adventures.


Gourmet gifts from your garden