There’s nothing quite like the taste of homegrown vegetables or seeing the seedlings you’ve planted sprout into fully grown plants. It’s rewarding, it’s fun, it’s an activity for all ages, and best of all, if you’re a keen gardener or chef it will save you money. Read on to find out why SavvySave’s green fingers are twitching all of a sudden!
If when you think ‘greenhouse’ you automatically think of a large structure that takes up more than half your garden, think again because greenhouses don’t necessarily have to be space invaders. If your outdoor area is less Kew Gardens or the Eden Project and more compact, walled terraced backyard, you can still get in on the greenhouse fun with even the smallest of cold frames which will be ideal for a family sized crop of cucumbers or radishes.
Of course, it’s not just veggies that you can grow in a greenhouse, even if tomatoes are the first thing that spring to mind. If you have a garden with flower beds, whether you’re in possession of rolling lawns or a cottage garden, greenhouses are an excellent way of stocking your beds - and for far less money than you would pay at the garden centre too.
Even if you only have a few narrow flower beds, you still need a large number of plants to stock it properly so that it doesn’t look half hearted and spartan. Chances are if you’re landscaping a garden, or have dug a new flower bed, you’re eager to have it blooming and don’t really want to wait for seedlings and young bedding plants to flourish and fill up all that boring brown earth. However, if you’ve checked the price of mature plants and flowers recently in your local garden centre, you won’t need us to tell you just how expensive they are. And that’s where growing your own comes in. True, you’ll still have to wait for your seedlings to reach maturity, but you’ll be able to start planting them earlier than you would outside, and you’ll be saving an awful lot of money by doing it yourself.
Of course, there’s also the added bonus that stocking your garden with plants that you’ve grown yourself is just so much more satisfying that simply driving to a garden centre, parting with a load of cash, filling the boot of the car with plants and transporting them home for planting. You’ll have the excitement of watching your seedlings in their trays poke through the soil and get bigger and bigger until they’re ready to be transplanted into the garden. One SavvySave tip is to buy perennial plants as they return yearly, saving you more money than if you were to buy annuals, AKA plants that only last or flower for one season.
In fact, a lot of people find that there’s something very therapeutic about planting, repotting and then transferring the fruits of their labours. There’s nothing that could really be referred to as stressful when it comes to growing your own plants, and gardening is a great way of forgetting the stresses of the outside world and reconnecting with Mother Nature. What’s more, it’s an activity that can be done all year round - there’s always something to be done at any time of the year; the gardening calendar is a jam packed one, even in the greenhouse world!
Growing your own plants and veg in a greenhouse is also a timeless hobby that can be enjoyed by all the family from grandparents (traditionally the keepers of the greenhouse!) down to the youngest members of the family. Gardening of any variety is a great activity for kids - they’ll love monitoring the growth of ‘their’ plants and seeing their flowers blossom, and, bonus, it’ll get them off the iPad or games console for a while too.
If you’re more interested in growing vegetables, depending on what you plant, you could be kept in tasty fresh veg all year round. A greenhouse enables you to start growing hardy vegetable plants earlier than you would be able to if you planted them straight outside, and it’s perfect for protecting more tender plants such as French beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, aubergines, lettuce, peppers and chillies that may not survive outdoors.
If you have a heated greenhouse (and not a basic cold frame) you can even try your hand at exotic fruits and veggies such as melons, okra and sweet potatoes. That should impress your dinner guests! For more advice and a closer look at growing vegetables and fruits in a greenhouse, take a look at the Royal Horticultural Society’s guide here.
If you’re reading this and feeling inspired and can feel your green fingers itching to get started, BUT you don’t have the resources - either financial or in terms of space - to grow plants in a greenhouse, why not try your hand at a herb garden instead? Of course, herbs can be potted but you can also grow them all year round in a cold frame or under a cloche. Check out this guide to growing herbs in cold frames from Waitrose. You’ll save money and be able to add flavour to all your favourite recipes - after all there’s nothing quite like throwing a handful of fresh basil into a pasta dish, or making a fresh salsa side with your homegrown coriander. Fresh herbs look and smell gorgeous too and make any kitchen a more homely place when brought inside in fresh bunches or potted.
One thing to be aware of is that you may have a few failed crops. It can take time and effort to get to grips with successful gardening, and even seasoned gardeners will have the odd disappointment, but don’t let that deter you for the benefits will far outweigh the loss of a few cucumbers. At SavvySave, we say keep your eye firmly on the prize and visualize your blooming beautiful garden, or those tasty fresh salads and winter stews you’re going to have so much fun making. It’s time to embrace your inner Alan Titchmarsh and get into greenhouse gardening!