We aren’t all lucky enough to have huge gardens and enormous greenhouses, so we need to be a bit clever about how we organise the space, to make the most of what we have. I’ve done vlogs and blogs on this topic before and took you guys along as I set my greenhouse up for the different seasons.
But I’ve been getting a lot of questions again, I suppose it’s the increase in gardeners over the last year, so I thought an update might be a good idea. So let’s look at organising our greenhouse to get the most out of it. You guys know I have a relatively small greenhouse, but I’ve managed to get myself organised so that I really can have a greenhouse for all seasons.
Thinking ahead, not just about now.
The most common thing we do as new greenhouse owners is to fill it up in spring with lots of seedlings and baby plants. Because let’s be honest, it’s just so exciting to have that space to grow in. But we forget that those plants are going to grow and will need a home once they’ve outgrown that seed tray, that propagator or even those shelves.
So be ruthless with yourself. Don’t grow more than you can keep. For example, that picture of my potting bench, I can easily have 300 seedlings growing there. But those seedlings grow into plants and 300 baby plants take up a lot more space than seedlings.
And then, those baby plants are going to keep growing. Let’s take tomato seedlings as an example. The seedlings, may easily fit 10 to a seed tray now, but in 5 weeks they will need pots, then bigger pots then eventually you will have plants that are 6ft tall and 3 ft across. Still got space? Now you understand why I say to think ahead before you get planting.
Create activity-based areas
So here is the first tip I’m going to give you. Before you do anything, go grab a pen and paper. Go do it now, I’ll wait on you. Go on…. got it? Right, ok I want you to sit and make a list. Think about all the different things you plan to do in your greenhouse. Think season by season.
So in spring, I know for me, it’s all about sowing those seeds, bringing on baby plants, and nurturing those plants until they are ready to be planted out in the garden. To do this, I need space for the seedlings, space for plants, and space for the tools and soil etc I’ll need.
OK summer, well in summer I have big plants producing food. So I need space for the tomato plants, for peppers and for my herbs. That takes up a lot of space. So I need to think ahead because I need to make sure whatever baby plants I have in the greenhouse, will be out before the tomatoes or peppers need that space.
Now do you see why I think it’s good to think ahead and list all the activities you might be doing? OK so to use this info then, what I do, is I section my greenhouse up into activity-based zones. That way I can make sure the area I’m using has everything I need or at least access to everything I need.
Let’s take sowing and potting on as an example, since it is currently spring and this is what I’m focusing on.
So I have an area in my greenhouse for sowing and potting up plants. It’s not huge, but I make sure it does the job. I have a big tray that I can put soil into, and I use it as my workspace to fill trays and pots. It means things are kept tidy and there isn’t a risk of soil and seeds falling onto the floor or into the potting mix I have stored in the greenhouse. Can you image???
Now to make this space work even better, I make sure that while I’m working there, everything I need is in easy reach. Mytools are on the shelf in front of me, pots and seed trays are to hand around me and the potting mix I need is in a box under the bench. I’m not having to go raking around or disturbing the whole greenhouse to get to a certain thing I need.
That’s just one example, but look through your list and try to think of the different activities you will do and what you’ll need while you are doing them.
Remember I mentioned those tomato plants and how they get really big. Well, that’s the next thing to think about, where are you going to continue to grow those plants, how much space to you need. I grow in pots, so I don’t have beds in my greenhouse, instead, I have something called staging. Staging is basically just a surface you can work on or put plants on. You do get products sold officially as greenhouse staging but you can use an old fold-up table from the garage or even balance a wooden plank over some breeze blocks. However, if you are looking at the products marked as staging, you’ll notice two types. Stand alone, which can be moved around the greenhouse and integral, which is fixed in place, usually by bolting it to the greenhouse itself.
I’ve found buying official products that are labeled as a greenhouse, or from your greenhouse supplier are usually really expensive, so shop around and think creatively.
Speaking of creative, here’s another top tip, my staging is multi-purpose. In spring I have two long wooden benches along the walls of my greenhouse, they hold seed trays and plants on top, and the shelves underneath store my potting soil etc but… they actually fold completely flat, so when my plants are getting tall, I can fold that staging down and make way. Hence how I manage to grow tomatoes and peppers in there in summer.
Storage and organisation
So we touched on being organised and having things to hand, but let’s think about that a bit more. You will get the most use, and the most pleasure from your greenhouse if you can use it easily and it brings joy. If you have to rearrange everything just to get that one pot you need, or if you have to go lumping through the rain to the shed to get your potting soil – you’ll be less likely to spend time out here tending your garden. So think about what you need and how you can make it easily accessible. There are a couple of hacks I’m going to share with you as well as some of the more obvious hints about storage and organisation.
I store my potting mix in a big plastic box that has a lid. That way it stores easily under the staging and it’s dry and safe from any nasties beasties that I don’t want to find their way in there, like fungus gnats. Much easier to store and way more convenient that leaving it in the big plastic sack. The same goes for my pots and trays, I store these on the shelves but I organise them into size and type, so I’m never having to rummage around through all my pots to find that one size I need.
And now for my awesome organisation hacks…
Don’t forget the vertical space, there is more to greenhouse space than just shelves. I have two – genius – if I say so myself, storage solutions that won’t cost you a penny.
If you have the same type of shelving as me, there is an awful lot of dead space underneath, so use it. I’ve put two planks of wood under one shelf. They aren’t fixed in any way, just resting against each other, but it makes a really handy little space to store hand-tools, labels, gardening wire etc.
At the back of the greenhouse, I’ve done something similar. Using some of those big kitchen hanging hooks you get and a piece of cane from the garden, I’ve made a handy dandy way to store string, copper tape etc. Easy to get to and out of the way.
So hopefully that’s given you some food for though, but as always, if you want to come along and look at things in more detail in my greenhosue, including my seed storage, I’ve popped a link to the video on this topic below.