After acquiring a greenhouse it is likely that the first piece of equipment that you will consider is staging. Even if you intend to grow crops straight into soil beds inside the greenhouse, you will need some staging on which to rear young seedlings.
If the staging is easy to take apart then it can be removed later in the season.
Some staging is limited to a single tier of shelving whereas others have up to three tiers.
When using tiered staging you should consider whether plants on the lower shelves will have sufficient light. Once seeds have germinated it may be necessary to move them to higher positions.
You can choose between metal and wooden staging in a range of colours to suit your greenhouse or you can it you prefer make your own. When choosing staging bead in mind that it needs to be able to safely support a great deal of weight. Wet compost is heavy.
The top of the staging can be solid or slatted. Slotted staging allows trays to drain easily but can be a problem if you have things stored or growing under the shelf. You can buy staging that have trays slotted into the top of the unit. The trays can act as water vessels but could make the shelving less versatile. In our greenhouse we have slatted staging onto which we place a range of trays which can be moved around and rearranged as necessary.
Potting Area If you are going to work in your greenhouse you will need to set up an area in which you can sow your seeds and pot up plants.
This could just be an area of staging set aside for this purpose or a specially designed potting bench.
If you choose to use an area of staging you will need some method of containing the inevitable mess. You can buy units specially made for this.
Watering Another piece of essential equipment is a long reach watering can. This will enable you to easily reach plants toward the back of the shelving. Consider the weight of the can when full as you will need to be able to water plants on the higher shelving. If regular watering is likely to be a problem you may wish to consider an irrigation system. See here for more information on watering and irrigation systems
Ventilation and Shading It’s important that a greenhouse has adequate ventilation. It can be quite difficult deciding when to open and shut windows and doors especially in you are out for most of the day.
Automatic louvres or window openers are really useful. We have automatic opening devices on all our roof windows. Louvres can replace some of the side windows.
During the heat of summer (wishful thinking) you will need to consider shading. This isn’t an issue in our greenhouse as our grapevine acts as a natural shading system.
Some shading materials can also fulfil a double role and act as insulation during colder periods. It will only be necessary to shade the greenhouse on the south facing side or you may cut down too much light and your plants will consequently suffer. Some examples of shading material can be accessed using the link to Harrod Horticultural just above.
Heating: Then there is the other side of the coin. If you wish to use your greenhouse through colder months or wish to grow or protect tender plants you will need to consider a heating system.
Electric fan heaters can also help circulate air and cut down on fungal disease. They generally do not produce fumes but can be expensive to run.
On an allotment plot, you are likely to have to choose between a gas or paraffin heater. Unfortunately these types of heaters can cause the greenhouse to become damp.
We don’t heat our greenhouse so if you are like us and have a heater in your greenhouse you may wish to line the inside of the glass with bubble-wrap. It was for this that bubble-wrap was first invented. Even if you do wish to add heating to your greenhouse you will find that a lining of bubble-wrap will help conserve heat.
Thermometer You may wish to invest in a thermometer so that you can monitor the conditions in the greenhouse. A maximum and minimum thermometer will allow you to assess how well the heating and ventilation systems are working.
Shading: We have never needed to apply any sort of greenhouse shading. In our garden greenhouse we grow a grapevine which provides natural shading and our plot greenhouse is naturally shaded by a hawthorn tree.
If your greenhouse is subject to full sun in mid-summer then you may need to consider some sort of shading.
Some shading materials will also double as insulation over winter. Bubble wrap and lightweight green fleece are two such products.
You will obviously also require a supply of seed trays, plant labels. plant pots, dibbers, sieves and other sundries too.