Small Greenhouse, Big Impact

how to organize a small green house

How to Organize a Small Greenhouse

A well-organized greenhouse is essential for propagation success. If you can’t find your pots, sanitize your tools, or properly fill containers, your seeding process can feel like a complete mess. Here are some tips to help you organize your small greenhouse for a flourishing and efficient gardening experience.

Planning and Zoning

The first step to organizing your small greenhouse is to plan which plants you are going to grow. Ask yourself: which plants/flowers am I going to grow? What about the temperature zones? How much space do my plants need? How much time do the plants need from sprout to fruit? Once you have a plan, you can start dividing your greenhouse into zones. The most common way is to separate the space into zones for edible and non-edible plants. You can also create zones for flowers, propagation, worktops, cuttings, and planting.

Benches and Shelving

Benches and shelving will help you make use of the vertical space in your small greenhouse. When setting up your benches, allow at least 18-19 inches from one side to another for walking. Choose shelves that can fit lower and higher areas of your greenhouse and assess your space to decide whether you need multiple rows of shelves with walking room between them. Go for slatted shelving to allow adequate water drainage and set up lower shelving parallel to the eaves. Use your shelves not only for display but also for storage.

Workflow and Storage

Imagine your workflow and optimize your greenhouse flow by reorganizing your workspace. For example, you can organize your workspace in a clockwise manner, starting with storage at the front of the greenhouse and a workflow that moves along the side edges, spiraling into a central growing zone. Divide your greenhouse into functional zones, such as a seeding/workspace zone, a soil zone, a sanitation zone, and an organization zone.

Make sure to organize your planting supplies, fertilizers, and equipment with shelves and designated spaces to keep everything tidy and accessible. Labeled shelves are a great way to give all your greenhouse supplies a home.

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Plan the location of plant benches

When planning the location of plant benches, it is important to consider the size and layout of your greenhouse, as well as the types of plants you will be growing. Here are some tips to help you plan the location of plant benches in your small greenhouse:

  • Bench Size and Placement: Benches should be less than 3 feet (0.91 m) wide to allow easy access to plants. If your greenhouse is small, consider thinner rows or benches. Place long benches along the sides of the greenhouse, leaving at least 19 inches (48 cm) between rows to create comfortable walkways. If space permits, you can also place a larger bench in the middle, ensuring it's no wider than 6 feet (1.8 m) for easy reach.
  • Bench Material and Construction: Avoid wooden benches as wood can rot over time if it gets wet. Instead, opt for materials like galvanised steel tubing or pipe, concrete blocks, pressure-treated lumber, composite lumber, or welded wire. For bench tops, consider wire mesh, expanded metal, plastic, or wood with spacing between planks for water drainage.
  • Zoning and Plant Requirements: Separate your greenhouse into zones for different plant types and requirements. For example, create zones for edible and non-edible plants, propagation, cuttings, and planting. Place light-sensitive and hardy plants along the darkest wall, and sun-loving plants along the sunniest side. Designate a quarantine zone near the entrance for new plants to prevent the spread of pests.
  • Vertical Space and Shelving: Make use of vertical space by placing shelving behind benches. Choose shelves that fit the lower and higher areas of your greenhouse, and consider freestanding or wall-mounted options. Slatted shelving improves light, airflow, and water drainage. Use shelves for plant displays and storage, especially for smaller greenhouses.
  • Accessibility and Workflow: Ensure benches are easily accessible and allow for a smooth workflow. Place the potting bench near plumbing or the door, with tool and supply storage nearby. If you have a heat source, create hot and cold zones, arranging plants accordingly.

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Master greenhouse shelving

Shelving is a great way to make the most of the height of your greenhouse, and there are a few things to consider when it comes to mastering greenhouse shelving.

Firstly, you'll want to choose shelves that can fit in both the lower and higher areas of your greenhouse. Assess your space and decide whether you need multiple rows of shelves with walkways in between. Go for slatted shelving, which allows water to drain through. Set up lower shelving parallel to the eaves of the greenhouse and install higher shelves towards the centre.

Use your shelves for both display and storage. If you have a small greenhouse, opt for removable shelves, which can be taken down if taller plants need more space to grow.

There are two main options for shelving: freestanding shelves and wall-mounted shelves, which are mostly suitable for lean-to structures. If you go for a freestanding unit, choose one with height-adjustable shelves so that you can store things more efficiently.

If you're using your greenhouse to grow lots of seedlings, a specialist seed rack that stacks vertically is a great option.

When it comes to materials, aluminium shelving is strong and durable. However, if you're planning to use the shelves for heavier items, such as large pots filled with compost, galvanised steel staging is a good option, although it will be more expensive.

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Design a perfect workstation

A well-designed workstation is essential for a productive and enjoyable gardening experience. Here are some tips to design the perfect workstation in your small greenhouse:

Location

It is best to set up your workstation near the entrance of the greenhouse. This way, you have easy access to your tools and equipment, and you can quickly move between your indoor and outdoor gardening tasks.

Potting Bench

The simplest form of a workstation is a potting bench, which usually has storage space and a separate tool rack. It should be placed near flower pots, compost, and other tools for convenience. You can purchase a ready-made potting bench or upcycle an old wooden dresser or pallet into one.

Storage

Effective storage solutions are crucial for a well-organised workstation. Utilise the space under the potting bench or shelves to store bags of potting compost, soil, and other supplies. Clear plastic boxes with labels are ideal for keeping things organised and easily accessible. You can also hang tools, flower pots, small tools, watering cans, and even herbs and flowers from the ceiling or walls to save space.

Workspace Design

Your workspace should be functional and comfortable. Ensure your potting bench is at a comfortable height so you don't have to bend over while working. You can also add hooks for hanging tools, a large pot for storing string, labels, and other small items, and a dispenser for twine or string.

Seed Storage

Seeds should be stored in a cool, dry, and dark place, preferably in an airtight container. You can use a binder with plastic sheet protectors, labelled tabs, and categories to keep your seeds organised and easily accessible.

Sanitation

Create a sanitation area near your workstation with pre-prepared cleaning solutions. This will make it easy to clean trays and pots between plantings, helping to prevent the spread of diseases.

Lighting and Temperature

Consider the lighting and temperature requirements of the plants you plan to work with. Place sun-loving plants in the brightest spots, while those requiring less light should be on lower shelves or in shadier areas. If you plan to work with tropical plants, ensure they have a sunny spot near the centre, sheltered from cold drafts.

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Take care of the rubbish

Taking care of rubbish is an important step in keeping your greenhouse clean, tidy, and organised. Here are some tips to help you manage waste effectively:

Purchase or make three bins for your rubbish: one for compostable material, another for general waste, and a third for recycling. These can be made from empty buckets if you wish to create your own. If your greenhouse is spacious, mount these bins on the wall near the entrance for easy access. Alternatively, keep them outside if space is limited.

Another option is to have a small rubbish bin on wheels that can be moved around as you work in the greenhouse. This ensures that waste doesn't accumulate and can be disposed of conveniently.

For larger greenhouses, a bucket or bin on wheels can be pulled behind as you work, making it easy to discard waste without interrupting your tasks.

If you're disposing of greenhouse glass, note that it is usually not accepted by local councils for kerbside recycling. However, you can carefully wrap broken glass pieces and dispose of them in your council's residual bin.

Garden waste, such as grass cuttings, weeds, prunings, and leaves, can often be recycled at local Household Waste Recycling Centres. Some councils also provide a home collection service for green waste, which may incur a small fee.

Lastly, consider composting as a way to reduce waste and benefit your plants. You can set up a compost pile outside your greenhouse to free up space and use the compost to fertilise your plants.

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Raised garden beds

When creating raised garden beds, it is recommended that they are at least 30 inches tall so that you don't need to bend down or lean over while working. You can also add legs to your raised beds to elevate them and make them more accessible. If you are creating a DIY raised bed, you will need wood boards or posts, nails or another type of fastener, metal brackets (optional), and greenhouse plastic to create a cover.

There are two main types of raised bed greenhouses: hoop houses and cold frames. Hoop houses are typically cheaper and temporary, with rounded frames that hold up a solid greenhouse cover, usually made from thick plastic. Cold frames are more permanent and are often attached to the raised beds with hinges, allowing them to be easily opened for watering or other purposes. They usually have a wooden frame lined with high-quality plastic or glass.

You can also place raised garden beds inside a larger greenhouse to protect them from the elements and give you more gardening space. This option can be more costly and may require a well-designed and installed greenhouse. Additionally, drainage and ventilation must be set up properly to prevent water-borne illnesses.

Overall, raised garden beds are a great option for those looking to maximize their gardening space and provide a controlled environment for their plants to thrive.

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Frequently asked questions

Planning is key. Before you start, ask yourself which plants you want to grow, what temperature zones they need, how much space they require, and how long they take from sprout to fruit.

Divide your greenhouse into zones. The most common way is to separate the space into areas for edible and non-edible plants, but you can also organise by plant type, harvest time, or watering requirements.

Choose shelves that fit the lower and higher areas of your greenhouse. Go for slatted shelving, which allows adequate water drainage, and opt for height-adjustable shelves so that you can store things more efficiently.

Make sure you have a potting bench, a tool station, and a dedicated area for seeds. Also, consider using overhead hanging space for tools, gloves, seeds, and pots.

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