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Kitting Out a Greenhouse

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 17 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
Greenhouse Staging Shelving Worktop

So you've decided whether to have a wood framed or aluminium greenhouse, you've chosen between glass or plastic for the glazing, you've picked the site, laid the foundation and erected the greenhouse. Job done, right?

Well, not exactly. Depending on exactly which plants you are going to grow you will need to complete the growing environment with shelving and equipment to help you do the job. You may also want to attend to heating and ventilation, but we have a separate article covering those issues so it's the more practical items we'll focus on here.

Worktop or Table for Comfortable Working

You will almost certainly want some sort of worktop or table at a comfortable height for you to plant out seedlings, pot up plants, write tags and all sorts of other tasks. If that's the case then it makes sense to use the space underneath it for shelves or cupboards. If security is a particular concern then a cupboard might be better, one you can lock to keep tools out of sight and a bit harder to find.

The space below the worktop should be used for storage because the worktop above blocks light, so it might not be the best place for growing plants. Keep it as storage space for non-plant items like pots, tools etc unless you are growing plants that appreciate a bit of darkness, like fungi or woodland plants.

It's easiest to get the table or worktop set up first and work from there, because you want to site that in the best place for you rather than the plants. Pick the darkest, shadiest corner of the greenhouse. It will be cooler for you and it reserves the lighter, hotter parts of the greenhouse for everything you want to plant up.

Staging or Shelving for Plants

Then place staging in the other available places. Don't fill it all with staging though, you might need places to grow taller plants like tomatoes, or peas and beans. Staging is basically shelving, and there's no reason not to make your own instead of buying it. If you do make your own take a look at some staging in a garden centre or DIY store to see what makes it different.

One difference is that the shelves are light and airy, usually slatted rather than solid. This allows more light to reach the plants and water to drain through, rather than sit in puddles. Staging also often has special trays so that you can lift out groups of plants easily to work on the on the worktop, or place them outside when the whether is good. In fact some staging is little more than an open framework which uses removable trays as shelves.

Choose Standalone Staging or Shelving

Standalone staging or shelves is often preferred over permanent shelves screwed into place. For one thing it's very difficult to put shelves up in an aluminium greenhouse as the frame is very thin. It is much easier to put a shelf up in a wooden greenhouse and people often do this higher up, to make use of the height of a greenhouse.

The other point is that fixing the shelves in place makes it difficult to rearrange them if you decide they are in the wrong place. Or you might change what you plant over time and need the shelves in a different place or at different heights. Free standing shelves give you more flexibility.

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