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A few years ago, I bought a greenhouse in a clearance sale, and put it up in a sunny spot in our garden. I built some staging myself, and lined the top with a pond liner, as I was keeping carnivorous plants, which (in general) live in water. It was home to a good collection of these for about five years...

Greenhouse with some carnies

That picture was taken near the beginning, it got very full with them in the following years.

Roll on to today, and the carnies are (sadly) gone, mainly due to me having a very hectic winter, and not having time to care for them properly. Most of them dried out, and the few remaining are being nurtured back to health indoors.

The family are interested in having a go at growing some fruit and/or veg. As our garden has very poor soil, I was wondering about using the (now almost empty) greenhouse for this.

It's 8' long and 6' wide, meaning that anything I grow has to fit either on the staging (assuming I keep it) or on the opposite side, each of which only gives about 2' width.

A few questions spring to mind...

  1. What fruit and veg would be suitable for the greenhouse? These need to be easy ones, as I want the children to take responsibility for some plants. None of us are expert gardeners either. We live in NW England, so don't get huge amounts of heat or sunshine, although the greenhouse gets a lot of light.

  2. Would I be able to use the staging? As you can see, it's lined to hold water, which was fine for the carnies, but might not be such a good idea for other things. Would I have to provide drainage? If so, I'm not sure if the staging would be any good, as it's wood, which would rot if kept in direct contact with the draining water. I can't afford to buy new, and even building something else would probably not be an option.

  3. If I do keep the staging, is it going to be deep enough? The ponds are about 3" deep, which was fine for the carnies, but my suspicion is that any fruit or veg would need deeper soil to grow.

Anyone able to give advice? Please let me know if there is any more information I can provide.

Thanks very much in advance.

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    Rot would typically take several years to seriously affect the wood. And by simply opening corners or gluing in a pipe (or using a shower drain kit) you could keep the wood and dirt/water separated while providing drainage.
    – Ecnerwal
    May 3, 2022 at 14:58
  • @Ecnerwal Hmm, never thought of gluing in a pipe! Aren't you clever! That way I can keep the liner May 3, 2022 at 15:29
  • Are you using it all-year long? If you know: How hot does it get in your greenhouse during the hottest / most sunny parts of summer? How cold does it get inside the greenhouse during the winter? May 4, 2022 at 1:15
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    @Brōtsyorfuzthrāx At the moment I'm not using it at all, but I would like to use it as much as I can. In the middle of the hottest summer days it can reach 40 degs C, although that's pretty unusual. It often reaches mid-30s though. It's at the north end of our garden, with little to obstruct the sunlight, so gets a lot of light and catches whatever sun we get. In the winter it can go below zero. I didn't really monitor the winter as most carnivorous plants hibernate then, so as long is they were protected from frost, the temperature wasn't so important. May 4, 2022 at 13:12

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Strawberries and blueberries are both fruits that are fairly shallow-rooted. Using the staging allows multiple layers of plants in the same space. Lettuces are also fairly shallow rooted; But other than early/late season are not that fond of the heat typical of greenhouse in sunshine.

Tomatoes in large pots (16-24 Liter) on the opposite side, perhaps, or peppers if you like peppers (I don't, so I'm more in favor of tomatoes.) Edit: Eggplant is another one that appreciates the warmth.

Nasturtiums are good as an edible flower and foliage if you like the taste.

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  • Strawberries and blueberries would both go down well, and being on top of the staging would typically suffer less from the slug problem we've had with strawberries in the past. I was thinking about tomatoes and peppers (we like both!) on the other side, possibly with some peas, but I don't know well you can grow peas in pots. There is netting on the other side to support them, but the greenhouse sides are only only about 4-5' high, so couldn't grow too tall. What do you think? May 3, 2022 at 15:32
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    Peas will likely find it too hot in the greenhouse. If your soil is bad, give them a raised bed outside.
    – Ecnerwal
    May 3, 2022 at 21:57
  • How about baby carrots? They were eying up some seeds the other day. Given that they are baby ones, would they cope in shallow soil, are is this still not enough for them? May 3, 2022 at 22:19
  • Raised bed is a nice idea, and one I'm contemplating (I bought Huw Richard's "Veg in One Bed" which shows that idea). I'm just not sure where I'd put one! May 3, 2022 at 22:20
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    Wrap bare copper wire around the legs of the staging to give the slugs more trouble getting to your plants.
    – Ecnerwal
    May 4, 2022 at 13:00

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