Today, in effect, I moved 80 square feet of my garden to Bordeaux. How wonderful is that? Plentiful sun-ripened tomatoes, succulent melons and armfuls of fresh basil are now within my reach and I’m very excited!*
Of course, I’ve not actually moved anything – I’ve just bought a nice big greenhouse for £100 off eBay. According to the American author and agricultural researcher Eliot Coleman, putting some glass between your plants and the sun effectively moves your garden 500 miles south. Which for me, living and gardening as I do in Peterborough, means an 8ft by 10ft patch of my allotment is about to get a Bordeaux-like climate. Having observed tomatoes growing outdoors in the south of France, and comparing them to those grown in the UK both in a greenhouse and outdoors, I’m inclined to agree with Eliot.
We set off in beautiful sunny weather, El my allotment neighbour, my friend Jen and I. Our destination was a tiny village in rural Northamptonshire. Kites soared overhead and the sun shone – a glorious start to a wonderful but pretty tiring day! I’m delighted to have got such a large greenhouse for a fraction of the cost of a new one, but it’s a fair amount of effort. If you’re thinking of buying a greenhouse this way then I can offer a few pieces of advice:
Take a can of WD40, and spray the bolts and screws to help you loosen them. Frequently they rust together and become very difficult to undo. Do this first, then remove the glass while the WD40 works its magic
- Don’t forget gloves – there will be the odd broken pane, and glass edges are often very sharp
- Bring a permanent marker to mark which panes of glass and which beams are which
- Take photos with a digital camera so you’ve got a visual record of what the greenhouse *should* look when it’s put back together
- A hacksaw, adjustable spanners, an electric screwdriver and pots or bags to put all the clips and bolts into are essential
- Allow plenty of time – it took us nearly 4 hours to dismantle an 8’ x 10’ greenhouse and pack it into a van ready to go (although it has to be said it was more than twice the size of the standard 6’x4’ greenhouse).
Now all that’s left is to re-erect it next week. Wish me luck!
*(sorry any ‘Proclaimers’ fans who got excited by the title – although they do have a new album out on 27 April)