What to Grow in a Greenhouse for Beginners UK

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What to Grow in a Greenhouse for Beginners UK

A greenhouse is a great way to grow your own herbs, fruits, and vegetables at home without the worry of watching the weather like a hawk – and there are plenty of options that are simple and easy to care for, even if you are a complete novice.

The warmer conditions, amplified natural sunlight and protection from ground frost, high winds, and heavy rain also mean some trickier plant species are far more likely to thrive in a greenhouse environment.

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Ten Easy Plants to Grow in a Greenhouse in the UK

Let’s run through a few recommendations of plants and veggies that are difficult to get wrong!

1. Tomatoes

Tomato plants grow well in greenhouses, as they are a little delicate and don’t cope well with unpredictable British summer time.

There are thousands of varieties, from heritage tomatoes to tiny cherry plum tomatoes and huge beef tomatoes for cooking – you can pick a favourite or go for a range of tomato crops.

Start by potting tomato seeds on a bright shelf, and plant them in a rich compost as deep as the lowest leaves to encourage stronger root growth and, ultimately, more tomatoes.

You can also buy specific tomato feed and fertiliser, so you won’t need to guess which additives are best suited to your new tomato plants!

2. Cucumbers

Cucumbers are another great greenhouse plant for beginner gardeners, and you can buy specific cucumber seedlings or seeds designed for greenhouses. Outdoor cucumbers are slightly rougher, shorter and chunkier, whereas greenhouse cucumbers are smoother and longer.

Tip – go for a cucumber variety labelled as 'all female', and you'll need to do minimal work. Other cucumber variants have male flowers you need to remove as the plants grow.

The plants thrive in warmer conditions above 12 °C and can be planted from February or March if your greenhouse is heated or from April onward for all other greenhouses.

3. Chillies

Chilli plants are simple to care for and will grow quickly with an abundance of fruit in a bright, warm, sheltered spot. You can start the seeds in a pot or container on a windowsill and move them into a larger pot when the seedling is established.

The plants like warm temperatures of 16 °C or above and grow best with regular watering. You can mix and match mild, peppery chillies with stronger, spicier versions for a mixed harvest.

4. Potatoes

While potatoes are commonly grown on allotments and in gardens, they can be grown in greenhouses and benefit from the frost-free conditions.

You can grow potatoes in compost bags, barrels, or larger containers, using minimal space for a large crop that will continue to grow throughout the year.

If you start in January or February, you will need to give it around six weeks for the shoots to grow an inch and be ready to plant in your chosen container. Potatoes planted at this time will be ready to eat in the spring.

5. Sprouts

Sprouts have a bit of an unfair reputation, but they are a highly nutritious, healthy, and easy-to-grow vegetable packed with vitamin C.

When correctly cooked, sprouts are crunchy, flavoursome, and great for coleslaw and salads, as well as roasted or boiled for a traditional Sunday dinner.

The best way to grow sprouts is to sow the seeds in the greenhouse – you can plant them indoors from February and plant out around early summer or keep them in the greenhouse.

6. Aubergines

Aubergines are a good option for novice gardeners and can grow either in heated or unheated greenhouses. If you have a heated greenhouse, you can start your crop in January or begin in spring if the weather is cold.

The fruits are very heavy, so it’s wise to stake out aubergine plants to support the weight.

Misting the leaves and watering the plants regularly, topped up with a rich fertiliser when the plants start to fruit, will ensure you get a great crop.

7. Melons

We rarely think of melons as a fruit that can be grown in the UK at all, let alone by a beginner! However, a greenhouse with high humidity makes them a relatively straightforward option and a brilliant addition to a summer dinner.

You can grow melons vertically to avoid taking up too much space, and they thrive in moist, fertile soil. Continue watering until the fruit starts to become ripe, and then sit back to allow the melons to mature.

8. Kale

Kale is a hardy plant and one of the trendy superfoods which has a huge amount of nutrition and valuable vitamins in each crunchy leaf.

We’ve been growing dwarf kale – the species now most common in the UK – since the 1800s. You can pick the leaves while they are younger for a raw salad, or leave them to grow into darker, denser leaves for cooking.

Because kale is acclimatised and easy to grow, you can sow it in a greenhouse at any time of the year you prefer. Kale seedlings like rich, firm soil and lots of manure.

9. Peas or Sweet Peas

You can sow peas from February onward, and they will be ready from springtime, depending on how quickly the plants have fruited. They are tough and grow well in most conditions, but the pea plants will thrive with a little extra warmth.

Peas are another versatile veggie – salad peas are easy to grow and crop again a few weeks after the first fruit, so you can harvest twice per season.

Sweet peas are another popular variety and need canes to help the plants climb upwards, producing beautifully scented flowers.

10. Cabbage

Finally, don’t forget cabbages! You can plant cabbages in late winter, ready for harvesting in the spring. They grow well in greenhouses, even in cold weather and are very hard to get wrong.

Cabbage can be eaten cooked or raw, and there are hundreds of species to choose from – it’s best to start with a seedling tray and transfer the plants into larger containers once they are ready.

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