Sian Napier

12 Jan 2023 12:11

Diary of an Expectant Greenhouse Gardener: Part 6

Or should we say, Greenhouse owner now! Yay.


The greenhouse is in, and it looks lovely, it also smells lovely. It was extremely lovely when it was christened last night with a nice bottle of fizz.  Today it needs to start earning its keep and become a fully functioning space in which to nurture my tomatoes, cucumber and range of peppers and chilies. Not to mention the lovely lemon tree that the kids gave me for my birthday.

Before the greenhouse was installed, I levelled the floor, and laid down a semi permeable weed suppressing membrane. We have chronic bind weed in our garden and the last thing I want is for it to invade the inside of the greenhouse. Over that I placed a layer of builder’s sand, which was leveled into which, I will bed the greenhouse floor.


Building a raised bed

Before we could lay the floor, Chris and I built an L shaped raised bed from tantalized timber, in which to grow our tomatoes. We left a 2-inch air gap all the way around the raised bed to prevent damp from penetrating the structure of the greenhouse, caused by watering the plants. We then lined the raised beds with black plastic to protect the timber and to help retain moisture. The base of the plastic was also stabbed multiple times to allow for drainage and prevent waterlogging. We chose to use raised beds, one to tie them in with the beds I had already built in the vegetable garden and two, because I hope to keep the growing medium fertile by regularly replacing and topping the soil level up with my own compost. [Once it is made, hopefully by next spring].


The bricks for the floor

As you can see by the picture above, I’ve chosen to use reclaimed bricks for the floor. I was lucky that friends and neighbours had knocked down an outbuilding in their garden and no longer had use for the subsequent bricks. The bricks were probably originally Victorian, and handmade, each brick was slightly different from each other, both in colour, depth and size. I was never going to achieve a perfectly even or uniform floor, but I love the mellow aged look they provide, which is in keeping with the traditional style of greenhouse. Bricks like this can be bought from reclamation yards and usually cost upwards of a pound each, so not only was I extremely lucky to get them free but I also feel that using recycled bricks is doing a little bit for the environment.

I chose a basket weave design as the pattern to lay the floor, not just because its aesthetically pleasing but also its probably the easiest design to execute and by placing the bricks down onto the sand base first and playing with the spacing I haven’t had to cut any of the bricks which is a massive bonus.

Laying the floor

The bricks were placed on the levelled sand and gently tapped down with a rubber mallet to help bed them in and to achieve an even surface. The old bricks were quite delicate, and it was surprising how many that had obvious cracks literally fell apart, so if you plan on using reclaimed bricks, make sure you have a few spares, just in case. We decided to use block paving, jointing compound to brush into the spaces between the bricks. I had tried using a dry sand and cement mix on a small seating area that I built with the same method and even though the mix dried well, it left a grey residue on the face of the bricks which I couldn’t shift. The jointing compound was quite expensive, but two bags was all that was required, and it brushed into the joints easily. The surface required a gentle misting with the hose pipe to dampen the area, and by the next morning the base was set solid.

Om Sian Napier

Sian Napier is a freelance garden designer and gardener with over 15 years professional horticultural experience to build beautiful garden spaces for her clients using plants to create movement, texture and all year season colour and interest.

Follow her journey of living with a Gabriel Ash Greenhouse and learn about different aspects of growing through the seasons.

Get to know Sian Napier