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Greenhouses, Sheds and Equipment

A small vegetable and herb garden
such as this does not require a large
battery of tools. 

What do you really need?

Life is much easier in the garden if you have items 
such as a wheelbarrow, but bear in mind that, in a small garden, you can grow an extra couple of plants in the space needed to store it. Indeed, most things, such as weeds and compost, can be carried in a bucket in small-scale gardening.

One of the problems with owning a lot of tools and equipment is that you need somewhere to keep them, and that means there is even less garden for growing once you have erected the requisite shed. The advantage of having just a few hand tools is that they will usually fit into the back of the garage or even under the stairs in the house. Once you own a large rotavator (rototiller), no one will be pleased when it is trundled across the 
carpet to put it away or its sharp tines scratch the side of the car as you try to manoeuvre it into and out of a tightly packed garage.

Once you start to use a rotavator (rototiller) your gardening will be on 
a scale that usually means having a shed devoted to tools, and you may want 
to consider having a combined tool and potting shed – it should be a simple matter to put a bench down one side of a tool shed. Having a potting shed 
may seem to be rather an old-fashioned idea, but once you have had one you will find it difficult to manage without. However, it is not essential, and many 
successful gardeners manage quite well without one.

Greenhouses are available in a variety
of shapes and sizes, which means that
you should  be able to find one to suit
your garden. 

Do you need a greenhouse or cold frame?

Just as a handful of tools are all that you need to get started, it is also not essential to have a greenhouse and cold frames. There is no doubt that such structures are useful and will make your life much easier in many ways, but they are expensive in terms of both cost and space – and also in terms of the time you will spend in them if you have only a limited number of hours 
available for gardening. In any case, most of the things that you will do in a greenhouse can be carried out elsewhere. Any propagation, for example, that
is necessary can be done on the kitchen windowsill (as long as the cook is 
sympathetic), while tomatoes and cucumbers, which are the most common greenhouse crops, can be grown in the open, even if it means they crop later.

If, however, you intend to garden on a large scale and do wish to invest 
in a greenhouse, then bear in mind that the design is very much a matter of 
personal preference. Often your choice of greenhouse will be dictated by what you can comfortably fit into the available space in your garden as much as by its aesthetic appeal. In spite of the wide variety of greenhouses now on the market, there is still ample scope for the keen amateur to design and build a greenhouse suited to his or her own specifications and requirements. If you are not that practically minded, however, and do not want to go to the expense of buying a greenhouse, you might like to consider using polythene (plastic) 
tunnels instead. Although not very attractive, these tunnels are a cheap and practical alternative to the traditional greenhouse.