Types of greenhouses and frames 2
Another departure from the traditionalgreenhouse is the use of a framework oftubular alloy or steel supporting a cover madeof plastic sheeting. Early models, still muchused commercially, are called tunnel houses.Smaller versions of this simple pattern areavailable for the amateur, and welded frameworks in a variety of shapes are made.Generally these have a traditional outline butsome are dome-shaped. Plastic houses arecheaper than glass-clad ones but have drawbacks in use (see pages 10 and 11).
Greenhouses can be fully glazed, or they canhave one or more sides boarded or brickedup to staging height. Both styles have advantages, and the choice must depend upon theuse to which the greenhouse is to be put. Ifcrops are to be grown in the border, glass toground is needed for light. If most plants willbe grown in pots, a staging is essential and thewall area beneath it can be made solid. Brick,wood or asbestos-cement half walls provideuseful insulation, cutting the heating requirements of the greenhouse. A compromise isto board the north wall only, gaining someinsulation with little effect on light values.Removable wooden insulation panels aremade for some designs of greenhouse. Thesecan be fitted in winter and removed whencrops are to be grown in the bed. Kick boardsshould be fitted at the base of glass-to-groundwalls to protect against accidental damage.The crucial factors in the choice of shapeare accessibility, light transmission, and stability and durability. Commercially-availablegreenhouses can be expected to be stable,though the site must be taken into account inchoosing a design. Plastic-covered houses,for instance, are less durable in very windyplaces. Accessibility covers factors such asdoor design, which is dealt with on page 9,and heights at eaves and ridge pole. Low-built houses can be raised on a home-madeplinth of brick, wood or concrete to giveextra headroom. Light transmission is criticalonly in winter and early spring, for during thesummer months more light is available thanis needed by the plants. Thus light is only ofconcern when planning very early crops.
Commercial growers use mobile greenhousesof the Dutch light type, which can be pulledon a system of rails over crops. These allow acrop rotation program to be followed. Forexample, salad crops can be started on onesite in spring, then left to mature in the openwhile the house is moved onto a new sitewhere tomatoes are grown.
It is less easy to vary the overall design of agarden frame and the basic traditional shapeis still frequently met with. This is a shallowoblong box with one end higher than theother and sloping sides shaped to hold a lidor light of glass or plastic. A useful size is