By Daniela Sperotto

A greenhouse is defined by Wikipedia, as “a structure with a glass or plastic roof and frequently glass or plastic walls”. This enables heat to be absorbed through solar radiation which is stored within the walls of the structure, thus creating a cosy environment for plants to grow in during winter.

Many commercial DIY home greenhouses are made out of plastic or PVC and can be assembled on patios or in the garden.These are commonly used to grow vegetables and herbs for personal use or to shield and protect precious or exotic plants. “It allows gardeners to adjust and manipulate environmental conditions inside to fit the preferences of plants or vegetables that are being grown,” adds Herve Truniger, from Cape Garden Design.

Larger public greenhouses, such as the oldest Victorian conservatory in Kew Gardens in London tend to be constructed of glass. These larger structures entail quite high-tech accessories and automatic technology to keep temperatures constant, ensure enough light is filtered throughout and must have a very good irrigation system.

Living in the southern hemisphere we are blessed with low frost and freezing levels throughout most parts of the country. Yet no matter what the weather, a greenhouse is very useful for those wishing to grow an array of vegetables throughout the year and especially helpful for avid gardeners who wish to grow flower seedlings during the colder months, ready to be transplated into the outdoors once spring arrives.

The closed environment, like gardening in the outdoors, has its own unique requirements and issues. The greatest issue surrounding any greenhouse is a controlled environment, advises Deighton Clegg of Lifestyle Garden Centre, for the control of temperatures, humidity, light, pests and disease. But once you get the hang of using and gardening within a greenhouse, there is no limit to what you can do – which is great news for those with small patios or limited garden space.