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How much space for growing and propagating

LatimerLatimer Posts: 1,034
Hi all,

I've been reading more and more about how to grow my garden on a budget, and so much of that depends on saving seeds, taking cuttings and growing on plants in pots.

Roughly how much of your garden do you dedicate to propagating and growing? Is a greenhouse an essential item? What else are necessities? l was watching an episode of Carol Klein "Life in a cottage garden" and almost laughed out loud at her towers of plastic pots. Granted, this is her life and job but I still think I'd need a lot more than I've got!
I’ve no idea what I’m doing. 


  • GemmaJFGemmaJF Posts: 2,286
    edited July 2020
    If space is at a premium, consider investing in a good propagator such as the vitopod.

    It only takes up space in my garage, (it has a light bank) germinates all the seeds I grow each year for veg and annuals. Houses cuttings the rest of the time.

    I would very much like a greenhouse, but life without one is still hugely productive. The greenhouse would let me grow some fruit and veg that I can't at the moment, but I get an awful lot of things through the propagator each year.
  • LatimerLatimer Posts: 1,034
    edited July 2020
    @GemmaJF, what sort of size garden so you have and how much do you add to the garden each year? I know that's a vague question!! 

    I suppose I need to be realistic. I'm currently looking at a pretty empty garden and wondering how I'm going to fill it with cuttings and plants from seed. It feels like I'd need to keep half the garden free for all the pots of plants!!

    That propagator does sound like a good idea though. I'd love a greenhouse too but it's a costly investment!
    I’ve no idea what I’m doing. 
  • strelitzia32strelitzia32 Posts: 767
    Do you have a conservatory? I find I can do all my seeds and propagating using just a 8x6 greenhouse, and a conservatory for the March & April "big" sowing overflow with the advantage that it's easier to keep the conservatory warm.

     I grow hundreds of plants from seed every year (more veg though), and generally I find timing to be more important - I'll have perhaps 100 plants at each stage at any one time, and I rotate them through from indoors (seeds) to conservatory (germinate) to greenhouse to garden as required. My main issue is greenhouse size, because around May I find my tomatoes, chillies etc need to stay in a greenhouse and grow on, but they've got some decent size and I've got the next rotation of plants coming through wanting the same space. So I end up having to move stuff between greenhouses etc, May is always a bit of a nightmare.

    The thing is, unless you have a massive garden and lots of time, it's too difficult to keep on top of hundreds of plants. Once you've got your germination and grow on process working, you don't need hundreds of plants and seedlings. A handful of quality ones that you can look after will always do better than the neglected ones you forget about because watering takes 18 hours a day!

    If space and time is at a premium, my top tip is to buy haxnix root trainers. They are far, far better at growing seedlings on, you get stronger plants compared to cell trays, they are way more space efficient, and planting out etc is easy straight from the modules. If you get the deep trainers you won't even need to pot up - I tried sweetcorn in them as an experiment this year. Seed into the trainer, leave it, no potting up, just plant out when 10" tall. Worked perfectly, real time saver.
  • FlyDragonFlyDragon Posts: 834
    I have a reasonable sized but not massive suburban garden, and I don't want to give up space for a greenhouse, so I use the windowsills!  

  • GemmaJFGemmaJF Posts: 2,286
    edited July 2020
    Most of the goings on are in our back garden which is pretty modest. It's 70ft by 40ft out the back.

    1/3rd is wildlife habitat, I don't propagate any plants for that area as it is all self seeded native plants.

    The rest which is roughly 40ft by 40ft is half veg, half potted flowers. So that is the area I propagate for.

    The vitopod takes up the area of a table top indoors.

    I then have a concrete staging area at the back of the house that is 4ft by 10ft for plants being potted on, hardened off etc.

    So if I've got the maths right, I'm using 2.5% of the total area I garden traditionally for propagation. (+ a table top indoors)

    I could fit more into the 4ft by 10ft bit at a push, but I usually leave an open path because it is where the water butt and hose pipe are.

    I'm totally cheap btw. I go around the garden centers and supermarkets late in the season buying flowering plants that are a little over for no more than a £1 each, often even less.

    When I get them home, I re-pot them, take cuttings and give them a good feed. Often I can get them to flower again in a mild autumn. The dozens of cuttings go into the vitopod which is then no longer needed for veg seeds, and spend the winter in there rooting and establishing.

    Come the springs if I'm lucky, I have a healthy parent plant and dozens and dozens of new ones. Works well for me with things like fuchsias and salvias. They get turfed out to the concrete staging area in the spring, to free up the propagator for veg seeds.

  • LatimerLatimer Posts: 1,034
    @strelitzia32 I think I maybe running before I can walk if I try rotating hundreds of plants!! I can definitely see some cock ups happening!! I also think the biggest greenhouse I'd manage would be 4x6, though I could do bigger if I gave up some veg space.

    The haxnix things look interesting, I may have to put them on a wish list!

    @FlyDragon I suspect you role the roost in your house, I'd be seriously admonished by the better half if I tried that! 🤣 Although perhaps it would help if I stole a little conservatory space!

    @GemmaJF your garden is a little bigger than mine but not hugely so I'll take your measurements as a guide and see what I can plan in. Your method seems like something I could manage.
    I’ve no idea what I’m doing. 
  • GemmaJFGemmaJF Posts: 2,286

    @GemmaJF your garden is a little bigger than mine but not hugely so I'll take your measurements as a guide and see what I can plan in. Your method seems like something I could manage.
    When you get going you will be simply amazed at how much you can do in a small space. My neighbour gave me 30 strawberry plants earlier in the year, he'd managed to propagate over 300 from runners on a small patch and had nowhere to put them! You'll probably run out of garden long before you run out of space for propagation  ;)
  • LatimerLatimer Posts: 1,034
    Haha, I'd take 30 strawberry plants too, it's so frustrating getting one strawberry every couple of days! 🤣

    Ok, this is getting me excited though, I like a new challenge @GemmaJF
    I’ve no idea what I’m doing. 
  • GemmaJFGemmaJF Posts: 2,286
    edited July 2020
    Propagating plants is where the real bug bit for me, I didn't even have a garden at the time, was living in a flat in London. But did I produce an awful lot of fuchsias, neighbours had fuchsias, friends had fuchsias, I would give fuchsias to total strangers if they would take them  :D

    I've got my own challenge for the propagator next as it is free now for a few weeks. Going to try blackthorn cuttings, I usually buy bare root in for hedging, but I like a challenge too and wondered what it would feel like to look at a hedge in a few years grown entirely from cuttings. 
  • YviestevieYviestevie Posts: 7,063
    I love growing from seed.  I start in late Feb early March and sow seeds in the conservatory.  I use grow lights and heat pads to aid germination.  Once they get going they are moved onto self watering trays on the conservatory window ledges.  When they get their second leaves they are pricked out into 3" pots and transferred to a 6 x 4 greenhouse that is kept frost free with a small heater with a thermostat.  They are then hardened off in a cold frame before planting out in the garden. 
    As each batch of seedlings are moved on to the next stage another follows.  I also sow biennials in June and this year have grown some tomato plants (as we aren't going on hols) and they are doing well in the conservatory.  Next year I'm planning on turning some of my larger containers over to veg and want to grow dwarf beans, peas, carrots and salad greens.  You don't need a large greenhouse to grow an amazing amount of plants.
    Hi from Kingswinford in the West Midlands
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