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Newbie in need of advice

Hi there,

I would be very grateful to anybody who could give me some advice on what to grow in my new mini greenhouse. I live in a flat with a balcony and up until this year have only grown potted plants. I really need the basics on what is best to grow and how do I go about it? I have a £50 voucher to use at a garden centre and I want to spend it on the right things. I was thinking of potatoes, tomatoes and strawberries but I don't know whether to buy seeds or plants and really would appreciate being spoon fed any advice on this from any of my fellow gardeners that reads this.

Kind regards,




  • Ladybird4Ladybird4 Third rock from the sunPosts: 27,291

    How big is your mini greenhouse flowerbomb? Potatoes need a lot of room. Tomatoes are a possibility as are strawberries but it would be easier to give advice if we knew how big the greenhouse is.

    Cacoethes: An irresistible urge to do something inadvisable
  • Hi Ladybird,

    It is a long thinish one with 4 shelves, 158 h, x 59 w x 49d cm

    I am happy to use a potato grow bag on the balcony itself if that is ok to do so.

  • I wouldn't waste space on things that can be grown outside right from the get go. Potatoes and onion sets can go right in the ground or in grow bags on your patio right now. You can also get strawberry and tomato planters. The real beauty of a greenhouse big or small is that you can get things started off earlier from seed in trays and then transplant later, grow on cheaper plug plants, or use it for cuttings. My little grow house has already made its money back.

    The first question you need to ask is "what will I actually eat?" 

    Take it step by step. the basics you will absolutely need from the garden centre are compost (usually 3 for 2, yes you will need all 3) and seed trays. Don't worry about feed or any other fancy stuff just yet, your compost will have enough goodness in it for 6 months.  I would then have a wander along the seed isle. You have the greenhouse so  you can get anything you like provided the space will be there when they get big.  If nothing catches your eye then wander around the plug plant section.  

    planters and pots are usually very over priced from the garden centres, look on wilcos, ebay and Amazon for veg planters and plant pots. 

  • Thank you so much Learnincurve, you have really helped me with that sound advice.I appreciate your quick response and I will print it out and take it to garden centre with me!!! No doubt you will be hearing from me again soon!! Thank you,

    Kind regards


  • Keep us updated image  I have an enormous garden with a grow house the same size as yours so it will be interesting to see what you pick to grow in it, mine has cauliflower for the allotment and flowers for the garden in it right now. 

    Re: seed trays, forgot to mention you need the cheaper ones with drainage holes in the bottom not the windowsill ones. 

  • Hi again!! Thanks again for the advice - what are second early potatoes? and am I in time to sow seeds for the third potatoes? I love brocoli, sweetcorn, green beans potatoes, tomatoes, strawberries, spinach, chillies and cucumber. What out of those can I sow now? And I would rather do few that do well instead of too many that don't. Also my honeysuckle has become spindly again but has roots to the top. Shall I prune it now?


  • Kitty 2Kitty 2 ManchesterPosts: 5,120

    I agree with learnincurve's advice to grow what you like to eat.  If space on your balcony is limited, think vertically. You could spend your voucher on a nice strawberry pot, they can be pricey. I've never grown strawberries so no idea how good they are but it could be a practical use of space image  

    I'm trying out a new patio tomato this year "minibel" which is supposed to be a heavy cropper, good in pots, and compact. I have read good reviews of "sungold" too. Maybe one for me to try next year image

    I started out with a plastic greenhouse similar to yours. I used it for seedlings mainly. I currently have a 6x4 plastic one. I grew tomatoes, bell peppers, chillies, cucumbers and cucamelons in it last summer. It's currently full of seedlings waiting for warmer weather so they can go outside. 

  • Three types of potato, first early, second early and main crop. Second early are what I put in far too late today, what you want are main crop. 

    You can sow all of those seeds now.

    I think your honeysuckle is pot bound and needs a new bigger one. When you re-pot floof out the roots with your fingers and if they are in a solid lump use a knife and make shallow cuts to encourage new roots. 

  • Kitty 2Kitty 2 ManchesterPosts: 5,120

    If you want to grow chillies in your greenhouse, I would buy some small plants rather that starting from seed now. They can take quite a time to germinate and need extra warmth to get going. I sowed my seed in a heated propagator at the end of Jan and they're still quite small plants.

    Do you have a large balcony?  Sweetcorn is best grown in blocks of plants (eg. 6x6 square) for pollination.

    The weight of lots of very large planters full of soil is another thing to consider with balcony gardens.

  • Sorry, I meant to say there are  shoots up to the top  of my honeysuckle not roots lol. Yes, I think your right about needing a bigger pot, have you got anywhere cheap you go to for your pots? I am going to the garden centre tomorrow I spent most of the afternoon cooking. Can I ask you learnincurve why you hjave an allotment when you have a big garden? I'm just curious thats all.

    Thanks for responding to my post kitty, and yes thinking vertical on my balcony definitely makes sense. That is why I opted for the tall green house. I do fancy having a strawberry pot but as you say they are so expensive, you can also get hanging ones aswell so i might do that.

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