Welcome to our blog


Welcome to the Access blog, where you can find all sorts of hints and tips about gardening with the Access range of Mini greenhouse, Cold frames and Raised Beds. We do hope that you will find our blog a useful source of information – and even inspiration!

In part, our blog was inspired by all of the customers we meet at the shows. We love talking to customers and helping them make the most of their garden and growing under glass, so we thought it might be a good idea to share our hints and tips with a wider audience!

Blogging is a two way thing, so we would love to hear from our customers about their experiences with our products – or just gardening in general. Feel free to add your thoughts to our blog.

Matthew writes:

I work on the technical side, and I am really proud of the high quality range of products we manufacture. My contributions to the blog include tips on where to site your cold frame and mini greenhouse, the benefits of our design and hints and tips on using and caring for your Cold Frame.

Anne writes:

I am a keen gardener and live in the village where Access is based. I help out at the shows such as Chelsea and Hampton Court, and have a number of Cold Frames and a Mini greenhouse in my garden. My blog entries concentrate on what you can grow in your garden using the Access Cold Frames and Mini greenhouses. I also have my own blog  – Annes Garden Blog, where I have a wide range of articles and recipes as well.

Early Lettuce under an Access Cloche

24th February

24th February

This year we decided to do an experiment to see how much difference the Access Salad Cloche made to growing early lettuce. Two salad beds were prepared, one covered with the Access cloche and the other left uncovered. To give the outdoor planted lettuces a chance, we delayed planting the lettuce seedlings until 24th February. Six lettuce plants, each with around 5 leaves, were planted in each bed.





11th March

11th March

Just over two weeks later, the difference is clearly noticeable, with more leaves on the lettuces under the cloche, and the lettuces themselves significantly bigger.








30th March

30th March


Another two weeks on (5 weeks after planting out) and the difference is again noticeable, with the lettuce under the Access Salad Cloche now twice the size of the plants in the bed outside.





13th April

13th April


Access Salad Cloche

Access herb and salad cloche with timber base

Access herb and salad cloche with timber base

Ever dreamed of having a ready supply of fresh salads or herbs just outside the kitchen door?

The Access Salad Cloche provides a small protected area for growing your favourite herbs and salads. The timber base is designed to stand on a patio and be filled with compost. Into this base salad crops and herbs can be planted. If the base is placed on soil, then deeper rooting crops such as carrots can also be planted into the base.

The glass cloche sits on top of the base to protect the plants from the wind and the rain. In the early springtime the glass traps the warmth of the sun, warming the soil and boosting growth rates. Even in early February, if the cloche is in the sun, the temperature inside can reach 20 degrees Celsius.

To ensure the cloche does not overheat, an ingenious ventilation system is built into it. Small slots at the base of the cloche and the eaves allow convection ventilation to be established as the temperature rises, preventing the cloche from getting too warm. Later in the season the roof panels can be removed, protecting the plants from the wind, but allowing rain to enter and water the plants.

For safety, all of the glass in the cloche is 4mm thick toughened safety glass. Unlike plastics, glass traps the sun’s warmth – important for early spring growth; it also provides weight to the structure to stop it blowing away. The base is constructed using pressure treated timber for a long life, and is fixed together with stainless steel screws.

Given a sunny location south of the English Midlands, and the right choice of plants, it should be possible to keep a steady supply of salads right through the winter.

The salad cloche is available either in plain aluminium finish, or with an Antique Ivory colour coating.

Glass Dome Bell Cloches

Set of Glass Bell Cloches

Glass Bell Cloche in Garden

Glass Bell Cloches are ideal for protecting delicate plants or herbs in the border of the garden, or for bringing on salad crops such as lettuce during the Winter months. The cloche can be placed over the plant at night and removed in the day, or a piece of wood can be placed under the rim of the cloche during the day to ventilate.

Our glass cloches are hand blown for that authentic Victorian look and incorporate a glass ball on the top to allow the easy lifting of the cloche. Traditionally the lifting ball of the cloche was made of solid glass, leading to problems with the glass acting as a lens, so to prevent this these cloches incorporate a hollow centre to the ball.

Row of glass bell cloches over lettuce plants

Lettuce under Bell Cloches

Although we associate bell cloches with British gardening and the traditional Victorian kitchen garden, growing under glass originated in Roman times where they used pieces of glass in frames to protect Cucumbers. In the 16th century Venetian glass blowers were able to produce hand blown glass domes, but it was the French who perfected the growing of crops under these glass domes – hence the French name cloche (French for bell).

In the early 1900’s crates of lettuce, carrots and other vegetables came to London from Paris every year between Christmas and March. These vegetables were produced under glass cloches on ‘hot beds’; these consist of manure placed in the growing bed which decomposes to raise the temperature. Even when there is frost all around, a hot bed will maintain a temperature of 8 degrees Celsius – enough for early vegetables to germinate. The glass cloche then provides the protection to ensure that the crop is protected from the wind and rain.

Unlike the plastic versions of these Victorian Bell Cloches, the glass traps the warmth of the sun, keeping temperatures up. In addition the weight of the glass ensures that the cloches won’t blow away in the winter gales.

Cheese covered by a glass bell cloche

Cheese under a Glass Bell Cloche

The smaller glass bell cloches can also be used indoors to protect house plants, ferns or even cakes and cheese! The glass bell is hygienic and looks good in any kitchen. Pair the cloche with a wooden or slate base for the ultimate kitchen display case!

Three different sizes of Glass Dome Bell Cloche are available from Access. The small bell cloche has a diameter of 8″ (20cm) and a height of 8″. The medium cloche has a diameter and height of 10″ (25cm); and the large cloche has a height of 30cm (12″) and a diameter of 30cm. They are also available as a set of 3 cloches.

First Punnet of Strawberries – 16th May

Ripe strawberriesThis year the first strawberries were ready for picking on the 16th May – just in time to go down to Chelsea Flower Show! What better way to celebrate the start of Summer than with a bowl of delicious home-grown strawberries and cream!

The Cold Frames use real glass (toughened for safety) which, unlike plastic, traps the heat inside the greenhouse, aiding the ripening of the fruit. Being under glass increases the yields from the strawberries dramatically and also protects the fruit from birds and insects. By planting several varieties of strawberry cropping will take place throughout the Summer.

For more flexibility and also to make picking easier, we use 5l black plastic pots for the strawberries. This keeps the fruit clean and also the compost will warm up more quickly under the glass. Make sure the strawberries are kept well fed during the season, as this will also improve yields.

Tomato Houses

Delicious home-grown tomatoes – there’s nothing quite like them!

Double Tomato House

Superb Ventilation

Tomatoes need warmth and sunshine to thrive but in a traditional, poorly ventilated, Tomato House or Greenhouse, Tomatoes can actually become too hot and become heat stressed! The Access Tomato House is different, as it provides superbly controllable ventilation – just a tiny amount in the early Spring and lots of ventilation in the Summer – if fact on a hot Summers day, with an Access Tomato House you can completely remove the roof for maximum ventilation, but leave the side panels in place for wind protection.


Fantastic Quality

The quality of an Access Tomato house is far superior to cheap plastic tomato houses available in the DIY stores. The framework is made of architectural aluminium and has a 25 year warranty. Instead of cheap plastic, proper toughened safety glass is used, which makes the inside much warmer on early Spring days. The glass also withstands snow and wind; unlike cheap competitors, the Access Tomato House won’t blow away in a puff of wind – in fact we supply an optional anchorage kit to allow it to be firmly bolted down to the ground. For really windy spots, there is also a bracing kit available on the Double Tomato House – and by windy we mean up on the moors or by the sea!

Plenty of Options

Seed tray shelvesThere are two models in the Tomato House range, a 4′ x 2′ Tomato House and also a Double Tomato House which measures a generous 4′ x 4′ and will hold between 9 and 12 tomato plants. It’s not just tomatoes that can be grown either – Chillies and Peppers can also be grown, and by adding some optional seed tray shelves, the Tomato Houses can also be used in the early Spring to bring on young seedlings and plug plants.

Seed tray shelves come in two depths; narrow seed tray shelves allow 3 seed trays to be placed on them and the trays are orientated width ways; the deep seed tray shelves take the seed trays depth ways, and can hold up to 5 seed trays. Each shelf is manufactured from slim aluminium tubes, which cast very little shadow when not in use. In addition the height of the shelves can be adjusted and the shelves can be removed in Summer.

For pot plants, optional shelf covers drop over the shelves and provide a stable platform for the pots.

In addition a mist watering system can be added into either of the Tomato Houses, providing a gentle mist for raising the humidity – just put the mist on for 30 seconds in the early morning before the sun gets too strong.



Gardening with Anne – March

Once you have your Mini greenhouse or Cold Frame, what are you going to grow in it? If you aren’t a very experienced gardener, then follow Anne through the year as she provides some hints and tips about getting the most out of our Access Mini greenhouses, Cold Frames and Cloches.

Anne often helps us at the shows, so it might even have been Anne who sold you your greenhouse! When not helping us at Access, Anne can often be found in her garden in the village of Crick, Northamptonshire where we are based. Although Anne has only been seriously gardening for a couple of years there are always plenty of crops being grown and plenty of new plants to be looked after.

In this first video, Anne gives provides some ideas for planting in March and explains the benefits of growing under glass.

8 ft Growhouse – ideal for overflowing greenhouses

Glass growhouseThis 8′ long half height Growhouse has a glass back to enable it to stand anywhere, while ensuring light levels inside the Growhouse are maximised. It makes an ideal overflow area adjacent to an 8′ long Greenhouse, and the glass back will ensure plenty of light still enters the greenhouse.

Seed tray shelves provide plenty of overflow space for young plants, with the adjustable ventilation allowing the plants to be hardened off effectively. In the Summer the shelves can be removed, allowing the Growhouse to be used for bush tomatoes and chilli plants, with the sliding front and roof panels being opened wide to prevent the plants from overheating.

The half Growhouse is shown in the photograph with an optional timber base with slatted floor. The base raises the plants off the damp ground, keeping them drier and reducing disease problems. The base also reduces bending!


Tortoise Shelter – use a Cloche

Glass cloche for vegetable gardenIt might be an unusual application, but our glass cloches also make a suitable shelter for a tortoise. Growers use cloches as the glass allows the sun’s rays to warm up the ground. In the same way, not only will the cloche give the tortoise some shelter from the elements, but the glass will allow the tortoise to bask in the sun.

The ends of the cloche are removable, so the tortoise can walk right through the cloche, or you could put the ends on and keep the tortoise out – allowing the ground and grass to recuperate.

The cloche is 78 cm long and 55cm wide so there is plenty of room for the tortoises inside.



Glass backs for Mini greenhouses

Our Mini greenhouses are designed for the keen gardener with a small garden. They take up a minimal amount of space and are generally fitted to a wall. But what happens if you do not have a suitable wall or the wall you do have is very rough? In this case there are a number of options available.

Plywood Back

Exterior grade plywood is relatively inexpensive and can be easily cut to size – many DIY store will cut the large sheets to the size that you require. 12mm ply is suitable, but will need to be regularly treated to stop it rotting. Marine ply is much more durable and doesn’t need regular treatment, but is more expensive and more difficult to get hold of away from the coast.

Simply bolt the the ply onto the back of the mini greenhouse using the pre-punched fixing holes in the rear legs of the mini grenhouse. It is best to bolt the mini greenhouse to the ground to prevent it being blown over in high winds.

Timber Batten

If you have a suitable wall but the wall itself is rough – for example Cotswold stone walls, then the best thing is to make a timber ‘goal post’ shape from timber battens. These can be leveled and screwed to the wall and then any gaps filled in with either silicone spray or expanding foam. Once the battens are complete the mini greenhouse can be fixed back using wood screws.

Glass Back

The disadvantage of plywood or timber is the need to periodically treat the timber, plus the initial work needs some DIY skills. Another option is a glass back for the mini greenhouse. Although this is more expensive than timber, it does not need treatment and the mini greenhouse can be located anywhere in the garden. In addition light can enter the mini greenhouse through the back, making the entire greenhouse lighter.

The glass backs are fixed, ie. the glass panels at the back do not slide for ventilation, and simply bolts onto the main framework using the fixings provided. The mini greenhouse itself should be fixed down to prevent it blowing over in windy conditions – the glass back kit includes these ground fixings.

Access Cloches in RHS Wisley Herb Garden

Glass cloche at RHS Wisley Herb Garden

Three glass cloches at RHS Wisley Herb Garden

The RHS garden at Wisley is one of the most spectacular gardening venues in the UK, with a huge variety of plants and trees from all around the world. A team of permanent gardeners and volunteers maintain the garden throughout the year. A number of areas are dedicated to practical growing ideas including the Model Vegetable Garden and the Herb Garden.

Access were pleased to be able to supply 3 cloches to the Herb Garden recently, to protect some of the more delicate herbs over the Winter. The cloches will also warm the earth in early Spring, providing a boost to the plants.

Unlike plastic cloches, glass traps the long wave radiation within it, making a glass cloche much warmer than its plastic equivalent. Glass also lets more light into the cloche and is more durable than plastic – which is why houses still have glass in their windows rather than plastic.

Access Cloche with Ivory coating

Access Cloche with Ivory coating

The RHS website states that “The best glazing material is glass, as it lets 90 percent of light through, does not degrade in sunlight and, unlike plastic materials, reflects heat radiated from within the glasshouse back into the structure instead of being lost”.

For safety, the glass in the cloches is toughened – the same sort of glass that you would have on a glass coffee table or in the side windows of a car.

The framework of the cloche is manufactured from architectural aluminium for a very long life and is available either in a plain aluminium finish or in an Ivory powder coated finish. The powder coating echoes the traditional ivory painted cast iron cloches of the Victorian era and is baked onto the aluminium to provide a durable and long lasting finish.

Cloches on a herb bed at RHS Wisley

Cloches on a herb bed at RHS Wisley

The glazing of the cloche is removable – the end panels can be removed if several cloches are being placed in a row and, for access and watering, the roof glass can be removed.

Cloches are available from Access Garden Products in two sizes; a tall cloche for protecting delicate plants in the border and a long cloche for row crop work.