Welcome to our blog

AnneHoeing1

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.

Midi greenhouse – the versatile all-rounder

DSC_9462aLaunched at the RHS Tatton Flower Show the Midi Growhouse is the latest addition to our popular Growhouse range. Standing at 3′ 11″ (1.17m) high, the Midi Growhouse provides plenty of growing height for taller crops. The extra height also provides more headroom on the adjustable seed tray shelves.

The Growhouse is ideal for starting off seedlings and plug plants in the early Spring. Once these have been planted out Summer crops such as Tomatoes, Cucumbers and Aubergines can be grown. The sliding doors allow easy access and also excellent ventilation.

Inside two deep seed tray shelves are included, which will hold a total of 10 seed trays. An additional narrow shelf is available as an option, which will hold another 3 seed trays. In addition to the shelves, 8 seed trays can be placed on the floor.

DSC_9575aDesigned to cope with strong winds, the Midi greenhouse also includes a ground fixing kit to enable it to be bolted down to slabs or concrete.

An optional timber raised bed is available which will allow soil grown crops to be grown inside the Growhouse. This is ideal for gardens which do not have a vegetable patch. As the soil inside the raised bed will warm up quickly, the raised base is particularly suitable to very early salad and vegetable crops – in fact, south of the English midlands, it is possible to grow salad crops all year round.

The framework of the Midi Growhouse is architectural aluminium, which comes with a 25 year guarantee, and the glass is toughened safety glass. The glass traps the sun’s heat, making it warmer than a plastic glazed greenhouse. Glass is also more resistant to heavy snow falls, two or 3 feet of snow can be allowed to build up on the Growhouse roof. Two large glass doors slide at the front of the Growhouse to give a large opening for easy access and excellent ventilation.

 

Access 4′ Growhouse – ideal for tender plants

Growhouse-FBG_0112The most popular model in the Access range is the Value Growhouse. 4′ long and just under 5′ high, the Growhouse provides plenty of growing space in a versatile design. In the early springtime the seed tray shelves can be used to hold up to 24 full sized seed trays; in the Summer the shelves can be removed and crops such as Tomatoes, Chillies and Peppers can be grown. When the chill winds of Autumn blow the shelves can be re-fitted and more delicate plants can be protected from the worst of the Winter weather.

The Growhouse is made in Britain from architectural aluminium and is glazed in toughened safety glass. The framework comes with a 25 year guarantee and is designed to withstand strong winds in exposed locations. Fixings are included to allow the Growhouse to be bolted securely to the ground.

Using real glass (toughened for safety) rather than plastic glazing has a number of advantages. Unlike plastic, glass traps the heat of the sun’s rays, warming the Growhouse and resulting in earlier crops. The glass is also very rigid, so it will not flex and blow out of the Growhouse in windy weather and the roof panels will cope with 2 or 3 feet of snow.

The unique ‘sliding door’ design provides easy access into the Growhouse, with no hinged doors to flap and bang in the wind; the design also allows infinitely variable ventilation, just open an inch on a bright early Spring day and wide open in the height of Summer. In fact, if the weather is really warm, the glass can be removed.

DSC_0152 DSC_3550To make the Growhouse even more versatile, there are a number of accessories available. Seed tray shelf covers allow the Growhouse shelves to be used with smaller pots. These have a capillary matting on the top to catch drips from watering. Another really useful accessory for the Growhouse is centre staging. These are made of 4mm toughened glass, so they let the light down to the lower levels, but provide capacity for another 8 seed trays. In the Summer the middle staging can be lifted out, allowing taller plants to be grown.

DSC_8199If you are away, another useful accessory is the automatic louvre vent. Ingeniously the vent will open and close on it’s own as the temperature inside the Growhouse rises and falls. In the late Spring the sun will be up at 6am, warming the Growhouse, but with an automatic vent installed the Growhouse will be ventilated while you are in bed!

The vent uses the expansion and contraction of a plant based oil to drive the piston on the vent, so there is no need to bring power to the greenhouse.

New 6′ Growhouse

6' long GrowhouseTo add to the success of the 4′ long Access Growhouse, we have now added a 6′ long Growhouse, providing even more growing space in a compact area. The Growhouse is 6′ 0″ (1.83m) long; 2′ 2″ (0.65m) deep and 4′ 11″ (1.49m) high and is designed to be completely free-standing.

The 6′ long Growhouse is constructed from glazed in 3mm toughened safety glass and includes 6 adjustable seed tray shelves. To access the Growhouse, the 3 panels at each level at the front, slide open; they can also be used to ventilate the Growhouse in warmer weather. During hot spells, the roof glass can also be opened, keeping temperatures inside manageable.

Growhouse shelvingInside, the split level shelving allows maximum flexibility. For taller crops, shelves can be removed on one side and left up on the other side. The height of the shelves can also be easily be adjusted.

The framework carries a 25 year guarantee and the Growhouse is glazed in toughened safety glass, designed to withstand strong winds and snow. Unlike plastic sheets, the panels will not bend and blow out in windy conditions. Glass also traps the warmth of the sun, maximising plant growth in the early Spring.

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!