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.

Access Glass Garden Cloche

Glass cloche for vegetable gardenVictorian Kitchen Gardeners knew the value of growing under glass, and created long tunnel cloches to ensure crops were as early as possible. They understood that glass traps heat from the sun, warming the soil and plants growing directly beneath it. In fact even today glass is far superior than clear plastics at trapping the warmth from the sun and its weight ensures that it will not be blown away in strong winds.

However, long runs of tunnel or barn cloches have almost disappeared as the glass edges were sharp and gardeners are a more concerned about health and safety than they were 100 years ago! To fill this gap in the Kitchen Garden, Access have developed their own range of glass cloches with a modern take on the problem. Instead of horticultural glass with sharp edges, the cloches use 4mm toughened safety glass. This has polished edges for easy and safe handling and if the panel is broken it will shatter into small pieces like a car window.

Trickle ventilation system for garden clocheThe Access Cloche incorporates a unique ventilation system into each cloche, with a high level convection vent allowing warm air to escape on sunny days, drawing cooler air in though the slot at the base of each end. During the Winter, the bottom slot can be closed off by ramping up the earth.

To water or tend the plants inside the cloche the two roof lights will lift up or can be completely lifted out. In Summer the cloche can be left in place, keeping the soil warmer and providing some wind protection, while the top lights can be left off, allowing rain to water the crop and taller crops to grow out through the roof.

The framework of the cloche is manufactured from architectural aluminium and is bolted together using stainless steel nuts and bolts. The Cloche is available either in a plain aluminium finish, or powder coated in an Antique Ivory finish for a touch of class. The Garden Cloche comes with a 25 year guarantee, making it a long lasting investment for the vegetable patch.

The Cloche is British Made, manufactured in Northamptonshire, England.

Brass Hose Fittings

These brass hose fittings are compatible with the popular Gardena and Hozelock type garden hose fittings, but are far sturdier. Manufactured in Italy these connectors come with a 3 year domestic use warranty and are manufactured to professional standards.

Brass hose connectors

Unlike plastic hose connectors these brass hose connectors won’t blow off, thanks to their stainless steel ball bearings which lock onto the tap connector and the nylon teeth which dig into the outer wall of the hose. The brass outer compression ring also allows more ‘bite’ into the hose than their plastic equivalent. The inner core of the hose connector is manufactured from limescale resistant material to reduce problems in hard water areas.

The brass tap connector is also much, much stronger than plastic ‘snap-on’ fittings. This ensures that tugs on the hose don’t shear the fitting off the tap. A thick washer on the inside of the tap fittings ensures a leak-free connection onto the tap.

Solid Brass Tap Manifolds

These cast brass tap manifolds allow two or three hoses to be connected to a single tap. Each outlet is fitted with a leak free ball valve to allow the manifold to withstand full mains pressure – essential if you are using the manifold to mount an irrigation timer. The taps use stainless steel 1/4 turn balls inside which are mounted in Teflon seals for durability.

The two way connector is available either with 3/4″ threads on the outlet, allowing watering timers to be fitted, or with built-in quick connector outlets to allow hose connectors to be fitted. The three way connector can be used to mount two of our Galconette tap timers onto it and still allow a hose to be connected to the central valve.

7 unique features of the Classic Growhouse

The Access Classic Growhouse is designed to provide a sturdy growing structure in a compact space and is packed with a number of unique features.
Woman standing by Access Classic growhouse

Unique ventilation system
Greenhouses are generally purchased to over-winter more delicate plants and bring on seedlings in the Spring. One disadvantage of traditional greenhouses is their lack of ventilation, so as the weather warms up the greenhouse becomes too hot for the plants. The unique Access ventilation system overcomes this, allowing the growhouse to be used even in the hottest of Summers. Front and back panels slide allowing gentle through-ventilation of the growhouse.

As well as sliding for gentle ventilation the front and the roof panels can also be removed in really hot weather. If the roof glass is removed and the front glass is left in place, hot air can vent out through the roof while the side glass will provide wind protection. A shade cover can be fitted to the roof to keep the temperatures down.

All-round access
Access to the plants is available from both the front and the rear of the growhouse, ensuring everything is within easy reach. The glass doors slide for easy access to the plants, so there are no hinged doors to flap in the wind. If the growhouse is placed near to a hedge or fence access to all of the plants can be gained from the front sliding doors.

Toughened safety glass for durability and safety
All Classic growhouses are supplied with 4mm toughened safety glass – the same thickness of glass fitted to double glazed windows. The toughening process makes the glass stronger and also ensures that if it does break, it shatters into small pieces like a car window.

To quote the RHS “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.” It’s rigidity ensures that in high winds it will not blow out of the growhouse. It will also withstand 3′ (0.9m) of snow on the roof, making ideal for northern climates. Polycarbonate only lets 83% of light through and scratches more easily, further reducing light transmission. The hard surface on glass also makes cleaning easier, even after algae has been allowed to build up on the surface.

Architectural aluminium framework
The framework is manufactured from architectural aluminium, which is a mix of aluminium and other alloys such as magnesium and titanium. The frame needs no painting and is guaranteed for 25 years. All of the fixings are either aluminium or stainless steel.
In addition the aluminium can be powder coated one of 6 attractive colours. To ensure the coating lasts as long as possible all components are degreased and etched before being the powder is sprayed on and baked in an oven. The resulting surface is smooth, making it easier to clean, and very hard wearing.

Removable centre staging
Taller models include a centre staging area. To ensure the lower areas of the growhouse are a light as possible, the centre staging is manufactured from toughened safety glass, casting no shadows to on the plants below. The glass is incredibly strong and tested to 50kg (112 lbs) load. For taller crops the centre staging can be removed.

Shelving system
The growhouse includes a built-in shelving system, making the most of the useable space while still ensuring that all plants receive adequate light. The seed tray shelves consist of slim aluminium bars to minimise shadowing. Each shelf is height adjustable and can be removed or folded flat when no longer required. In the early Spring all the shelves can be up, holding seedlings and young plants. As these are transferred to the garden or allotment the shelves can be folded down and taller crops such as tomatoes and peppers can fill the mini greenhouse.

Built-in watering system
The built in watering system is ideal for watering tender seedlings and plug plants. A single inlet connects onto a garden hose and built-in mist nozzles spay out a fine mist – covering the growhouse in a fine spray that is gentle enough not to damage young seedlings.

On taller models two levels of nozzles are included – one in the roof and one below the centre staging.