For the last 10 years the greenhouse has been used for growing produce: tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, aubergines, melons, strawberries. Although this has been very successful and productive it has also required a great deal of work. I am ready to direct my energies into other projects now, so am looking for ways to reduce the amount of time the garden requires. You can see this also in my recent redesign of the vegetable garden. As you can see in the left hand photo above, the greenhouse used to have a central path with permanent beds on either side. As is the case with such permanent beds, over the years productivity falls due to a combination of nutrient depletion and build up of soil borne diseases. Yields had been declining and growth problems increasing. I decided to pave the majority of the greenhouse, leaving just a small bed for a trained peach which will grow against the brick wall. If I want to grow summer veg I can house these in plastic tubs. I like growing alpines and may build a bench down the window side for this in the future. The greenhouse will still be used for overwintering tender plants such as pots of agapanthus.
Oh, and I also finally got round to installing mains electricity!
One of the good things about using block paving is how easy it is to rearrange at a later date. The pavers simply lift and can be rearranged. Like this…
After ripping out all of the old timber beds, the work bench and some of the paving, I used Accoya planks which were left over from renovating the veg beds to create a bed for the peach (centre-left, above). Two long pieces of timber were dug in so that their tops were at the level I wanted the bedding sand to be laid to.
In the picture above, you can see how these two ‘runners’ acted as level guides. The bedding mix was 6:1 sharp sand to cement. The addition of this small amount of cement ensures the mix is strong enough to resist settling — hopefully ensuring a stable, level floor — but weak enough that I will be able to easily dig it out if I need to in the future.
I used a long board to tamp down the bedding mix in short sections. Once firm and level I could quickly lay four or five rows of pavers. Only the last paver in each row needed cutting, so the whole job was relatively quick (about 3 days). That said, my arms, wrists and back ached for a week afterwards! This is the price the DIYer pays.
Kiln dried sand brushed into the joints locked the paving together. By luck, I had just enough bricks left over from a previous job to neatly finish repaving the greenhouse. By just enough, I mean there were literally just two bricks left over!
Because the timber-edged bed (left above) is made of Accoya it is basically permanent and maintenance free. It should last the lifetime of the greenhouse.