Increasingly, we are all trying to do our bit to reduce our carbon footprint in our daily activities and at home. And it should be no different in our gardens. There are things we can do, both big and small, to help minimise our impact on the environment when we are gardening. Heritage Glasshouse and Greenhouse manufacturer Hartley Botanic has been in business for over 80 years and handmakes its beautiful, elegant and bespoke aluminium structures. The English manufacturer, based in Greenfield, Saddleworth, has a wealth of knowledge and expertise when it comes to Glasshouses, Greenhouses and gardening. Here, they provide some green ideas and tips to work into your Greenhouse growing. For more advice, Hartley Botanic’s online magazine provides a wealth of knowledge and inspiration. Visit: https://hartley-botanic.co.uk/magazine/

Tom Barry, CEO of Hartley Botanic said; “Transforming the way we grow in order to be more sustainable can feel like a monumental task. But there are small changes we can make, and even changes that involve less effort on our part, which will make a difference. It can be as simple as making use of new technologies such as self-cleaning Greenhouse glass, being more discerning about the products we buy or trying to grow some of  our own food. We can all make a difference and starting small is better than feeling overwhelmed and not doing anything at all.”

Go peat-free with your compost

When buying compost, many of us don’t know what’s in the bag – or why it matters. Peat-based composts use primarily sphagnum moss peat. Peat is a fossil fuel that stores vast amounts of carbon. When peat bogs are drained and stripped – which destroys natural, living wildlife habitats – they dry out and ‘die’, setting their carbon stores free. The continuing build-up of carbon dioxide in our shared atmosphere is responsible for our climate emergency. Using peat-based compost is helping to drive that emergency.

In contrast, peat-free composts are made from raw materials that are renewable and ecologically sustainable: tree bark/ fibre, coir (the crumbs from coconut husks), composted wool and bracken are all found in modern and reliable peat-free composts. These materials can be grown over and over again, indefinitely. They don’t unlock fossil carbon stores (fibre and bark actually suck up carbon as trees grow).

But do peat composts cost more? We know that some of the best quality peat-frees are on a par, cost-wise, with peat-based mixes. And who said that gardening always has to be done on the cheap? Isn’t it worth paying a little more for a peat-free compost that doesn’t cost us a liveable earth? The problem with peat is that it’s cheap to mine and profitable to sell – but every species on earth pays a hidden ‘price’ as climate breakdown unfolds around us.

Choose a peat-free compost for your potting mixes. Have fun experimenting with sowing seeds, taking cuttings, potting up plug plants and filling containers. Grow flowers, fruit and vegetables. See which peat-free you take to – and which one takes to you.

Choose self-cleaning glass

Cleaning Glasshouse or Greenhouse glass is an essential maintenance requirement which normally involves significant amounts of fresh water and detergents – not to mention cleaning time. For a more environmentally-friendly solution, it is now possible to glaze your new Hartley Botanic Glasshouse or Greenhouse with self-cleaning glass. Self-cleaning glass works with a unique dual-action process which combines rainwater with the glass’s special coating which reacts with ultra-violet (UV) rays to break down organic dirt. This provides an automatic glass cleaning action, whenever it rains. Due to its reduction in the use of detergents and fresh water needed to clean normal glass, The Building Research Establishment has indicated that self-cleaning glass is more beneficial to the environment than normal glass.

A unique dual-action process uses the forces of nature to help keep Greenhouse glass clear of organic material. The secret is in the glass’s special coating, which works in two stages. First, the coating reacts with ultra-violet (UV) rays from natural daylight to break down organic dirt. The second part of the process happens when water hits the glass. Rainwater runs down the glass to wash away the loosened organic and inorganic dirt (some types of inorganic dirt, such as sand or silt, will only be removed with water.) The result is shining, clear panes of glass which, compared to conventional glass, dries very quickly, reducing unsightly streaks or marks. The process of self-cleaning works continuously, with dirt being washed away whenever it rains, saving you time and money, giving you greater freedom to enjoy your Greenhouse.

Hartley Botanic is the first Greenhouse and Glasshouse manufacturer in the UK to bring revolutionary self-cleaning glass to their customers as part of their handmade designs.

Grow your own fruit and veg

During the UK’s first lockdown in March 2020, Hartley Botanic experienced a renewed demand from homeowners in their beautiful, handmade Greenhouses, as the benefit of being more self-sufficient and ‘growing your own’ was thrown sharply into focus. The manufacturer experienced a c.35 percent increase in customers citing ‘growing their own’ as the primary reason they wanted to invest in a Glasshouse or Greenhouse, with customers saying they ‘never want to be caught out like this again.’ In normal times, Hartley Botanic finds that somewhere between 10 and 15 percent of customers cite growing their own as the primary reason for buying a Glasshouse of Greenhouse, but since lockdown, this increased substantially. More customers than ever are purchasing a Greenhouse with becoming self-sufficient being the primary driver.

As well as the ‘grow your own’ benefits of self-sufficiency and improved quality and taste, Hartley Botanic customers also cite reducing air miles and concerns for the environment as a key motivation for using a Greenhouse for food production. Modern Greenhouse owners have concerns for the use of chemicals in the production of fruit and vegetables but also about the environmental effects of transporting produce over long distances.

Many customers have reported that using a Greenhouse to produce their own fruit and vegetables significantly reduces their day to day consumption of plastic packaging – an issue they were increasingly concerned about.

Get strict on plastic – especially plastic pots

Plastic is tempting when it comes to gardening. Especially when it is still often cheaper to buy plastic equivalents. When you can buy 100 white plastic labels for the same price as 10 slate alternatives, it is often hard to make ‘better choices.’ But our gardens and the wildlife within them are not benefiting from our easier, plastic choices – and specifically in terms of the impact of microplastics increasingly in our environments. Earthworms are not faring well in soils polluted by our microplastics. Researchers have discovered that Aporrectodea rosea become stunted and lose weight when they live in plastic-polluted soil. Earthworms are crucial soil- and fertility-makers, on which a dynamic and healthy garden (not to mention civilisation itself) is founded. The implications for us all if our earthworms, as well as all other soil life, begin to flounder are stark.

Put out your pots! Any brittle and cracked ones should be recycled (pollution problems kick off when plastics disintegrate.) For the ones you do keep, remember the golden rule for storing plastic pots: keep them in the dark. Out of the sun, with its plastic-perishing ultra-violet, pots will last indefinitely; I have some that are 20 years old and are still growing strong. Giving pots away means someone else need not buy any, stemming the flow of fresh plastic into our world. If you do need to get rid of some, ask your local garden centre about any recycling schemes they offer.

Avoid buying new plastic pots. Instead of plastic pots, choose pots and planters made from terracotta or recycled materials.

Buy a paper potter that enables you to make mini pots out of old newspaper – ideal for potting up seedlings. Use wooden lollypop sticks as plant labels, or ditch using labels altogether for pots and trays of seeds, and write on the side of the container instead.

Try a natural shade

In the summer, it is not only lack of water which will cause Greenhouse plants to fail. When it is extremely hot, there is a potent combination of plants not being able to suck water up fast enough (triggering truss-wrecking blossom end rot) and the fierce intensity of the sun magnified by glass. It is often too much for plants, and too much for the gardener themselves! Shading is a must for summer Greenhous gardening and some solutions are more eco-friendly than others.

Investing in roller shades when you buy your Greenhouse is a more environmentally friendly choice that using paint for white shading every year. It is also preferable to increasing your plastic consumption with a canopy of polypropylene netting. However, for a completely eco-conscious solution to Greenhouse shading, which can also be fed back into your garden as mulch or compost, you can try creating shading yourself using plants such as bracken, rosebay willowherb

Invest in a Glasshouse or Greenhouse to ‘last a lifetime’

It may take some saving, but it is better to invest in one Glasshouse which will last, than cheaper alternatives you will need to get rid of and replace numerous times. In a throwaway age Hartley Botanic makes Glasshouses and Greenhouses which truly stand the test of time and, as such, often become heirlooms for generations of families. This longevity of use is even experienced by customers who dismantle and reinstall their greenhouses within a new property, and sometimes abroad. Some of Hartley Botanic’s original structures are still standing and in full use, such as the Hartley Botanic Greenhouse at Belgrave Hall, installed in 1950, and the Glasshouse in Glasgow Botanical Gardens installed in 1988. The company offers a 30 year ‘lifetime’ guarantee which covers both the structure and installation of its Greenhouses and Glasshouses, a formal acknowledgement for customers of the reality of their longevity which also provides peace of mind.

A customer’s 1950s V&N Hartley Ltd Semi-dodecagon 9 Greenhouse in full working order and showcased at Hartley Botanic’s 2016 RHS flower shows

Clever eco-friendly ideas from some of Hartley Botanic’s customers:

  1. My best eco-gardening tip is simple: keep a bucket by the kitchen sink and another in the bathroom during hot, dry weather. A lot of water gets wasted in small amounts – rinsing out a mug, washing salad leaves, running the shower until the hot water comes through, etc. – and a handy bucket can be used to capture as much of this fresh and highly re-usable water as possible. Once the buckets are full(ish) they can then be taken out to the garden and either tipped into a water butt (ideally one that’s separate from the rainwater system, to avoid any chemical contamination of the purer supply) or put straight into a watering can for immediate use. Less of the precious water supply wasted, more available for garden use – it’s a real win-win.
  2. Crumble egg shells and put them around seedlings to stop slugs – they will not climb over sharp objects. Add a couple of rhubarb leaves to some boiling water, let it cool and put in a spray bottle for use as a greenfly, whitefly and blackfly spray. It really works – I was told this by my grandfather who had a farm and grew fruit and veg on it.
  3. Use your local Freecycle group, or other local recycling initiatives. I have redeveloped our side garden almost entirely from free reused materials, pallets to make raised beds, paving slabs and bricks to make paths and small retaining walls.
  4. I use empty kitchen rolls and toilet paper rolls filled with soil for my tomato and chili seeds instead of buying a plastic propagator. It works perfectly.
  5. When I start growing my tomato, peppers and chillies from seed I use clean, empty yoghurt pots to save buying from the garden centre.

Hartley Botanic is an English Glasshouse and Greenhouse manufacturer based in Greenfield, Lancashire. The company was founded in 1938 by brothers Vincent (RHS fellow) and Norman Hartley following their ground-breaking aluminium Greenhouse design, the first time (to our knowledge) aluminium had been used in Greenhouse construction and marking a huge improvement on its wood and wrought iron Victorian forerunners. Today, Hartley Botanic’s reputation has been built on over 80 years of English craftsmanship, creating Glasshouse and Greenhouse structures known for their enduring strength, quality and performance. In February 2017 Hartley Botanic became the only aluminium Glasshouse and Greenhouse manufacturer to be endorsed by the RHS.

It is the Greenhouse manufacturer of choice for leading horticulture organisations, institutions and designers in the UK and worldwide with Hartley Botanic commissioned by the RHS, the National Trust, Kew Gardens, Glasgow Botanic Gardens, Massachusetts Horticultural Society, Oxford Botanical Gardens, Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Blenheim Palace, The Lingholm Estate and Hampton Court Palace…to name a few. Here’s why…

‘Why Hartley?’

Unrivalled. Unparalleled. Unique. There are Glasshouses, and there are Hartley Botanic Glasshouses. Combining inspired design with enduring quality, nothing quite enhances your garden like a Hartley Botanic. The manufacturer prides itself on five key pillars of service which sets it apart:

  1. Beauty and Elegance

The incomparable range of simply beautiful and elegant structures means Hartley Botanic can create designs that are distinctive and unique. The Victorian, Heritage and Modern Glasshouse ranges are so comprehensive you don’t have to go anywhere else to find your beautifully crafted, high-quality Glasshouses from the widest of choices.

  1. Structurally Superior

Every Hartley Botanic Glasshouse is handmade in the North of England to your exact requirements. It is made of the finest materials with unparalleled durability, safety, and beauty. All of the aluminium sections have a structural purpose. Short cuts, such as ‘sticking’ aluminium to glass for aesthetic reasons, are never taken. Hartley Botanic are so confident of the structural integrity of their Greenhouses; a 30-year Lifetime Guarantee is offered.

  1. A Reputation Beyond Compare

Hartley Botanic’s brand heritage and reputation have been built on trust for over 80 years. They have earned an unrivalled reputation for crafting the finest Glasshouses and Greenhouses money can buy through the very highest standards of hard-won experience, craftsmanship and service.

  1. Unrivalled Knowledge and Expertise

There is a wealth of knowledge and expertise built into every Hartley Botanic Glasshouse. Generations of customers have put their trust in the hands of expert, time served, highly skilled craftsmen. Glasshouses of distinction are created from decades of knowledge and care.

  1. Exceptional Delivery of Service

Once your order has been handmade to your personal requirements, and Hartley Botanic’s exacting standards, your delivery and installation will be exceptional. The proud team at Hartley Botanic are there to ensure the process runs smoothly, providing you with the information you need and keeping you up to date throughout.

All Hartley Botanic’s Glasshouses and Greenhouses are handmade, bespoke and made to order. Customers interested in purchasing a Hartley Botanic Greenhouse should visit: http://www.hartley-botanic.co.uk or call 01457 819 155 for more information.