Spring is a time of new beginnings and that certainly seems to be true for our old Heated Greenhouse which has just been given a new lease of life with some of the best polytunnel plastic available in the UK. It’s done now and it looks great, but this wasn’t a typical re-skimming job and came with challenges that we don’t normally have when we re-cover a traditional polytunnel.
A piece of history
If you’ve ever been to the Chilli Ranch the Heated Greenhouse was the old wooden glasshouse to the right of the patio as you face the café’. It was here when we bought the site in 2007. In fact, there were three of these “Dutch Light” glasshouses when we arrived. All in a very poor state of repair. We demolished one straight away because it was unsafe. Since then, these two remaining historic greenhouses have required constant repair to the point where we simply stopped using them two years ago. The Heated Greenhouse had always been our propagation house. It’s fitted with an 87.9 kilowatt indirect oil-fired heater which is massively over-specified for the 156 square meters it serves but it was here and it remains today the only heated growing space on the site.
Dutch Light Greenhouses
The term “Dutch Light” refers to the design of this style of glasshouse. Originally built in Holland these glasshouses are based on a wooden framed “Dutch Light”. Essentially it is a piece of glass (730mm x 1422 mm) set into a simple wooden frame. Hundreds of these frames would be bolted together to create this old-fashioned Dutch glasshouse. In Holland, as horticultural technology evolved and modernized, these old glasshouses were disassembled and replaced by more modern structures. The old glasshouses are stored in yards in Holland and have traditionally been purchased by growers in the UK, brought over on lorries, and re-assembled here. Many of the glasshouses used in the UK are second-hand Dutch glasshouses.
Challenges with re-covering
These old structures were not designed to be covered in plastic and we knew before we started there would be challenges in getting the plastic on because of all the extra obstacles inside the greenhouse structure. We also knew we would have some problems with the sharp angles of the frame. What I didn’t expect was a delay in the arrival of the plastic. Three day delivery turned into 10 days. On day 11, I was standing outside on the phone to the supplier. The sun was shining, there was no wind, everyone was there ready to help. The plastic arrived next day which coincided with high winds and rain for the next several days. Finally, labour, equipment, weather, came together last Thursday and it’s done. Because of the odd shape we haven’t got the plastic as tight as we’d like it to be and time will tell but we’re hoping we’ve given this old glasshouse a few more years of service. This season we’ll first use the space for re-potting and staging plants but eventually it will be fully planted up with a crop of Naga and Reaper chillies.
We’re thinking about adding the Heated Greenhouse to our Chilli Tour and Tasting Experience for two people. Why not join us on one of these great experiences and let us share with you our passion for chilli peppers and our hopefully encourage you to try and grow and cook your own. 😊