Cost of Living: Greenhouses

So, the summer is here, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is back on television and the green-fingered, or eco-minded, among us will be just itching to tear up the patio and plant a row of runner beans.

But, as anyone who has attempted to grow their own veg knows, your success depends upon the weather and the voracity of the pests in your garden.

Even a standard greenhouse can, however, help combat our unpredictable climate and restrict insects' access to your burgeoning crops. Greenhouse kits, available as flat packs that include all the materials and instructions needed, will protect tomatoes, chillies and flowers from the elements and can be bought from most garden centres.

The size and prices vary wildly from the simple self-standing variety at £50 to large structures requiring a foundation and costing around £1,000. When deciding, consider the size of your garden and your level of devotion to the past-time.

If you are an adventurous horticulturalist you can have heating, cooling and water systems installed, ensuring the temperature and level of water is kept even, enabling plants of any type to grow throughout the year. For the ultimate energy efficient and eco-friendly option there are insular panels available.

If you're currently cursing everyone who has a garden, bear in mind that a window box can be used to cultivate vegetables such as baby carrots, lettuces and herbs. Tumbling tomatoes are also very popular with the garden-less; they thrive comfortably in hanging baskets.

What it costs:

Self-standing greenhouse £69
Double door greenhouse £999
Prices supplied by Homebase: 0845 077 8888; www.homebase.co.uk
Lean-to greenhouse £1,100
Watering system £97
Electric greenhouse heater £67
20 insular panels £50

Prices supplied by The Conservatory Centre: 0800 318 359; www.greenhousesupply.co.uk.

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