Spring has well and truly sprung, the birds are singing, plants are peeping their heads above the parapet and suddenly everything is looking rather rosy. And with gardening now recognised as a therapeutic pastime, we’ll take any excuse we can to get out there and frolic amongst the long grass and flowers. But save a thought for the city dwellers, with not a square metre of garden to share between a street. Or perhaps not….
Infact, a trend in recent years is for those without garden space to erect greenhouses on apartment rooftops and experience the soothing effects of tending to plants, herbs and crops first hand. So, whether you’re living in Birmingham or Bledlow, there really is no excuse not to get your fingers green and your knees muddy. With that in mind, here are 4 IDEAL greenhouse growing tips this Spring.
KNOW YOUR PLANTING SEASONS
Successful greenhouse growing isn’t simply a case of chucking some seeds into a pot, turning your back and hoping for the best. Nope, it actually requires careful planning and preparation, and most importantly, a very particular attention to the seasons. In early Spring, hardy plants like Brussels sprouts and celeriac should be planted. Mid season, it’s time for fast-growing tender plants like courgettes, french beans and squashes, and in unheated greenhouses ready grown pepper and tomato plants. It’s also the ideal time to sow your basil seeds. Basically, timing is everything; the RHS have published this useful chart which gives extensive information on month-by-month best practice for planting.
The weather has suddenly heated up considerably, and unseasonably warm looks set to become the new normal. The way you approach your greenhouse and its watering regime should be starkly different from winter to summer, adaptable and ever evolving, too.
During the late Spring and summer months, when it gets hot, stuffy and humid within, you’ll need to check water levels and carry out watering daily. Uneven watering – and that can mean overdoing it as much as neglecting it – can cause problems like blossom and rot. To mitigate these issues, make sure you ventilate your greenhouse on particularly warm days and be aware that the manufacture of some shading will be necessary. Summer sees a rise in pests which, when unchecked, will ravage your crops; hang sticky traps to catch them.
Though the dream is to be at one with nature, listening to the subliminal messages your plants are sending and massaging their leaves until they flourish, the reality is somewhat different. As such, there’s no shame in relying on a little technology to make things run more smoothly. By implementing features like remote control windows or widespread sprinklers, greenhouse owners can optimise the conditions of their goods within. Be wary of heated greenhouses, however. Although they allow for maximum year round yield, they are rarely cost effective. And at a time of climate chaos, we should be trying to minimise our impact, not increase it.
KEEP IT CLEAN
If we’ve learnt anything from Breaking Bad, it’s that only with a meticulous attention to tidiness will production realise its full potential. Maintaining a clean and tidy greenhouse, then, is vital for the health and success of your plants. Tools and pots should always be disinfected to prevent diseases and harmful pests from invading, and excess condensation should be cleared from the glass to minimize the risk of mould growth.
You should keep a kit handy that includes natural and organic insecticidal soaps ( an increasingly popular method of controlling certain insects in an eco-friendly manner), a bleach solution and disinfectant spray along with clean microfibre cloths so that you don’t have to waste time or effort collecting supplies when you need them. Those extra few seconds saved could be the difference between flourish or fail. Be sure the bleach solution is properly diluted; in most cases, one part bleach to nine parts water is a good ratio for safely disinfecting.