- Whilst your greenhouse provides a controlled climate for your plants, it can also provide a haven for pests and diseases. In order to prevent this make sure that you start the season with a clean greenhouse. Get rid of any weeds growing and clear out any rotting plant debris.
- If you have a soil border in your greenhouse, make sure that you rotate your crops as you would do in your vegetable plot in order to minimise the chance of your crops getting diseases.
- Give the windows a good clean with soapy water at the start of the season in order to maximise light. You may find that you will need to do this again towards the end of the growing season as the amount of daylight shortens.
- Whilst your seed packets will tell you to sow certain seeds directly outside, you may find that some benefit from starting in the greenhouse. For example, I usually start lettuce and other salad leaves in the greenhouse. It is worth experimenting to see what works for you.
- Use a propagator lid, a piece of glass or clear plastic placed over your newly sown seeds to provide them with a warm and humid environment to help them germinate.
- Be aware that during the summer your greenhouse will get very hot, so ventilation is vital. If you do not ventilate then your plants will wither and die. Also, weakened plants will be more susceptible to spider mite and other pests. Watering the ground can also help to provide moisture in the air and bring the temperature down.
- Water your plants! OK, this should be obvious, but it is easy to forget just how quickly your plants will dry out, particularly during the summer. The best times to water are early in the morning or into the evening when it is cooler. If you water in the middle of the day then you may find that the drops of water act as little magnifying glasses and cause the sun to burn your plants.
- For those plants that you are starting off in the greenhouse before planting out in the vegetable plot, make sure you harden them off before you plant them out. This means simply to put the plants in their pots outside during the day and returning them to the greenhouse over night. There are various schools of thought as to how long you should do this for, but I usually find four days works for me. Some people use a coldframe as a "half-way house" as they gradually ease their plants outside.
- Plants that are to stay in your greenhouse throughout the growing season will need feeding for maximum yield. As they stay in the same compost for several months there will come a point where there is the risk that can become starved of nutrients as the season progresses. The time to start feeding is as the fruits appear.
- Use your greenhouse to maximise the length of the growing season. It is a relatively controlled environment so use it to its maximum advantage - there will be some crops that you will be able to continue to grow inside even when the growing season is coming to an end outside. Salad leaves are a particular example.
Garden Visiting In April - Part One
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