The new year is an exciting time for gardeners. Now is the moment to source inspiration for the year ahead and make plans to fill our greenhouses and gardens with all sorts of delicious and beautiful bounty.
But we need to set ourselves up for success. So before you even look at the seed catalogues, make sure your growing environment is in the best possible condition to nurture your seedling crops into abundant life.
The First Step
The first thing to do, if you haven’t already, is to thoroughly declutter and clean your greenhouse. Get rid of old soil in pots or grow bags – it will be a great addition to the compost heap. Get rid of any unwanted leftover rubbish and give all your tools a lovely clean and a lick of oil if necessary. Clean the glass with an organic glass cleaner, or alternatively, go old school with vinegar and newspaper.
Now your greenhouse is sparkling fresh, turn your mind to home improvements. Ventilation needs to be optimal to raise healthy, thriving plants. If you are installing it new, a couple of low vents each side and two in the roof should be sufficient for air circulation. If your greenhouse is large or unusually shaped, however, contact your manufacturer for advice. Invest in automatic vent openers. Human error will always find a way to sabotage even the best laid plans, and this device will save your plants from instant death on that hot summer day when you will sleep through your alarm and then wake up to a plumbing emergency and a child with a tummy bug.
Secondly, think about sun protection. Much as we all fantasise about catching some rays in the winter, in the summer we spend much of our time trying to assuage its ill effects. Plants are the same. On scorching days, they need to be shaded, so invest in shade netting or stylish blinds for your greenhouse.
Electricity In The Greenhouse
If you can afford it, get an electrician to wire in your greenhouse. This will extend its possibilities in so many ways. You can ditch that dodgy paraffin heater for a start, and enter into the twenty first century with one that has thermostats and temperature control. Your grandad would have scoffed, I know, but you will save money as the heat will only be blasting out when really necessary. And it is not a death trap.
Electricity also means heated propagators – finally you can have your kitchen windowsills back! Your seedlings will get a real headstart in one of these, plus you can have lights in your greenhouse so you will be able to stay up late pottering with your seed trays, and later potting on if the mood takes you.
Don’t Forget About Water
Water is another factor to consider. If the tap is far away, install a hose holder near your greenhouse so you can run a pipe to the tap instead of having to keep trekking back and forth. Most plants prefer rain water, so buy a gutter kit and a water butt so you can harvest April’s showers. It is also a good idea to keep a can of ambient water in the greenhouse, as most plants hate a sudden splash of cold water. Like humans, they relish creature comforts.