Last year was my first summer as the proud owner of a greenhouse. Disappointingly though it turned into rather a damp squib. In all of the frantic seed sowing of spring and juggling writing a book with looking after my garden and allotment, I didn’t give any thought to how my greenhouse would be employed once it had been emptied of all the young plants and seedlings. There were a couple of sickly looking tomatoes which succumbed to a dodgy batch of compost and that was about it. This year I was determined it would be different. Once again the spring sown plants are now happily ensconced on the plot and in the garden, but this summer my greenhouse is being used to its full potential.
My hope is that this will be the year of the tomato. Ever since I moved to Wales from the south-east I haven’t managed to grow tomatoes. The damper climate brings with it blight and crop failure, but now I have a greenhouse I’m hopeful the protected environment, and 2014 being the best summer we’ve ever known (well I can hope), will mean a bountiful harvest. There is the classic ‘Tumbler’, several plants of the yellow-fruited heritage variety ‘Golden Sunrise’ and ‘Indigo Rose’, a black tomato bred to be packed full of health giving anti-oxidants. I’m also making the most of the warm growing conditions with pots of basil, both green and purple varieties.
I’m also remembering to sow, every 3 weeks or so, a tray of peas for pea shoots. Having an allotment a 10 minute walk away is fantastic, but it’s not always convenient to go there to pick some lettuce when I want to make a quick sandwich or salad. Just being able to pop out of the back door to the greenhouse to grab a handful of a gourmet goodie like pea shoots can really make a difference.
A couple of herbs – lemon verbena and French tarragon seem to prefer the warmer more sheltered conditions inside the greenhouse too. I’ve positioned the lemon verbena by the doorway so that when I brush past it the most delicious of lemony aromas is released.
For me the greenhouse wouldn’t be complete without some flowers. I’ve managed to squeeze in a few pots of freesias. It’s the first year I have grown them but they have so far proved to be very easy. It’s all about the quality of the bulb you use and how they have been stored; bulbs which have been lingering on a stand in a garden centre are unlikely to flourish. I planted two or three bulbs in 1 litre pots filled with multi-purpose compost at the end of March and kept them in the greenhouse. Keeping the compost moist and feeding with seaweed feed once a week is now rewarding me with deliciously fragrant flowers.
When I dreamt about having a greenhouse for all those years this is much more how I imagined it would be and not the barren space it was last summer.
Louise Curley is a writer and grower, happiest when she’s in her wellies. A lover of flowers, food and the great outdoors her first book The Cut Flower Patch was published in spring 2014. She is also the author of the blogwww.wellywoman.wordpress.com.