With all the terrible weather we had towards the end of 2019 you would be forgiven for not venturing out past your back door into the garden.
If you were organised and managed to get out in the garden in early autumn for a winter tidy up, then the garden over the winter months can pretty much look after itself. December and January see us experience the depths of winter and even the keenest gardener struggles to muster up the enthusiasm to venture outdoors. The good thing though is that this period sees us looking forward to the days slowly lengthening and we can ﬁnally start to plan for the upcoming spring season.
Any gardener lucky enough to own a greenhouse or potting shed knows that the winter months are not simply conﬁned to the comfort of our homes. We don’t have to while away the winter days looking longingly through our kitchen window at our gardens. Pop on your wellies and reach for the umbrella or warm hat, then a quick walk up the garden path and you can retreat inside your glazed garden paradise. The perfect tonic for those longing for the growing season to restart.
The beauty of this winter period is that once inside the greenhouse there are not as many jobs to be undertaken. A quick check on any overwintering plants and a little water here and there is all that is required. It is very important at this time of year to not get too much moisture in the greenhouse so carefully water plants, do not get leaves wet and keep the water away from plant crowns to help reduce the likelihood of disease.
On really dry warm sunny winter days it is a good idea to ventilate the greenhouse. This helps to circulate any stale air, take care though and do not do this on damp or foggy days. If you have opened air vents make sure they are closed again by mid-afternoon to conserve the heat of the sun before nightfall.
For those keen to get on with the growing season there are a few seedlings that can be started now if you have the use of a heated propagator, spring cabbage and cauliﬂowers are a good choice. A greenhouse is much more than a place to simply grow tomatoes in the summer months and we actively encourage our customers to try to grow new crops. Take care though not to choose a jumble of plants with widely diﬀerent growing requirements, because this will just lead to disappointment.
Once the few essential jobs are completed you can then take the time to sit back and enjoy your garden from the warm conﬁnes of the greenhouse. Enjoy some time in the garden protected from the worst of the elements surrounded by the greenery the garden has to oﬀer.
Any visitor to the RHS shows who have seen our beautiful show stands will be aware the eﬀort we make to show how you can use your greenhouse, not just your plants, but also as a place for you the gardener to enjoy the greenhouse. We are also constantly surprised by the way our devoted customers use their greenhouses through the winter months with beautiful images popping up on social media of our greenhouses, inspiring us to get out and enjoy the garden despite the weather.
Some of the best at this are our northern European customers. In their gardens they use the greenhouse as a place to retreat into, for them they are as much a place for growing and ﬁxing their souls as they are for propagating plants. Why not wrap up warm in the early evening and with a hot toddy, or tipple of your choice in hand, light a few candles and enjoy a few moments of solitude in the outdoors but protected from the elements in your greenhouse.
If the weather is kind over these winter months then you could always look to give the greenhouse a little maintenance. A sweep out of any debris, a quick clean of glass, wash out plant pots and seed trays ready for the new season and check the gutters for blockages and clear away any fallen leaves.
If all that sounds like hard work then don’t feel guilty about sitting back with a seed catalogue and a cup of coﬀee as this is an equally important job that needs to be undertaken. If you get a beautiful winters day and the sun does poke out its head then you would be forgiven for having a quick nap and enjoy the warmth of the beautiful winter light.