Despite it being the mildest November since records began, winter has arrived in Pembrokeshire, with 50mph winds, continuous rain and short dreary days. In fact over the last week we have had enough rain to fill the forty gallon water butt from the gutters of the greenhouses. The glass was rattling so loudly in the greenhouses on Sunday 15th that I felt a teeny bit scared to be in them. However, I had to go in and try to salvage my plants.
I am still getting amazing spinach leaves, and aubergines but the pepper is now producing bitter green fruits. I am not sure if I should dig it up or allow it to overwinter. Next year a pepper plant will go to the more sunnier side of the greenhouse.
In the little greenhouse a slug managed to get in and eat a good lot of my new salad leaves, as well as destroying the Pansy, Laurentia and most of the Yarrow seedling. The slug did leave the broccoli, cauliflower and radishes alone, so I was pretty lucky there. I found the critter in the Californian Poppy plugs looking very fat and satisfied. I put him on the bird table; I have no idea if it escaped the house sparrows at feeding time.
Unfortunately, the slug problem was not the only disaster to hit my crops, the higher than expected temperatures (it was 16 degrees Celsius one night) and strong winds have meant that I cannot vent the little greenhouse as well as I wanted too as it’s just too dangerous – which in turn has meant that I have now got a good case of what appears to be green slimy damp-off in some of the pots. I am not altogether convinced it’s down to the weather though, when I checked the ( Garden Centre ) compost ingredients I noticed that its moss based, so it appears to want to go back to its original form. The compost appears to hold the water in the top half inch whilst the lower pot seems to be bone dry. This happened in the summer also. I always sieve my compost before planting small seeds, and have done so for many years, as I find the seeds germinate better in a fine tilth. If I water from the top of the pots the water runs straight through the soil, if I water from the bottom it seems to help, but I can’t have the plants sitting in trays of cold water in the winter as it may freeze the roots if the temperatures drop. As a result I have lost my radish, the kniphofias some tomatoes and some broccoli and cabbage. The frustration is immense. Especially as we had just dug the fertiliser into the bigger greenhouse to grow our winter & spring veg. I will definitely be buying some Incredibloom® next year, and will dig the rest of the old bought compost into the flower borders. I am looking forward to the 2016 sunflower competition, and if you fancy winning a big cash prize click on the T&M community link and read all about it on the website. Also think about pre-ordering Cosmos at its going to be flower of the year next year. I have my seeds already, courtesy of a magazine last summer that I forgot to grow.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom, I am on week thirteen of carrot growing, I don’t seem to have any slugs in the borders. The shoulders of the carrots seem to be raising themselves out of the soil, so I am thinking I can harvest them next weekend. The Begonias are still in leaf and the spiky cacti are a lovely shade of green. The pots of Tulips and other spring bulbs that I planted at the start of the month had to be moved outside as the bulbs shot up and if left in there they would probably be in flower by December. The Christmas cactus inside the house is starting to flower; I will bring the two in from the greenhouse in the week so they can start to bud. In the large greenhouse I have the Aloe Vera’s and the money plant which appear to be thriving.
At this point in the season I really have to weigh up what to do now, as it’s impossible for me to get in the greenhouses after work as its too dark. I don’t want to say, I should just cut my losses dig everything up and wait until the spring, as I would have nothing to write about and there may be some plant survivors that can be transplanted on early next year. However, I don’t want to waste time, money or seeds trying to persevere with plants that probably won’t survive the winter in an unheated greenhouse. What this month has taught me though, is that no two gardening years are ever the same. I have noted in my diary that the best plants for me to grow in the greenhouses from September onwards will be lots of lovely carrots onions and spinach. I will be trying parsnips next year, and possibly buy in some late veg plug plants that I can grow own. I think I left it too late into the season to attempt overwintering vegetable seedlings.
I haven’t included many photos in my blog from the greenhouse this month as I didn’t think you wanted to see photos of aubergines and beet again, and I didn’t think you wanted a photo of a fat slug on slimy green compost. If you want to look at some amazing pictures, I would say take a look at the T&M competition winners snaps, they are amazing. However, I have included a photo of my proud mum (Anna) who won the Johnston in Bloom Small Front Garden competition.
Next month will be the last update for this year in my Year in the Greenhouse story. I really can’t believe how quick this year has gone. I hope you will join me in December.
Happy Gardening, Love
There’s a greenhouse to suit every garden – be it large or small! The protected growing conditions that greenhouses provides is invaluable. Just think how much earlier you could start germinating seeds, or maybe you would like to grow some of the less hardy plants available. Better still, a greenhouse offers a dry sheltered spot for potting and sowing, or maybe just to drink a well earned cuppa while you shelter from the elements. A greenhouse can completely revolutionise the way that you use your garden, opening up so many new opportunities.
There are so many greenhouses available that choosing the right one can prove daunting. We’ve brought together our top 10 favourite greenhouses from our range to help you narrow it down. Take a look at this handy article and find your perfect greenhouse today. Alternatively, you can browse our entire range of greenhouses available to buy online.
- Eezee greenhouse – A portable plastic greenhouse
For a no fuss portable, plastic greenhouse that can be erected in just 10 minutes the Eezee Greenhouse is perfect. Ideal for potting on your perennials or germinating seeds this super little greenhouse is a great first time greenhouse or is space is at a premium in a small garden. Tall enough to stand up in, it folds away when not needed to a handy-sized package which can be stored away during the winter months. This great mini growhouse is ideal for protecting plants from cold, wet and rainy weather, and the adjustable vents mean you can regulate air flow allowing your young plants the best start in life. No accessories needed.
- Halls 4ft x 2ft Wall Garden Lean To – A small lean-to greenhouse
If space is at a premium in your garden or outdoor space, this fantastic little lean to greenhouse will give you ample growing room under glass. Halls Garden Lean To has enough space to grow seeds in trays, potted plants and perhaps also a tomato plant, meaning you have enough room for all the average gardeners needs. Best constructed against a wall in a sunny position, this lean to looks great over decking and patio areas. This lean to has a strong aluminium frame and an opening roof vent, with a sliding door for easy and convenient access, making this great lean to perfect for all your garden needs. No accessories are required.
- Eden 6ft x 4ft Wide Birdlip – Our smallest freestanding greenhouse
One of the smallest freestanding structure greenhouse in our range the Eden Birdlip Greenhouse is ideal if space is tight or you have a particularly small garden. Perfect for the allotment or if you are new to gardening with a limited budget. This compact greenhouse is perfect for raising young plug plants, for overwintering your perennials and for springtime hardening off. The open roof vent means you can regulate air flow, and the smooth action sliding door allows for easy access, and as it is a sliding door it will not take any room up in the garden or greenhouse. The Eden range comes with an extensive range of accessories to maximise your growing environment and utilise space.
- Eden Burford 6ftx6ft Wide Greenhouse – The ideal beginners 6×6 greenhouse
A great first time greenhouse the Eden Burford Greenhouse is perfect to house your young plants, or overwintering your perennials or hardening off in springtime. With 2 large roof vents more air is able to flow through, keeping the temperature regulated and making sure your young plants have the best start in life. This great little greenhouse comes with built in guttering to collect rainwater, and with a smooth-action single sliding door that allows easy access, and wont take up room in the greenhouse. The Eden Burford range comes with an extensive range of accessories to maximise growing room and utilise space in the greenhouse.
- Growhouse Classic Lean-To (6ft x 10ft) – A large Victorian tall wall greenhouse
When space is at a premium but gardening is your passion, the Growhouse Classic Lean To is perfect for you. Ideally suited to a south facing wall or large courtyard garden this well designed, and highly functional Victorian tall wall greenhouse is ideal for overwintering your plug plants, hardening off your springtime vegetables and germinating your seeds. With an apex roof which is perfect for those taller plants and ample room for both shelving and staging you will be amazed at how much you can grow, and with the added bonus of roof vents you can regulate temperature to suit your plants, making this lean to more like a fully functioning greenhouse. Accessories available to increase your growing environment.
- 6×10 Growhouse Cedar Greenhouse – A wooden frame greenhouse
Growhouse Cedar Greenhouse is one of the most attractive stand alone greenhouses which will compliment your garden colour scheme perfectly. With a generous footprint providing room for growing your plants from seed, overwintering young plug plants, this fantastic natural finish greenhouse is perfect if you are new to gardening. This wooden greenhouse will serve as a great place to relax and unwind while enjoying some sedentary gardening and with 4 good sized vents giving greater air volume control and reduced temperature fluctuation you won’t beat this beautiful greenhouse. Growhouse accessories available to extend your growing environment.
- Halls Supreme 12ft x 8ft Double Door Greenhouse – A medium size double door greenhouse
A larger garden needs a larger greenhouse, and this beautiful Halls Supreme 12ft x 8ft Double Door Greenhouse has a traditional feel with functionality as key. With double doors which can open out to allow air flow in and regulate temperature, and 4 roof vents for added control, you will be able to include many new varieties of plants and seeds with the extensive footprint of this greenhouse plus all the usual greenhouse activities of potting up perennials or hardening off vegetables during spring and cultivating seeds, and with the extra room perhaps grow some of the more exotic varieties. Large enough to include a table and chairs and plenty of room for tomatoes, and other hot house plants this large, traditional greenhouse is perfect for the serious gardener and allotment grower to produce everything they want.
- Juliana Premium Greenhouse (9ft x 9ft) – A medium high specification greenhouse
This premium greenhouse is an excellent choice for the more serious gardener and allotment grower. Unique and sophisticated the Scandinavian design is the only aluminium greenhouse endorsed by the Royal Horticultural Society. Perfect for all the usual greenhouse activities including overwintering delicate plants, protecting new shoots, cultivating from seed and as there is more room perhaps growing those exotic plants can be a reality.
One of the best features of this greenhouse is the double stable doors, opening outwards to give maximum space inside, and like all stable doors they open at the top to keep the fresh air flowing in and by closing the bottom keep the garden pests out. A low threshold entrance allows easy access for both wheelchairs and wheelbarrows providing excellent manoeuvrability making this wonderful greenhouse a perfect addition to your garden. Juliana comes with a full range of accessories and glazing options.
- Halls Magnum 14ft x 8ft Wide Greenhouse – A large all-purpose greenhouse
This large all-purpose greenhouse will provide the serious gardener or allotment grower with all the space required to grow and cultivate a whole variety of plants. From hothouse plants such as tomatoes to growing exotic varieties never tried before, this large greenhouse has room for it all. With 4 large vents for controlling air flow and temperature regulation this greenhouse serves every possible need, and is large enough to include a table and chairs so it can double up as a conservatory. With a choice of colours to match garden colour schemes and with double doors to allow excellent manoeuvrability this extra large greenhouse will make a good looking addition to your garden. Halls Magnum comes with a full range of accessories and glazing options.
- Juliana Gardener Greenhouse (12ft x 19ft) – An extra large high specification greenhouse
One of the largest greenhouses in our range is designed for the professional gardener and allotment grower who needs more than the average greenhouse working space. This huge greenhouse is perfect for the gardener who wants to have maximum space to grow, plant, experiment and improve their gardening techniques, and does not want to leave any variety out from their extensive range of produce. This enormous greenhouse is perfect for all the normal greenhouse activities, such as overwintering your perennials and delicate plants, growing your own herbs and vegetables all year round, cultivating from seed old favourites and new and exotic varieties; and because it is so big you will find you never have to choose which plants you want to grow and which you just do not have any room for. The expertly designed double stable doors, which open outwards keep the fresh air flowing in and the closed bottom half keep the garden pests out. With a low threshold entrance allowing easy access for both wheelchairs and wheelbarrows, this extremely large greenhouse has enough room to add a table and chairs and has the appearance of a much more expensive orangery, making this greenhouse perfect for all your needs and much more besides. Juliana comes with a full range of accessories and glazing options.
Where has this year gone? I used to hate November as it heralded the onset of winter, but since taking up gardening I now feel anticipation as well as a gentle winding down. After a quiet October, November is back to business once again, as I am on the side of Autumn Tidy Up. I like to cut back early flowering perennials to show off the late bloomers. The greenhouse needs a jolly good sweep and rinse now that the tomatoes and cucumbers have all been stripped out, but with the chilli peppers still cropping prolifically, and a family of mice having taken up residence I am loath the disrupt the happy home. I have been able to sort out my seed packets though, allocating easy-to-grow annuals for our 2016 National Gardens’ Scheme Children’s Treasure Hunt prizes, salads for the greenhouse, veggies for the allotment and flowers for the baskets. At this year’s T&M Triallists’ Open Day in August we were given a wide variety of seed packets, some of which I have never heard of so I am looking forward to experimenting next spring.
I am wondering what to do with Fuchsia ‘Eruption’ (summer 2015 trial) – shall I take my chances and leave them in their pot in the shelter of the semi-enclosed patio, or shall I defoliate and prune them and overwinter them in the greenhouse? I have never been very good at getting half hardy fuchsias through the winter so we will see……. Begonia Apricot Shades Improved (summer 2015 trials) have mostly been lifted, their tubers drying off for storage, but there is still a glorious burst of colour from one last hanging basket.
Ironically, just as they say it will be the coldest winter for years (who are They incidentally?) I chose this summer to go salvia mad, from large leaved salvia involucrata, Black and Blue and Amistad, to the small shrubby varieties, having always avoided them as semi-hardy. Oh well, I have taken cuttings and will dig up the larger leaved specimens to overwinter in the greenhouse. I don’t have a propagator and the greenhouse is unheated so I have brought the cuttings into my husband’s heated studio workshop. To protect the cuttings from overnight chill I provide bottom heat by placing a hot water bottle between two seed trays, and sit the 9cm pots in the top tray!
Having cut back the geranium phaeum from around the apple tree I was able to tackle the ivy which had grown into the shrubs beneath. In the process I liberated two cornus Winter Flame (winter 2012/3 trials), their buttery yellow leaves and fiery stems bringing colour to a dark corner. Digitalis Leopardskin and Digitalis Illumination have only just stopped flowering amongst the pulmonarias, cyclamen, alchemilla and Brunnera ‘Starry Eyes’ (spring 2014 trials). I love gardening for shade, it’s so challenging and when you get it right so rewarding, all those contrasting foliage shapes, colours and textures.
Since we planted the Dahlias Fox Mixed and Trebbiano (summer 2012 trials) on the allotment this spring they have thrived as never before, as they are in full sun on well-drained soil unlike our semi-shaded clay garden soil at home, and the number of flowers we have cut has run into hundreds!
Next year we will be adding some new dahlia tubers to the mix. The white cosmos and Californian poppies I grew from T&M seed in our sunroom this March are still flowering alongside, so I feel well encouraged to try annuals from seed next spring.
So the gardening year has become protracted to ten active months, December & January being my hibernation period, with infrequent trips to the greenhouse to check on dormant plants and gaze longingly at the awaiting seed packets and trays in anticipation of early February sowing of sweet pea and the first bulbs emerging……. See you then!
At the start of October T&M asked on their Facebook page, “What do you like best about this month?” There were many comments including my own, but thinking about it a bit more now, I have to say I think I like how you still have time to grow a few more seeds in the greenhouse before winter fully sets in. We have been so lucky here lately, it has not rained since September and it’s still warm enough to go outdoors without a coat. We have had no frost, and only had to have the heating on once or twice in the last two weeks in the evening.
I am so pleased that when I order seeds from Thompson & Morgan’s website it only takes a couple of days for them to arrive, this has meant that I have been able to make a start on my early spring vegetables. I have sown in the very first week of this month Cauliflower, Calabrese/Broccoli and Cabbage. I also had some left over pea seeds Alderman Heritage, Radish, Calendula and Nigella, so they have been sown too. I was really surprised n how quick the broccoli and cauliflower and radish germinated, I am still waiting for the Pansy, Godetia, Laurentia and Knifophoas to germinate from last month.
Another surprise I had was that some tomato seeds germinated in the borders of the big greenhouse. I have no idea what variety they will be. They were near the sungolds, so I am hoping it will be them. Mark has potted them up into individual two and half inch pots and they are in the small greenhouse as I am hoping they can be kept up heated over winter in there. I thought that when it gets colder I will wrap the pots in bubble wrap to keep the roots warm. I have no idea if this will work or not as I have never had tomato seedlings germinate in October, in a greenhouse border. I am usually very vigilant in removing all fruit, stems, leaves from the borders to prevent harbouring pests and diseases. The frustrating thing is that I was sent tomato seeds from Terri that arrived literally on the same day we found the seedlings. However, seen as I really don’t think the October tomatoes will still be alive next year as I am not planning on ever having a heater installed in one of the greenhouses, I am really looking forward to growing Mountain Magic it’s specifically bred to be more blight resistant. Also I certainly won’t be putting in ten tomato plants it was too many for me to handle. I know next year six tomatoes will be the maximum for the big greenhouse and maybe three for the little one.
Just today we had confirmation that workmen are going to be painting our bungalow and replacing the external doors, so we have had to remove the hanging baskets and summer pots in readiness for them next week. So some plants that have been enjoying the summer sun have now had to be moved to the big greenhouse earlier than expected to ensure their protection. I have a load of Aloes, and Money Tree plant that need to be repotted, but for now they are sat on the greenhouse path waiting my attention.
We work full time so realistically most of the gardening is done on evenings and weekends, it’s getting dark quickly now, by seven the sun is almost setting, also the temperature drops rapidly once the sun has gone down. I may be lucky to hop into the greenhouses between making the next day’s sandwiches and cooking supper between five and six, but once the clocks go back and the weather changes I find it very difficult to go out in the cold and dark. Also I will be finding out in December if I am going to be having heart surgery or not, so I am planning to grow only what I can reasonably manage to look after.
In our small greenhouse we still have a continuous supply of spinach beet, I am really pleased as it’s a brilliant source of iron and it can be eaten raw or cooked. I like to lightly steam it, or sometimes just rip a few leaves into a stir fry. I recently found a recipe for spinach and pumpkin soup which seems ideal for Halloween. The carrots are starting to raising themselves out of the soil, on T&M’s website it says that with a bit of planning carrots can be more or less grown all year round, but they need protection from the worst of the weather.
Carrots take around twelve to sixteen weeks to mature and can be left in the ground until you’re ready to eat them. By growing carrots in the later seasons it reduces the chances of being destroyed by carrot fly. Carrot flies are attracted to the plant by oils released from the leaves or stems so it’s best to pull carrots in the evening.
On the shelves I have the baby veg seedlings, sweet peas, yarrow, Californian poppies and herbs. I also have empty plastic pots ready to transplant seedlings into. I have a collection of Christmas Cacti that need to be repotted after spending the summer under hot glass; they will be brought in and put on the bathroom windowsill where they will flower from November to January. I have a spider plant that I have no room for inside; it came from Dad’s so I don’t want to lose it, but I am not sure if it will survive the winter in the greenhouse. Finally, I will need to dust off the old blue bread trays for storing the begonia bulbs this winter. The begonias are still in flower so hopefully we don’t get any frost as they don’t look ready to die back any time soon. We usually leave the gazinas and dahlias in situ as although we have frosty days, it’s been at least five years since we have had a really harsh winter. In Pembrokeshire we tend to get west/south west winds or gales and an awful lot of rain rather than snow.
Whatever the weather there’s always something that needs doing in the greenhouse!
I’ll be honest with you, the last few winters I have tended to just pick the last of the produce in October, do a big tidy up, wash the glass down then shut the door until January when I start off the sweet peas. However this year it’s going to be different, it would be a sad sight if my new greenhouse was to remain empty for at least three months. There is a plethora of veggies that can be grown now from Brassicas to Onions and Shallots, and if growing food isn’t your thing, just think of how pretty your garden will be in the summer with strong bushy flowers such as fuchsias, dahlias, or or cannas overwintered under glass.
Until next month.
Love Amanda X
Whilst the weather is still relatively nice and warm, and autumn days are still upon us, now is the ideal time to start preparing your greenhouse ready for winter. Come spring, there is nothing more nerving than having to clean a dirty greenhouse. Prepare now and in spring you can get started on sowing your seed without the mammoth task of preparing your greenhouse.
Firstly, clear out everything from your greenhouse, yes everything. That means plants, pots, seed trays and benches. As you are cleaning the outside it makes sense you do the inside too. Because days are becoming shorter and light is an increasingly valuable resource, removing the shade in your greenhouse will maximise the sunlight available to your plants. Ensure you scrub down all of the glass, paying particular attention to any restricted areas where debris such as leaves will collect and prevent water escaping from the roof. Cleaning the inside of your greenhouse with a horticultural disinfectant will remove any pests and disease lingering in the greenhouse, and prevent the spread in future. It is therefore essential that when moving your plants back into the warmth of your greenhouse, that you check them thoroughly for pests so you are not re-infecting your clean greenhouse.
Throughout the winter months, wash out pots and seed trays ready for spring sowing and planting. Don’t forget that you can still sow plenty of vegetables to grow in winter. Take a look at our ‘Top 10 vegetables to grow over winter‘ article.
Greenhouse heaters will protect your tender plants from becoming a frosted, soggy mush, and keep your young plants snug and warm until spring. Heating your greenhouse will open up a whole new world of winter gardening!
For now, here are some top tips on insulating your greenhouse;
- Insulate with bubble wrap – A layer of bubble wrap clipped to the inside of your greenhouse frame will reduce heat loss and block icy winter draughts.
- Only heat the area that you need to – Heating a large greenhouse can be expensive and wasteful if you only have a few delicate plants.
- Don‘t forget to ventilate – One drawback of heating your greenhouse is the problem of increased humidity.
- Use horticultural fleece – On extra cold nights a layer or two of horticultural fleece will provide several degrees more protection to your plants without the need to turn up the thermostat.
- Use a thermometer – Invest in a good thermometer with maximum and minimum readings, and check it daily. By keeping an eye on the air temperature you will be able to use your greenhouse heater more efficiently and adjust it when necessary.
Don’t have a greenhouse? We have an extensive range of quality greenhouses online which will be a perfect addition to your garden when overwintering young plants.
Our guest blogger Amanda Davies always keeps us updated on her greenhouse growing, why not have a read and pick up any tips, advice or ideas!