HOW TO KEEP YOUR GREENHOUSE HEALTHY
Protect plants and reduce the risk of pests, says Ruth
APART from our undercover tomato crop, the greenhouse is pretty vacant at the moment. Tender plants are out in their beds and pots, the overwintered tubers and corms are back in the ground, and the lemon and olive trees are soaking up the sun on the patio.
So at last I have space to give the greenhouse a thorough clean and tidy before the next round of cuttings comes along later in the summer.
Where possible, a greenhouse is a must for any garden, but they need looking after if they are to function well. I regularly wipe down working surfaces with a mild disinfectant to get rid of compost and any lurking pests, eggs and disease spores.
At this time of year greenhouses can get stiflingly hot, even on overcast days, and the plants inside will start to suffer.
Sun streaming through the glass can scorch leaves and the hot, dry atmosphere is a perfect breeding ground for common pests such as glasshouse red spider mite. If ventilation is poor, your plants can fall foul of fungal disease too.
Start by making sure there is good airflow. Open doors, vents and windows and leave them ajar all night when the weather is fine. Most greenhouse manufacturers provide heat-activated window latches that open and close depending on the daily temperature, which is ideal for when you go away.
Protect plants from direct sunlight by installing blinds or hanging fleece inside the greenhouse. A simpler solution is to paint the exterior with shading paint that can be washed off in autumn.
Raise the humidity and lower the temperature by damping down the floor in the mornings or leaving a bowl of water to evaporate.
A bowl of water raises humidity Use shading paint to help prevent plants from scorching in direct sunlight Good airflow is essential in summer