Un­der­cover op­er­a­tions

Pre­pare your green­house for colder weather, says Ruth

Amateur Gardening - - Gardening Week -

HOW on earth did we man­age to run the gar­den with­out a green­house? It’s some­thing we of­ten won­der, es­pe­cially at this time of the year when they come into their own. A green­house is one of the most use­ful tools in the gar­dener’s ar­se­nal. They broaden the range of plants you can grow, from ten­der or­na­men­tals to more ex­otic or tem­per­a­ture de­pen­dent crops.

More im­por­tantly, they al­low gar­den­ing to be­come a year-round ac­tiv­ity. In spring you can sow your ten­der seeds and pot on over­win­tered ten­der cut­tings, and when au­tumn comes around you have space to store newly taken cut­tings and ex­otics that would oth­er­wise turn up their toes in our less tem­per­ate win­ters.

Now we are en­ter­ing one of the busiest times for green­house use. It has been a strange year – the hot sum­mer and con­tin­ued mild weather mean my green­house still con­tains the last of my ripen­ing toma­toes, so I am work­ing around them as I pre­pare it for win­ter.

Wash down work sur­faces with warm wa­ter and de­ter­gent, and re­move any shad­ing paint left on the glass to max­imise all avail­able win­ter light. Use a flex­i­ble plas­tic plant la­bel to get be­tween the panes of glass and re­move al­gae and trapped de­bris.

Check that your green­house gut­ters are clear of block­ages too, as they will need to run clear to chan­nel rain­wa­ter into at­tached wa­ter butts. Once you have re­moved any ten­der crops, if they have been grow­ing in grow­bags, check the area around them for lurk­ing pests and feed any you find to the birds. Ten­der peren­ni­als such as pelargo­ni­ums grow­ing in the gar­den should be lifted, pot­ted and stored un­der­cover through win­ter. Take cut­tings to ex­pand your plant stock (see op­po­site). Lift ten­der tu­bers and corms be­long­ing to dahlias, glad­i­oli and be­go­nias, and store them in trays of gritty soil or com­post tucked away un­der your green­house stag­ing. Less frost-hardy shrubs and trees grown in pots, such as olives and cit­ruses that spent sum­mer out­side, can also be taken into a green­house for the colder months.

Make sure your green­house glass is clean so plants can max­imise lower light lev­els in au­tumn and win­ter Clean be­tween panes of glass Make sure green­house gut­ters run clear

Corms and cut­tings can over­win­ter un­der­cover

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