Prepare your greenhouse for colder weather, says Ruth
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