Black Country Bugle

Tips and tasks for sunny days in the greenhouse

- For more informatio­n visit By HANNAH STEPHENSON

If you have a greenhouse, the likelihood is it will be pretty warm in there over the summer, particular­ly with the extreme temperatur­es we’ve been having.

So, how do you stop your plants wilting, make sure your fruit and veg are thriving and halt greenhouse pests in their tracks during the hot summer months?

TV garden expert Matthew Biggs, gardening writer for historic glasshouse manufactur­er Hartley Botanic (hartley-botanic., has this advice:


“When temperatur­es run high, watering and ventilatio­n are top of the to do list. Open greenhouse vents early in the morning, as temperatur­es will soon rise (you should also have some form of shading in place by now), water in the evening or early morning and check plants several times a day to ensure they don’t dry out,” says Matthew.


“Consider using ‘grey’ water from the shower, bath, kitchen or from washing machine rinse cycles on ornamental plants in the greenhouse,” he suggests. Keep detergent levels like shower gel to a minimum and don’t store grey water for longer than 24 hours. Softened tap and dishwasher water are useful, but only as a very temporary measure and water containing bleach and disinfecta­nts are a ‘no no’, of course.

It is at times like these when past efforts you put into collecting rainwater really pay off, so don’t waste it. Water at the base of the plant around the roots, not over the leaves, learn to estimate how much each pot needs and store your watering cans under the greenhouse bench to catch any drips draining through. When you carry the can from tap to greenhouse you are more careful with water you use.

Keep your greenhouse pots and borders weed free, so the plants, not

weeds, use the water and when the rains arrive again, flush out the compost with fresh, unadultera­ted rainwater.


Keep twining cucumber stems round their supports and cut back the side shoots two leaves beyond the flowers and fruits, to increase airflow and reduce chances of mildew – keeping foliage dry, the plants well-watered and mulching also reduces the risk of mildew.

“It is well worth growing resistant varieties like ‘Carmen’, ‘Passandra’ and ‘Bella’. Harvest cucumbers when fruits are about 30cm long and water with high potash fertiliser to encourage further fruiting,” says Matthew. “Feed fruiting crops like sweet peppers and chillies according to the manufactur­er’s instructio­ns, continue removing side shoots from tomatoes, tap the open flowers to encourage pollinatio­n and tie the stems to canes or supporting string as they grow. Keep the compost moist as erratic watering causes splitting and ‘blossom end rot’.”


“Check regularly for pests, like whitefly and red spider (or ‘two spotted’) mite. Use environmen­tally friendly sprays containing fatty acids, plant invigorato­rs, plant extracts or plant oils as others leaving chemical residues will kill them,” says Matthew.

“Whitefly can then be controlled using Encarsia formosa, red spider mite by increasing humidity around the plant or introducin­g predators like the mite Phytoseiul­us persimilis.

“To maintain hygiene, keep the greenhouse free from damaged or diseased material and sweep the paths as plant debris can harbour pests and diseases, it looks more profession­al, too.

“And when you have finished all of this, sit out in the garden and enjoy the sunshine.”

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 ?? ?? Ventilatio­n and watering are key to success with whatever you grow in the greenhouse
Ventilatio­n and watering are key to success with whatever you grow in the greenhouse
 ?? ?? Keep twining cucumber stems round supports
Keep twining cucumber stems round supports
 ?? ?? Clip off side shoots
Clip off side shoots
 ?? ?? Check for pests
Check for pests
 ?? ?? Matthew Biggs
Matthew Biggs

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