Sunderland Echo

LOTS OF ACTIVITY DESPITE THE COLD – WITH TOM PATTINSON

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There’s been little respite from the cold in our greenhouse recently, the temperatur­e hovering around 0 to 5 Celsius.

I normally use it as a bolt hole to recover from a spell in the garden, but things will improve as the month unfolds and the solar effect increases.

Despite the lack of heat, flower buds are beginning to swell on the ‘Peregrine’ peach which is normally in full bloom by the end of February. It was pruned and cleaned up immediatel­y after leaf fall last autumn.

Planted a decade ago, it’s a reliable cropper whose early fruits need thinning out to encourage large, juicy peaches in late July.

Pots and bowls of forced hyacinths and daffodils have tolerated the same cold environmen­t in developing, and the earliest are now blooming merrily in the modestly warm conservato­ry.

Those still shooting on the greenhouse staging will offer continuity indoors well into March.

There’s also promising growth on strawberry plants, ‘Hapil,’ ‘Florence’ and ‘Sweet Colossus’ that were lifted earlier from the outdoor bed, potted and transferre­d to the greenhouse. Meanwhile, a leaf lettuce crop in the border has run its course, and there’s time to start another from seed before a tomato occupies the space.

A propagatin­g box with soilwarmin­g cable, switched on recently for seed sowing, is our one resort to luxury.

With a holding capacity of 60 small pots filled with general purpose compost.

They will host broad bean

‘The Sutton,’ garden pea

‘Early Onward’ and onion set ‘Stuttgarte­r.’ The thermostat is set at 15 Celsius for germinatio­n, but once they’ve all emerged it’s out onto the greenhouse staging for weaning at 10 to 12 Celsius in full daylight.

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