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Blog posts tagged with 'greenhouse'

Spring - playing catch up!

 

Believe it or not Spring is just around the corner. In Sussex the earliest date recorded to celebrate this most vibrant of months is Feb 22nd, but I have researched the history of the seasons and find the Celts used to celebrate Feb 1st as the first day of Spring.  If you want to know more about our seasonal year, you can go to http://guydeakinsgardening.com/blog/seasons/  for more info.

All that said, we are not quite there yet and there is much to do! As I always say to my clients, we have 12 months in a year, 4 months of that you can actually get things done in the garden with no issue. The rest of the year you are playing catch up. (With this mild winter in Sussex, I am still playing catch up).

At this time of year, I always try to clean the greenhouse from top to bottom. A power washer set on wide spray is ideal for the task of cleaning the glass, however, many of you will have a glasshouse on the allotment so this is sometimes impractical. The best method therefore is to buy a soft broom and a large bucket. If you are organic, fill the bucket with a safe mix of water, detergent and malt vinegar and scrub away – remembering to wear some waterproofs and a face mask as you will undoubtedly get wet. If you don’t follow organic codes, you can also use a single mix of Jeyes fluid or biocide and water.  Remember : Always read the label when using chemicals.

Once the glass has been done, turn your attention to the rest of the area. If you have a hard floor, scrub this. If you have bare soil, turn the soil, adding a slow release fertilizer such as Vitax Q4 and a small amount of slug bait, or set some beer traps. Now your beds are ready for the addition of fresh compost and plants when the air warms sufficiently.

If you like to reuse pots, now is the time to soak them, using the water mixture in the large bucket you used for the glass. Once they have been soaked, use a small stiff hand brush to scrub off any residual dirt or plant material.  Use the same process to clean your spades, forks and any other tool you have been using recently to dig over the wet ground to aerate it. If they have wooden handles a small amount of wood oil, rubbed in with a cloth will not do any harm and extend the life of your prized possession.

Now to your secateurs and other cutting implements. If you have neoprene gloves or similar, put them on. Carefully take the secateurs apart using a screwdriver or spanner, making note of how it went together. Using an old toothbrush, carefully clean the surface of the blades and gently scrub any areas where dirt or plant material could collect (this includes the bolts and springs). If you have a sharpening stone, now is the time to hone the edge to perfection then using a soft cloth, wipe a small amount of oil onto the whole blade. When you are satisfied the tool is clean and primed, put it back together and oil the joint.

If you have machinery, I always try to service mine in November, but if you have not had the chance for whatever reason, then now is the time to get them down to the local mechanic – before the mad rush at Easter fills their books out for weeks! 

Jobs to do in June!

1. Uproot the suckers growing at bases of lilac
2. Prune early blooming shrubs
3. Take measures to destroy pests on roses, trap ants and spray against aphid on fruit trees
4. Plant out dahlias
5. Sow hardy plants on a reserve border
6. Restrict sweet peas to one or two stems.
7. Don’t allow fruit trees against walls to become dry. Shorten their side shoots to within six leaves of current year’s growth.
8. Make a final sowing of peas and French beans
9. Plant out brussels sprouts and celery
10. Keep your greenhouse ventilated, shade roof glass and moisten floors and walls.
11. Take cutting of pansies and violas if you have a greenhouse
12. Rid your lawn of daisies and plantains
13. Pick off seed-pods of rhododendrons and azaleas
14. Reduce the number of fruits on clusters on trees bearing heavy crops
15. In the greenhouse, you can place dormant bulbs in pots on their sides in a frame.
16. As the weather gets warmer pond weed can get of control. Remove this with a kitchen sieve or small net.
17. Direct sow brassicas and leeks for winter harvest
18. Deadhead flowers this month to gain a second flowering.
19. Propagate hydrangeas
20. Hoe soil to keep down weeds or pull them by hand.

-- Rob Amey

Full Steam Ahead Planting out the Veggie Plot!

I know that in parts of the country there has been quite a bit of rain but here in East Anglia it has been very dry - in fact according to a recent item I read on the BBC website, only 28mm of rain has fallen in this part of the world for the whole of March, April and May, making it one of the driest Springs for over 100 years! Thankfully my water butts are full from the winter rains so I will be using these to water the veg as much as possible in the coming weeks and if I have to use the hose I will do so sparingly, aiming it at the roots of each plant, rather than over the whole of the beds.
Most of my vegetable plants had been growing on in the greenhouse but now that the soil has warmed up I have planted them out into the vegetable beds so they can really get established. First up was my sweetcorn, which needs to be planted in blocks rather than rows to aid pollination, so I have put this in a bed on its own.



My beans and courgettes have also been planted out and, to help establish these water hungry plants, I dug a trench and put newspaper soaked in water in the bottom before planting as this will encourage the roots to go deeper and provide a good start for the plants.

It’s not too late to plant out beans if you haven’t been able to start them in the greenhouse, as these can go straight into the soil at this time of year, so I have also put a bean seed in the ground next to each plant to ensure a bumper crop of runners and french beans - these are favourites in our house and you can’t beat home grown.



Of course planting all of these juicy young vegetable plants means that the juicy fat slugs will think dinner has certainly arrived and they can be very difficult to control, particularly at this time of year. There are different ways to deal with these revolting creatures including beer traps, copper tape and eggshells but I have to confess that I use slug pellets (the only non-organic bit of my gardening ethos) as I find these to be the most effective - there is nothing worse that taking all the trouble to grow tender young plants only to find them eaten overnight so I don’t take the chance!
Other crops need to be covered, particularly any members of the brassica family, so my Tenderstem broccoli now has a fine mesh net over it to stop cabbage white butterflies laying their eggs and hundreds of caterpillars eating my plants before my very eyes - let’s hope that’s not the case this year!


It’s full steam ahead in the greenhouse as well, with tomatoes and cucumbers planted into grow bags and canes put in to train them up when they really start to grow. I love this time of the year as it feels like the calm before the storm - everything is starting to get established and there will be lots of lovely veg to look forward to in the coming months - that is assuming that there is enough water to go round but clever use of water butts, washing up water and even bath water should be enough to ensure the veggies flourish!

-- Jane Dubinski

Not an expert, but passionate about vegetables!

Hi there everyone. My name is Jane Dubinski and I have been asked by the very nice people at Town and Country to take part in writing their blog.

As you can see from the title, I am no expert, just a normal person who started growing vegetables to encourage my (then) smaller boys to eat their greens and it seems to have become a bit of an obsession from there! I live in beautiful North Norfolk, having moved from London nearly six years ago and this gives me the space and the opportunity to get growing, but what a season it has been so far!

I am lucky enough to have a greenhouse and raised vegetable beds, which I use for a variety of produce, so I can start things off under glass. I also have an ancient propagator that belonged to my father, but it does the job for veggies such as chillies, cucumbers and courgettes or anything that needs to be started off in a warm environment.

Whilst it has not always been warm in the last few weeks, it has certainly been dry here in East Anglia and this is having a huge impact on tender new plants as they struggle to establish themselves. I have planted carrots, several times now as they haven’t germinated and pots need to be watered twice a day to keep them thriving - the prospect of a hose pipe ban will not be welcome in my household but I wouldn’t be surprised if this happens should the dry weather continue.



Here are some pictures of the garden which should give you an idea of the vegetable plot and I look forward to going into more details next month as the growing season really takes hold. June always heralds the beginning of planting out big style so there will be plenty to do and plenty to talk about.

Until then, however, happy gardening,

Jane x

-- Jane Dubinski