Friday 17 June 2022

Gardening with a dodgy knee #5

After the spring equinox we were into our last week of long dark nights. Around March 20th it was dark about 7:15 pm and suddenly spring arrived when we changed the clocks and twilight happened an hour later. It was 70 deg in my ( slightly) heated greenhouse. Time to switch off the frost stat and prepare the greenhouse for another season.

Fundamentally I had a glasshouse for two reasons: i) to overwinter geraniums and other plants as I have no room in the house and, as yet, no conservatory  

ii) to raise seedlings and successfully grow tomatoes with a reduced fear of the blight. 

The year before my greenhouse arrived I spent every day for ten days moving my French beans in and out of the kitchen to harden them off. As I sowed 90 plus seeds it’s a lot to do. Plus I hardened the geraniums, courgettes and small tomato plants in the same way. It was too much. And I don’t have the window ledges needed to house them overnight. And it was taking up my garden table space so we couldn’t sit on the patio to drink a cuppa without feeling we were starring in ‘The Day of the Triffids’. 

Now I have the space, light, warmth and shelter of the perspex greenhouse. So much easier. I open a window - or the door - to let air through. Introducing fledgling plants to outside temperatures is much easier now with exterior and interior staging. Sigh!

But work had to start in earnest. I removed last year’s pots and washed them with the aid of one of my three water butts. I cleared the greenhouse flooring and made a solution of Jeyes fluid. Then wiped down the walls, the perspex lights, the roof and the corners. I mopped the floor and wiped down the shelving and under the shelves. It was tricky to reach the skylight as I’m only 5 foot 2 inches but I wanted to ensure no spores nor air borne bugs had overwintered in there. Jeyes is specially formulated for greenhouse and tool use. 

I allowed it to dry out for a couple of days and put down fresh tarpaulin and matting. There was a chemical smell in there. Not too unpleasant. I certainly don’t like an over-chemicalised world. But as an annual, once a year only, event I could live with it. And my dodgy knee didn’t complain. 

Then the staging, pots and tools went back in. My bagged compost arrived and I put my potting tray in my potting shed ( aka Nina’s gin palace). Ready for the sowing season to begin. 

I began with leek seeds. Just placed them in seed compost in small nodule trays on the greenhouse staging. And I thoroughly cleaned all pots and saucers ready for tomato plants much further down the line. My spinach seedlings were growing away in their raised beds and last season’s leeks were thickening beautifully in their very enriched deep ( raised) bed.  

I like cosmos and I decided to try growing schizanthus. I created a few seedling trays of each, sprinkling the seeds on the compost without burying too deeply. Then just giving them a light covering. After labelling them and putting them on the staging I recorded my sowing activities on my gardener’s calendar. I like to use it for future reference. It’s also my attempt to track how warm our springs are becoming with climate change. 

That was my flurry of early sowings - veggies and flowers. Sweet peas were still in the greenhouse. I may not bother overwintering them another year. I don’t bother much with broad beans now, either. But I love French beans. However I never sow them until May. There was time for that. 

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