Cold Cockles

IMG_3851The UK had varying amounts of snow on Boxing Day, rain turning to the white stuff here just as it began to get dark – leaving evidence on car bonnets and the roof of houses but disappearing quickly from the roads as it quickly turned back to rain. Overnight IMG_3847temperatures just below freezing meant some evidence remained in the morning, but if you had your back turned and hadn’t seen the snow falling you wouldn’t have known that for a short time it looked like an archetypal Christmas card out there – unlike Sue, perhaps 40 miles away from here at From Sewing Room to Potting Shed who had (and still has) at least a couple of inches!

With sharp frosts and negative overnight temperatures forecast for a few more days I set up the new paraffin heater I had purchased to use in the small greenhouse. Unlike last year, when a thermostatically controlled tubular electric heater was used in the bubble wrap insulated larger greenhouse, this year all the overwintering seedlings and tubers were in the newer small greenhouse, which is always going to be warmer than the larger one. The power supply only runs to the larger greenhouse and the bubble wrap was not especially effectivel, so this cheap heater was purchased to keep the smaller greenhouse frost free which is all that is necessary.

IMG_3849I rather wish I had read the reviews first (which are very mixed) and after several treks through the dark garden to check up on the flame (which had never looked ‘right’ in the first place) found it had gone out and I certainly wasn’t going to begin an investigation in the dark. Much Googling failed to find pictures of the optimal flame – but did throw up endless negative comments and horror stories of greenhouses being covered in soot….. Hmm, although there were positive comments on well-functioning heaters too I am not sure whether I want to have to keep checking up on the flame to ensure it is burning correctly, nor run the risk of my own black hole of Calcutta…. After all, it is not an onerous job to run a new cable from the larger greenhouse to enable the use of the tubular heater….bargain paraffin heater anyone?

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8 Responses to Cold Cockles

  1. ginnytalbert says:

    Thanks for the heads up on this type of heater. A greenhouse is in my near future and heat is one of my considerations. I am considering a propane marine heater (made for boats). Did you evaluate that type?

    • Cathy says:

      Hi Ginny – no, but the reviews I read suggest a propane heater would be an easier alternative but of course more expensive to buy and probably too powerful for a small greenhouse. If you have an electricity supply to the greenhouse then using an electric heater with a thermostat and possibly a timer will be the easiest option every time, but unless used sensibly can be expensive in cold winters.

  2. rusty duck says:

    Mike managed to singe his eyebrows lighting one of those. It was banished shortly after. Be careful!

    • Cathy says:

      Singed eyebrows are probably quite tame compared to some of the potential mishaps I imagine! The Golfer is on the case an this one will be taking an early bath too…

  3. Anna says:

    The white stuff still lies on the ground here Cathy. Oh how unobliging of that heater to say the very least. Hope that you manage to get seedlers/tubers through this cold patch until you can sort out an alternative.

  4. Annette says:

    Just set up our heating in the greenhouse yesterday as we got our first proper frost. It’s a fan heater on frost guard but I hope the cold spell will pass quickly. Just read in Carol Klein’s book that her potting bench heating keeps hers frost free but I’d like to see her electricity bill.

    • Cathy says:

      tee hee – I don’t think you would really, unless you wanted to laugh at her expense…. 😉 I did buy an effective fan heater for the original huge(ish) greenhouse we had, but it was too powerful for the 6 x 8 and the tubular one did the trick once I had adjusted the thermostat and put it on a timer after the first month. Should be able to do the same in the smaller one one once we have got some more cabling set up.

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