In the Greenhouse: Hotting Up

To bounce ideas off each other I am joining in with Julie of Peonies and Posies and others to post about the greenhouse once a month, round about the 11th. Do go to Julie’s blog to see what’s happening in her greenhouse and to find links to other greenhouse posts for February.

IMG_4170Here in the UK Midlands we haven’t had a frost or below zero temperatures for over a week but daytime temperatures have stayed low at only 4 or 5ºC except at the weekend when it was a tad warmer – but sunny too, pushing greenhouse temperatures briefly above 20ºC and opening the automatic vents! Since January’s post I have repotted most of the autumn sown seedlings and moved them into the larger greenhouse, which I haven’t put any heat in this winter. Having a handy Golfer, the greenhouse staging was made to fit my requirements in terms of configuration and height, and the working height staging has gravel trays (with gravel) to contain pots and trays, whilst the higher level is just wide enough for a narrow trays (with matting) which are wide enough for small seed trays and the cells I have been using, whereas the bottom shelf holds the empty trays and cells. I now tend use ¼ size seed trays and 12 cell trays for seed sowing, except when I use root trainers.

IMG_4174IMG_4175As the hardy annuals have been repotted in fresh compost I am happy for them to stay here longer while there is still space for them, but judging the best time to plant them out is something I need to work on – and indeed those that were planted out at the end of autumn have been fine except for some of the poppies that the slugs enjoyed, but in a colder winter? How hardy is a hardy annual?

IMG_4173Below these annuals are some of my newest snowdrops and two or three existing ones which have been brought inside to be nurtured back to health – I haven’t yet decided when they will be planted outside. Also on this shelf are some leggy ‘microgreens’, overwintering fuchsias and some pots of hosta roots, a recent Gardeners World postage only offer. On the other side of the greenhouse and not shown are the new clematis, still waiting for milder days before they get planted out.

IMG_4179In the smaller greenhouse the staging has been constructed in a similar fashion, with storage below and that useful half shelf above. Since last month two pots of hyacinths have been moved up into the light as there are the first signs of flowers showing, and space created by moving the hardy annuals into the other greenhouse is now being taken by this year’s sowings, started off in the house. I briefly considered a propagating mat for the greenhouse, but because the Aga in the kitchen is always warm I decided to stick with my ‘contraption’, an old pan stand which little shelves have been slotted onto and which is now tucked up against the Aga. It can hold a total of 10 half seed trays (or more quarter ones) and because it is in the house it can be checked frequently so any that show signs of germination can be quickly moved. Sunflowers and nasturtiums were started at the end of January and are now in the greenhouse, with more sunflowers, tagetes, bidens and antirrhinum currently occupying the shelves.

IMG_4177I have noticed that the top of the compost of the late autumn sowings, including the sweet peas is greening up, presumably from a combination of cold and damp, and it would seem sensible to pot them on. Has anybody else had this? This is why sharing information on IMG_4176blogs is so useful as we have so much combined experience between us – and it was other bloggers that encouraged me to give autumn sowing a go, as I had done so little of it before. Hopefully early flowering from these earlier sowings will make it all worth while. Why don’t you pop over to Julie’s blog and see what helpful tips you can pick up for your greenhouse?

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24 Responses to In the Greenhouse: Hotting Up

  1. Christina says:

    Wow! I’m impressed Cathy – I can see that you washed your pots and modules; that’s something I rarely find time for. I would either scape the green moss off the pots if the plants are large enough for this or pot them on as you suggest. Our temperatures in the greenhouse are very different even if some days our outside temperatures are very similar. Yesterday for example the high inside (with the doors wide open, roof vents open and shade netting across a good half was 39.4°C falling to 4°C during the night. I haven’t started my sunflowers yet as they grew so quickly last year.

    • Cathy says:

      Ha ha – those piles of modules are mostly unused as I bought them in packs of 50s, but I have to admit I did make a conscious effort to wash all my pots and trays immediately I emptied them last year. Not something I have ever done before and now you tell me it’s not necessary!! 🙂

  2. One of the most important things I use in my greenhouse is a fan, a simple one that attaches to one of the beams on top of my structure. It’s been my experience that a lack of air, however light, moving around the plants sets them up for bacteria, scale, other problems. Just like us–our plants need fresh air, good food, and the right amount of light and warmth. I’ve learned the hard way about the fan!

  3. Thank you Cathy for joining in with my greenhouse review! I think temperatures have been similar here in East Anglia and I have had my door open for a couple of hours most days and lifted the lids on the cold frames. Your greenhouse looks very organised – particularly those pristine trays – I rarely find time to wash mine.I am very impressed with your propagating Aga – I have never seen that idea in any of the Aga books! What a great idea and you certainly have no need to buy a propagating mat, but you must have more space around your Aga than I do – I would have no where to stand the trays. I get a little greening on my overwintered annuals as well, but I have never worried about it. I would say pot them on if they need it or just pull it off if they can stay in those pots – hopefully we will be planting them out next month anyway.

    • Cathy says:

      I did wonder about leaving the door open for a little while last w/e – I suppose Feb seems such a bit early! The Aga is always on and I can tolerate having a stack of seed trays for a couple of months 🙂

  4. jenhumm116 says:

    Hi Cathy, all looking very impressive!
    I think your made to measure staging and ‘useful half shelf’ sound marvellous. The staging in my greenhouse is a bit of a sore point, as there have been broken promises…

    • Cathy says:

      No problem of dragging feet here, Jen, as we are both at our happiest with a project on the go! Making it yourself means you can tweak it as you go along ps perhaps you could tell him his failings are now all over the internet……..

  5. Brian Skeys says:

    Reading about in your greenhouse makes me realise how behind with sowing I am. I have not seen 1/4 seed trays before,I must look out for them, they would be a useful size for sowing small amounts.

    • Cathy says:

      Hi Brian – I only started sowing seeds as early as Jan/Feb in the last few years, since I finished work I suppose. Before that any sowing was last minute- and often too late for flowering or fruiting 😦 The little seed trays are great – again a recent discovery – and it stops you planting more seeds than you need as well! Bought from eBay in packs of 10 by the way

    • Helen Johnstone says:

      Brian
      Wilkos in Malvern often have the quarter seed trays, they are very handy

  6. Helen Johnstone says:

    Well that is very impressive and so organised I feel ashamed so am now pleased I forgot to join in with the meme, must try harder

    • Cathy says:

      But you are out at work 5 days a week, Helen – I was useless at seed sowing when i was working! And you have your pots of specials to nurture – definitely no need to be ashamed 😉

  7. croftgarden says:

    I’m quite exhausted by your enterprise and hard work. My plants and I are still in winter hibernation and the “do not disturb” sign is still prominently displayed in the garden.
    Wouldn’t worry about the moss unless it’s invading seed trays.

  8. Amy says:

    So interesting, Cathy! I don’t have a greenhouse and doubt there will be one in the near future, so I was a bit slow checking out all the greenhouse posts – so as not to feel left out 😛 But I am going to follow along after all because it is clear there will be some good seedstarting information, which I certainly need! Even just reading about (and seeing!) how you handle the trays is helpful 🙂

    • Cathy says:

      I have found that I can start things off in the house as long as I move them to a lighter place as soon as they have germinated – otherwise they get leggy

  9. oh my word, that is quite a production line you have going there. My seeds are still in their packets! Better get a wiggle on.

  10. I am just getting started too with flowers started indoors under the lights. I wonder how a greenhouse would do in all our snow and cold.

  11. Anna says:

    Have noticed compost greening over too Cathy but I don’t think it ever causes major problems. I wonder whether you have a cold frame or other half way house for any hardy annuals that you are concerned about. I like the converted pan stand 🙂

    • Cathy says:

      Just wondered if the greening was much of an issue. At the moment the bigger greenhouse is going to act as a cold frame, and all the bigger seedlings will be moved there

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