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.
Here 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.
As 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?
Below 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.
In 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.
I 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 blogs 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?