The Greenhouse in April: an Impending Dilemma

Julie at Peonies and Posies has invited us to join her in reporting what’s happening our greenhouses each month, a meme that is already throwing up useful information as well as the usual wealth of support from fellow bloggers. There will inevitably be some overlap with these posts and those of our cutting gardens if we are posting about these too, and I am able to report that my greenhouses have slowly begun to empty as young plants are planted out in anticipation of no more, or at least minimal, frosts. Autumn sown sweet peas, Californian poppy, bupleurium, Ammi visnaga and clary have all been put in their places, along with cerinthe, sunflowers and nasturtium sown in February. IMG_4602I have never been in the position of having annuals to plant out at this time, so have found the process absurdly exciting. Keeping a record not only of when things are sown (see ‘Sowing 2014-15’ tab above) but of how long they have taken to germinate and when they are pricked out, potted on, planted out and when they flower will prove to be useful, as I have found the lack of this kind of information rather frustrating – it would also help determine when and if further sowings of the same seeds would be worthwhile, although I have just made second sowings of Ammi visnaga and Sunflower ‘Ruby Eclipse’ as they were grown successfully last year and I am more aware of how they should perform. So, in the smaller greenhouse (still crammed) we have the youngest seedlings, the newest having been sown just at the end of March (couldn’t wait till April!) – all but a couple of trays have now been pricked out (some since these photos) into cells. On the staging facing the door I now have a potting tray courtesy of Aldi, cheap to begin with but even cheaper when it was reduced. After finding several ‘watering tops’ when I cleared some stuff from the shed I am now finding them really useful for watering the seedlings, attached to 2 litre fizzy drink bottles (the Golfer is not emptying them fast enough…) – as they are squishy it is easy to direct a fine spray of water onto the soil around the seedlings, thus avoiding the leaves. IMG_4590 IMG_4591IMG_4592In the larger greenhouse, which looks far less busy, are the more mature seedlings and trays of the petunias and other plants for pots that came as mini plugs – I don’t seem to IMG_4601have recorded when I put these in but they are doing really well and bulking up nicely. Not as pretty are the declining Paperwhites and hyacinths, which although giving me pleasure and fragrance in the greenhouse failed to make it into vases as was the intention,  not wanting the former in a vase every week for months on end and with the hyacinths flowering at the same time as the ones that did make it to a vase – something to work on for next season. On the greenhouse border are pots of dahlia tubers, some old and some new, all of which will be receiving every encouragement to flower and flower well this year. Oh, and some small overwintered fuchsias and newly sown climbing French beans in root trainers. IMG_4600IMG_4599So that’s what it’s like in my greenhouses this month – and, in the last week, it has also been very hot in there too with daytime temps up to 40ºC (mid teens outside) and overnights lows of 4 or 5ºC.

And the dilemma? You may have guessed – we are going away in a couple of weeks…

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30 Responses to The Greenhouse in April: an Impending Dilemma

  1. Christina says:

    Going away?!! Gardeners aren’t allowed to go away! But it is a problem isn’t it, now the plants are a bit larger and in larger pots they don’t need watering every day but those in modules still do. Everything is looking very healthy so you must be pleased after the problems last year with dodgy compost. Up until today I’d say your weather was better than ours but today is hot and sunny so I’m hoping that spring has really arrived now and I can plant more things out.

    • Cathy says:

      And it’s for longer than we would choose to go away for but hey ho! I have half a plan… But yes, I am quietly thrilled with how it is going so far but will not get complacent…

  2. Amy says:

    Now that IS a dilemma, Cathy! I suspect you have a very busy two weeks ahead… How do you decide which plants to put in root trainers? And I must find some of those watering tops!

    • Cathy says:

      Hi Amy – I usually just use them for sweet peas and climbing French beans, things that prefer a long root run. They are a little pricey to buy in the first place but will last many years if you are careful.

  3. Pauline says:

    Wow, I’m impressed! I just have a few veg, meconopsis, cuttings and dahlias and cannas and that’s enough for me!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Pauline – I had forgotten how much joy and anticipation there is in growing things from seed. But hmm, cuttings…. that’s something I have not gone down the line of ….yet!

  4. Cathy says:

    It all looks very tidy and organized Cathy. Hope you have a friendly neighbour who can water. We left our garden once and asked a non-gardening friend to water… we came home to a jungle and all my houseplants drowned! You are way ahead of us now it seems. We are still getting frosts, but much warmer days. The bottles with drinking tops are a good idea…

    • Cathy says:

      Oh, what a shame about your flood! I am in discussion with the neighbour who gardens – but this is very different from the tomatoes he has watered for us in the past… 😉

  5. I always have this dilemma when going away, doing a house exchange for holidays helps, but there is no guarantee the people swapping will be as careful about the watering as I am, otherwise it’s going on holiday when the greenhouses are empty.

    • Cathy says:

      The timing is to fit round various things so that can’t be helped unfortunately, and it’s the scale of the task this time – I have left a few maturer seedlings in the shade for a long w/e before, but this is longer as well…

  6. Anna says:

    Oh it’s a veritable sea of green in there Cathy! The going away issue is rearing its head here causing me to rethink my seed sowing calendar and to plan more strategically eg sowing seeds just before I go away, so hopefully they will only just be coming through just before/after I return. I wish that there was the equivalent of a kennels or cattery where you could book your seedlings in for a few days.

  7. I am keeping better records myself for sowing, germinating and planting out….it does help. And in the middle of seed sowing inside and outside, I also have to leave for a few days. A bit stressful for me even to think bout it.

  8. bittster says:

    Ah! Going away during the April showers. I too hope you have a waterer lined up!
    The greenhouse looks so organized and tidy, great job, and all the little plants look so sturdy and well grown. I can see why you are feeling so pleased with yourself, congratulations 🙂

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Frank – the learning curve of the last couple of years seems to be paying off

      • bittster says:

        It sure has! I think the learning part is the best part (even with some disappointments along the way). What’s the fun in knowing everything (or thinking you do lol)? The magic and excitement disappear and your curiosity shuts off.

  9. Brian Skeys says:

    All looking very full and productive Cathy, relax and enjoy your holiday!

  10. Ah! the dilemma! which gets to all gardeners at some point in the season. Any willing teenagers in the vicinity wanting to earn a few bob?

  11. johnvic8 says:

    Where in the world are you going to find space for all those plants?

    • Cathy says:

      I’ll find somewhere – and I do have a friend who will take excess as he’s not ready to commit himself to growing from seed himself. That’s better than putting spares on the compost – although I don’t generally sow complete packets (hence using some of last year’s seed)

  12. Julie says:

    Those sowing charts are looking super efficient Cathy – top marks for finding the time to record everything & what a useful record it will be for next year! Your seed sowing is going very well, although I am a little worried about your sunflowers. I always think of them as very tender and plant them outside in June with the beans and courgettes. Perhaps I am over cautious, or you have less frost than we do here in east anglia. I will be interested to hear how they get on. As for going away – my husband always complains that it is hard to drag me away from my garden, but I usually pay a teenager to come in and feed the chickens and water the greenhouse – so far both have always survived the experience. At the end of the day we cannot be slaves to our gardens and you could always direct sow a few rows of seeds in the garden before you go away as a back up.

    • Cathy says:

      Once I typed up and printed the list it was on hand for me to add more dates to so that made it easier than doing it all on the computer. I was surprised how sturdy the sunflowers are – 6 to 8 inches tall with a good root system – so I am reasonably confident but slug watching will be important. And yes, according to GW magazine E Anglia averages 8.2 days of air frost in April – we are on the border of E and W Mids which have 1.7 and 3.2 days respectively. You have higher max temps in April but we have higher min temps…ps I love studying weather statistics like this 😉

  13. gardenfancyblog says:

    I am so impressed with your highly organized greenhouse, Kathy! All your detailed records and numerous flats of starts. I’m so lazy I just buy most of my annuals started and already in flower…. 😦 What a lovely set-up you’ve made, especially recycling ordinary materials to use them in your greenhouse. I hope your time away doesn’t hurt your seedlings. Perhaps you know someone who can come over once or twice to water, etc? Good luck!

    • Cathy says:

      It is the first time I feel really organised and I had forgotten how much joy and excitement there is nurturing things from seed – next year I think I need to make sure I only sow what I really want to grow, not just what I happen to have the seeds for! I have a plan for the seedlings…

  14. Annette says:

    You’re so organized, it’s almost scary, Cathy. Sure you don’t have any German roots? 😉 Having said that mine seem to have vanished along the way… My dilemma is that it’s far too hot in the greenhouse for anything to germinate these days and trays seem to spring up everywhere in the house and we have to tread carefully. Fingers crossed that you’ll find someone reliable to take care of your kindergarten while you’re gone!

    • Cathy says:

      Oh Annette – I don’t know what to say….! 🙂 I am quite organised in my head I suppose, but certainly not always meticulous in my execution of things, depending on how much difference it would make to be so.But this sort of organisation is useful – it took a little time to draw up the table, but adding to it took only minutes and will provide such useful information for the future. I am more than happy to live in the temperate climate that the UK has, although I was fortunate that that the unexpected frost last night did not damage anything I had planted out ps no German roots (not for many centuries at least)… 😉

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