As I move towards the end of seed sowing for this time of the year, I am increasingly aware of the demands on space in the working greenhouse. So far, I have sown over 60 different seeds since January, with most plants destined for the cutting beds once at the planting out stage, and this is probably fairly typical for me. The greenhouse is made up of a basic 6 x 8 feet structure with another section added on to it by cutting down a second greenhouse, giving a combined size of nearly 6 x 14 feet – but, as most gardeners will say, it is never big enough.
The quarter seed trays are pricked out into 12 unit cell trays, which in turn will be potted on into 6 unit trays, the demand for space doubling at each stage – with less than half the seeds pricked out, the add-on section of the greenhouse is already at capacity…
The rest of the greenhouse currently accommodates not only a mix of cuttings and other overwintering perennials, but recent plug plant purchases too, not to mention all the dahlias, now returned from their winter holiday in the sitooterie, and delightfully healthy autumn sown larkspur and delphinium.
The stand holding the latter and some of the dahlias is tucked at the end of the greenhouse border, which itself is home to the early flowering ‘Winter Sunshine’ sweetpeas, now growing quickly up their supports and likely to start flowering by the end of April. Even the space behind these is having to be utilised for further pots. mostly lilies, I think.
In the absence of any further wriggle room, what is a girl to do? Well, she loaded up the wheelbarrow and made a number of journeys returning the dahlias to the sitooterie, placing them on large gravel trays now that watering has begun to encourage them into growth, and moved the larkspur, delphinium and the hardiest of the cuttings outside and covered them in netting cloches. With another cold spell largely behind us, they should be hardy enough to cope and, along with nigella and lagurus (moved outside a couple of weeks earlier), could probably be planted out fairly soon anyway.
There is now room to wriggle, for the time being at least, but the extra space created won’t last long and there will be a lot of juggling for the next few months until the reverse happens and the greenhouse very quickly empties again, leaving just tomatoes for much of the summer – all part of the gardening calendar!
I wonder if any other contributors to Jim’s Six on Saturday meme are having the same self-inflicted space issues in their greenhouse?
Great post! Your experience of seed sowing reminds me of my own experience last year. I’m curious, have you thought about using vertical space in your greenhouse to maximize the limited floor space?
Thanks. I do have upper and lower staging (my partner is very helpful in making purpose-built contraptions to meet my needs!) – and underneath the main level too, but I use that mostly for storage as light would begin to become an issue otherwise. I also have a 3 tier metal stand that comes into service inside or outside the greenhouse when required. I suppose the crisis points come and go – I have just about pricked out all my seedlings now but, having moved almost all the cuttings and autumn-sown seedlings outside there is currently extra space. Of course, once potting on begins, that will quickly disappear!! It’s just a few months of juggling really… 😉
Wow! so much promise.
Astonishing to think how quickly (relatively) seeds go from seedling to planting out stage – here, I will have started planting out before the end of May and within a month or so the cutting beds will be a mass of colour. I love it!
I love growing from seed, too!
Well, at least yours is functional and will be useful in the future. I tend to grow things just for the sake of growing them (such as my six).
Oh yes, definitely, functional, Tony, whereas the Coop is kept for potted things and is never as crammed as this one!
I envy your energy and your future cut garden. I’m working on mine but its along way from competing with yours.
I have probably been using the cutting beds as such for at least 6 years – gosh! I have just checked back on my blog and this will in fact be their 9th year!! No wonder I can take it all in my stride now… 😉 They are such an asset though, and not just for cutting but for gazing at too…
Wow! You are incredibly organised. I must say that I’m envious of your greenhouse as there is no space here for one. I do however have a small shade-house / bush house (as they are called here) and it’s packed to capacity. Your seedlings look incredibly healthy.
I have found it so helpful to be organised and keep a record of when I sow, prick out etc – and I learned early on how important those other stages were. I am glad you still have some facility for seed sowing, even if you have no space for a greenhouse. – are the light levels OK in your shade house? I start my seeds off in the house, but move them immediately on germination to the greenhouse
The shade house is too full of plants and there is definitely no room for seed trays. We start them off on the back verandah or even outside, depending on the weather at the time.
Yes, I suppose temperature isn’t too much of an issue for you
I don’t trust the slugs and snails in my greenhouse so I have a conservatory full of seedlings instead.
Bloomin’ slimy things! 😒 Occasionally I find trails and damaged plants in my trays, but can usually find and remove the culprit (invariably teeny slugs)
The juggling season hasn’t begun yet, but at least I have lots of cool windowsill space indoors!
There is a lot of work waiting to happen in your greenhouse, Cathy. Busy times ahead!
Yes, exciting and busy!
Thanks for sharing your experience of seed sowing and greenhouse management. It’s always interesting to hear about the challenges and solutions that come with gardening.
We can all learn from each other and I have certainly learned a lot through blogging
If you had more room you would sow more seeds or have more tender perrenials to accomadate – it is a law of gardening! 🙂
Yes, it would still be full if it was bigger, I agree!
Some serious work and organisation going on there Cathy. What about the Golfer creating a cold frame for the earliest sown occupants until you are ready to plant them out? A sort of halfway house. I’m only just getting going with my seed sowing as the potted snowdrops occupy so much space in the greenhouse. I will have to turf them out soon to make way for seed trays but I’m cutting down these days and will spread the sowing over March and April 😀
I did have a cold frame for a couple of seasons that I asked him to make but I wasn’t using it enough to justify the space it took, and we dismantled it. I might look at more cheap cloches (the netting ones were from Wilko) as they don’t take up much space when dismantled. I will keep an eye on the forecast too, as once I can see a clear fortnight ahead with no frost I will chance moving more tender things outside too. Where do you keep your snowdrop pots when you move them outside?
What an impressive set up. Thanks for sharing your seed sowing arrangements.
It does seem like a production line for a few months, but it’s all worth it for those summer blooms – and I enjoy it so much
You have been busy! I look forward to seeing the results.
It still always astonishes me how teeny seedling can grow into substantial flowering plants in just a few months…😉
This is really inspiring Cathy! I haven’t really found the oomph to get going (or growing) this year yet… seeing all your hard work makes me think I need to get a move on, perhaps this will be the weekend I shift into gear! 🙂
The whole process has become routine for me so I just get on with it, and it brings me such pleasure – especially just standing and staring at the seedlings! 😁
Looking at your organised and prodigous output – I geel in need of a chaise longue and an afternnon snooze!
Haha – it’s a very gentle form of gardening though, and quite meditative too…