The Greenhouse Year – January
Having un-surpressed (is that a word?) my passion for propagation I think my greenhouse will be in even more use than normal in this coming year so I thought I would show you what is happening in it on a monthly basis.
Stupidly when I took these photos last weekend I didn’t take one of the exterior so you could see it in situ and it is dark when I go to and from work so I will have to try to describe it to you. My greenhouse is probably the smallest you can get and stand in comfortably. Its 6ft wide by 4ft deep, made of aluminium and I have had it about 5 years. Being small it doesn’t have any vents which is annoying but on the plus side it is situated on the patio a step from the kitchen door as this is one of the few flat places in the garden. Whilst I covert an old-fashioned part brick greenhouse with fancy twiddly bits, vents and lots more space I have had to settle for what space and the budget would allow – after all I had been waiting 10 years already.
Being me I did a lot of research before I got my greenhouse about how to get the most from it. I didn’t want it to be one of those greenhouses that was only used for tomatoes in the summer and to overwinter a few tenders in the winter and ending up with loads of rubbish dumped in it. Having waited so long I was determined to maximise the potential and to indulge my passion for growing plants from seed. I started off with a bench on one side and space on the other for tomato plants. However after a couple of years I concluded that I needed more bench space and decided to sacrifice the space for tomatoes which was only used for 3-4 months a year.
So my 2009 Christmas presents were another rack and a potting bench. I have one bench which has two layers of slatted shelves and one bench which has two shelves with gravel trays. I am really pleased I went for the gravel trays as they have proved to be excellent for propagation. The gravel retains the moisture and helps prevent the seed trays etc drying out too quickly. They also help to keep the humidity levels up. Plus when I want to grow tomato plants I can remove the gravel trays and use the shelf framework to support the tomato plants. I have also invested in a heated propagating tray which fits in one of the gravel trays and again this has proved to be a good investment and improved germination rates of tender plants.
The potting bench fits neatly in the gap between the two racking units leaving me just enough to stand and work. I also found the potting bench better than the racks as it is higher and I was getting terrible back ache from bending over a low unit pricking out.
At this time of the year, as you can see, the greenhouse is pretty full of various plants overwintering. However I have more or less cleared the gravel trays and prepared them ready for the seed sowing extravaganza to start. There are already a couple of seed trays and these are hardy annuals which I wanted to get going ahead of other seeds in an attempt to manage space. With a small greenhouse like mine the most important thing is space management and planning; luckily I seem to have a mind which works well in this regard although there are times when I can’t actually get in the greenhouse without first removing plants.
At the moment the floor is full but that’s because I keep watering cans in there so the water warms up before I use it. I also have a small electric heater which is on a thermostat – with the greenhouse being so close to the house it was easy to run power out to it which is a real boon. I am now considering getting some battery operated lights to put in it so I can work further into the evening. I keep the greenhouse frost-free during the winter and it seems to work for the sort of plants I over winter.
I anticipate that this coming year will see the greenhouse being used to its maximum as I have lots of seeds on order both vegetable and ornamental. But it is the perennial ornamentals I will really be concentrating on with a view to my plans to sell plants in the future. I have even, in a moment of adventure, bought some seeds from South Africa some of which need smoke primers to get them to germinate which I think is quite exciting but then thats me!!
Another update will appear in February