The summer has been generally good so far. The vegetable garden has flourished and the flowers have been marvellous. The ‘first earlies’ potatoes are delicious. The only thing that has not done so well was the rhubarb.
Having had a bumper crop last year, this is somewhat disappointing. In contrast, the strawberries were plentiful and sweet. I bought GridGrow in Bloom in the Park last year and grew strawberry plants through it. As it supressed the weeds, I found it very easy to manage the crop. It also kept the ripe strawberries away from the soil. It was easy to ensure no runners took root, allowing the plants to channel all their energy towards becoming strong and well-established. As these were mostly new plants from runners last year I don’t need new plants, but I can always find a home for them.
We had our first strawberries in early May which I grew in pots in the greenhouse and the outdoor plants are still fruiting well in late June. We have had cucumbers from one of the plants since mid-June and are looking forward to eating the tomatoes, which will be any day now.
There is great growth at the moment. Watering is needed daily in the greenhouse. Dampen down the floor in morning on warm days to humidify the greenhouse. It is important to feed tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and chillies each week. I use liquid tomato food to feed all three. Be sure to water tomatoes evenly. If not watered evenly the tomatoes can crack or split, or they could get Blossom Rot (dark blotches on the ends of tomatoes or peppers). This can also be caused due to fluctuating temperatures, which is hard to control at times.
Ventilation is very important to keep temperature down in warm weather Keep air circulating by opening the louvres and open the doors on warm days. The automatic openers on the roof vents of my Landmark Greenhouse are so useful when I’m away. Alan Titchmark said these are one of the best buys for any greenhouse. Check for greenhouse pests. The sticky card traps are a good way to get an idea of what pests may be about. If large numbers of any one pest are found plants can be treated for this. Be sure to keep greenhouse clean of fallen leaves and spent compost. This can prevent potential pest and disease problems.
A lovely gift from a friend last year
A greenhouse is a great asset to any vegetable plot. In the first year I used it mainly for propagating vegetable seeds. I have very heavy clay soil so rarely put seeds directly into the ground. I also use the greenhouse to grow tomatoes, cucumber, peppers and chillies, which are planted in the ground. However, I am going to try some seeds of flowers for early flowering next year, such as Delphiniums and Lupines and also Scabiosa for flowering mid-summer. I will also plant seeds for winter flowering pansies. July would be a good time for this.
It is great having the greenhouse when taking shrub cuttings. They are much more successful because of the extra warmth.
- Use this year’s shoots.
- Pinch out the soft top leaves and strip off lower leaves.
- Cut 5mm below a node on the stem with a sharp blade.
- Dip the cutting into rooting powder and insert into pots of half compost and half course sand.
- Water and cover with white polythene bag.
- Place in the greenhouse, perhaps under the staging, away from direct sunlight.
- When new shoots appear and roots run from the bottom of the pot put holes in the bag to harden off the plant and remove it after a few weeks.
For anyone growing grapevines, surplus shoots on a grapevine should be removed weekly to restrict size of plant. This will direct its effort in ripening the grapes. If there are too many bunches of fruit none of them may ripen, so you should remove some of them. Thin to 10 bunches per square metre of floor space. This allows more space for the fruit to develop.