Now's the month to clean up your act!
Now’s a good time of year to clean and disinfect your greenhouse – it should be fairly empty now, with the summer crops all finished and the tender overwintering plants yet to move in.
A thorough clean now will let in more light, and prevent pests and diseases overwintering along with your plants!
Pick a dry, calm and preferably warm day to remove all the plants and put them in a sheltered location for the day.
Sweep out the floor where you have hardstanding and add it to your recycling bin – not your compost bin – to avoid any contamination.
Then scrub down any staging or structures within the greenhouse using hot water and either disinfectant or detergent – I use something with good green credentials.
Next, wash the glass panes, both inside and out, using the same cleaning product. Where the panes overlap, use a plant label to ease out any trapped dirt or moss growth and then wash down the panes with some clean water.
A good greenhouse has a decent water-harvesting set-up and this needs a thorough annual clean, too. Clear the gutters of any debris and give them a scrub with a small hand brush and some cleaning product. You’ll probably need to keep an eye on the gutters over the winter, as they do easily get clogged up with leaves which restrict the flow of water to water butts.
Pay attention to the point where the gutter meets the fall pipes, as these can become easily blocked – keep a garden cane handy to clear any blockages. Empty and clean out the water butts using the same cleaning product and either a kitchen brush or hand brush tied to a pole.
If you have open water butts, they can grow quite a bit of algae on the sides and accumulate a lot of decaying debris in the bottom, so a good scrub out once a year will help keep the water free from pests like mosquitoes or waterborn plant diseases. Swill the butts out with clean water before repositioning them, and then put back all the resident plants.
Tip of the Month
Plant springflowering bulbs now – the rule of thumb is to bury them pointy end up in twice their depth of soil.
Q: My French Cross tomatoes haven’t ripened very well at all this year. What would you suggest?
A: The periods of low temperature and general lack of consistent sun during the late summer this year have caused a problem for anyone growing tomatoes outdoors and even for some growing under glass. For this year, I suggest you pick off the green fruits and ripen them indoors on a window ledge alongside a ripe banana. For next season, especially if you are growing outside, select a smaller variety of tomato and perhaps try something like ‘Red Alert’. These have smaller fruits (although they are packed with fl avour) and will ripen faster than the larger varieties.
Got a gardening conundrum? Ask Andy by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org