Spring Overhaul: The Greenhouse
Tuesday, 25 February 2014
Hurray it's nearly March! Days are starting to feel longer and I am getting ready to throw myself into spring both in the garden and in my wardrobe. Regular readers of Bella & Bear will find no surprise in this; I see an intrinsic link between fashion and gardening. The seasons, the changing colours and textures, for me it is a simple analogy and at this time of year that means there are two LARGE overhauls that must take place. The greenhouse and my winter wardrobe have to be purged of unnecessary detritus in preparation for the seasonal change.
So, this weekend I tackled the greenhouse. No matter how clean and tidy I leave it in November by February it's become a dumping ground and needs a top-to-bottom sort out. Snails and creepy crawlies are lurking under tables, but it's the pests I can't see that really prompt me to act before seed sowing begins in earnest. Red spider mite will over winter in the tiniest crack and fungal spores are ready to colonise fresh damp compost, plus cleaning moss, algae and grime from the glass panes provides optimal light conditions for growing.
Sadly a quick scrub down with soap and water is not going to cut it. This is a big job. You can buy specialist greenhouse cleaning products but a water and hydrogen peroxide solution will work effectively and is benign to users and the environment.
First things first, empty the greenhouse. If you expect frost and can't finish the job in a day be sure to protect any tender plants in an outbuilding or at the very least cover them with hessian or bubble wrap. Sweep the interior to remove any debris for destruction. Don't add this to the compost as it could be harbouring disease, pests or fungal spores. Next clean the structure with a disinfectant solution as mentioned previously. Then clean the glazing inside and out making sure to remove gently any shade paint from the previous season. Replace any broken or damaged panes, air vents or draught excluders.
Wearing gloves clear the gutters and any down pipes of leaves and other detritus. Fitting the top of the down pipe with a mesh top will help prevent leaves getting stuck next autumn. Once all this is done I like to use a pressure washer (on a low setting) to give the entire greenhouse a really good drench, this also helps to blast any last little bits of dirt trapped in hard to reach corners.
Throw out any old compost or use it as mulch on the garden. Thoroughly wash any pots or trays you intend to sow seeds or propagate plants in with a mild disinfectant. After you've done all that you deserve a cup of tea and at least two biscuits, but the best news is... you are ready to start sowing seeds, which if you're a gardener is as exciting as the new season ready-to-wear collections hitting the racks.
*In the interest of safety please do not lean on your greenhouse, instead use long handled tools to reach hard to reach areas.