Award-winning blogger Ade Sellars has some timely advice for those of us starting off our seedlings under cover
Over the next few months, our polytunnels and greenhouses will be home to our seedlings, and young plants; they will aid the development and growth of our fruit and veg. Right now, you can hear the bustle of eager gardeners, busying themselves in these sanctuaries, prepping, potting on and watering
However, if time has gotten away from you, and your ‘fortress of solitude’ is not yet up to speed, don’t worry, there’s still time. Here are a few simple jobs, that’ll ensure your plants will thrive in their summer homes.
First and foremost, clean out your greenhouse. Get rid of anything rotten or gathering dust. These are ideal places for pests, such as the mealybug, to take up residence, so ensure you sweep the area clean. Then, with warm soapy water, wash all the glass and plastic, as plants need as much light as possible. It’s also an ideal opportunity to clear greenhouse guttering, and make any necessary repairs to your structure.
As the days get longer and greenhouses get warmer, the arrival of unwanted guests becomes more likely. Red spider mite likes nothing more than a warm greenhouse to thrive in. Therefore, it’s a good idea to water down the floor area during those hot summer months. This helps reduce infestation, and the extra humidity can aid the development of some plants. Other pests to look out for are whitefly and aphids, which can often be found on the underside of tomato and cucumber leaves. Picking them off is time consuming so why not try hanging up sticky yellow bug sheets, which will do the hard work for yo
Although the common spider may reduce grown men to tears, they are great greenhouse wardens and will gladly do their bit in reducing pests, so fear not if you see our eight-legged friends.
Now’s the time to re-arrange your space. Your tomato plants may look small and manageable right now, but they’ll soon become triffids. It’s essential you have enough space to freely move around to water, weed and harvest throughout the season. The last thing you want is to trip over your prized plants.
With long summer days ahead, a regular watering regime is vital. Don’t leave it until the soil is dry, and plants are wilting. Irregular watering can damage plants and result in problems like Blossom End Rot with tomatoes. If a regular watering routine is proving difficult, and there isn’t anyone to help, then there are numerous water retaining devices on the market that will make life a bit easier.
If, like me, your polytunnel is on the allotment, being there every second of the day can be difficult. So give your young plants a fighting chance: put all pots and trays in hole-free containers, then partially fill with water. This will keep them hydrated between allotment visits.
Finally, ventilation! Ensure there’s a continual airflow running through your greenhouse. Not only will this reduce the build up of pests and diseases, but it will also help the plants to photosynthesize. If your greenhouse continues to overheat, you might want to think about shading your plants with mesh or other sun reflective material.
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