Cleaning the Greenhouses
3rd Nov 2004
I'm afraid that the back garden has had to take second place to my office desk over the past month or so, However, as I can now see a light at the end of the tunnel, I can be getting on with the clearing up and digging. My tomatoes were still growing away right up to the end of last month and what a superb crop I had off them right through the Summer period. The variety was Goldstar and although we all know it as a winner on the show bench, it is also one of the tastiest tomatoes you could eat with a really thin skin.
Both greenhouses is therefore high on my list to be completely cleaned out with any plants that are still growing being moved temporarily into one of the polytunnels.
Removing Tomato Plants
The first job is to remove the tomato plants, cutting the main stem into reasonable lengths with a pruner before chopping them up in my pea trench. Any green tomatoes will be taken to the house to be use in Chutney or stuck in a drawer with either a couple of ripe tomatoes or some really ripe blackened bananas. These ripe fruits release ethylene gas which will turn the fruit fro green to red.
Emptying Raised Wooden Plants
Next will be the job of emptying the raised wooden planks on the concrete floor and this material will also be spread over the area at the back of my polytunnel. Cleaning the greenhouses at the end of the season has always been a job that I have carry out diligently every season. I consider it highly important that you start off your new gardening year with everything as clean as it can possibly be.
Glass, Aluminium Structure and Benches
The glass, aluminium structure and benches will be scrubbed clean using Armillatox t the recommended rate. The beauty of this product is, even though it has been taken off the list as a pesticide, the very action of physically cleaning the greenhouse in every crevice will also kill any eggs that may have been laid there as it has excellent ovicidal properties.
Do make sure that when washing down, you adequately cover all electrical connections from moisture having first isolated the electrical supply from the greenhouse. Check visibly all your equipment, run the fan heater and propagator for an hour or so to make sure that the thermostats are switching on and off when they should be. Have a good look at the condition of the plugs as well as the leads, leads showing signs of cracking should be renewed immediately.
Next job in my far greenhouse, once it has dried out, is to erect my growing cabinet which is so essential to get some strong plants for planting out during late March April. Many years ago now I built the skeleton of the growing cabinet from some aluminium angle from which two Philips SGR 400 lamps are suspended. The skeleton is then covered over with purposely cut ¼" plywood with one face covered with aluminium mate type material. You can buy this product for you local DIY store, it comes in rolls and is generally used behind radiators to throw out the heat. The back of the aluminium has a thin layer of polystyrene which prevents any heat lost.
The panels are simply pushed into position and held in place with some thin wedges, after all, it"s only going to be in place for a couple of months .
The leeks that I struck in trays of compost last week will now moved under the lights, but only for 16 hours per day and this will be only for a few weeks just to get the roots really developed. I am convinced that we can we give our plants too much light and in so doing accelerating them through their growth period. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what we do, the plant has only got the capabilities to grow to a certain size that is already within it"s building blocks or it's DNA. I shall certainly be growing mine a lot cooler and steadier this year hoping to get better quality specimens during late August September rather than in late July early August.