Field Allotments at Amerton
By Mrs FM
Herbs & Other
Issues And Going Green.
And Other Climbing Plants.
Alan J Hartley
Preparing My Green-House For
As it is getting colder the
Tomatoes will be finished soon in my Greenhouse and it will become time
to clear them out. The plants will be chopped up and used as a mulch on
the garden along with some of the other garden “rubbish.” The spent
potting compost from their large pots will be broken up and spread over
the Garden as a bit of a soil improver. Hopefully, the worms will slowly
take a lot of this “Rubbish,” into the soil over winter and mix up the
compost with the garden soil.
After clearing the Tomatoes out it will leave me with one side of the
Greenhouse completely empty, so I will at last be able to make a new
piece of staging for the greenhouse. This season I only had staging down
one side and could have done with more space to put small pots and
trays. As long as I get the size of the staging correct, I will be able
to get it out through the door if I need more floor space in future.
Most Greenhouse Staging is “Slatted,” because traditionally it was made
of wood that would rot if it wasn’t allowed to drain and get the air
round it to keep it dry. My staging will be even more open and will be
of a “Skeleton,” design that will support standard gravel trays and no
more. It will save on timber and in the Winter any plants that I put on
the floor underneath it will get more light - as long as the Gravel
trays are removed from above.
The nights in the month of October can get quite chilly on the odd
occasion, so it will soon be time to start thinking about putting some
bubble polythene insulation back up. When I take it down every Summer I
carefully fold it and loosely tie it up with string before storing it in
the top of a cupboard, in the house, away from the damaging effects of
light. This way I get several years use out of it before it needs
replacing as it isn’t cheap to buy. I also save every last plastic Clip
that I use to put it up with and keep them secure in an old jam jar over
However, with the shorter, cooler days also comes lower light intensity.
So, it is always a good idea to first wash down the glass in your
greenhouse, both inside, and especially outside, if you had put
whitewash on the panes in the hotter Summer months to help keep it cool.
This will allow any still growing plants the chance to make the most of
what light there is. On the subject of cleaning your greenhouse in
preparation for Winter, it is also a good idea to give everything - the
floor, benching and Gravel Trays, a wash down with a proprietary
disinfect to get rid of all of the hiding slugs, snails other pests that
will be taking shelter in the nooks and crannies. It isn’t a bad idea to
Fumigate the greenhouse with a “Smoke Bomb,” but I think they are out of
favour these days apart from for commercial growers as their misuse can
be distinctly harmful. Indeed their incorrect use will not only harm
people, but will even kill many plants, so if you do use them do follow
the instructions very carefully.
On a different subject, every year since I first had my Allotment I have
grown some Chrysanthemums for cut flowers and usually, I have dug up and
roughly potted the old “Stools,” in the Autumn, just as the first frosts
have taken the last of the flowers. They have then been over-wintered in
my Greenhouse, or Cold Frame, but a couple of years ago I came across a
reference to Chrysanthemums that were fully hardy. So, one Spring, I
bought a small batch and grew them on hoping that they would provide cut
flowers like the usual sort. However, the flowers on the varieties that
I had were nearly all small, simple flowers like Daisies and not much
bigger. They flowered here and there over a long period with the
constant need for dead heading to keep them looking anything like. Only
one plant, in my opinion, had worthwhile flowers and that is the one in
the picture. I was not impressed by the batch at all as they also had a
sloppy, sprawling, growing habit and the flowers were not held upright
in tight bunches, or even Sprays. They were no good for cutting at all.
Consequently, after a couple of years in the ground, I recently decided
to remove them and replace them with some other herbaceous plants.
However, the plants did not entirely go to waste because, after digging
them up, I cut them down and gave them to a friend.
It was a bit of an experiment growing them, but in future I think I will
continue growing the traditional type of Chrysanthemum for cut flowers
that may need a bit more attention and will need digging up every Winter
to give them protection, but they give much better flowers.
Chrysanth’s are not the only thing that need taking inside with the
coming winter, because with the cooler nights upon us I have already
taken in a Banana plant, my small Orange tree and other Citrus trees,
along with a non hardy Olive and a Palm. Also I have dug up and potted
my Cannas, from my front garden, which, along with an already potted and
tender Lemon Bush Eucalyptus that was on my yard, have all gone into my
Garage where it will be a bit warmer over winter. The other plants will
stay in my cold Greenhouse.
To make more room in my Green House for all of these Over Wintering
plants I decided to clear out my stash of old plastic Plant pots that
were stored in there while waiting to be re-cycled and re-used. They are
normally stacked up under the staging which is not a problem in the
summer as that space can’t be used for growing plants which need the
light, however, in the winter the space becomes valuable as dormant
plants like Chrysanthemums can go there, as they just sit in their pots
and do nothing during the cold spell.
I usually do my potting up in my Garage/Workshop and normally keep a
small quantity of Pots in there as well, but there wouldn’t be room for
my whole stash, so I decided to clean out the plastic Toolbox on my Yard
and the Toolbox on my Allotment where between them I would have plenty
of space to put all of the assorted Pots and Trays.
As I sorted them I found some of the pots were brown in colour, so, any
of these that were broken went in the normal re-cycling bin with the
other assorted, kitchen and household plastic items, but the broken
black pots and black trays had to go in the household waste bin as the
council machines apparently can’t sort black plastic. However, it dawned
on me that many broken trays and 6 packs could still be re-filled with
compost and reused simply by putting one broken tray inside another as
long as they are turned inside each other so that they support each
other and the broken parts aren’t together!
There isn’t much watering to do in the greenhouse over winter and most
of my over wintering plants will barely want a little drink once a week,
or even less if the Sun doesn’t shine, but I will have to keep an eye on
ventilation and make sure that I open the door on the warmer days. With
the Glass all covered in Bubble Wrap there will be very little natural
ventilation from draughts and of course the Windows won’t open, so the
conditions will be primed for problems. Keeping things on the dry side
will help generally, but any Citrus plants in particular will want a
regular drink and must not be allowed to get too dry so there will still
be some moisture in the air.
One important point worth making is that if the door is opened in the
day time it must be shut up well before the sun goes down to trap some
of its heat before the night turns things colder. In recent years there
haven’t been many nights much below freezing that have warranted putting
on Heating for the Greenhouse especially as they always used to say that
a Glass Greenhouse will keep out 5 Degrees Fahrenheit of Frost and
covering, or wrapping plants with Horticultural Fleece, will keep out
another 5 Degrees.
Horticultural Fleece is always available from any garden retailer and
although light and apparently flimsy will last for many years if folded
up and stored away safely when not in use in the Summer. It will
eventually get very dirty and slimey though, but it can be washed as it
is surprisingly tough.
When I was younger we always used to use Paraffin Heaters that were very
messy and dirty to heat the Green-Houses. They are still available, but
with the price of fuel these days they are not even a cheap option and
they need constant attention to keep them burning efficiently. These
days I use an Electric Fan Heater for added warmth and although there are many safety
issues to be aware of with them, they are reliable and running costs are
cheap using Thermostatic controls that mean they only come on when
really needed. You also have no fear of the Flame on
the Burner going out unlike with Paraffin ones. Unless you have a long
Power Cut, or a mouse chews through the extension lead cable - the heat
stays on ! ! !