A lifeline for less hardy plants

Vegetable seeds.
Vegetable seeds.

A greenhouse adds another dimension to your gardening. Far from being a mere bolt-hole or warm retreat from the cold air, it provides a lifeline for less hardy plants and this calls for daily inspection.

The potted collection of streptocarpus is covered by plastic domes which provide extra warmth.

With no artificial heat, they need to be nursed through winter and are not watered until their long leaves start to flop.

Several spider plants (chlorophytum) and plectranthus present a challenge because they are far from hardy but a fleece covering helps keep them alive.

Strawberry plants are potted up and actively growing with an early crop in mind.

They are tough enough but the trick with them is to monitor watering and remain alert for a greenfly attack.

The other cold greenhouse venture that works well for us in winter is a leaf-lettuce crop.

The seeds have just been sown into cell trays and will be transferred as plugs into the border.

Scissors are used to collect salad leaves and the plants respond by growing more.

This crop generally carries us through to spring.

The grape vine is pruned and the peach is eyed daily for signs of fruit buds swelling.

Further interest comes from lifting the propagating frame lid to check stem and leaf cuttings.

Most of them have rooted but in the absence of a regular artificial heat source, it’s too early to be potting them up.

Planning should feature highly on the gardening agenda at present.

Have all the main catalogues to hand. Many only cost the price of a phone call or postage stamp and they’re packed with useful information.

Our main seed order has been placed but we have still bought a few packets locally just to get the ball rolling.

Part of the fun lies in assembling the main bits and pieces associated with sowing – pots, pans, labels, indelible ink pen, compost, vermiculite, levelling and firming board, watering can and rose.

The onions have been sown so we’ve already gone through the motions that will be repeated in the weeks ahead.

Fill the tray, then level it off and make compost firm.

Lay it on the ground and run the can with hose over to moisten compost.

Sow the seeds thinly and cover with vermiculite. Label with the variety and date sown. Put them in a warm, dark place.

No more water until after germination which should be within two to three weeks.

No matter how many times you’ve sown seeds, what a thrill it is when the first shoots start to push up through the compost.

Happy gardening new year!