Greenhouses help us in creating stable conditions for nurturing and growing a wide variety of plants. During the colder parts of the year, greenhouses allow us to store, prepare and grow so we can extend the success of our gardens throughout the whole year. Below are just a few greenhouse gardening ideas that you can make use of throughout the changing seasons.
The perfect time to prep your greenhouse for the cold months ahead. Some essential maintenance will put you in good stead for keeping everything functioning at its best:
- Clean the glass to make sure you’re getting the maximum levels of light in.
- Check for cracks in the glass and seal appropriately to keep insulation efficient.
- Organise your inside space making sure everything is tidy and easily accessible.
Grow Your Own
Though the warmer months present the height of the growing season for vegetables, greenhouse gardening means there’s no reason to stop growing produce through the winter. Some ideas for planting are:
- Potting potatoes to harvest for Christmas.
- Potting up hardy herbs like chives, parsley and mint to continue growth through the winter.
- Sowing spinach, rocket, kale and pak choi seeds in trays before transferring seedlings to larger containers for use in winter salads.
- Sowing brassicas like cabbage, broccoli and brussels sprouts that can be enjoyed later in the year.
The colder months can be an ideal time to get a head start on your plans for next spring too:
- Lots of perennials can be kept in the greenhouse over winter to keep them alive until the return of warm weather. Fuschias, Pelargoniums and Dahlias are ideal for bringing inside or taking cuttings from which to propagate.
As we head into the coldest part of the year, temperature control can be your biggest challenge to greenhouse gardening:
- At the start of the season, you should monitor the temperature and consider opening the greenhouse door on warmer days to keep everything ventilated.
- As the temperature drops, covering your greenhouse glass with large bubble wrap is a cost-effective way of providing extra insulation.
- You may want to consider getting a greenhouse heater. Both electric and gas heaters can be purchased depending on your set up and both will permit more accurate and consistent temperature control.
Grow Your Own
Making use of a greenhouse heater and the consistent temperature it provides makes it ideal for planting in preparation for spring:
- With a stable warm temperature, you can start growing peppers in the greenhouse. These can be transplanted outside when warm weather returns or kept inside the warm greenhouse.
- Peas, squash, cucumber, courgettes and aubergines can all be started in late winter in preparation for planting in the spring. Getting a head start now will set you up well for success later.
- Towards the end of winter, you can begin planting seeds for spring and summer flower beds. The seedlings can be incubated before being transplanted outside in warmer weather.
Now is also the time when our greenhouse can act as a refuge for tender plants in the garden:
- Potted plants can be moved into the greenhouse to avoid damage from changing temperatures and frost. Consider some greenhouse staging to organise your pot storage.
- Move tropical specimens into the greenhouse perhaps with an insulating layer of fleece and straw.
- Your perennials can be kept in the greenhouse ready for spring.
- Remember to water sparingly at this time and according to each plant’s separate needs.
As we move into spring and the warm weather starts to return we can begin moving things out of the greenhouse back into the garden:
- With the warm weather returning you can give the glass another good clean to remove the marks left by winter and maximise the amount of light getting through.
- With changing temperatures, it may be good practise to heat your greenhouse at night and ventilate it during the day at the start of spring.
- Setting up a water source like water buts or a connected hosepipe will make greenhouse gardening much easier when you start watering more regularly.
- The arrival of spring can also mean the emergence of pests so keep an eye out and rid accordingly with sprays.
Grow Your Own
Now is an ideal time to begin planting your summer vegetables:
- Courgettes, cucumbers, squashes and sweetcorn are ideal for planting in the greenhouse ready for transplanting to the outside when the summer warms the garden properly.
- Plant tomato saplings in grow bags so they can establish through summer when the greenhouse doesn’t require additional heating.
When the warm weather makes itself felt across your garden you can start moving overwintered plants back outside. Bear in mind that your plants that are cultivated inside will need a period of “hardening off” with increased ventilation and cooler temperatures before being moved outside fully.
- Perennial cuttings can be transported to pots or flower beds perhaps with the protection of a cloche until the warm weather fully returns.
- Tender potted plants can be moved back outside, though you may remove any fleece insulation at a later stage in spring or summer.
- Towards the end of spring, you can plant more seeds to transplant during summer such as marigolds.
With the warmest part of the year now in full swing you can make full use of all that light and energy coming into your greenhouse:
- You may need to add netting or some light shade to prevent overheating or scorching during higher temperatures.
- Make sure you have enough ventilation, keeping vents and doors open on warm days and some nights if occasion requires it.
- Dampening the floors and staging each day can help add humidity to the greenhouse on warmer days.
See What Grows
Greenhouse gardening means having a lot more control over the immediate environment. Have fun and experiment with some other plants:
- Harden off your summer bedding blooms to clear room in the greenhouse for other plants.
- You can make use of the hottest part of the year by growing some different plants; maybe try propagating some house plants for inside the home like crassulas or sansevierias.
- Feed and water your plants regularly to make full use of the peak growing season.
- Take cuttings from perennials like fuschias and pelargoniums.
This is also a great time of year for harvesting your well-earnt produce!
- Tomatoes, cucumbers and chillies can be picked regularly to encourage further growth.
- Plants moved outdoors for the summer should begin to reach full maturity towards the end of summer and can be incorporated into your summer meals.
- There is still time through summer to plant crops that have a fast yield such as carrots, beetroot, beans, spinach and kale.
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Scott Roberts is a copywriter currently making content for the Primrose site and blog. When at his desk he’s thinking of new ways to describe a garden bench. Away from his desk he’s either looking at photos of dogs or worrying about the environment. He does nothing else, just those two things.