Gardening, Greenhouses, Grow Your Own, Scott, Vegetables

Greenhouse Gardening

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. 

Autumn

Autumn

Maintenance

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:

  1. Clean the glass to make sure you’re getting the maximum levels of light in.
  2. Check for cracks in the glass and seal appropriately to keep insulation efficient. 
  3. 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:

  1. Potting potatoes to harvest for Christmas.
  2. Potting up hardy herbs like chives, parsley and mint to continue growth through the winter.
  3. Sowing spinach, rocket, kale and pak choi seeds in trays before transferring seedlings to larger containers for use in winter salads.
  4. Sowing brassicas like cabbage, broccoli and brussels sprouts that can be enjoyed later in the year.

Planting

The colder months can be an ideal time to get a head start on your plans for next spring too:

  1. 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.

Winter

Winter

Temperature

As we head into the coldest part of the year, temperature control can be your biggest challenge to greenhouse gardening:

  1. At the start of the season, you should monitor the temperature and consider opening the greenhouse door on warmer days to keep everything ventilated.
  2. As the temperature drops, covering your greenhouse glass with large bubble wrap is a cost-effective way of providing extra insulation.
  3. 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:

  1. 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. 
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Frost Protection

Now is also the time when our greenhouse can act as a refuge for tender plants in the garden:

  1. 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.
  2. Move tropical specimens into the greenhouse perhaps with an insulating layer of fleece and straw. 
  3. Your perennials can be kept in the greenhouse ready for spring. 
  4. Remember to water sparingly at this time and according to each plant’s separate needs.

Spring

Spring

Freshening Up

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Setting up a water source like water buts or a connected hosepipe will make greenhouse gardening much easier when you start watering more regularly.
  4. 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:

  1. 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. 
  2. Plant tomato saplings in grow bags so they can establish through summer when the greenhouse doesn’t require additional heating.

Back Outside

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.

  1. Perennial cuttings can be transported to pots or flower beds perhaps with the protection of a cloche until the warm weather fully returns. 
  2. Tender potted plants can be moved back outside, though you may remove any fleece insulation at a later stage in spring or summer. 
  3. Towards the end of spring, you can plant more seeds to transplant during summer such as marigolds. 

Summer

Summer

Sun Protection

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: 

  1. You may need to add netting or some light shade to prevent overheating or scorching during higher temperatures.
  2. Make sure you have enough ventilation, keeping vents and doors open on warm days and some nights if occasion requires it.
  3. 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:

  1. Harden off your summer bedding blooms to clear room in the greenhouse for other plants.
  2. 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.
  3. Feed and water your plants regularly to make full use of the peak growing season. 
  4. Take cuttings from perennials like fuschias and pelargoniums.

Harvest

This is also a great time of year for harvesting your well-earnt produce! 

  1. Tomatoes, cucumbers and chillies can be picked regularly to encourage further growth. 
  2. 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. 
  3. There is still time through summer to plant crops that have a fast yield such as carrots, beetroot, beans, spinach and kale.

Follow us on Instagram and tag us in a photo of your greenhouse. We love to see great gardeners in action and we may even feature your photos on the Primrose feed. 

Scott at PrimroseScott 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.

See all of Scott’s posts.

Allotment, Evie, Gardening, Grow Your Own, How To

Apple Picking

Apple tree harvesting has begun! If you’re new to fruit trees, you may be feeling like a complete pomology beginner with far too many apples to know what to do with and not a clue how to store them. The best news is: you don’t have to eat them all now in a hurry or bulk bake enough apple pies to last all year. With the right storage method and environment, you can keep your apples fresh for up to six months or even longer. 

To make the process of storing your apples easier, I’ve answered some popular apple storing FAQs below and provided some helpful tips to ensure that you get the most from your harvest this year.

Which apples store the best?

In terms of apple varieties, it is worth noting that thicker and harder skinned apples (e.g. Granny Smith or McIntosh) tend to last longer in storage than the thinner skinned varieties (e.g. Pink Lady). This is because softer skinned apples are at a greater risk of bruising, therefore making them quicker to rot in storage.

Should I wash apples before storing?

You do not need to wash apples before storing, unless they are dirty. In this case, be very gentle not to bruise the apple and ensure that it is completely dry before storing. 

Careful handling is essential for the first stage of apple storing. When picking apples for storage, select the best example fruits. Be sure to use up any damaged apples in your cooking, and exclude them in your selection for storage. Bruised apples will spoil quickly and cause other apples to spoil too. It really is true what they say: “one bad apple spoils the barrel”.

Harvested apples in storage barrels

Why does “one bad apple spoil the barrel”?

Apples have feelings… Just kidding – it’s actually the effect of ethylene gas. Apples naturally produce ethylene gas as they ripen, but if an apple is damaged in some way, it produces more ethylene gas than it would normally. Apples neighbouring the spoiled fruit are tricked into ripening at a more rapid rate than expected, causing them to over ripen and go rotten. If you’ve ever noticed your fruit bowl banana ripening at a much faster rate when it is placed next to an apple, then now you know why! It’s important not to store your apples in a close proximity to other stored fruit and vegetables, if you’d like them to last.

What are the best conditions to store apples?

For the best storing conditions, look for cooler temperatures that are slightly humid; dark or dim settings; and completely frost-free. If you have a garage or cellar, these are often ideal locations. Apples soften and change texture quickly when kept in ambient temperatures, so it’s best to keep them cool to maintain quality for a longer time period. Covering the apples will keep them out of direct sunlight and ensure a more consistent temperature.

How to prepare your apples for storage

Individually wrap each apple in newspaper to maximise storage life. Wrapping each apple will prevent contamination to others if they did spoil sooner than expected. It will also provide a layer of protection to prevent bruising when containers are moved around or accidentally knocked.

What is the best way to store apples?

Lay the apples in a single layer in a drawer, rack or stand. The Lacewing apple storage collection offers a variety of sizes and drawer capacities – ranging from one tray, up to a unit containing 13 drawers. Units including slotted drawers allow for easy access to your fruit or vegetables, and allow you to maximise on storage capacity in a practical manner. Allow air flow to your apples through slatted racks to keep them fresh and cool whilst in storage. Be sure to keep a check every now and again, removing any spoiled apples from the storage unit. 

Apple storage rack gif

Most importantly, enjoy your freshly stored produce – even all the way through to winter!

Shop fruit storage and fruit presses now, or find out more information about apple trees and harvesting below.

Posts you may also like…

Apple Trees Buying Guide

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Evie at PrimroseEvie works in the Primrose Marketing Team.

Growing up in the English countryside, she likes nothing more than to be surrounded by nature’s peace and quiet, with the addition of the family pets of course!

Evie is passionate about all things digital marketing and loves the challenge of combining creativity with online content.

When not at her desk, you’ll typically find her in the gym, posting on social media, or watching a popular series on Netflix!

See all of Evie’s posts.

Gardening, Grow Your Own, Mothers' Day, Tyler

This year Mother’s Day falls on 31st March 2019 so now is the best time to start planning what you will treat your mum if you haven’t done so already! So we thought to help give you some inspiration by coming up with a list of our top gifts to make your mother’s day special.

Mum’s Kitchen Herb Windowsill Planter

This amazing herb planter will be the perfect gift for your mother! With a natural wooden finish, it will allow to grow all her favourite herbs in the comfort of her own home. It also informs everyone in the household that she owns the kitchen too.

mother's-day-gift

‘Thank You’ Patio Rose – 5.5L Pot

Say thank you for being the best mum in the world with our ‘Thank You’ patio rose! These rose offers an abundance of colour which all make all mum’s smile with joy knowing that they are appreciated for everything they do.

Solar Metal Elephant Silhouette

Our beautiful solar metal elephant silhouette will make a perfect addition to your mother’s garden. The best part about is the built in lights that come to life at night time which visitors will find hard to forget the elephants glow. It is best placed on a patio where plenty of sunlight can be absorbed by its solar panels.

Colour Changing Solar Wind Spinner Lights

An alternative to the elephant silhouette, why not treat your mother to a color changing solar wind spinner light! These set of light has a colour changing bulb which will circulate through colours such as blue, green, red and purple and may certainly make the neighbors jealous as they peer through their windows.

Shubunkin Spills 4 Tier Cascading Water Feature

Last but not least, our shubunkin spills 4 tier water feature offers a calming atmosphere for your mother to indulge in. This elegant stone finished water feature is ideal relaxing in the garden after a hard day’s work to help her enjoy life a little more.

Tyler at PrimroseTyler works in the Primrose Marketing team, mainly working on Social Media and Online Marketing.

Tyler is a big fan on everything sports and supports Arsenal Football Club. When not writing Primrose blogs and tweets, you can find Tyler playing for his local Sunday football team or in the gym.

See all of Tyler’s posts.

Conservation, Current Issues, Dakota Murphey, Grow Your Own, How To

living off grid

If you hanker after a simple, sustainable life, you will love the idea of living the off-grid dream. Living without household utilities, the internet, fast food and all of the trappings of modern living may seem unimaginable to some, but to others it is a vision of the ideal lifestyle.

Going off-grid is a growing trend. Are you ready to take the leap? Read on to find out more.

What exactly is living off-grid?

The term off-grid actually means disconnected from the main national transmission grid of electricity. For some, off-grid living simply means disconnected from the electrical grid, for others the concept extends to a completely self-sufficient existence without reliance on any public utilities, including gas and water supply.

Why live off-grid?

There are many reasons people choose to live off-grid. Here are some of them:

  • Freedom from utility bills
  • A desire to live more in tune with the environment
  • A desire to be more environmentally responsible
  • Location (remote and beautiful)
  • Self-sufficiency
  • Healthier lifestyle
  • Educating future generations
  • To opt out of consumerism
  • To achieve complete independence

How to live off-grid

If you have pondered the idea of a more sustainable lifestyle, but don’t know where to start, here are 7 steps to get you living the off-grid dream. Just how far off the grid you go is up to you.

1. Land

Off-grid means different things to different people. If you are serious about going off-grid completely, you may be considering the purchase of a piece of land on which to start your smallholding and/or new eco-friendly life. Finding suitable, affordable land is one of the biggest hurdles to people looking to go completely off-grid in the UK.

However, while living completely off-grid in the UK is actually quite difficult, it’s not impossible. There are ways to live legally on cheap land in the UK, but you will have to negotiate local planning restrictions before constructing any dwelling.

forest

2. Power

There are many homeowners in the UK who have taken their first step to off-grid living simply by installing solar panels. Wind and water power are also being used to generate electricity for some homes. One of the biggest commitments required when going off-grid is to cut down and minimise the use of power as a resource.

There are many options on the market for home owners interested in self-sufficient renewable energy sources. Examples are biomass boilers, ground source heat pumps, and solar water heating.

Renewable electricity generated by acceptable installations, including off-grid systems, is currently eligible for payments under the Feed-in Tariffs (FIT) scheme. This is a government programme designed to promote the uptake of renewable and low-carbon electricity generation. However, the government have announced plans to axe the scheme from April next year.

3. Heating

Heat pumps are the most efficient way to heat an off-grid home and are currently considered one of the best off-grid heating options. Ground source heat pumps harvest heat from below the ground. Air source heat pumps absorb heat from the outside air.

Other options are biomass (burning wood and other organic matter) and solar thermal collectors.

4. Water

Truly living off-grid requires you to harness the invaluable resource that is water. Rainwater and borewater are clean sources of water, but may be contaminated and will therefore require sterilisation through a filter system before consumption.

Rainwater can be harvested, but realistically will need an underground tank that collects water from the guttering on your house, as well as a filter system. This can be costly (over £10,000). A borehole will require a geological survey. There are companies in the UK that can arrange the survey and drill the borehole for you. Find out more about the process here.

There is even the option of an off-grid box!

5. Food

You’re not truly off-grid until you grow your own food. Here are several good reasons why you should grow your own grub. For more tips on growing your own food, see here.

basket of food

6. Drainage

A simple soakaway is required to drain shower, washing machine and sink water (known as grey water) away. A soakaway is a hole dug in the ground approximately 1 metre deep. The hole is 80 per cent filled with broken bricks and rubble.

7. Sewage

Sewage wastewater from toilets and dishwashers is known as blackwater. When you live off-grid and you disconnect yourself from the municipal sewage system you’ll need to consider how you manage your wastewater and sewage.
The main options are a septic tank system or a more sophisticated miniaturised sewage treatment plant system. With a septic tank, you will need the tank de-sludged regularly. You may want to consider a composting toilet. See more information about off mains drainage here.

If you are looking for a challenge, a different pace of life and care about the planet, then off-grid living is worth considering. With battery storage and other eco-friendly technologies developing, living off-grid is likely to become easier and more popular in the future.

Dakota Murphey

Dakota Murphey is an independent content writer who regularly contributes to the horticulture industry. She enjoys nothing more than pottering around her gardening in the sunshine. Find out what else Dakota has been up to on Twitter, @Dakota_Murphey.