Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Cleaning Your Greenhouse

Twice a year I march out into the garden with a scrubbing brush, cloth and bucket of warm water to clean the grime from the frame and panes of my greenhouse, it’s essential for good plant growth and seed germination but an arduous task that I hate as much as pot washing, as I always seem to end up soaked and cold. My life has been transformed with the offer to trial a Karcher pressure washer, it’s their 25th anniversary, so they’re doing a great deal including lots of useful accessories. It’s quick, efficient and enjoyable and the glasshouse was sparkling and clean, in what seemed like a matter of minutes. What is more, I managed to stay dry, it’s the best incentive I’ve ever had to clean the green house, next it will be the algae from the fence and my raised beds and the patio too.

While preparing my vegetable seedbeds, I came across three small garlic seedlings growing in a corner of the bed where there were several rows last year. I can only assume that tiny cloves, on the basal plate of the main ‘clove’, fell off when they were lifted and have started to grow. It’ll take a couple of years for them to reach maturity but I’m determined to succeed. I grew two varieties ‘German White’ and ‘Spanish Rioja’ with red tints, it will be interesting to discover whose offspring they are!

I’ve been waiting anxiously for my pot grown figs to burst into growth, they are late after the chilling winter and the cold nights following the sunny days have undoubtedly slowed them further. I was relieved when one burst into leaf, the other two I fear for, as there are few signs of life. It is easy do check if a plant is alive or dead by removing a sliver of bark with your fingernail, if it is green underneath there the plant is still alive. Sometimes such plants spring into life as late as June, just when you’ve given up hope, so don’t rush them in the direction of the compost heap or shredder. It has certainly been a year of surprises. A climbing cactus in the greenhouse survived the low temperatures but I have a horrible feeling that my two figs have died.

It’s exciting that the seed sowing season is in full swing but don’t get carried away. Sow a little and often in rows about 2’ long, according to your needs, not in long rows which mature at the same time, leaving you wondering what to do with a glut. Herbs like coriander, parsley and basil can be sown this way too, then you will be harvesting all summer long. While you are outside with the seed packets, it is also a good time to sow ‘cut and come again’ salad mixes or spinach and beetroot for their young leaves in pots or broad drills so you can look forward to a bumper harvest. Happy gardening! Matt