Hartley Magazine

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Greenhouse Resolutions

Lia’s greenhouse is busy all year round. It is currently housing bulbs to bring indoors throughout winter

It is the time for making new year’s resolutions and if I stick to mine there will be some big changes in the greenhouse in the coming year. We are planning on giving up our allotment, a slightly backwards kind of resolution I’ll admit, when everyone else is taking healthy things up, and it hardly rates alongside fags or gin and tonics. I also will admit to saying it with some trepidation, as we have tried to give it up before and failed. It’s a stunning place, and a place where we spent every Sunday as the children were growing up, so it is hard to leave. But we are also not making full use of it and in the meantime both it and the garden are neglected. Don’t hold me to it, I may back out again yet, but I have the luxury of two gardening spaces but not the luxury of the time to garden them. It makes sense to concentrate on one, and the one outside the backdoor wins.

So the main new year’s resolution for this year is to make a new growing area at the end of the garden, and to put the greenhouse into full year-round use. It’s not a vast garden, but we pulled down a massive old shed this summer (or someone else did – it came complete with asbestos panel walls) and it has left a space. The idea is to make a series of raised beds on the concrete platform it left behind, which should be pretty straightforward, and there is just about enough room to make a bit of a go of it. Of course it is nothing like the amount of space at the allotment, but that might be a good thing. Inside the greenhouse is a different matter. It is going to have to do the job it has been doing all along – of growing the seedlings and young plants for us to plant out – but its job is now is also to cover the work that was being done by our allotment polytunnel: growing all of the Mediterranean vegetables to ripeness. This is going to be tricky space wise. It is a pretty small greenhouse, and is already busy bringing on bulbs for the house and keeping my slightly tender plants dry and warm in winter, and starting off seedlings and dealing with their many pottings on in spring and early summer. And now it has a task for summer.

I think there will have to be raised beds inside the greenhouse as well as outdoors, to plant out the tomatoes, aubergines and chillies in the warm once the rest of the plants have found their way outside to the raised beds there. This could work, as summer in the greenhouse is currently a quiet time, but space management is going to be the key. It will be the horticultural equivalent of hot-desking: as one set of plants vacates the room, another will need to slide quickly into place. It will have to be a super-efficient use of space, and Im thinking that maybe I have boards to slip over the raised beds to make low tables to hold all of the trays and pots during the seedling time. These will then be lifted off and the soil refreshed for planting up. I am also thinking high shelves might be useful, as they can take all of the stragglers that aren’t quite ready to go out. Just a little staging, a couple of shelves, some fancy raised beds and perhaps a clipboard to help me keep track and we’ll be all set for a busy year in the little greenhouse next year.