Hartley Magazine

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

Greenhouse Technology

For the first time for years we have an early summer, it’s so early that plants that would normally be flowering in June are in blossom in April and May. That’s the one thing that makes gardening exciting and unpredictable, the weather is never the same two years running and always has a fresh challenge.
For greenhouse gardeners it’s a weird one, as many of the plants we strive to grow for early crops have been caught up by the plants outside in the garden. But spare a thought for the Chelsea Flower Show Exhibitors who use greenhouse and cold houses to bring on or hold back their flowers, in the peak of perfection to exhibit them over the five days of the show. Their unequalled skill at manipulating the plants to their full potential for those few days are astounding.
It’s something that greenhouse owners can normally mimic and utilise for their own benefits. The greenhouse gardener can force spring flowering bulbs to flower a few weeks earlier, have a crop of strawberries weeks before they are in the shops and bring on baskets and containers protected from the frosts so that they are in full flower when they are ready to go out.
With a greenhouse you can cheat and fool your plants that the weather is much warmer than it really is, but this year, it’s more a case of trying to cool things down and it sounds like we may be in for a long hot summer.

Techno Glasshouses
Technology comes to the rescue and savvy greenhouse gardeners install automatic ventilation, automatic blinds and automatic watering. And it’s not actually dependent on having an electricity supply.
Climate control systems can be fitted to glasshouses but the price tag is comparable with the technology involved. Do you research first and fit the best you can afford.
Automatic external blinds create an effective addition and can control the internal climate of the glasshouse with great precision.
For a more back to basics but effective approach install wax powered auto greenhouse vents that open and close as the wax cylinder expands and contracts in the heat. Automatic vents are an essential part of the greenhouse kit, whether you have a basic six by eight or a full-on glasshouse or conservatory. The peace of mind that these simple but effective devices bring enable the gardener to take a day out without worrying about opening up or closing the greenhouse windows in their absence and without breaking the bank.
Don’t let watering become a headache, if there isn’t a reliable neighbour that can step into your role then it’s time to let technology take the strain. Basic micro irrigation systems are now very affordable, really easy to set up, water efficient and extremely reliable, all you need is a greenhouse or garden tap and to remember to switch the tap on once you’ve set the time. I speak from experience having spent some time setting up the perfect watering system for my own greenhouse before heading off into the sun, only to discover on my return that I had forgotten to switch the water tap on. Fortunately it had been cool in my absence and there were only a few losses, but it was a lesson I won’t forget.
Make this summer one to remember for all the right reasons and keep your greenhouse plants in top notch condition without too much stain on your precious time or pocket.