Hartley Magazine

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

In & Out, safer in containers

Citrus, Tangerines, are ideal container plants, indoors all winter and out all summer

Greenhouses will soon become even more invaluable for gardeners by helping them cope with climate change. We don’t know how bad things may become, however for certain our weather’s becoming more extreme, and more unpredictable. Our traditional gardening calendar’s unreliable with some current crops becoming more risky out of doors. However under cover we already defeat the weather to still succeed, and we can start using that protection more often.

The huge benefit of a greenhouse is it allows us to grow plants that would not survive otherwise. Usually this is because these are too tender and won’t survive frost or long cold periods.

Pansies do well in pots and can go in and out with weather

We already bring many such as Cannas and Citrus under cover in the autumn before they get frosted, moving them out again after the last frost in spring. Having a greenhouse also enables us to start off those many marginally hardy crops and ornamentals such as Tomatoes and Petunias we plant out for the summer after that last frost is thought gone.

The problem has become we just cannot be sure when to move or transplant plants out if we cannot be sure when the last, and first, or even summer frosts, will occur. And other sporadic dangers such as fierce gales, waterlogging rainfall and hail are becoming more frequent.

One practical solution is to grow many more of our crop and ornamental plants in suitable containers, almost all can be. Then these are moved outdoors when conditions seem safe, yet returned under cover if frost, harsh winds, hail or whatever threaten. True they may get temporarily crowded and congested, but at least they’ll be safer.

Carrots do well in containers inside and out

Oddly another problem from climate change is mild winters, these are making it difficult for some traditional greenhouse plants to experience a cold period long enough to go properly dormant. Peaches, apricots, figs, grapevines and many flowering shrubs need this dormancy or they sicken and fade. Under cover it’s seldom cold enough for long enough already and it’s changing. So likewise we can cease planting permanently in the greenhouse border and instead grow in large containers. These then moved out for a couple of months winter chilling and returned after.

So in future to cope even better you’ll not be wanting a greenhouse, you’ll be wanting a much bigger greenhouse, and a well oiled sack barrow or plant trolley.

Now there’s a couple of ideas for Christmas prezzies, my seasonal greetings to you all.