Hartley Magazine

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

Time to Smell the Roses

In The Greenhouse with Lila Das Gupta

I’m a sucker for ‘before’ and ‘after’ photographs. When I think back to how bare my tiny garden looked back in January and February, the transformation seems unbelievable — all from seed that I started off and nurtured in the greenhouse. Even the shrivelled looking dahlia tubers have come up trumps and benefited from a good start in a pot on the greenhouse floor.


Whatever is going on in your other life, abundance in the garden is always guaranteed.

My tomatoes are ripening in the greenhouse though I have to admit that the ones outside seem to have fared better. I’m sure the reason is that in order to keep the cucumbers happy I had to use more shading than the tomatoes would have liked. As a grow-bag novice, I also think this method is less forgiving than growing in a large pot or straight into the ground. In the dry weather we’ve had this summer you have to keep on top of watering in grow-bags every day. Sadly, since tomatoes can’t shout for attention, children, husbands, cats, laundry, friends and family always seem to stay on top of the agenda. Luckily only one of my tomato plants has blossom end rot (slightly brown, soft patch on the end), a classic disorder of erratic watering.

With all the hullaballoo at the end of term, one thing I’m determined to do is to sit and enjoy the garden. It’s so easy to look out on your piece of Eden and see it only in terms of jobs to be done, but a rug on the floor, allowing you to observe your plants close up, is one of the best rewards I can think of for all your hard work.