Greenhouse and Cuttings Bed – March

I am late to link with Helen’s greenhouse meme (The patient Gardener) which was last week; but I wanted to keep a better record this year of how the greenhouse is used and blogging about it seems to be a good method to achieve this.  This time I’m including a little about the new bed for cut flowers, hopefully as more is happening there I’ll write separate posts.

All the salad seeds I sowed in January are now all healthy plants; some have been transplanted into the vegetable garden but a lot remain in seed trays; I am harvesting these on a regular basis and I’m very happy with the flavour of these ‘soft’ leaves.  I have made additional sowings but in summer it is usually too hot and I find lettuces bolt very quickly, I intend planting some in large pots that I can keep somewhere shady (possibly under the wisteria on the terrace) and hopefully I can lengthen the season.  In September I will begin to sow again and hope to have salad leaves all winter.

salad leaves thriving

salad leaves thriving

General view

General view

All the tomatoes have now been potted on to 9 cm pots, they are actually ready to be planted out so next year I should delay sowing these by a couple of weeks as it is still too cold for them to be planted outside.  I may plant some out very soon as I have plenty of ‘spares’ should they die.

Tomatoes aleady need small canes!

Tomatoes aleady need small canes!

I am growing a lot of different varieties this year; some are from bought seed but a large number are from seed saved from tomatoes I grew last year.

Tomato beefsteak mix French, beefsteak mix Penard plants (I have far too many beefsteak types!) beefsteak Accordion pink ruffled, Brandy wine red & yellow, Cherokee Purple, Daterini, Golden Sunrise, orange very sweet (don’t know the name), Gardener’s delight, Yellow Currant, Chocolate cherry, Tigerella, small yellow pear, small red pear, small round yellow and Tomatillo

All my citrus are still in the greenhouse and I’m concerned that they may lose the flowers or small fruits if I put them outside now when there are still cold winds.  The bitter Seville and blood oranges don’t have any flowers yet so I’m thinking of putting them out as I need the space to plant some tomatoes directly into the soil in the greenhouse to get a quick crop before it becomes too hot for the pollinators to enter!  I harvested most of the lemons and limes and made lemon and lime marmalade, some I put under brine as preserved lemons (which have been very successful before so I tried limes too; plus I made some lemon curd which no-one in Italy seems to have heard of.  The lime plants as well as the lemons have masses of new flowers and small set fruit.

Limes

Limes

Lemon flowers

Lemon flowers

I still get quite a buzz from being able to grow my own lemons

I still get quite a buzz from being able to grow my own lemons

Limes are even more special as they aren't so easy to find in my local shops

Limes are even more special as they aren’t so easy to find in my local shops

I have some flower seed growing including Lysimachia ephemerum, I’m thrilled about this as it is a plant I grew in the UK and think will do well here but I hadn’t been able to find the seed anywhere not even the company where I’d bought some before! Then Pauline from Up the Garden Path kindly offered to send me some.  Thank you so much Pauline, the seeds germinated really quickly and have already got several proper leaves and I pricked them out yesterday.  I have 40 seedlings – I just hope I can get them through the summer before planting some out into the borders; I’m probably going to plant some out into the cuttings bed as this is irrigated and I want some to cut anyway, then I can transplant them in September (any advice?).

Some of the smaller seedlings

Some of the smaller seedlings

I sowed some sunflowers too early too; these I’ve been brave with and have planted them out so I have my fingers crossed that it won’t be too cold for them.  I also planted out 6 Cosmos Orange Phoenix but I left the rest in the greenhouse and will plant those later when I know the weather will be more stable.  As this bed is new, it is all about experimenting this year and trying to source some seeds.

Sunflowers - yes I know its too early!

Sunflowers – yes I know its too early!

Cosmos

Cosmos Orange Phoenix

Orange Phoenix

Here is the cutting bed, with its irrigation tubes in place.  You can see that the slope is quite steep here but I have tried to make the bed itself level.

You can see the slope clearly here

You can see the slope clearly here

looking in hte other direction the slope isn't so obvious

looking in the other direction the slope isn’t so obvious

I have also decided that there are some plants I could grow for cutting that don’t need irrigation on a regular basis so I will use the area where the Leylandii were removed; I have planted two plums and a fig but they will be a while growing so the space can be used for some bulbs next autumn and I’m sure I’ll find some things to plant here very soon.

Another planting opportunity

Another planting opportunity

I can plant bulbs between the new trees

I can plant bulbs between the new trees

Sorry, this has turned into rather a long post.  I hope it helps you understand how my greenhouse in used and some of my hopes for the cuttings garden.

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25 thoughts on “Greenhouse and Cuttings Bed – March

  1. I started your post with Tomato envy, through to sighs at your Lemons and ended wanting your cutting garden space! Its lovely to see so much more of your garden too.

  2. One thing’s for sure, you haven’t been idle! Is it very diffult to regulate the temperature in the summer? I see you have PVC as well. Thought about glass but it gets so hot here in the summer that this wouldn’t be wise. Do you damp down? The shading looks very professional.

    • The sides are glass and the roof pvc. It is impossible to keep it cool enough in summer, I usually have some tomatoes but I have to pollinate them myself! to keep it cool enough the shading needs to be above the glass but away from the vents and secure enough to withstand the strong winds. Really it is for autumn, winter and spring; I am thinking of planting my lemon grass into the soil because that shouldn’t mind the heat as long as it has pleanty of water.

  3. Interesting to see the cuttings bed and vital irrigation. The Lysimachia ephemerum looks a beautiful flower and I have found out that it is attractive to bees so it on my wish list now.

  4. I’m so impressed with all your seedlings and your citrus. We used to have a lemon which overwintered in the conservatory, one year we had just enough to make some Lemon Curd, fantastic taste, but in the end I got fed up with having to give it so much chemical fertiliser in order to produce flowers and fruit. What do you use? So glad your Lysimachia ephemerum seeds have germinated, hope you get lots of flowers from them. Your new cutting beds look very professional with their watering system, I will look forward to seeing all your flowers in there!

    • I can’t wait to see the flowers of the Lysimachia, thank you so much for sending them; do you think they might flower this year? I can wait! For the citrus I use a product similar to Osmacote but especially for citrus; I don’t like using lots of chemical fertilizer either the citrus are the only plants that get special treatment and then only once a year. Organic gardeners use ‘lupini’ but I’m not entirely sure whether this is from lupin or hops and strangely they don’t seem to know either!

  5. Christina, I’d get a buzz from growing lemons and limes too, the flowers look very pretty, your seeds are so nice and strong, unlike my leaning windowsill seeds, I like the irrigation bed ready and waiting to be planted how nice, so too is all the hard landscaping, it makes life so much easier, I was surprised when I read that lettuce likes a cooler climate, I thought well that’s one I can grow but it does seem ‘back to front’ to me that a crop we tend to eat when it’s hot prefers a cool climate to grow in,

    • Lettuces bolt when it is too hot or they are exposed to too much sun; this happens even in the Shouth of england although maybe not further north. I’m trying to decide where I could make shady and cool enough to them to extend the season because as you say it is summer when they are wanted the most!

  6. Mmmm, I do envy you homemade lemon curd – how strange that it is unknown in Italy of all places. So what do they do with their lemons there?! Today I started thinking about where to do some sowing, but without a greenhouse I still daredn’t risk sowing outdoors. Seeing your salad leaves makes it very tempting though! I usually have containers for salad leaves on our covered balcony. I can’t wait to see your cutting garden progress Christina. 😀

  7. The fragrance from those lemon flowers must be fantastic! I’ve tried growing them indoors but not very successfully. Interesting to read that it needs a lot of fertiliser. Obviously where I am going wrong, that and the climate!

    • I don’t give that much to mine, I should probably feed them twice a year but they do OK on one application. The perfume when I walk into the greenhouse each morning a reason enough to grow them.

  8. Every time I go up to my greenhouse I remember I still need to pot on the tomatoes I started early – they are still small, but I have learned over the last couple of years that potting them on regularly really helps. Your look great and what a variety you are growing this year – I think the friend who usually passes on lots of different young plants is not growing as many this year, so I may only have my usual two or three. The Italians don’t know what they are missing if they don’t have lemon curd – one of life’s greatest pleasures (well, home made is)! And your cutting beds are HUGE – mine are going to be very crowded! I really look forward to seeing them develop this year – yours and mine 🙂

  9. Cool post, things really look to be coming along well. I love the sight of al the lettuce and tomato seedlings it really makes your greenhouse space look like an uber-productive plant factory…. and the citrus. I can’t say much about the citrus other than congrats, the blooms and fruits both look like a citrusy bonanza. I’m not sure if your olives or your citrus impress me more, you do both so well!

    • I can take no credit at all for the olives. This is their area, they grow all around; they need very little care apart from pruning and they are forgiving if you get that wrong.

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