The Greenhouse full to bursting!

It was last May when I last wrote an update about what’s happening in the greenhouse – not very helpful!

In reality the greenhouse is almost impossible to use for anything from Mid-June until September because it is just too hot.  The shade netting (which is on the inside) is hardly ever removed as even in winter on sunny days which are probably the majority the temperatures rise to the high 30’s°C during the day even if it is very cold outside.  Two of the roof lights open automatically when the temperature reaches 20°C and if I am here I open the door on sunny days.  Usually from April onwards the door remains open all the time.

Just before leaving for Christmas in the UK, all the citrus plus a couple of pots of scented geraniums, were moved from the terrace into the greenhouse, just these take up a good 50% of the available space.  Floor space is also taken by large pots containing carrots, parsley, coriander and spinach plus 2 pots of Ranunculus, one white and one orange.

From outside the door, the shade netting is only covering the centre of the roof at present

From outside the door, the shade netting is only covering the centre of the roof at present

In the foreground you can just glimpse the new heater, it is set on the lowest setting so will hopefully not be costing too much, it should keep the temperatures inside to just above freezing, so far when it was minus 5°C outside with wind-chill making it seem colder still the temperature fell inside to a low of 0.9°C, which was warm enough to keep everything growing well.  The downside is that the fan dries the air and plants need more water.

Lemons and limes

Lemons and limes

Lemons on the other side of the door too

Lemons on the other side of the door too

Back of greenhouse with potting bench and one stand with among other things a tray of overgrown Ami major

Back of greenhouse with potting bench and one stand with among other things a tray of overgrown Ami major

Another two trays of 8 pots per tray of Ami major already beginning to flower

Another two trays of 8 pots per tray of Ami major already beginning to flower

The Ami major sown on 7th September has grown much too quickly, there are 24 9cm pots, really they need potting on as they are already beginning to flower and they are toppling out of their pots because they are a bit leggy despite having been positioned on the top of the shelves so they can receive all the light possible.  Yesterday after taking these images I cut back more than half of the plants to hopefully make shorter stronger plants but I am aware that I will have to sow some more to ensure that I have some of a suitable size to plant out in spring.

The sides of the greenhouse are glass and the roof is plexiglass, sorry about the reflections that make it difficult to see what is outside and what’s inside, it was a very sunny day!

I have three plants of edible passion fruits that I grew from seed

I have three plants of edible passion fruits that I grew from seed

I love the taste of passion fruit and sadly it is something that is hard to find here in Italy (well where I live anyway), so I was thrilled when a friend gave me some seeds that she had bought while on holiday in Costa Rica.  There were about 4 different varieties of passion fruit so I was even more thrilled when it was the ‘edulis’ ones that germinated.  There are three plants each about 80cm tall; if anyone knows how they should be pruned to produce fruit I would be most grateful to know.  They were sown on 14th April 2014.

Antirrihnums need potting on already

Antirrhinums need potting on already!

Don’t be deceived by the label, they aren’t Nepeta but mixed antirrhinums still from the packet purchased last spring for 29 cents.  The stronger but shorter plants to the right are A. Large White from Sara Raven.

Since September I have been sowing trays of salad leaves to provide some tasty salads during winter.

Trays of various salad leaves provide regular meals

Trays of various salad leaves provide regular meals

There are also lots of cuttings some that have already rooted and been potted on demanding light and space.

I will try to be more diligent about reporting on the greenhouse, seed-sowing etc.; I will aim to write once a month during the first week of the month.

Do you grow salad leaves for the winter?  If you have a greenhouse what is growing in yours now?

50 thoughts on “The Greenhouse full to bursting!

  1. I am so glad you decided to post this Christina, we had to take ours down a couple of years ago when the wood was beyond repair and a replacement just hasn’t happened yet. I work in a couple for different clients but having your own greenhouse full to the brim like yours, propagating your own plants and growing salad through winter is all just joyous. Looking forward to you writing a regular post on your Greenhouse too.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the post. It is useful to look back on, I need to work on what will grow in there in summer, the new heater also has a strong fan which could be used in summer but I think it would cost too much to be viable!

  2. Hi Christina, Mine is packed full too but mine is teeny so that isn’t difficult to achieve. 😉 I was just thinking about sowing some broad beans but then realised I would have nowhere to put them. There are herbs and succulents and a motley collection of plants left over from something I did for a magazine. I need to get in there and sort everything out but it isn’t very inviting outside at the moment. I have done winter salads in the past but then tend to suffer from botrytis because of the low light levels so haven’t bothered this year. I can’t believe how large your cut flower plants are. It won’t be long before you’re picking them. 🙂

    • Last year the antirrhinums took a long time to get to flowering size, in fact they are the only plant still standing in the cuttings bed, they seem to have survived the cold nights very well. So I thought I needed to start early SR says you can begin them in autumn, but they are BIG, and even though the greenhouse is large, space is always at a premium when I start all the summer vegetables and flowers for the cuttings bed. My problem can be too much light making it too hot inside trays with propagator plastic lids.

      • I have sown some in September but perhaps our autumns are colder so plants don’t grow quite so quickly. Hopefully it won’t be long before it’s mild enough to get yours planted into the ground. 🙂

        • It’s a nice thought but realistically I shouldn’t plant out anything that isn’t hardy before the beginning of April, last year I planted much earlier because it was mild but some things still ‘stuck’ and I would have done better to wait.

  3. Oh, green with envy, Christina! I would so like a greenhouse, and it’s the first time in my gardening life I’ve been without. The passion fruit sounds exciting and you have limes as well as lemons … very useful! I have a little tunnel with some salads sheltering under it. Since I’m mostly here on my own they (sort of) keep me going, but would love to grow more. Looking forwards to more greenhouse updates.

    • I must remember to write about ‘how’ I got the greenhouse, I think it will make you smile. Limes were also difficult to find here when we first moved to Italy 11 years ago, it is easier now but I love having my own!

  4. I have salad leaves growing in the old potato bags (and their compost) which, one mouse attack aside, have done quite well. You’re right about the heater, it does dry the plants out very rapidly and even in English temperatures I’m doing a lot of watering. Very envious of your limes!

    • As we usually have very few nights when the temperatures are as low as they have been for the last week, I’m hoping that the heater will only actually kick-in when really necessary. I prefer, with most things to dry not give too much water as it seems to inhibit root growth.

  5. The salad greens look healthy and delicious. I love seeing your lemons. For a few years we grew a grapefruit tree but forgot to bring it in one cold night and that was its demise. It had not produced fruit but the foliage was nice.

    • The leaves are delicious, there are a few mustard leaves and some oriental leaves too so there are many different flavours. I brought my citrus in before Christmas because I would be sad to lose any of them. Last year I left the largest lemon outside and it did fine but didn’t produce so many lemons and anyway we’ve already had lower temperatures than last year which was very (too) mild).

  6. Hi Christina, do you have a problem with whitefly? I use yellow sticky traps but at times they do just explode in number. Not much growing in the greenhouses at work. Mostly just overwintering tropical and tender stuff. Dave

    • No, whitefly hasn’t been a problem, it is probably too cold at the moment and in summer probably too hot! I’ve had greenfly on the Ami when they were first potted on, I just squished them and that seemed to do the trick. the Citrus had woolly aphids last year, which I didn’t recognise at first, this year I’m checking them regularly luckily my husband saw that there was also the insect that is their natural control so hopefully it won’t get out of hand.

  7. Your greenhouse looks a lovely warm place to be. Mine is just full of tender plants overwintering at the moment, I will have to make room soon so that I can start some veg, it is hopefully frost free with bubble wrap over all the glass.

    • I try not to have too many tender plants, the citrus take a lot of space, but it is so nice to have them. I get huge amounts of pleasure from propagating plants and the cut flower bed is now giving me a whole new set of plants to grow.

  8. I am so envious of your greenhouse. I do wonder if I could fit one in somewhere. It would mean giving up part of my main flower border though which I am loath to do. I think I just need a bigger garden!

    • I think we all feel like that! A greenhouse is a real pleasure if you enjoy growing from seeds and cuttings and can extend the season as each end for some crops too.

  9. What a highly productive greenhouse you have there! You have so much to attend to. Sadly, we have no greenhouse. I haven’t found enough space for one yet. I did notice yesterday, though, that in the pots by the back door, we have a good crop of rocket and some coriander.

    • I always used to find that rocket grew better in winter than summer in the UK. In summer it was destroyed by flea beetle, it grows better in winter here too, summer is too hot for most salad crops.

  10. Your greenhouse is well-stocked, you must be impatient for spring to come. I don’t have a greenhouse so I have planted “winter” lettuce outside. O.K. so I’m naive. It is not growing but it is not dead so I expect I’l get some early in the spring. Amelia

    • I think it is always worth trying lettuce outside, you may be lucky if the winter isn’t too cold and as you so it will be ready to grow in spring to give you an early crop.

  11. I am so jealous of your greenhouse! What a pleasure it would be to putter around green, growing plants. We are in the Deep Freeze at the moment. I have never tasted passion fruit, sounds exotic.

  12. Beautiful greenhouse, I think there are few things more satisfying for a gardener than to be in a sunny greenhouse on a cold winter day. The greens look great too! What a nice meal to have fresh from the garden when all else is looking tired.
    I’m also curious about the getting the greenhouse story!

    • Yes, you are absolutely correct Frank, being in the greenhouse when it is warm inside and freezing out is a real joy. OK I promise the greenhouse story for next month.

  13. I love greenhouses and yours is indeed full of happy plants. I’d also love to have a greenhouse of my own but (as my husband has pointed out) there isn’t much need here, especially when your January temperatures soar in to the 80sF (86F/30C yesterday afternoon and only slightly cooler today). Still, even here, it seems a greenhouse would be useful for growing seeds and cuttings – last year’s experiment trying to grow seeds on a shelf over the washer and dryer wasn’t at all successful.

    • Kris, what you need is a shade house! Somewhere to germinate seeds where they won’t burn up, in summer that’s what I need here really, the greenhouse is far to hot to even go into during summer.

  14. How lovely to have salad leaves in winter! I have tried, but there just isn’t enough light indoors at this time of year. One day, when I’ve got my greenhouse….. 😉

  15. Gosh your greenhouse looks full to the brim Christina with green goodness. How big is it? Mine has very little in it this winter as I did not take any cuttings other than salvia last autumn. My collection of special snowdrops have taken up residence there to prevent the pots from freezing. Other than that I have some overwintering autumn sown Japanese onions, some lunaria and perennial stock seedlings and one or two other odds and ends. I will be sowing some sweet peas in the next week or so.

    • Hi Anna, I’m lucky the greenhouse is quite large, 3.08 x 4.5 metres. I think it doesn’t matter how large a greenhouse is, it will always be filled at certain times of the year. I will be sowing aubergines and peppers later this month as they need a long time to reach maturity. I want to bring in some prepared tulips to force them, I hope they’ve had enough chilling time.

  16. Wow – very impressive, Christina! As you say, whatever size our greenhouses are we will probably fill them. although that wasn’t the case with the original one here but I suppose I was busy with work and it was in the wrong place anyway. It’s interesting seeing how your ‘early’ seedlings are doing – this is one of the things I am learning with autumn sown ones, as some I planted out but I have others which possibly should have been too. My little greenhouse is full, the larger one empty, but I could do with looking at which of my seeds I could be starting off now, having had a break from sowing for a couple of months. I am looking forward to hearing how your greenhouse came about!

    • Timing the seedlings is probably the most difficult things to get right isn’t it. Often seeds germinate very quickly and I panic thinking I’ve sown too early only for them to linger and not grow properly for ages. It was certainly too early for the Ami, I don’t think they are hardy enough to plant out although as I have 24 plants I might be willing to experiment with some to see how they cope outside, last year that would have flourished but who knows how cold the winter will be this year?

  17. I have not had the energy to grow lettuce during winter as it is not very large under the lights in the basement. But I love the that you have lemons, and salad greens and even passion fruit growing in your greenhouse.

  18. Looking at your seedlings and the potted plants is inspiring. I don’t (and presumeably won’t) have a greenhouse, but I’ve been starting seeds over winter anyway – outside as it seems healthier than the hot, dry house… Growing the “warm season” veggies, e.g. peppers and tomotoes, over the winter was recommended to me here so I bought a pepper plant and started some tomato seeds (who could resist a variety called “Lady Bug”?). They’re coming along, weather and all, but very slowly. Some of the ornamentals are doing better. I’ll have to adjust my planting times next autumn! Hopefully I’ll learn a lot this winter and be able to do more next; certainly greens should be feasible over winter here! I am curious what kind of feeding regimen you use for the potted citrus?

    • I don’t feed the citrus enough! Their leaves are quite yellow, I use a slow release fertilizer but I’ve been recommended to use a feed based on ‘lupini’ the only problem is I’m not sure if they mean based on lupins or hopps, I need to check, your question will make me do it now, thank you.

    • Thank you, I’ve had salad leaves growing since September, it’s wonderful being able to pick salad all the winter; summer is the time it is difficult, it is too hot for salad to thrive. In fact after the first couple of trusses of tomatoes it is too hot for almost anything to grow.

  19. What a magnificent array of plants Christina, you certainly make excellent use of the space. I have salad leaves of various sorts in my small aluminium greenhouse that provide a tasty mouthful in a sandwich, and will probably just be getting going really well when I want to plant the tomatoes out! The chillies seem to be over wintering OK, though I worry about them with the current cold snap, I forgot to cover them in fleece. Still, it should finish off the pests nicely. I shall look forward to your greenhouse posts, always something to learn from how other people do things.

    • I think you have to start the salad leaves early (September) and then keep sowing to have enough; I would prefer to have to throw or give them away rather than be without.

  20. Thank you for linking in this post to my greenhouse review Christina – I am looking forward to your monthly reports. I have dreams about a greenhouse full of overwintering citrus plants – how lucky you are to have them! I have been gifted a few small specimens but they are the one thing I cannot keep alive. I like your shelves with the salad trays – that is a very good way to make the space go further. I think my father had some in his greenhouse so I will have to look and see if I can find them.

    • The shelves are by Two Wests and Elliot; I’ve had one for twenty years or so, I brought it here with me when we moved even though I didn’t even have a garden then! They are made of aluminium and last for ever, they are light and easy to move and I have wheels for them, but I haven’t fitted them as I use the stands outside in summer and the wind might blow them around. They are versatile because you can fit 4 seed trays on each level, or a self watering tray or a tray propagator or metal or wooden slats. I find them much more versatile than benches.

  21. A great post and the photos are so helpful. I’m a complete novice in greenhouse gardening so am searching the blogosphere for relevant and helpful posts, yours is one and I’ll follow the greenhouse meme. I live in Suffolk in an old cottage with, until we moved here in July, a totally overgrown garden, I want to use the greenhouse to grow plants to restock the garden and produce some vegetable seedlings. I’ve posted on choosing the greenhouse and on having the base laid on my blog in the Gardening page, any comments or tips would be warmly welcomed.

    • My greenhouse post isn’t exactly a meme, but I’m happy if you want to join. Julie who lives in Suffolk too writes about her greenhouse during the second week of the month and I will probably write at that time too so we’re all posting together. Welcome to My Hesperides Garden and thank you for following, Christina

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