The Greenhouse in early April

Amazingly the temperature in the greenhouse fell to 2.5°C on Monday night and just 1°C last night!  This is an unheard of low in April.  I removed the heater last week and put it away; I even turned off all the heated propagating trays – MISTAKE!

During the days the north wind is blowing and it is freezing to be outside; The Tramontana is a wind that cuts through you and I am tired of hearing it; in the greenhouse the temperature rises because the sun is strong; according to the forecast on my phone temperatures aren’t due to rise above 20°C for at least the next couple of weeks, I hope they are wrong.

All the tomatoes are growing fast, I have had to pot all of them on into larger pots and add canes to help support their stems.  I was hoping to plant them out this week, but with this cold weather it would stunt their growth so I will be patient, the cane supports for the large varieties are all up so I will be able to plant them out quickly once the temperatures rise consistently.

Tomatoes are growing quickly and strongly.  there are 3 shelves full like this plus one with spares for friends

Tomatoes are growing quickly and strongly. there are 3 shelves full like this plus one with spares for friends

If I manage to make more space available soon I will plant a few tomatoes into the soil in the greenhouse to hope for a few early tomatoes or maybe this year I will experiment with putting some in large pots and allow them to produce just two or three trusses.  I said I would do that last year but in the end I just let them grow.

Peppers and aubergines are growing incredibly slowly

Peppers and aubergines are growing incredibly slowly

Salad crops are still going strong

Salad crops are still going strong with more tomatoes on the top shelf

Some salad crops have been planted outside and others have now grown and are being cropped now; I was able to have all my own salad leaves for several meals for large numbers of people over the past couple of weeks.  I am very happy with the quantity of salad leaves that can be grown in a relatively small space.  I’ve been picking leaves since about November and this is certainly one of the most productive crops to grow plus I haven’t bought any salad at all since the end of last summer.  I need to find a way of continuing the production during summer, usually the heat makes it impossible after about mid-June.  I have a very small area shaded with netting and will try to continue to repeat sow several of the salad varieties there.  It must be possible because you can buy salad all year in the shops and much of it is local so it must be grown in shade tunnels, maybe I could even make a raised bed with a small shade tunnel over it?????

Small pot of Coriander that has grown through the bottom of the pot into the soil beneath

Small pot of Coriander that has grown through the bottom of the pot into the soil beneath

New large pot of Coriander, I use lots of this in Thai dishes and some summer salads.

New large pot of Coriander, I use lots of this in Thai dishes and some summer salads.

Old pots of Coriander are planted out into the garden so they can set seed; it isn’t easy to find Coriander seed here, to grow or to cook with.

Artemesia 'Powis Castle' and Cinereria cuttings waiting to be planted out.

Artemesia ‘Powis Castle’ and Cinereria cuttings waiting to be planted out.

Sunflower seedlings need potting on into individual pots now

Sunflower seedlings need potting on into individual pots now

Trays of flower seedlings for the cuttings garden - I have no idea how I will fit them all in

Trays of flower seedlings for the cuttings garden – I have no idea how I will fit them all in

Above to right is a second sowing of fine leaf Basil and Genovese Basil; I had to sow a second batch because the first juvenile leaves were grazed by either a red shield beetle that has taken up residence in the greenhouse or a locust!  I found one and managed to dispose of it but I’ve seen others in the garden already this year despite the low temperatures we’ve experienced this winter.  I need to buy some more seed of Lemon and Lime basils as these have not grown on at all well, possibly too much water?

It is still too cold to move the Citrus outside, if I did, I think I'd lose the fruit that has set

It is still too cold to move the Citrus outside, if I did, I think I’d lose the fruit that has set

During the last month I’ve picked Tulips and Ranunculus and Freesias for cut flowers.  I will try planting the Ranunculus into the ground, I will certainly grow them again.  Here they are in the ‘vase’ birdcage I arranged for Easter.

White Ranunculus are the dominant flower

White Ranunculus are the dominant flower

Julie at Peonies and Posies will be posting about her greenhouse later today and so if you have a greenhouse why not tell us all about what you are growing and leave a link there.


34 thoughts on “The Greenhouse in early April

    • Tomatoes must be the easiest plant to grow from seed; I sowed them later this year but I may try to sow them even later next year, wheras the peppers are incredibly slow.

  1. What an unusual spring you are having; I hope the weather improves soon. Things are coming on very fast here and we are only a week away from our last average frost date, so I hope we are safe. I’m very impressed with your tomato seedlings. No resting on laurels for you!

    • Everybody is complaining about the temperatures here, it is very unusual for it to be so consistently cold, we lit a fire last night and really enjoyed the warmth it gave out.

  2. Your greenhouse is looking incredibly productive. You are so well ahead with everything. The pepper seeds you gave me are only just germinating. Perhaps I was a bit late sowing them.
    Your weather seems to be turning cold just as ours is warming up. My lemon tree had been sitting outside for a couple of weeks now with no ill effects.
    Are the red shield beetles those colourful insects you had on your brassicas last summer?

    • The Frigittelle will grow quickly once they have germinated; you have me wondering where mine are, I know I sowed them twice and the second batch germinated. Because the Citrus have already got small fruits set I don’t want to shock them with the cold. An orange hasn’t flowered so I could move that outside.

  3. Is your lemon grass still going? I started some off last year but it doesn’t look like it’s survived the winter, even in the greenhouse. Perhaps it’s an annual?

    • The lemon grass is still there, the pots were a bit hidden maybe and didn’t get enough water, I’ll pot them into bigger pots soon and have one outside and leave on in the greenhouse during the summer, they like tropical heat and lots of water; there are definitely not an annual.

  4. You have the tramontana, we have the borrasca. I’ve had to pull the jasmine and bougainvillea into the house. It’s times like these when I wish I had a greenhouse.

    And, your greenhouse is so productive! With the kids and work, I really don’t have the time for a proper greenhouse now, though. Some day… In the meantime, I can dream and swoon over yours.

    As for the lettuce in the summer, do you have a protected area on the north side of your house? I think the worst part of our summers is not the heat or sun, but the scathing wind.

    • Yes, it is the same here; in the winter the wind is from the north or north-east, in summer it is from the south west. I will try to find somewhere that is shady and protected even if I continue to grow in seed trays or large pots.

  5. Very impressive. I need to shade the south facing sides of both greenhouses, Christina and this year will shade the north side too. Having wooden greenhouses helps with stapling the netting into place. Your cut-flowers are beautiful. Dave

    • I need to shade my greenhouse even in winter. I’m about to invest in external shading to hopefully keep the temperatures down to a reasonable level in summer, in winter I’ll continue with the internal shading that I can move around as I need. Do you shade the inside or outside of yours?

  6. It sounds as if you are having the same weather as us Christina. It is mostly sunny, but with an icy wind. Your plants all look very healthy, and I’m sure another week indoors won’t harm them. I think you might need another patch for your cutting garden with all those seedlings. 😉 All that promise of food and flowers must make you feel very content! Hope that wind drops soon. 🙂

    • I think you may be right about needing more space for the cut flowers, I am trying to imagine where they might go – the asparagus bed takes a lot of space for a very short crop and they grow asparagus all around us so I can buy it lovely and fresh very easily – there I’ve convinced myself!

      • 😉 Asparagus season has just opened officially here, but the local crop is a little late so I may have to wait another week or two to get my hands on some. Do you have white asparagus in Italy too? Ours is almost all white.

        • In our area it is green (which I prefer) further north they have the white blanched type but you don’t often see it in the shops here. It is late here too, I paid €8 a kg for some when our visitors were here, but the price is already falling and soon it will be cheap and I’ll buy some every week.

  7. The more garden blogs I read, the more worried I get about climate changes. I hope your cold snap was an anomaly and that your greenhouse plants suffer no negative long-term effects. In my own garden, the lettuce and Cilantro/Coriander (planted outside in the veg garden) are already bolting in response to the spate of unseasonably hot weather we had last month.

    • Coriander is famous for bolting quickly; in summer I have to put pots of it in the shade but they still don’t last long. Climate change is with us whether we want to believe it or not; this cold spring is more likely to be an normal variation but the wet weather last summer was part of a trend which might cause much of the Mediterranean to become tropical over time and I rather imagine that LA will become a dessert!

  8. The greenhouse certainly is abundant! The last time I was in Rome (2005) was in spring and the North wind was blowing. It was surprisingly brisk in the wind, and people were actually apologizing for the weather! External shading for your greenhouse is definitely the way to go (once the sun hits the glass, the heat has already been transferred internally) I imagine it would get roastingly hot inside in the summer, do you normally clear the plants out or just let them be?

    • The North wind or Tramontana as we call it can blow at any time and is always very cold, but it makes the air incredibly clear so that I can see the highest mountain in Tuscany from my windows! You’re right about the heat and the glass. Usually in summer I have just a few tomato plants that need hand fertilizing because it is too hot for the bees. Tahi basil and lemon grass like the heat as long as they are watered every day.

  9. Very lovely! My vegetables are all outside from the greenhouse here in Texas. It gets to hot for keeping them in there. 🙂

    • I think if I lived somewhere as cold as you do I would have a greenhouse or poly tunnel just to get me through the winter. A solar panel on the roof should give enough warm for over-wintering citrus.

  10. If you try a shade tunnel, I’d love to know whether it works for you! All that bounty from your greenhouse is wonderful – hope your weather will moderate soon!

  11. I am so impressed by all you can grow so early in the year Christina! Your tomatoes are huge and all that salad – our dark winters and cooler temperatures mean I am lucky with a few pickings – certainly not enough to be self sufficient in leaves. Do you have any problems with tomato blight there – I am always reluctant to plant my tomatoes outside because of the risk of blight. I particularly loved reading about all your herbs – I will not be sowing basil until much later this month and was surprised that you have difficulty in buying coriander seed.

    Your birdcage is so beautiful and full of flowers that I am still waiting to see in my garden. The freesia in pots in my greenhouse have not even surfaced above the soil yet.

    Thank you for joining in again this month – I love to see what you can grow in your greenhouse with your different climate!

    • Even outside the Freesias have been above ground all winter, those in a pot outside are also flowering now, but not those in the ground. You are quite right about the light levels, it makes such a difference much more difference than the temperatures which this year have hardly been any warmer than yours. Here suddenly everything is ready to flower, including the crab apple which I noticed today is full of bud just ready to open.

  12. You really have had some chilly nights 😦 Hope the wind doesn’t do any damage and you make the right choices for planting things out. I too am impressed with your salad leaves – you really have got this sorted and it is an encouragement to us to persevere ourselves

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