Greenhouse – Sowing begins!

The wind is howling and the temperatures are falling; I just checked the forecast and terrifyingly we are threatened with temperatures falling to minus 5°C for the next two days and remaining cold for at least the next week.

Certainly it isn’t the time to be out in the garden but it is relatively warmer in the greenhouse and seed sowing has already begun to supply plants for the vegetable and cuttings garden for the summer to come.  Last year I sowed some seeds in the early autumn but the plants grew too quickly and were leggy by the time they were planted out.  There are some plants that I will sow later this year because I discovered they need more heat to grow strongly.  Zinnias, although I can’t complain about the crop would benefit from a later sowing so I’ll sow those in early spring.

So come in to see what is growing already.

Welcome to the greenhouse in January

Welcome to the greenhouse in January

Already the space is looking quite full but as more plants need space I will keep reorganising!  The pots of bulbs will hopefully flower before I need a lot more space.  Most of the large pots are tulips but there are also some Narcissus, which are being very slow; Dutch Iris, Ranunculus, and Fressias.

The edible passion fruit I grew from seed

The edible passion fruit I grew from seed

A friend gave me some seeds of various passion flowers when she returned from a holiday in Costa Rica, the compost and the seeds looked very old and I didn’t hold much hope that any would grow, however I have three plants of the edible Passion fruit, this one I planted into the ground in the greenhouse last spring; I’ve been astounded at its growth rate, I’ve even been cutting some of the top growth back.  It thrived on the incredibly high temperatures in the greenhouse last summer, some days the temperature registered 50°C despite the new external shading.

You can just see two clumps of lemon grass under the passion fruit; one was from a bought pot the other I grew from seed and at the end of last year I was able to harvest some stems.

Ripening lemons

Ripening lemons

Buds on lemons, the flowers are wonderfully scented

Buds on lemons, the flowers are wonderfully scented

The oranges are ready to pick

The oranges are ready to pick

Not really a viable crop as there are only 3, but it is nice to have them.

I moved everything around last week so that there was space for another stand

I moved everything around last week so that there was space for another stand

As trays of seeds germinate they will be moved onto the stand, I have another heated tray I can use for plants that need some heat as they are growing on, luckily most are fine in a frost free environment but aubergines and peppers benefit from some extra warmth.

Propagating trays are on thermostatically controlled heated trays

Propagating trays are on thermostatically controlled heated trays

In the propagators I’ve already sown the following Lamb’s Trophy lettuce, Red and green Salad Bowl lettuce, Peas (2 x 40 module trays) some to eat as pea shoots and one tray to plant out in February. Mixed Oriental Salad leaves, Misticanza (which always contains a lot of mustard) and Chard Bright Lights have already germinated.

There are also some flower seeds sown in one fifth-size trays or small modules.  Some I’ve sown now because the seed packs tell me that they may need some periods of warmth followed by cold so while there aren’t too many other plants needing to be sown it seems worth trying to start them now.  Crimson, Giant White and mixed Antirrhinum; Alstroemeria aurantiaca, Cleome spinosa Violet Queen, Euphorbia oblongata, Eryngium alpinum, Ami majus and Estoma ABC mixed are all for the cuttings garden; Melianthus major and Lychnis white (from a friend’s garden) will be planted into the borders

Salad leaf production is in full swing

Salad leaf production is in full swing

Growing salad leaves to crop repeatedly through the winter is one of my great joys; once germinated they need no extra heat and continue to produce fresh leaves over a long period.

More salad leaves that have just germinated

More salad leaves that have just germinated

These germinated in 5 days

These germinated in 5 days

Alcea, a kind gift from Chloris at the Blooming garden

Alcea, a kind gift from Chloris at the Blooming garden

When I was in the UK last autumn Chloris from “The Blooming Garden” very kindly sent me some rooted cuttings.  A beautifully coloured salvia that I had admired and a very special shrubby hollyhock (Alcea) which is growing really well; I’m thrilled as it is always so special to have plants from friends and even more special when they come from a blogging friend.  Perhaps you can remind me of the variety of the Alcea Liz (if you read this)

Iris reticulata, other pot where the bulbs are NOT flowering all together as I would have wished.

Iris reticulata, another pot where the bulbs are NOT flowering all together as I would have wished.

What are you sowing in your greenhouse this month, have you begun sowing?

Do you find bulbs grown in pots all flower at once or are they like mine and flower over a longer period?  Good gardening!


54 thoughts on “Greenhouse – Sowing begins!

  1. So much to enjoy there Christina! And you, as always, are incredibly well organised. My seed list of annuals is just a list still (but then I haven’t got a greenhouse). I especially loved the idea of your salads through the winter. Do you find the peas for shoots really worthwhile? I’d like to try but always wonder if it’s one of those things that I might be disappointed in. Don’t know if it’s because I know you live in Italy, but I can almost smell the lemon flowers! Keep warm tonight (we look like we might get some snow here).

    • The peas shoots add an interesting texture and flavour to winter salads. Plus peas are sold in largish packs so they need to be used. When we were back in the UK for Christmas we were served peas in three ways – shots, peas and mange tout, it was a delicious combination, the same flavour in three textures, I’d like to do that in spring when my peas are growing.

  2. I’d love to be in a greenhouse progressing the garden plants but since i don’t have one I’ll just have to dream. I have got a tray of pea shoots coming along nicely indoors though and I shall sow peas in a couple of weeks for planting on the allotment in March. It’s so cold here today that seems a long way off.

    • It’s very cold here too, winter appears to have arrived. I need to check if there is anything else I should be protecting or moving in closer to the house for protection.

    • Mine has glass sides and a plexiglass roof. I didn’t actually get a choice. Glass lets in mire light if that is an issue for you. Here there is always lots of light so plexiglass is perfect. Most important us to have plenty of ventilation including low down or if that isn’t possible think about having a door at both ends to increase airflow.

  3. Major greenhouse envy! What a brilliant space. My greenhouse isn’t heated and I don’t have an inch of space left in it, so I won’t start sowing seeds quite yet. One day I’d love to be as organised as you though 🙂

  4. Minus 5C!!! Even though we’re not anywhere near than cold (and have no right to complain about our winter temperatures, even though we do), I’d spend all my time in a greenhouse if I had a space like that to putter in. I’ve tried starting some plants by direct sowing in the garden but so far I can’t claim success – the raccoons tore out my first sweet pea seedlings and the lack of rain has compromised other seeding efforts. It appears that a high pressure system is cutting off El Nino’s rains…

    • I find direct sowing so difficult in comparison to in pots and trays.Probably in your climate a shade house would be more useful; my greenhouse overheats dreadfully in summer so that it is much too hot for seeds to grow them. I do enjoy the space in winter. did you notice I’ve sown Estoma, entirely because I’ve admired yours in the Monday vases, I hope they will grow.

  5. You make such good use of your greenhouse. If El Nino gives us another milder winter your seedlings will be set to take off quickly. I missed an early start last year because of holidays and it makes a big difference in the garden. Amelia

    • I don’t think El Nini is having the same effect as usual; I’m expecting the rest of the winter to be cold, the high pressure seems to be bringing sunshine (lovely) with very low temperatures (probably good). Christina

  6. How exciting to be sowing seeds Christina 🙂 Your greenhouse looks like a snug place to be in inclement weather for both you and the plants. How big is it? I’ve not started seed sowing yet. I have a heated sand bench in the greenhouse which is great for getting seeds off to an early start. However at this time of year my special snowdrops are under cover so I don’t want it to get too warm. A bit of a dilemma really as I’m getting itchy fingers now.

    • The greenhouse is 3.1 x 4.5 metres; I know I’m lucky to have such a good-sized space but in a month or so it will be full to overflowing! I don’t suppose that the heat from your heated bench would heat the rest of the greenhouse very much, especially if it is covered with seed trays!

  7. Minus 5 sounds grim Christina, I hope the forecast turned out to be kinder in reality. We had snow here today and a minus 2 due on Tuesday. Do you heat your greenhouse in the winter at all, its quite heartening to see how successful your winter salads are. My husband is ever so slowly renovating a greenhouse for me, I am trying to be patient but its hard especially seeing what you can achieve in the winter months.

    • I don’t think the temperatures went quite as low as minus 5 last night but there was quite a frost this morning. The ice crystals were large which would indicate that the first part of the night wasn’t that cold and there was condensation, then it froze later. This morning the sun is shining and the sky is clear pale blue, I love days like this.

  8. You are so well organised. I forgot to tell you that the pepper seeds you gave me were very successful and the peppers were delicious.
    The plant is not a hollyhock but rather a hollyhock x marshmallow cross. It is called Alcalthaea suffrutescens ‘ Parkallee’ the flowers are a lovely delicate apricot colour.

  9. I don’t have a greenhouse, but I would love to have one like yours! All my lemons and oranges have to come from the grocery store. It must be a delight to work in your greenhouse on a winter’s day.

    • Most of my citrus comes from the green grocers too Deb; I started growing limes because I couldn’t buy them in my small provincial city, the lemons I mostly use to make preserved lemons in the Moroccan style because then I know that the skins haven’t been treated.

  10. I want a greenhouse! I actually could be growing things in my basement under the grow lights but I have not. Instead I am cleaning up from last year, and will start planning soon for this year. I may not start any early flowers indoors as we may go away in late Feb. Love seeing the citrus fruit especially the lemons.

    • I read somewhere that the truly conscientious garden can only go away for two weeks in December and then odd weeks through the year; I don’t think any of our partners would be able to accept that, but it is difficult especially with seeds that need TLC as they develop.

  11. You put me to shame, your greenhouse is so tidy and organised! Mine is a lot smaller than yours and space is very tight, plants sometimes have to overflow into the conservatory, so I have to watch that I don’t grow too many plants.

    • Even my large greenhouse becomes very full by mid-spring; I think one just fills (plus a bit) the space available. As it is so hot in summer and not much will grow well then, I feel I have to use it to its maximum in winter, spring and autumn.

  12. This is just what I needed on this cold frosty morning. It’s nice to see things beginning again and of course the salad greens right from the garden must be wonderful at this time of year. In another two or so weeks I may also start the earliest of things and then things will be up and going here as well.

  13. Having just spent an hour or so in my greenhouses this afternoon yours make mine look really cramped!! I remember you talking about having leggy seedlings from some of your early sowings last year so well done for resisiting any temptation to sow early this time. Well done on keeping salad leaves going too – I intended to do that, but didn’t 😦 It’s really interesting seeing and hearing about what you have growing in the greenhouses. The bulbs in mine seem to be slow too compared to last year, despite the mostly mild winter.

    • My bulbs seem slow too, but I suppose it is only January, maybe I’m just impatient. I’m very disappointed with narcissus I bought when Paper Whites weren’t available; they have one or two flowers in the first pot I planted ages ago. I think I’ll end up with armfuls all at once which wasn’t the plan.

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