The Greenhouse and the cut flower beds

Time for an update on what’s happening in the greenhouse.

The greenhouse is already full to bursting and I haven’t sown many of the seeds for the cut flower beds yet!

I didn’t even find room for all the Citrus plants this year; two have remained on the sunny (wind protected) side of the terrace wrapped in fleece.

Lemon wrapped in fleece

Lemon wrapped in fleece

The Lemon will need some water soon, not sure how I’m going to give it some water easily.  It wasn’t so easy to wrap.

Welcome to the greenhouse

Welcome to the greenhouse

Looking in at the door with tulips in the foreground

Looking in at the door with tulips in the foreground

There are probably too many pots of tulips – too many because as it as been cold since December they haven’t grown on as quickly as I anticipated.  There are buds on Tulip ‘Brown Sugar’ and T. ‘Exotic Emperor’; these may even open for IAVOM next week, or I may even pick them in tight bud and bring them inside – I’m desperate for some tulips blooms!

I haven’t removed the shade netting as light levels are still quite high and on sunny days the temperature even with the door open has been rising to 22°C approx.

There are two propagating trays on this shelving unit each hold 4 seed trays

There are two propagating trays on this shelving unit each hold 4 seed trays

I have some cuttings of Cistus and Teucrium on the right hand side of the top shelf, I was hoping the warm would encourage root formation but I’m doubtful these cuttings have struck.  Their time on the heated propagating tray is limited as soon I’ll need it for seedlings that need a bit of warm to continue growing well (Sweet Peppers and Aubergines).

On the bottom shelf I have seedlings of Euphorbia rigida and E. myrsinites; actually all 4 shelf units have Euphorbia seedlings on their bottom shelves.  These are hardy and could go outside but the soil will freeze in the modules and I don’t want the roots to be frozen.  I’ve just bought a cheap plastic cold-frame but am a bit afraid it will be destroyed by the wind.

Don't newly germinated seedlings fill you with hope and joy?

Don’t newly germinated seedlings fill you with hope and joy?

I’ve sown lots of the hardy annuals on the basis that they can be planted outside as soon as they’re large enough and I can then make second sowings (I say this but it doesn’t usually happen!)

Looking back towards the door - more pots of tulips, the Lemon grass plant and Passion fruit vine

Looking back towards the door – more pots of tulips, the Lemon grass plant and Passion fruit vine

The heater is set to just keep the greenhouse frost free; the lowest recorded temperature overnight has been 0.68°C, when I saw that it was so low I raised the thermostat a little and since then the lowest temperature has been about 4°C.

Salad leaves in various states of readiness to be harvested

Salad leaves in various states of readiness to be harvested.  I also have a tray of pea shoots ready, plus peas and broad beans ready to be planted out, I’ll start hardening them off this week.

Larkspur seedlings that self seeded have amazed me by surviving temperatures of minus 8°C and below freezing night-time temperatures for about 3 weeks

Larkspur seedlings that self seeded have amazed me by surviving temperatures of minus 8°C and below freezing night-time temperatures for about 3 weeks

I will have to thin them out to give them a chance to grow into strong plants.

Antirrhinums from last year are sending up buds - which so far aren't opening

Antirrhinums from last year are sending up buds – which so far aren’t opening

The low light shows off this lovely statue a friend carved for me

The low light shows off this lovely statue a friend carved for me

She sits at the end of the path in the Secret Garden (cut flower beds) part of the garden.

Have you started sowing any seeds yet?  Do you keep a record of what you sow and when and how quickly they germinate – I find it really useful, especially germination times as it does vary from species to species quite significantly; for example Helipterum roseum ‘Pierrot’ and Salvia horninum mixed both germinates within 24 hours!

Enjoy the rest of the week.



44 thoughts on “The Greenhouse and the cut flower beds

  1. I loved having a look in your greenhouse, you are so well organised. No, seed sowing for me starts in March but in your climate you can get a head start. The only seeds I started early in November were sweet peas, everything else can wait.

    • Yes, you are quite right to wait; probably some of my seeds should have waited a bit longer but then I run out of propagating space! I also think the much higher light levels here make it possible to start earlier.I have started some of the early flowering sweetpeas, but I only got them at Christmas and I think they should have been sown in autumn, we’ll have to see when they flower.

    • The rabbits must make it very difficult Judy. You can grow leaves for salad in seedtrays even on a windowsill, they don’t need heat, and you just pick them as you need.

      • The planter I bought is like a very large seed tray. I am looking forward to having a fresh picked salad for lunch. I am also going to take a class on growing microgreens. And yes, the rabbits are awful and so are the squirrels. The squirrels picked off all my camellia buds.

  2. I actually sorted my seed packets into planting order, but even indoors I will have to wait a bit longer before I get started…. my potting compost is frozen solid! 🙂

    • It is right to wait Cathy; I’m lucky because although it is cold the greenhouse is very light; I think that is more important than heat for the seedlings to grow on well.

  3. Whilst I am very impressed by your full greenhouse it has reminded me to wait before I start sowing. I am going to aim for early April in order to speed up germination and then to be in a better position to get seedlings in the ground.

    • I’ve been keeping a spreadsheet for my seed sowing for a few years now and knowing how long different plants take to germinate is really helpful in planning when to sow. I don’t know why but it has surprised me just how consistent the germination times are with each species. But more importantly how long from germination to a plant that can be put in the garden.

  4. What an organised greenhouse and so productive. How impressive to have tulips in bud already. I suspect that I will have to wait another ~2.5months for my Brown Sugar. I have spreadsheeted all my seeds so that I can remember what I have and I will try to complete germination notes as I go, but there were many holes last year. I’ll probably start a few chilli seeds in mid Feb .

  5. I too enjoyed a nose around your greenhouse, Christina. It has been bitterly cold here today and boy am I envious of those temperatures. I have sown some cutandcomeagain lettuce and a spicy leaf mix lettuce today. I do not anticipate having a harvest for a month at least. I do record dates and will note germination times.

  6. I will not sow anything before the beginning of March as I do not have a greenhouse. Your greenhouse looks bursting to get started (like a lot of gardeners). Have you ever tried planting your broad beans outside in the autumn? It works well here although I must confess we ran out and bought a sheet of fleece when I saw we were in for over a solid week of sub zero night temperatures! Amelia

    • I’ve never had any luck with sowing my broad beans in autumn (not here or in the UK), I think here it is because of the icy north winds we have a lot in winter. Growing in modules and planting out in February seems to give early enough crops so for me it is easiest.

  7. Christina her greenhouse bursts with life. Orchard plants and annual flower plants, the many tulips I love and other plants cram their shelves and floors in perfect order, advancing the spring. It’s nice to see you. I am in my flat in Madrid and I have since before Christmas the foot and the left leg with pains that go to more. I keep my bed all day and do not know what it is. I have an MRI in February to diagnose myself at once and remedy it. Sorry to tell you this, but I do not know when I’ll be able to plant my seeds. My plans were to go to the country house in late March and plant in early April. But with the leg and the foot I do not know if I will be able to fulfill them. I’m very happy that everything works so well with your plants. Greetings from Margarita.

  8. Way ahead of me though I am thinking of sowing some cyclamen this weekend as they need cold for germination. I get very excited when things germinate but am terrible at moving plants on in a timely manner

    • I either prick out too early when the roots haven’t formed well enough or late when the seedlings are very overcrowded and straggly. I am improving each year and one reason for starting early is to be able to have dealt with the first plants before the rush of all the tomatoes etc. which always germinate quickly so don’t need sowing so early.

  9. Oh Christina, I’m envious of your greenhouse all over again! It’s a lovely thing and looks big to me but then I realize they can probably never be big enough for you in colder climates. I haven’t even tried to start seeds inside this year (my laundry room is crowded enough as it is!) but I did sow more California poppy seeds before the last few rainstorms struck and there are actually some seedlings showing now (even if the raccoons do insist of rearranging some of them).

    Thanks for your messages on the women’s march. People are organizing here. I’m feeling a bit hopeful, even if every single newscast makes me want to scream.

    • Yes, you’re right, whatever size a greenhouse is you fill it and need more space although what I really need is a shade house for summer so that I can start winter vegetables and some of the flowers that are hardy and would flower early. I don’t have anywhere that is cool enough for seeds to germinate in summer so I can understand your problems with the heat. Good news about the Californian poppies! As to the currant situation I read the Guardian on line (it’s a great newspaper that seems to be reporting things as they are; you might want to take a look as I can see that Trump is beginning to try to control your press and it may not be long before you can’t get truthful reporting.

  10. Well, no point of a greenhouse in my shady garden but I enjoyed the tour of yours. I’m in awe…you are very industrious! I’ve nearly given up on the outdoor garden and admit to being very lazy these days. I’m growing lots of houseplants and forcing winter bulbs, though, which is quite a pleasure.

    • A greenhouse would still be useful so you could grow seeds or take cuttings and have somewhere protected to grow them. The heated propagating trays that I have mean that I only have to heat those and not the whole greenhouse. What bulbs are you forcing? I tend to kill house plants, one reason I prefer cut flowers!

  11. I really enjoyed reading this post Christina and seeing what was happening in the greenhouse – I am so excited with the thought of seeing your tulips soon! I noticed the first tips of my potted ones starting to show, but they have a long way to go – I do have other bulbs for Monday though! I agree that keeping a record of sowing and germination times is invaluable – so useful to check back and see how long things take to germinate or reach flowering size, and it doesn’t take many years to build up quite a comprehensive picture. I have been sowing throughout autumn and a few things this month and will begin again in earnest in Feb – lots can be sown in Feb here and it helps to spread it out over a 2 or 3 months. Good to see your overwintered antirrhinum – some of my Twinny White are still in the land of the living and I shall try and nurture them as for some reason (and sadly) seed is not available this year

    • What is so interesting that every year so far each plant has germinated in the same number of days give or take 1 or 2 (but not more). It really helps because if they don’t germinate in that time frame I know to sow again (maybe buy new seed if mine is not new this year) or like with the red peppers this year I’ll just wait and buy plants – a range of varieties are available here and usually cost about €1.20 for 6 plants – the seed (if I buy it in the UK) costs more than that!

  12. What a great post, Christina, your productive greenhouse always inspires me even if it fills me with envy for higher light levels. So far, I have only sowed seeds that like a blast of cold like opium poppies, but I find it’s a good time to start warm season grasses like miscanthus nepalensis off in a propagator.

    • No, she’s not new, she was made 10 years ago. I have shown her before but maybe never in such good light. She’s made of Peperino, a very hard volcanic rock. She was inspired but the statuary at the Sacro Bosco Bomarzo.

  13. I loved your greenhouse tour, and was interested to see what you have growing. Everything is looking good! Can’t believe how advanced those tulips are – mine are still snoozing here in the uk.
    I love keeping garden records & journals so have planting plans & notes going back years. I also record temperatures – bit of an anorak I’m afraid.

    • I manage to get the early tulips by chilling the bulbs when they arrive for about 8 weeks, then I either plant into the ground or into pots in the greenhouse if I want to pick them for a vase. In this way the same variety of tulip will give me at least three flowering periods – 1) from the pot, 2) planted chilled bulbs, 3) bulbs that have been in the ground more than one season. This is because our winters don’t usually start to get cold until after Christmas which mean my tulips are often in flower at about the same time as the UK rather than earlier as everyone expects.

  14. You can never have too many pots of tulips. That is madness speaking. I’m afraid I’m not starting any seeds inside. I buy my annuals as small plants, even though it is too expensive.

    • Some things are better bought as small plants. My peppers didn’t germinate so I’ll buy plants and if the peppers are better I may always buy them in future. The seeds for some special plants are very expensive too and that doesn’t mean they germinate any better, at least with plants you are sure, add in the cost of heating, if you need to and seeds aren’t even always the cheapest option.

    • Hi Jonathan, There is always the dance of the greenhouse as I think of it as pots and trays get moved around to give them more or less heat; more or less light and trying to maximise the space. I haven’t even sown my tomatoes yet, they always germinate very quickly and I grow a lot so space is always at a premium.

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