The Greenhouse

I’m joining Helen at The Patient Gardener for her round-up of what’s happening in the greenhouse this month.

I posted about carrots grown in a pot in the greenhouse over winter here, we are now eating the crop and they are delicious.  I like carrots raw in salads and the purple ones I grew add an interesting colour.

The tomatoes are growing well, I am continuing with the on-going task of tying them to their canes.  As last year most plants I am allowing to grow three stems and the rest of the other side shoots I’m removing.  I may later try the off-shoots as cuttings (as recommended by Bob Flowerdew) and plant them up to produce new plants later in the season.  I’m not very sure of the timing for doing these so it will all be trial and error, has anyone else tried it?

We have had salad lettuce all winter and there are still some to harvest.  I have planted 3 melons and 3 yellow peppers in the back border but I’m concerned as there is a lot of roots from the Laylandii that have obviously been attracted by the irrigation tubes so that the soil in this border isn’t going to be as rich and moist as I would have liked.  I think I will have to put a membrane of some kind to stop the roots and maybe make this a slightly raised bed.

I germinated the seeds in the house as it was too hot for seed production.  There are some aquilegia from seed I collected from a plant in the garden and also some McKenna hybrids I bought.  The Achilea that germinated well are damping off; they were pricked out into my own compost which I fear is too rich for them, they need sharper drainage even at this stage.

I took sedum cuttings this week some leak and some stem cuttings (this site is great at explaining what you do), it is too soon to tell how well they will grow but I do remember my father taking leaf cuttings from a sedum plant of my great aunt and he was very successful.

A large empty pot contains Freesia corms that I’m very much hoping will grow to provide some perfumed cut flowers.

As soon as I put up the shade netting the temperatures dropped but even with the cold winds we are experiencing at the moment the temperature inside is comfortable warm.  I usually have the door open during the day and will soon, I hope, have it open at night too.

The broad beans I sowed in November are now cropping quite well. As I want the tomatoes to have more air and space I am harvesting by pulling up the whole plants.

Rainbow chard waiting to be planted out

Beautiful vegetable foliage counts for Garden bloggers Foliage Day on the  22nd, just leave a link with your comments on the GBFD post.

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Greenhouse

Those of you who have been following this blog will know that I recently purchased a greenhouse; I thought I would update you with its progress. The only place in the garden to site the greenhouse is sloping so we had to build foundations to give it a firm base. The greenhouse is 3.08 m x 4.50 m, I know I am very lucky to have such a large space and I hope to make the very best use of the possibilities this will give me.

Foundations ready

10th March - the greenhouse arrives

Two men managed to construct the greenhouse in 4 hours!  I was most impressed, especially as they took away with them all packaging and didn’t leave any rubbish lying around.  My surprise may seem unusual but very few workmen in Italy leave everything in a tidy state – I assume they believe that cleaning-up is woman’s work and therefore completely beneath them.

Snuggly sited between the olives

Once the inside had been dug to remove gramigna (my kind of couch grass), I set about planting some vegetables.  I bought some plug plants of pacchino tomatoes and 2 types of lettuce; I planted 4 tomatoes in the bed and potted up another 3 to grow on inside until conditions are suitable to plant them outside, probably in mid-April. As an experiment I planted 3 frilly green lettuces in the bed in front of the tomatoes and the other three outside to see how much more quickly they would be ready to harvest.

Tomatoes, lettuce and basil planted

They all doubled in size in about 3 days.  But the 3 I planted out may never be large enough to harvest – something is eating them.

Lettuces outside, these and some others have been eaten!

I’m not sure what is eating them, my immediate thought was, of course, slugs or snails but a friend has suggested that the damage could be caused by locusts.  Last year there were quite a few in the garden but they didn’t appear to do any damage, with the very cold winter we’ve experienced with temperatures regularly below zero I thought they would have died but no, I’ve seen several in the garden already so it could be them.  I will make more effort to kill those I see – a plague of locusts is the very last thing I want!!

Seed tray stand I brought with me from England

As there is no power as yet inside the greenhouse I have been using a propagating tray on a windowsill inside the house.  I’m using a spread sheet so that I can see germination times for everything I sow.  So far Swiss Chard Bright Lights germinated in 3 days!  As did some’ old’ seed of Verbascum phoeniceum Hybrids.  I planted the whole pack of these (it says 1000 seeds) as the pack was very out of date and I just hoped for a few to germinate.  Fingers crossed they don’t rot off so the garden can be filled with colour.

I will use the area outside the greenhouse for plants I’m hardening off and for all plants not yet planted in the garden.  We’ve made a hard standing of tuffo blocks all along one side so the self-watering trays I have will have a flat surface to sit on.  I also hope to get a couple of cold frames to put here.  It is protected from the cold north wind here and hopefully from the summer winds from the west too.
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