Greenhouse gardening

If you are fortunate enough to have a greenhouse in your garden, you may already realise that you have a very valuable asset available to you as a gardener.

The reason being is that a greenhouse allows you to extend the growing season, enabling you to grow many of your own plants from seed or cuttings that you would otherwise need to purchase at a much greater cost. A greenhouse allows you to grow a wide range of plants and crops that you would not normally grow outside, such as tomatoes and cucumbers, as well as allowing you to over-winter many plants that would otherwise be killed by the cold winter weather. These include Salvia, Diascia and Argyranthemum to name but a few, therefore turning the cultivation of plants into a year round activity.

If you are already a keen greenhouse gardener, then you will no doubt have your staging full at this time of the year with a wide selection of bedding plants such as Begonias, Petunias and Lobelia, which you would have sown several weeks ago. These should now be ready to transplant into larger pots or trays and allowed to grow on until they have matured enough to be transferred to a cold frame, to be hardened off before planting outside.

If you are just getting started, you still can sow many varieties of flowering or vegetable plants in your greenhouse that will mature in the late summer. Many people tend to use their greenhouse only during the summer months, as there is no requirement to provide heating. Vegetables such as cucumbers, lettuce, courgettes, melons and tomatoes are all easily grown and will provide an abundance of fresh produce for the kitchen.

Tomato and cucumber plants can now be planted into your greenhouse. You should either use 30cm pots containing a single plant in good quality compost, or alternatively use a growbag, containing three tomato plants or two cucumbers plants per bag. As your plants grow you will need to ensure you provide adequate support in the form of canes. Your plants should be watered regularly when the compost is starting to become dry and once the first flowers have appeared you should feed once a week with a suitable organic liquid tomato feed.

A lovely task in the greenhouse is to plant up your hanging baskets or containers, which when planted will benefit from the protection of your greenhouse for a few weeks. After the danger of frost has passed, they can be positioned outside.

A greenhouse provides the perfect conditions for starting off some summer flowering bulbs, tubers and corms such as Begonias, Dahlias and Lilies to ensure you produce good, strong plants for a beautiful summer display.