Thursday, 13 July 2017

July Greenhouse Ramblings

#greenhouseramblings #inmybcgreenhouse #greenhousegrowing

I am starting something new and exciting this month. Have been mulling this around for a bit, and so, in addition to the monthly Garden Ramblings post, will also be writing up a monthly Ramblings for all you greenhouse growers, or potential future greenhouse growers.

As with the 'Garden Ramblings', will be all about what to do each month, how and why I am doing it, plus any concerns, issues or problems that arise, joys and successes. Whatever is going on at the time, I will let you know about it.  

Therefore, without further ado... this is what is going on in my greenhouse this month.

Summer has finally arrived on the island, plants are starting to grow and thrive in the heat and sunshine. I think my peppers and tomatoes shot up several inches in just the last few days. Amazing! 

Tomatoes are forming, pepper plants are flowering and making lovely wee peppers. 

Tomatoes and cucumbers are strung up to the rafters. The strings support the plants, and their fruits, keeping them off the ground and easy to harvest.    

The melons are lounging on tables so that the fruits can simply grow on the tabletops without worrying about supports. This is my first year trying it this way, usually they, too, are strung up.

July tasks...

Watering. Container grown tomatoes and peppers are more prone to BER (Blossom End Rot) than garden grown ones. BER is not a disease, is a calcium deficiency caused by inconsistent watering.  

If you do get some BER, not to worry, just remove the affected fruits, toss into the compost bin, and adjust your watering schedule. Most people are over watering rather than under watering, so cut back a bit, get more consistent, and the problem will soon correct itself.

My peppers and eggplants are grown in three gallon pots, and watered once a week. Tomatoes and cucumbers are in 5 gallon pots and watered every two to three days. When you do water, make sure to thoroughly soak them, go over them several times.  

For more information on how to water and successfully grow really great peppers, check out last month's blog post HERE!  

The melons seem to require more water and dry out faster. I want big, fat melons, so I water them every second day. Sweet potatoes are in huge pots and watered only when dry, they prefer to kept on the dry side.

#pepperslikeepsomsalts #epsomsaltinthegarden 

Feeding. Both tomatoes and peppers benefit from a tablespoon of Epsom salts every 4 to 6 weeks. This is less important for garden grown plants, but potted ones soon use up most all the nutrients in the potting soil, and thus need to be fed more often. Epsom salts are a source of minerals, mainly magnesium and sulphur, which help keep the foliage dark green and healthy, aid in preventing BER, and best of all, increase yields.

Tomatoes are heavy feeders, so should be fertilised every week or two with an organic liquid feed, manure tea, or liquid seaweed. Peppers, once a month or as needed.

You can also top dress the pots with a scoop of manure, so they are fed each time you water.  

Eggplants receive the same care as peppers.

#soakyourfloors #cooldownthegreenhouse #toohotistoohot

Care and maintenance. You absolutely need good ventilation and air movement in a greenhouse. Most greenhouse packages come with vents that open automatically as the greenhouse warms up, they are fantastic for easily letting out all that excess heat. If you built your own, leave all the windows open, on both sides, for a cross breeze. Ideally, you have a door in both front and back that can be left open all summer long for a cross draft. Easy and cost effective ventilation.

This time of year it is super important to let out that excess heat and move the air around. Most plants will not be happy if it is too hot, and tomatoes will actually go sterile. I use both an oscillating fan than hangs down from a beam, plus a built in exhaust fan with programmable thermostat. The smaller one is turned on to move the air around, as needed, while the exhaust fan kicks in when it hits whatever temp I have set it at. I like to keep it at 80°F but sometimes that means the fan runs all day, so then I bump it up to 90°F.

#shadecloth #bcgreenhousebuilders

To help conserve energy, water your floors once or twice a day on smoking hot days. This will help a bit, so that your fan does not run non-stop.

If you would like to conserve on both power and water, invest in shade cloth.. dark mesh fabric panels that go on the outside of the greenhouse to provide relief from the blazing hot sun. This will keep your fan from going off constantly and keep your tomatoes from over-heating.

Yes, I have seen the pictures on Pinterest of sheer white curtains hanging romantically in greenhouses. While they won't actually cool down the greenhouse or create any shade, they sure do look pretty. Use them for the look, the ambiance, but please get shades if you actually need shade ; )  
*Shade cloth can be ordered through most greenhouse companies. I ordered mine from BC Greenhouse Builders.

   Clay pots not only look good, plants love them. 

Flowers and such... Flowers and herbs will likely require near daily water and flowers should be fed every week or two to keep them blossoming. Use a fertiliser with a higher middle number to promote blooms, like a 15-30-15.

Pot up olives and citrus trees into pots that breathe, like these super inexpensive natural terra cotta (clay) ones. Keep olives, lemons, limes, all citrus fruits, on the drier side, watering twice a week.

A clean greenhouse is a healthy greenhouse. 

Pest/disease control. Keep things clean! If you keep your greenhouse clean, you will have a whole lot less issues with bugs or diseases. Sweep regularly, hose down walls for dust and debris, scrub/disinfect areas where fungal spores or bugs might live and multiply.   

Remove yellow, brown, or spotted foliage. Most of the time it will just be the older, bottom leaves dying off, a natural process. However, leaf issues may also indicate bugs or fungal diseases. By removing those leaves right away, you may prevent a small issue from becoming a big one.  

Do NOT use yellow stick strips in the greenhouse in summer while you have hummingbirds, bees, ladybugs, and other critters coming and going. They trap anything that gets too close, not just the bad guys.

Aphids and whitefly are generally the most common summertime greenhouse pests. For aphids, I will first try a strong jet of water to blast them off the plants. If that does not work, if they are persistent, I resort to Safer's Insect Soap spray. Whitefly is much harder to eradicate. If you get them, just try to keep your greenhouse really clean and use the Safer's Soap once a week. Do a really thorough clean up in fall... empty out the greenhouse, clean and sanitise everything, then put out the yellow sticky strips.

As always, I had too much to share and the post ended up longer than intended ; )

Happy greenhouse growing! 
Hope you enjoyed the first Greenhouse Ramblings post! 

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