Monday, 7 August 2017

August Greenhouse Ramblings

This is the second one of these new monthly Greenhouse Ramblings posts. Bits and bobs about what I do in my greenhouse each month, plus additional tips and ideas for what what you can do in yours.

Caspar eggplant 

What to do during the dog days of summer... otherwise known as August ; )

The new shade cloth we had installed last month has proven to be a real godsend. Before the cloth, my fan went off pretty much all day long just trying to keep the space cool enough. With the shade cloth at half mast, my fan rarely goes off and the plants are thriving in the cooler conditions, even the peppers. So, I save money on my hydro bill and the plants love it : )

While you want your greenhouse to be nice and warm and bright in spring, fall, and winter, you need to be able to keep it well ventilated and moderate in summer. A sauna-like greenhouse creates stressed out, unhappy plants that will not thrive, and sterile tomatoes ... no more flowers or fruits. What good is a greenhouse with no tomatoes, eh? ; )

Use fans to move the air, offer shade with tall plants or shade cloth, open all windows and doors for cross breezes and ventilation. Water floors in the morning to keep things cooler and increase humidity.

What to do now... 

The Tomatoes... 

My tomato vines are clambering up their stings, reaching for the roof line. They are loaded down with fruits which just started ripening about a week ago. Everything is so much later this year, partly due to my crazy spring schedule and partly due to our long, cool, grey spring.

I am currently watering every 2nd or 3rd day, and feeding with an organic tomato food every week or two. Whenever I remember to do so ; ) Remember that over watered tomatoes are more prone to BER (blossom end rot) and will produce bland, tasteless tomatoes.

Don't forget to pull off the bottom leaves if they begin to yellow or look spotty.

Harvest regularly to keep them producing. Towards the end of the month, you may want to 'top' the tomatoes. Take off the tips of the tomatoes to make them stop growing and flowering, thus putting their energy into ripening the existing tomatoes.

Quadrato d'Asti sweet yellow pepper 

The Peppers...

I was a bit worried about how the peppers would like the shade cloth as they seemed to really thrive in the stinking hot ... however, all seems to be just fine. They are fruiting, flowering, thriving.

I water once a week, letting them go dry in between, and toss a tablespoon of Epsom salts on top of the pots once a month. I only feed with the tomato food if the foliage starts to look limey.
As with the tomatoes, over-watered peppers are bland tasting and hot ones will have little to no heat. They also produce more peppers if the soil is allowed to go dry between watering.

Pick your peppers as they ripen so that they keep on producing. Peppers can be eaten at any stage. If you want green bell peppers, pick them green. If you want sweet yellow/red/orange, wait till they colour up. Hot peppers will get hotter when you leave them on to fully mature, but if you want a milder pepper for your fresh salsa, pick them earlier.

Earlidew Honeydew Melon

The Melons...

Picked my first melon this week, a honeydew melon. They mature in just 80 days, so I'm eating melons before beefsteak tomatoes! Amazingly juicy. Will be growing these guys again next year.

The cucumbers

I only have two cucumber plants in the greenhouse this year, one slicer and one long English style. I will have to plant more next year, as the greenhouse grown cukes produce much sooner, and are so much tastier and sweeter than the garden grown ones are. Both vines are growing up the roof line and putting on a good amount of cukes each week.

Keep harvesting in order to keep them producing, the more you pick, the more they make.

Water every second day, feed with tomato food on occasion, and keep an eye out for bugs like thrips, spider mites, and whitefly.

The flowers

My beautiful geraniums, those half priced sales ones from last month, have doubled in size and are flowering their hearts out. They have not required any fertiliser yet, just the tlc that they received when I bought them.

To see what these guys looked like just a few short weeks ago, see HERE!

Sweet potatoes with sawfly larva (rose slug) damage. 

Other bits and bobs...

Check for bugs. Common summer-time greenhouse pests are aphids, whitefly, and spider mites.  If you feel you need to use some kind of control, please do not spray during the daytime, while the bees and pollinators are active in your greenhouse.

Start with a strong jet of water first. If that does not work, use organic controls. I stick to the Safer's soap sprays. They still kill the good guys as well as the bad guys, but are much less toxic and easier on your lungs.
Do not use the yellow sticky strips in summer time as they will also trap bees, beneficial insects, and have even been known to do in (humming)birds and bats.

Propagating new plants...   

August (and September) is a good time to take cuttings for next year's flowers and shrubs. You do not want the soft new growth, but neither do you want the really woody bits. You are looking for the semi-ripe bit between the two.

Play around with propagating, it is a lot of fun and you get extras of your very favourite plants. Take more cuttings than you think you will need, as they will usually not all take. For a more in-depth how-to, please see this old post from years ago HERE!

What to take cuttings from...
- begonias
- fuchsias
- lavender
- pelargoniums
- rosemary
- scented geraniums
- succulents
- most all shrubs and houseplants, too, can be propagated now.

Put in orders...

Order your pre-chilled hyacinths and paperwhites now so you can pot them up soon for Christmas.

  Happy Greenhouse Growing

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