Friday, 20 October 2017

October in the Greenhouse (Ramblings)

This month is a busy, busy time in the greenhouse. The garden beds have been cleaned out and winterised, so is time to move on to readying the greenhouse for winter. 

We do our annual, super duper thorough, clean up in October, after the water restrictions have been lifted, but while it is still warm enough to be spraying water ... and getting thoroughly soaked in the process.    

With the days getting shorter daily, sparkling clean walls, inside and out, help let in more of that weak winter sunshine. 

We start by emptying pretty much everything out of the greenhouse. All the plants, furniture, bits and bobs. Anything that you do not want power washed should be hauled out.

Then do a thorough sweep before adding water to the mix ; )

Wash up any unused pots, store away till they are needed again. I call this part 'doing the dishes' ; ) 

The tracks along the sides of the greenhouse, where the walls meet the foundation, always fill up with 'stuff' throughout the summer (bugs, soil, and who knows what else), and the concrete grows green in places where water lingers. 

I go along and fill up those tracks with a soapy bleach water mix to clean up and sanitise. The goal is to get rid of any possible lingering pests, diseases, or fungal issues.

Hubby then comes along behind me and power washes the entire interior of the greenhouse. Starting from the roof and working his way down, he washes off the grime, dust, and algae from the walls.

He then blasts out the all that 'stuff' from inside the tracks, plus the green ick off the concrete and floor. If possible, do this on a nice, sunny day so that the greenhouse dries nicely before you start to bring everything back in again.    

The shade cloth is taken down and stored safely till spring. Mine were made into 'roller shades' by the good folks at BC Greenhouse Builders so that I can raise or lower them throughout the summer, as needed. Super easy to use. In fall, we just rolled them up, un-clipped them from the top, and put them into the curing shed rafters for the winter.

*Make sure your shade cloth is fully dry before rolling or folding up.

Power wash the exterior of the greenhouse, or use a strong stream of water to blast away the film of grit and grime from the outside walls, as well as the green algae that tends to grow around the windows and foundation.

Before bringing pots, planters, and other stuff back in, I wash them all down, too, using soapy water with a titch of bleach in it.

Flowers and plants get repotted into fresh soil, as they have likely used up all the nutrients in the old soil by now.

They are also sprayed down with Safer's Soap to kill off any lingering pests. Spray to a drip, leave on for 15 minutes, wash off with a good strong jet of water to remove the soap and any pests that survived the soap spray.   

For more in-depth information about over-wintering hardy annuals, like when to prune, how much to water, taking cuttings, etc... please see this post HERE!

My citrus trees are only re-potted every third or fourth year, unless they need to be up-sized into a larger pot sooner. The larger trees are simply replanted into the same pot, but with fresh soil.

Remove tree from pot, dump out old soil, wash pot, and brush excess soil from the root ball. Add fresh soil to the pot, put your tree back in, and fill in the sides with fresh soil.

I add a slow release organic citrus food on top of the soil, bring back into the greenhouse, and water well. They will not get fed again until February.

*Always use a high porosity potting soil for citrus trees (and olives, too) as they hate wet feet. I use 5 parts HP Pro-Mix (the HP stands for high porosity) mixed with 2 parts bagged manure or compost.
For more information about over-wintering your citrus, please Click Here! It is very important that you do not bring your citrus trees into the house for the entire winter. A couple of days in a cold snap is fine, but it is too hot, too dry, and not bright enough in the house to keep it happy for a longer period of time.

The table and chairs are not yet finished with their new look ; ) 

This is a good time to insulate your greenhouse with bubble wrap or an extra layer of poly to help keep down the heating costs in winter. Do not cover up your vents though, to allow fresh air into the greenhouse, when needed. 

Do not be afraid to open up all windows and doors, and run the fan for a while, on sunny winter days. Condensation and humidity are so much worse for your plants than a wee bit of brisk fresh air. 

If your greenhouse is not a heated one, pull in an electrical cord that can be used to plug in a small heater when temps dip too low, or a fan to circulate the air when condensation builds up. 

I know this all seems like a crazy lot of work, and it is! But, cleanliness in a greenhouse, at all times of the year, is crucial in the prevention of pests and diseases.  

Fall clean up not only allows in more of the sun's weaker rays, so that your plants thrive, but also ensures that you are not introducing new pests into the greenhouse to multiply throughout the winter on those lovely geraniums, and then feast on your tender little seedlings in spring.   

Besides, when it's all done, it feels so great to walk into a clean and organised greenhouse. Your mind is free to wander, plan, and dream ... ready for the real work to begin again in January. 

Happy Greenhouse-ing! 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Moving Thyme

Sadly, the Nitty Gritty Potager blog is no more... but the good news is that I can now be found at my new blog called the Olde Thyme F...