Saturday, 4 November 2017

November In The Greenhouse (Ramblings)

This month in the greenhouse is all about puttering around for me. The hard work is done, the greenhouse is spotless, the plants have been repotted, sprayed for bugs, and I can take it (pretty) easy till spring seeding time.

Planning for the holidays... 
What kind of puttering am I doing then? Playing around with bulbs for Christmas. Planting amaryllis in clay pots and forcing paperwhites in glass vases. Holiday decorating is just a few weeks away.. gulp!

Rustic Glam... Adding a bit of bling with gold leaf gives these simple clay pots a touch of chic holiday charm.

Planting bulbs...
Do not bury Amaryllis bulbs completely, leave the top third of the bulb above soil level. Adding a foot long, pretty twig to the pot will help to keep the blooms straight and tall, thus giving the tall blooms more stability.

If you want to add moss to the top of the pot, make sure to not over-water as moss retains moisture.
Please, remember that a lot of what you see on Pinterest is about staging, looking pretty, not practicality ; ) 

Both amaryllis and paperwhite bulbs can be forced in water.
Add some rocks, pebbles, or marbles to the bottom of a vase, nestle the bulb(s) into the stones, add water so that it comes to the bottom of the bulbs. They will put roots down into the water, grow green tops, and bloom in about three week's time.

Not everything is fun and games though, some work must also be done... 

Plant Maintenance...
Time to stop feeding all plants now, start up again in February.

Pick off any yellowing leaves and spent blossoms to prevent mould and stem rot.

Water sparingly. Keep plants on the dry side while they are dormant. 

The cool-ish temps of the winter greenhouse (+5°C) are fine for geraniums, fuchsias, and other hardy annuals, as long as you keep them clean, bug free, and do not over-water.   

This pic is from

Greenhouse maintenance...
This is the time to add your extra layer of poly or bubble wrap to the greenhouse to save on heating costs and prevent drafts. Each layer adds an extra 2 degrees of warmth to your greenhouse.

You can also add some reflective insulation to the north side of the greenhouse (so as not to block out any sun) to help absorb more heat.

Is possible to add an additional 2° to 5°C of warmth to the greenhouse by using items that absorb the sun during the day and slowly release it back into the greenhouse at night... look into information about water barrels, tiles, insulation, compost, and more.

Make sure that you can still run a fan, open your vents, windows or doors to let out excess humidity and condensation, as needed. 

Yellow sticky strips. Put out yellow sticky strips to monitor your pest population during the winter months. If you start to find fungus gnats or whiteflies on the strips, take measures right away. Spray everything to a drip with Safer's Soap once a week, for three weeks in a row, to catch the pests at all life stages.

Over-Wintering Lemons and Other Citrus Trees.... 
We have now had a few nights of below zero weather. This is too cold for citrus trees. They like to be kept at 5° to 10°C in the winter time. Not hot and stuffy inside your house, and not unprotected outside either. Frosts will make them drop their flowers, their fruits, and foliage, too. You may even lose the plant if it is too cold for too long.

Some people actually build a wee poly 'greenhouse' for them on the deck or by the wall of the house. It does not have to be fancy, just a frame with some poly over top. Add some Christmas lights for heat, and voila, you have happy citrus trees all winter long.

For more ideas about how to over-winter your lemons, oranges, limes, and more, please Click Here.

Bug Control on Citrus Trees 
Citrus trees (and Sweet Bay Laurel) are very prone to scale, a wee little sap-sucking bug that builds a waxy shell around itself for protection. Scale cannot be controlled with a spray of soap because the soap just slides off this shell. However, a weekly, or even monthly, preventative spray with one of the Safer's Soap products will catch them at the crawly stage, thus killing them before they have time to make a shell.

How do you know if you have scale? Keep an eye on the plant for yellowing leaves. If you see this happening, turn over the leaf and you will probably find some small brown dots. That is scale. Luckily, the form that lemon trees get is usually soft-bodied scale, which is much easier to control than the hard one.

Soft scale can be blown off the trees with a strong jet of water. If you choose this method, you should probably bring the plant back outside so you don't end up with a wet, humid greenhouse.
You can also wash them off with soapy water and a soft cloth or scrub brush.
I wipe the leaves clean with baby wipes, but use the scrub brush on the stems. 

Growing greens...  for those of you who grow food in the greenhouse... 
My own greenhouse is used to over-winter flowers, citrus trees, start seeds, etc... I do all of my winter food growing outside in the potager, where I still have carrots, parsnips, kohlrabi, turnips, kale, celery, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and broccoli growing. Oh, and a bit of lettuce and spinach, too. If we have a mild, normal winter, they all do just fine. If we have a harsh winter, I may lose some of the stuff to frost or snow. A wee bit of snow doesn't hurt anything though ; )

For those of you growing food in the greenhouses, yours will look something like the above picture. Greens in varying stages of growth.

If this is what your plans are for your greenhouse, please note.... Veggies do not actively 'grow' in winter, unless you provide additional light and heat. The days are too short and the weather too cool. The greenhouse is more of a 'fridge' at this time of year, a holding area to keep your greens fresh and tasty throughout the winter months.

Greens like mache, spinach, kale, mescluns, mustards, etc... plus root crops of carrots, parsnips, turnips, and brassicas, were seeded in July and August, grew throughout the fall, ready to be harvested now.

Actual 'winter' veggies, like Sprouting Broccoli and Walla Walla onions, are harvested in March. They were seeded in July, planted out in August or September, rooted themselves in , and will now sit and wait till late winter for the days get longer and brighter and then begin to grow again in late January/February. (In the greenhouse and in the potager, too).

Happy Greenhouse-ing! 

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...