Not only was the sun shining on Sunday morning but there was actually some comforting warmth amidst its’ rays and with no wind to chase away that welcome warmth, the stage was set for one of the biggest preparation jobs of the growing season – greenhouse cleaning!
By 11am, I had hoovered and dusted, hung out some washing and a nice piece of Brisket was in the Rayburn, slow roasting in a rich sauce. So with no other obstacles in my way, I donned my scruffiest jeans and top, made my way outside to the larger of my two greenhouses and started the laborious task of clearing it out, a process which took 1.5 hours. It never ceases to amaze me just how much rubbish I accumulate over a growing season and several bags of trash ended up in the bin, quickly followed by a dozen or so broken pots, some tatty old seed tray liners and a number of assorted recycled ice cream and pouring cream containers which had definitely seen better days.
I won’t go into great detail on how hard I scrubbed the panels, cleaning and rinsing until they were dazzling to all who looked upon them, as my methodology hasn’t change that much since I cleaned the greenhouses last year, or the year before come to that but I couldn’t believe how much algae had formed on the roof panels over the last twelve months and it took some serious elbow grease and three changes of water before the roof panels looked even part way respectable. Thankfully, the side panels were a lot easier to wash down and just over two hours later the greenhouse was looking, if not exactly brand new, then at least more respectable than it had at the start of the day.
Leaving the doors and ventilation panel wide open, I opted to have a coffee and a sit down indoors whilst I waited for the panels and floor to dry out enough for me to put the staging, pots, propagators and assorted gardening paraphernalia back inside. It took only 30 minutes to put everything back in and then I stepped back, admired my handiwork and felt that deep sense of satisfaction that a gardener gets when they see a nice, clean, shiny and tidy greenhouse ready for use once again.
I left the door open all night and most of Monday, to allow the greenhouse chance to dry out some more and then yesterday afternoon I decided to pot on the flower seedlings, using the last of the compost bought last year. I have bought fresh compost and some topsoil for this years vegetable crops and I intend to start potting them on over the next day or two. With the weather forecasters predicting a frost last night, I did cover the flower seedlings in a double layer of fleece and I intend to do that every night for the foreseeable future and the tomato, cucumber and chilli seedlings will also be under two layers of fleece once potted on. As is always the case with newly potted on seedlings, the young flower plants looked a little sulky this morning when I removed their blankets and I may lose one or two but I am hopeful that the majority of them will perk up over the next day or so and start to thrive.
I now have a load more seeds to sow and with the first batches of seedlings potted on and out of the way, there will be ample space on the windowsills.
Elsewhere in the garden I did check in on my recently planted onion sets and was surprised to see that some Parsnip foliage was poking up between the rows of nicely swollen bulbs. As I had thoroughly dug this bed over prior to planting the onions and had taken great pains to remove (or so I thought) the last of the parsnips, no matter how small, parsnip foliage was the last thing I expected to see. I can only assume that either a whole or part of half a dozen small parsnips escaped my efforts and these have now re-rooted themselves and are growing happily. As with carrots, parsnips flower in their second year and so I am tempted to leave these in and try and grow them for seed but I have no idea how big or small the original root was and really seed saving should only be done using the best roots of a season. In terms of an exercise in learning how to grow and save parsnip seed, this could be useful and then I could look at growing for bona fide seed saving next year, so, for now, the parsnips will be left to grow alongside the onions and we’ll see what, if anything, happens.
I do still have the smaller of the greenhouses to clean but it should only take a fraction of the time it took me to sort out its’ neighbour and so with a major job ticked of my ‘to do’ list, exhausted and aching, I headed back indoors, stopping en route to snap a cheery picture of the first of the daffodils in our garden, to flower.