Seasonal Jobs for Unheated Greenhouses, Cloches and Cold Frames
Whether you are lucky enough to have a greenhouse or you simply make do with a cloche or cold frame, there are essential jobs you should be doing to mark each of the seasons.
Spring is the time for new growth in the garden. Young plants are vulnerable so it is essential that you give your greenhouse a through clean and remove lingering pests and diseases. Once this task is complete, you can sow tomatoes, aubergines and other seasonal produce in seed trays and pots. Now is also the time to sow early flowering annuals such as sweet pea. Prick out seedlings and grow on young plants.
You can also start tomatoes and aubergines in seed trays and pots in a cold frame at this time, as well as early herbs and salad crops. Use your cold frame to harden off plants previously sown indoors.
Use your cloches to warm up the soil for sowing early radish, lettuce and carrots. Cloches can also be used to protect slightly tender plants such as dahlia shoots from late spring frosts and as a cover for strawberries to encourage an earlier crop. Young plants can be hardened off under a cloche.
Early summer is the time to grow on tender crops such as cucumbers and peppers in your greenhouse. You will also need to decide which plants you intend to grow and crop in your greenhouse. Tomatoes although they will live happily outdoors, often do much better if grown in a greenhouse, as do tender herbs such as basil. It is also a good idea to regularly check your greenhouse plants for pests and diseases. These are spread rapidly in such a small warm environment. In extremely hot weather you will need to provide greenhouse plants with plenty of ventilation and even shade from the heat of the day. There is an excellent gadget on the market for those of us who work during the day, which will automatically open your greenhouse windows for you when the temperature reaches a certain degree.
Use your cold frame and cloche to harden off tender plants such as French and runner beans at this time.
When plants start to slow down in the garden, you will often find that those in your greenhouse will keep on going, especially if the weather stays fine. Keep cropping tomatoes and peppers. Once they have finished cropping, make space for those plants you will want to bring into the greenhouse to overwinter. You can also start to sow sweet peas in the greenhouse for an early flowering the following year. Once you greenhouse starts to empty, make sure you clean the glass so as to ensure maximum light once the short winter days set in.
In autumn you can also use a cold frame or cloche to dry off crops of onions and shallots and sow late sowings of lettuce.
During the winter months your greenhouse, cold frame and cloche all serve as protection for plants that would otherwise not survive the winter cold. Bring outdoor planters into the greenhouse with their tender occupants. Cloches can be useful at this time of year for protecting any winter salad crops left growing outside from severe weather.
Whatever the time of year, make sure that your greenhouse and cold frame are well ventilated, watered and clean.