Monday, 13 December 2021

How to: clean out the greenhouse!

There's nothing like... a nice clean greenhouse.

And I bet that a lot of you are looking at the screen and muttering "and my greenhouse is nothing like a nice clean one!" 

Late December is a horrible time of year for working in the garden: it's cold, wet and miserable, and a lot of the time, there is a hard frost which makes it impossible to walk on the grass. 

Well, you can walk on the grass if you want to, but if you do so while it's crunchy with frost, you'll regret it later when you find dead brown footprints all across the lawn...

So what can we do? Answer: clean out that greenhouse! Get rid of all last year's dead tomatoes, tip out the tired contents of the old grow-bags on nearby beds or borders, and clear out all the clutter and bits and bobs.

If you have staging or shelving, lift it outside and brush all the dirt and cobwebs off. 

This is a doubly useful job: partly because it means all the dirt is now outside the greenhouse so there's less for you clear up in there: and partly because it gives you room to move properly inside.

This applies to all those stacks of empty pots as well: get them all outside, brush them off, sort them into sizes, and decide if you really need that many of them in the greenhouse. Do you really need that many at all, come to that! Keep as many as you are realistically going to use, and offer the rest on your local community website: far better to pass them on, than to send them off to landfill, as most councils don't seem to be able to recycle plastic pots as yet.

Then, when the floor is clear, you can wash down all the glass on the inside, getting rid of over-wintering bugs as well as cobwebs and general dirt.

Once that's done, a good sweep of the floor makes it look spick and span, and ready for the installation of new grow-bags in a month or so.

Best of all, as it's a greenhouse, it's a great deal warmer than working outside - especially if the sun comes out for a while!

Once you're nice and warm from working inside it, and you've put the staging back in place, it's time to look at the outside. 

Is there a mass of moss growing between the panes? 

Get a long cane, and see if you can run it carefully along the joins, to flick out clumps of moss. If you are feeling brave, get the hosepipe out and twist the nozzle until you get a really tight jet: use that to jet-blast along the joins and up the metal strips. 

It's a messy job, but can really get that moss off. 

Even if it's too cold for the “you will get wet doing this job” jet-blasting, you can run a long-handled mop across the roof, frequently dipping it in a bucket of water, to wipe off any bird poo, green algae or general dirt. 

And if you can get some of the moss off, so much the better. 

If you don't have a long-handled mop, well, improvise! Yes, that's a kitchen sponge, tied on to one of the runner bean canes...

But be gentle - when you are accustomed to double-glazing, the thin single panes of greenhouse glass can be surprisingly fragile. Ask me how I know... yes, I once leant too heavily and shattered a whole pane. I've been super careful, ever since.

Once the outside is clean as well, you can go inside - I mean indoors, not into the greenhouse - for a well-deserved cup of tea, knowing that when you decide to start your early seedlings and veg, the greenhouse is all ready for use! 


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