The biggest problem now is lack of space

Cold frame

Cold frame

Now's the time for pricking out those seedlings. Picture: peganum/Flickr

BRIAN KIDD: It’s full steam ahead as the new gardening year begins

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It’s early spring and already the greenhouse is becoming full of plants. The fuchsias which were cut right down hard are beginning to grow now, the begonia corms in trays of compost have suddenly sprung into life and the pricking-out of begonia semperflorens is going at a rate of knots. The biggest problem is going to be lack of space!

The glazing bars in modern greenhouses offer an opportunity to buy metal brackets which can be fixed into the bars. They are difficult to find, but well worth buying because a shelf can be fixed on to the brackets – creating space for additional boxes of seedlings.

If you buy brackets, there should be a set of nuts and bolts in the pack. When installing, simply push the head straight into the glazing bars, don’t try to push them in at an angle.

The metal shelves are very expensive, though. We use ready-treated timber as it’s less than half the price.

Still short of space?

Modern metal staging in packs is affordable and once erected – using all the patience in the world – an additional stage can be placed on top of the original bench.

This doubles the amount of space and it’s not long before all that extra room is filled. Pity we didn’t buy a larger greenhouse in the first place!

Perhaps you don’t have a greenhouse and would love to have one, but don’t possess the space. Well I may be able to give you an idea.

I know you’ve heard of a cold frame, but have you seen a wall frame? It is possible to have one of these in the smallest of gardens because they are fitted against a wall. They are just over a foot wide and the smallest one can accommodate 12 standard seed trays,

The cheapest ones have a roll-down polythene front, but the structure itself is made of aluminium.

It arrives in a pack which is easy to construct if the instructions are read.

Larger models are also available by mail order. There are even some with sliding front doors. There is a choice of either glass or rigid polycarbonate which has long life qualities. Well worth investigating.

The great advantage of having any kind of wall frame is that tomatoes, cucumbers or peppers can be grown once the bedding plants have been planted into the garden.

There is one important thing to bear in mind though. During the very cold weather the temperature in all types of unheated greenhouses is about as cold as it is outside.

It makes sense not to sow tender seeds too early, but the wall frames have an advantage because they are easy to cover with a couple of old blankets or some old carpets.

Always bear in mind that several layers of material are far better than a single covering. Remember your mum saying ‘put your vest on’?

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