This bad weather is a good opportunity to get the greenhouse in order

Seedlings in a greenhouse with bubbled insulation

Seedlings in a greenhouse with bubbled insulation

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It won’t be long before we start to sow seeds to make an early start towards another great summer in the garden.

Due to all the rain, I have decided to stay indoors this week. Well, indoors in the greenhouse.

It is very disappointing when seedlings don’t germinate or, when they do, they fall over due to damping off disease.

Seedlings can also germinate slowly and then bolt, producing long stems with a weak, sickly appearance. There are easy methods to prevent these problems.

To stop pests and fungal diseases it is a good idea to buy a sulphur candle costing about a fiver. Place it in the centre of the greenhouse on the path, light the wick, lock the greenhouse and the sulphur will vaporize, filling the greenhouse with fumes which will kill off every type of over-wintering pests and diseases.

Years ago sulphur candles were used in homes infected with dreadful diseases and the results prevented thousands of people dying unnecessarily.

Every plant must be removed before the sulphur candle is burned. They can be put back into the greenhouse 48 hours afterwards, but it is essential to spray them. A combination of fungicide, insecticide and Multirose will do the trick.

I know it’s for roses but it works on all other non-edible plants.

Next job is to clean the glass inside and out. The easiest way is to use Flash diluted in water if you have it in a box, but neat if it is in the kitchen cabinet as a hand sprayer. You will need two for an average greenhouse.

Flash mops up over-wintering eggs hiding away in crevices between the glass; it also burns fungal spores. Why clean the glass? If it’s clean the maximum amount of light will penetrate the greenhouse and the plants will not be spindly.

If the greenhouse is lined with bubbled polythene sheeting, available at garden centres, this will conserve warmth. A vertical division in the greenhouse will keep part of the structure warmer and the seedlings will appreciate this.

A plant propagating frame can be placed on a bench in the warmest part of the greenhouse and will be ready to sow some seeds.

If you are a serious gardener, you might think about buying a soil warming cable.

A box with 4in sides screwed on to a small former door, an inch of sand over the base, the soil cable installed (instructions are on the box) and a top covered with sheets of glass and your greenhouse gardening will be transformed.

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