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Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Getting the Most from your Greenhouse in April

With Spring hopefully just around the corner and some (slightly) warmer temperatures on the horizon its a good time to plan your April sowing in the greenhouse.

Gabriel Ash Wooden Lean-To Greenhouse
Vegetables
As it has been a cold start to spring this year many of the seeds that would normally be started in March have been better off delayed until April. It is warming slightly with the negative temperatures almost behind us. I have several packets of vegetable seeds to sow in the greenhouse this weekend for the allotment.
  • Tomatoes, the greenhouse favourite. Easy to grow and great to get children involved. There are fortunately many types that can be grown outside in the UK in summer so you don't even have to have a greenhouse. However in saying that the earliest crop of fruit will come from plants grown in a greenhouse. Tomatoes are very easy to grow from seed, so start sowing now to raise indoor varieties 

  • Peppers, these do need a long season to do well, and are best grown in a hot greenhouse for the best results. 

  • Aubergines, again now is roughly the right time to get started, grow them on and then plant out after the frosts have gone. 

  • Celery/celeriac will need some heat to germinate. As there has been a bit more sun about - my greenhouse got up to 19C yesterday it should now be safe to start off your celery. Check our guide from last year.

  • Courgettes, can be started from late March so should now be ok.

  • Squashes, I start several seeds off each week in March and April

  • Cucumbers, I love home grown cucumbers, they have a much better taste than in the supermarket.

  • Melons, it may still be a little early as they can grow quickly and may get too large before the danger of frosts have passed. However I will start some off this weekend and some more over the next couple of weeks.
Tomato seedlings
Flowers
As well as the vegetables mentioned above Early April is also a good time to sow a number of flowers for the garden. By starting them in your greenhouse now they will be big enough to harden off in May and planted out towards the end of May when all danger of frost is hopefully behind us (although knowing the weather this year this may be wishful thinking!!)

Young marigold seedlings
  • Sunflowers can be sown now in pots in the greenhouse or towards the end of the month in situ in the garden.

  • Nasturtiums can be sown in pots and seed trays now. But keep them undercover as frosts will kill off the young plants. When hardening them off in May bring them back into the greenhouse at night. Even under glass if the temperatures fall and you don't heat then it is worth covering over with horticultural fleece at night

  • Petunia seeds should be sown in by the first week of April so that your plants can achieve a  decent size in time for a good summer display.

  • Scabiosa make great cut flowers and will attract bees and butterflies into the garden

  • It is not too late to sow your marigolds now in the greenhouse to include in your summer pots and baskets. But again remember to cover over with fleece on colder nights and when hardening off bring them back into teh greenhouse at night.

  • There are many other summer bedding plants such as Salvia, Ageratum and Zinnia that can be started this month to ensure a bright and colourful display this summer.
Beautiful wooden greenhouse from Gabriel Ash
If you are like me and buy plenty of seeds the previous year, often in the end of season sales, it is worth searching out where you have tucked them away (in that safe place!!) as there will be plenty that you can sow in April. Although many need to get sown early in the month for a quality summer display.


DG

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