Then there is the greenhouse. It’s the engine room that is central to most action throughout the year and at the height of summer, certain plants in there need a little extra monitoring.
In the depth of winter when the benches are packed with boxes and pots of different species that need frost protection, we aim to keep the temperature up, using fleece, bubble film, newspaper. Anything to encourage survival.
By mid-July we reduce the heat and offer a diversity of plants optimum growing conditions.
Automatic roof vents are so useful at this time. The mechanism contains a mineral oil which expands as greenhouse temperature rises, forcing a piston attached to the window in an upward direction.
A later decrease in warmth causes it to contract and close. But more ventilation is required so manually controlled elements such as side vents and the entrance door play a part.
Collectively, the purpose of these items is twofold; to control temperature and encourage a flow of air through the structure.
During recent hot weather, our greenhouse environment has still threatened to soar too high despite these aids, but luckily watering the solid flagged floor has an immediate cooling effect and increases humidity. It’s at this point that air circulation is so important.
Static conditions encourage moulds and mildew so maximum ventilation coupled with giving individual plants adequate space, secures ideal growing conditions.
This is particularly vital for greenhouse tomato crops. If they’re close together and so heavy with foliage that fruiting trusses are hidden, there’s a high risk of fungal attack.
Under such circumstances some older leaves will have turned yellow and deteriorated. The time is right to remove those and thin out overcrowded healthy foliage by making a clean cut, close to the main stem. Start on the lower leaves, allowing developing fruit trusses fresh air and daylight to encourage ripening.
Foliage on the peach is dense and the tree carries a substantial crop, so each day I direct the hose spray on the underside of the leaves to deter pests, especially red spider mite which can develop rapidly in dry, overcrowded conditions.