TIme to clean up in earnest
28th Oct 1998
It's now cleaning up time in earnest, at long last I have some time on my hands to get all the clearing and cleaning completed and start on turning over all the relevant beds. The first attack was on the greenhouses during late September, the tomatoes were pulled out with the wife making tomato soup with the spare red ones and chutney with the green.
The next step as always at this time of year for me was to completely check over the wiring system, in my case this has become extremely complicated over the years with so many products within the greenhouse totally reliable on electricity.
As I know very little about the subject being just about able to change a plug being my safe limit, I always consult with the experts. This time a good friend of mine who is a qualified electronic engineer came in and advised me on various changes that I should be making to improve and maintain a high level of safety in an area that could very easily be a potential death trap. Greenhouses, if not wet, are nearly always humid or damp so just remember one fact, there is no compatability between moisture and electricity; even if you only have a propagator or a fan heater, do make sure that the wiring is safe.
In my case I recently counted how many products that I have in just one of my greenhouses which really brought home to me how high tech vegetable growing has become. First I have a Parwin fan heater, a propagator, two blankets that cover the whole length and width of one side of my 12 x 8 greenhouse, a fan to cool down the plants as well as another in the glass at the far end of the greenhouse to remove the excess heat. A fluorescent light fitting suitable for a damp atmosphere and finally a radio to keep me happy. A lot of gadgets with every one serving a purpose in assisting me to grow quality plants that when planted out in their beds will grow away and perform to their optimum.
Cleaning the Greenhouse
The next task was to clean the greenhouse thoroughly and I have done this over the years very successfully by using Armillatox. I am very fortunate to own a small power sprayer and as well as pushing water out of the nozzle under very high pressure, it also has the facility of sucking in the right quantity of Armillatox which is automatically mixed with the water to clean up the glass like new. It is also excellent for cleaning out every nook and cranny that can so often be the hiding places for next years pests and diseases. With such a high pressure cleaner it is very easy to clean up all the green algae that inevitably builds up where two panes of glass overlap.
It"s amazing how fast this algae can accumulate, only this January I had a brand new greenhouse installed after the disastrous storm over the Christmas period demolished my other one. As I write this article I can see from my office window upstairs that there is a regular band of green, the width of the overlap already in existence after only a few short months. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to realise that a series of these bands running the length of the greenhouse removes a small percentage of available light from getting through to the plants. This is a small percentage, but when you consider those exhibitors growing exhibition leek and onions during the depths of Winter with no artificial lights and when light levels are at their lowest, any extra percentage allowed to enter as a result of thorough cleaning can be a boost.
Cleaning the Polytunnel
Don"t forget as well to clean the inside of your polytunnel and I don't mean the debris but the actual algae that forms on the polythene. If you haven't done this for a few years, you will certainly notice how this can creep up on you lowering the light levels. Armillatox is again the best product to use for this purpose as it doesn't destroy the polythene in any way with the added bonus that any soaking the bed gets as you carry out the work will only assist in maintaining a clean environment.
Master Class Weekend
There are still a few spaces left in my Master class weekend for vegetable exhibitors which is being held from Friday the 13th November to Sunday 15th. This is a golden opportunity for you to listen and mix for a whole weekend with the country's top growers who are more than willing to share their secrets with you. This year the speakers are Dr Peter Dawson, Ivor Mace, Graham Wagstaffe, Malcolm Evans, Mrs Hope Scott, John Soulsby, Charles Maisey and Bob Herbert. To crown it all on the Saturday evening you will be entertained by a top class welsh male voice choir. The all in price for the Weekend including all your meals is £144.00. If interested please ring me on 01248 714 851 for further details.