After the Vegetable Shows, Clearing up the Gardens
7th Nov 2002
Vegetable Shows Finished
The main vegetable shows are now relegated to history and we must try and prepare during the next few month for next years shows, they will certainly come around faster than you think. I have ever travelled so much in the course of a seasons growing as I have this year, I attended some show or other most weekends from early July to the middle of October. The good thing however is that I have thoroughly enjoyed it and meeting up with you great gardeners out there makes it all worth while. I hope you enjoyed reading my show reports as much as I enjoyed writing about them.
Clearing and Tidying the Garden
First the Greenhouses
My priority now is to clean up the garden and the first area to be given a good clean out are the greenhouses. Both of my 12 ft by 8 ft aluminium houses are really in need of a good clean with algae being evident in between al the panes of glass. If anything, I think it's actually worse this year as the weather in Anglesey during June was abysmal. I don't think I saw the sun more than a couple of times and the damp dull weather would have been the perfect catalyst for spreading Algae growth as well as other disease spores.
The first thing to do is to clear out all the dead and dying plants such as tomatoes and Cucumber plants. These I take over to the area of cultivated soil that I have immediately behind the far polytunnel and these will be broken up with a spade and dug into the soil. This practice has served me well over the years with all the waste material that I have from the garden. One thing of course to remember is not to dig into the ground anything that will not rot easily as well as any material with disease on it.
The next stage is clean up any dead foliage from the benches and from any propagating bench and take any flower or foliage pot plants to another greenhouse or polytunnel whilst the cleaning is taking place. Once the greenhouse is empty the next step is to isolate any electrics that are there and this is certainly a case where safety is paramount. Either switch off the whole supply at the mains or remove a fuse from the fuse box, after this you can then cover all the electric fittings with some old towels and these in turn can be covered over with some polythene. The last thing you want after washing down the greenhouse is for water to have got into any of the electrical fittings.
I am fortunate to have a small pressure washer that also has a sucking device in built to it, this means that a small pipe coming from the machine can be inserted into a bottle of cleaning fluid and this will then be sucked and diluted into the main water jet. In my case I have always used Armillatox for this job and I can adjust the dilution rate that comes out of the bottle and onto the glass and aluminium structure.
The most difficult are to clean effectively in a greenhouse is the area of overlap between each pane of glass, the pressure washer does a great job on this. This narrow strip of green algae doesn't appear to be a lot but when its all added together it can really diminish the amount of quality light that gets through the glass and onto the plants.
These small pressure washers are really useful around the garden, they can clean up your old concrete path or concrete tiles like new, but the do need to be used correctly. If you are going to use one of these for the first time then I would suggest that you have a practice with it on some concrete outside the green house or even on cleaning your car wheels or gates. The important consideration is that these little machines, even a lightweight one, is capable of pushing the water out at 1,400 P.S.I. (pounds per inch of water pressure) If you were to hold the gun, with the nozzle adjusted to a point rather than a fan on to some concrete, the probability is that it could break up the tiny fragments of concrete. With glass, if you were to hold the nozzle at 90° to it, you could possibly break that as well.
The method therefore is to adjust the nozzle to a fan and then work the fan at an angle of say 30° to 40° against the glass, this gives you a wider band against the glass thereby cleaning it more effectively. After you have used a detergent or better still, Armillatox, you can remove the pipe from the bottle and just wash down the whole structure with clean water. I checked with my local Jewsons hire store and the small lightweight machine can be hired for under £15.00 per day which is excellent if you only intend to use it once a year for this very purpose. On the other hand these machines have now become quite cheap to buy and if you shop around you could get one for under £80.00 which should last you for many years.
Once you have finished cleaning the greenhouse, inside and out, leave it to dry out for a day before re placing any plants you took out.
My next job is to construct new panels to fit into my angle iron structure that form a growing cabinet in the furthest greenhouse. The current panels were made from hardboard and considering they were constantly in a warm humid environment they have lasted me a few years, however they are now rotting and twisting and need replacing.(picture attached) The new panels will be made from thin plywood with strengthening battens along the outer edges. The inside face of the each panel will have thin polystyrene silver faced material glued on to it to reflect light into every corner of the growing area.
I shall write more about this growing cabinet later on.