So you've chosen the perfect greenhouse, prepared the base and had it installed in your garden...
You've filled it with plants, fruits, seeds and vegetables and are enjoying your extended growing season. But if you want to ensure your greenhouse lasts in tip-top condition for many years to come, you'll need to care for it every now and then. So we've produced this greenhouse maintenance guide to give you all the tips you need for making the most of your greenhouse long into the future.
The Annual Clean
This is probably the most important job for keeping your greenhouse in order. The best time to do a thorough deep-clean is in the autumn, before it gets too cold to leave your plants outside. You'll need to empty your greenhouse for this task so pick a day that's not too chilly or windy, as you don't want to damage any plants. Take everything outside - pots, seeds, trays, plant labels - the lot.
Now wash everything down. Scrub the windows with soapy water until they're spotless. This is to let in maximum light over the winter months when your plants will really need it.
Wipe down all the surfaces to ensure they are pest-free - you don't want any bugs hibernating in there ready to eat your crops next spring. Hose down the floors, paths and bricks with disinfectant and water for the same reason.
Make sure to wipe down the outside of the greenhouse too, so the glass is clear. Get into all the crevices around windows and doors to scrape out dirt and general grub. Clear out the drains and gutters, particularly any leaves that have fallen in the autumn. If you haven't already, it may be a good opportunity to fix up a water butt and start saving rainwater for your plants.
Finally, give all the pots and containers you've taken outside a thorough wash to disinfect them against any residual pests.
Check for Damage
Another essential pre-winter job is checking over your greenhouse for any damage, particularly in windows and door panes. If there are any cracks or broken glass now is the time to get them repaired. Over the coming months there'll be lots of icy winds, and even a little draught will make your plants suffer.
If you have a wooden greenhouse, it's also worth painting the timber with a wood preserve. This simple step will ensure the structure remains solid and healthy for years to come. Just make sure not to get any splashes of the preservative paint on your plants.
Keeping tabs on the temperature and humidity in your greenhouse will not only provide the best growing environment for your fruit and veg, it will also protect the building against rot (in a wooden frame) or other lasting damage.
In the summer, when the sun is at its brightest, it's worth putting up some shading to weaken the harshest light coming through the window panes and burning the leaves. Just hang some translucent shading material across the highest windows and you should be fine.
Ventilation in your greenhouse is essential - and not just in the summer months. Greenhouses will heat up much faster than any other structure, which is not always best for your plants. If there's too much moisture in the air it can lead to rot. So be sure to open the windows and doors regularly, or instal automatic vent arms and louvre vents for a more hassle-free option.
Since the soil in a greenhouse is often self contained, it's important to top it up with water as the moisture will be used up or evaporate - and obviously there's no genuine rainfall. The same is true of minerals in the earth, which won't be naturally replenished, so you may need to use more fertiliser and plant feed than you would normally.
If the plants you're growing like it humid, then add more water into the air during the warmer months. You can use a mister or just splash some water on the floor in the mornings, which will evaporate into the air throughout the day.
For all plants it's important to maintain the temperature of the water you use on them. If the water is too cold relative to their own temperature, it can cause damage. So rather than using water fresh from the tap, fill up a watering can and leave it in the greenhouse to adjust to the ambient temperature first.
Lastly, in the winter you may need to use a heater to keep your plants growing well. Just be sure to check in on this regularly so the greenhouse doesn't become overly warm - and remember to keep the space ventilated for brief periods even when it's cold.