Growing Under Glass.Published on 18th February 2015
It may still be chilly, and there’s a certainly chance of snow still to come, but there is a definite whiff of spring in the air and that can mean only one thing – it’s time to start gardening! Yippee!
Although there’s nothing like a bit of digging and clearing to warm the muscles, for many it’s may be a little soon to be out turning over the soil, but that doesn’t mean that your gardening adventure needs to be delayed – the end of February and beginning of March is the perfect time to get growing under glass if you want to maximise the full potential of the gardening year.
While a humble windowsill is enough to get you started, if you happen to be the proud owner of an Apropos greenhouse, conservatory, or even veranda, you can soon be off to a flying start.
If you have an Apropos greenhouse, then the world is your flowerbed. Almost anything can be grown in a heated greenhouse at almost any time of year, but unless you have a prize-winning hothouse flower collection, then it’s probably simpler to stay seasonal.
Things to grow in your greenhouse now:
- Vegetables – Onions, Okra (requires consistently high heat), Celeriac, Peppers
- Half-hardy annuals – Pelargonium, Begonia and Osteospermum, Cerinthe.
- Cut flowers – Cleome, Chrysanthemum, Nicotiana, Rudbeckia, Stocks.
- Bedding plants – Impatiens, Violas, Pansies.
Before you start to grow, don’t forget to ventilate your greenhouse (or conservatory) on mild days to help prevent fungal problems.
There is a cross-over between greenhouse and conservatory growing, the main distinction we’ve made here is due to the amount of space required, but if you have a warm green house or a warm conservatory you can interchange.
Things to grow in your conservatory now:
- Herbs – basil, sorrel, thyme, lemon balm, lemongrass
- Physalis (Cape Gooseberry – requires a temperature of 18-20°C in germination)
Don’t forget to take a seat in your conservatory and sort through your old seeds before buying new.
Vegetables in the Veranda
Verandas tend to have a cooler climate than the other structures we’ve looked at, even verandas with closed sides, so it’s important to sow appropriately. When it comes to vegetables however, many allotment favourites can be sown directly outdoors in February, it’s more about providing protection. If you start off your seeds with a little bit of shelter from the frost and safeguard them against the natural garden nibblers – mice, squirrels, birds and (if you’re unlucky) rats – you’ll find yourself with a far better strike rate and a better haul come harvest time.
Things to grow in your veranda now:
- Vegetables – Broad beans, Beetroot, Cabbage, Leeks, Kale, Lettuce, Carrots.
- Chit potatoes.
- Flowers – Sweetpeas, Hollyhocks, Calendula, Larkspur, California Poppies.
- Hardy ferns (sterilise the soil with boiling water and allow to drain, put into a clear, closable container – an old Ferrero Rocher box is ideal! – sprinkle the spores, then close the lid and leave in a frost-free space. Germination can take months, or even years, but the results are bountiful.