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Keeping the Brakes On

February 4, 2016

I always make the mistake at this time of year of sowing too much too early. That’s then followed by a crazy juggling act to keep seedlings in limited space in the light and warm till March.  They end up getting leggy or succumb to damping off so this year I am trying to be more restrained. I’ve bought a pop up greenhouse for the allotment but it has yet to be assembled and the plan is to use it to grow tomatoes in the ground.  This will be from soil at the base on one side and supported with canes pushed firmly into the allotment earth. On the other side there will be shelving for cuttings and new seedlings. It’s 2 m x 2.5 m so big enough for my needs and combined with my new potting shed here at home I should be able to fill the allotment to bursting.

pop up greenhouse

The Cupani sweet peas have been sown in the root trainers and are in the heated propagator to germinate. I followed Julie’s instructions in her latest blog Peonies and Posies and I also bought the Jute netting that she recommends for support. This will do too for the peas and mange tout and should avoid me swearing at the plastic stuff that gets tangled up in cardigan buttons and in anything else it can snare on.

The allotment raspberries after ten years gave a poor crop last season so Autumn Bliss and summer fruiting Mailing Minerva, which produces large crops from early June, are waiting to be planted.  These were bought at the garden centre and rather than bare root they were bundled together in a  deep pot of soil so I haven’t had to worry about getting them planted. The Autumn bliss is showing new growth.


The Mailing isn’t showing any green shoots so these will probably skip fruiting this summer but I’m happy to wait and I may be surprised.


Clearing the old raspberry beds will allow room for the walk-in greenhouse and give me a lot more growing space on either side. With this in mind and in an attempt to beat the badger I have also purchased these Micromesh Wind Barriers.  They are designed to protect carrots and other crops against flying insects and ‘other pests’ -the badger fits that description in my view.

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The cut flowers this week are the usual suspects: arum, euphorbia, vinca, sweet box and hellebores.  The latter have performed really badly this year with many of the flowers being nibbled by something.


15 Comments leave one →
  1. February 4, 2016 10:04 am

    Lovely piece! Great shot of the polytonal 😉

  2. February 4, 2016 10:08 am

    Inspired by you and I can’t wait to install it just waiting for a few days of dry weather!!

  3. February 4, 2016 10:38 am

    So do I understand correctly that the greenhouse you showed isn’t yours? It looks ideal if it is the same type. Even with my quite large greenhouse I am already playing the musical chairs game with seedlings. The sun is now higher in the sky and if it hits the propagator it cooks the seeds inside! What I really need is a coldframe to keep young plants protected at night but let them harden off properly during the day; I think it is unlikely I’ll actually invest in one though as it would only be used for such a short time each year. What I may invest in is a shade tunnel to keep salad crops growing during late spring and summer when they just bolt outside.

    • February 4, 2016 11:11 am

      It’s the same type yes. The juggling act is challenging and a shade tunnel (which I looked at too) would serve two purposes. Spring seedlings could be hardened off and late sowing of salad leaves could be protected over Winter. Maybe you do the latter in your greenhouse though.

      • February 4, 2016 11:13 am

        Yes I grow salad leaves all winter in the greenhouse but the problem is that after the end of May it is difficult to keep them alive on the garden under the burning sun.

  4. February 4, 2016 10:55 am

    I like the pop up greenhouse idea. It sounds like the best of both worlds for tomatoes.

  5. February 4, 2016 11:13 am

    I hope so and maybe I’ll try chillies too. If it’s manageable then I’ll go on to aubergines next year.

  6. February 4, 2016 3:48 pm

    I know exactly what you mean about the “crazy juggling” routine, a pop-up greenhouse sounds an ideal solution. I’m so pleased to hear that it’s not just me that gets in a tangle with plastic netting. I’ve tried an American polymer product via Simpsons The Walled Garden, it’s great, but I like Julie’s suggestion of a compostable jute equivalent. I checked my hellebores this morning, thrumming with honey bees but few flowers unmunched.

    • February 4, 2016 4:07 pm

      Yes the jute arrived within a day or two of me placing the order and will be great. Honey bees on your hellebore flowers-Spring is almost here.

      • February 4, 2016 4:09 pm

        The wild colonies we have venture out on fine days in winter … still I’d like to think spring is just around the corner!

  7. February 4, 2016 4:10 pm

    You are off to an amazing start, I love your enthusiasm.

    • February 4, 2016 4:17 pm

      That’s the joy of gardening but at this time of year it has to be all in the planning rather than in the doing.

  8. February 8, 2016 1:21 pm

    Love the blog. Thanks to Rusty Duck for showing me to you. 🙂 We are trialing a new type of green house as well as simple fencing all in one this year.

    We are building raised beds from pallets (save our backs), and then on the inside we are attaching pipe fastener clips. We then slot in tubing trough the clipes, one either side, to create a tunnel and the sheeting (or bird netting) over the top when we need, and remove when done. We can also susbsitute straight poles, should we prefer lower bird netting. (We have chickens who like nothing better than to scratch around in the garden beds, that’s why this year we are raising them higher.)

    • February 8, 2016 1:51 pm

      Thank=you. Gosh that all sounds great I especially like the option to cover and create a tunnel and then to un-cover as summer arrives. It’s so windy and wet here in the southwest I can’t imagine ever gardening again but of course I will.

  9. Spade & Dagger permalink
    February 8, 2016 3:31 pm

    On our moderately sized suburban allotment site (surrounded by housing) poly-anythings of any size have to be very well anchored down in every season, as they have the capacity to take flight in even quite moderate winds. Corner & edge pegs are not sufficiently secure (especially in cultivated loose ground) & the higher up tie-points tend to tear easily on cheaper polytunnels. The best solution is over the top straps (of the type used in camping to secure caravan awnings from billowing in the wind) attached on either side to really large pegs hammered deep into the ground.

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