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To Sow or Not To Sow

March 31, 2016


The new pop-up greenhouse was purchased with a plan to sow and grow seeds in the light and warmth for much of April.  From past experience sowing too early at home results in a crazy juggling act with a small sunny window having to cope with too many seedlings all desperate for sunlight and warmth. In the greenhouse it was great to be working away from the wind and in considerable space in the warm so I started with peas since they are hardy and germination was satisfying and quick. The plugs of globe artichokes were potted on and seeds of chard, leeks and cucumber emerged at a steady pace. This was all looking good with full pots and seed trays resting on the soil in beds that would later be used for tomatoes, chillies and cucumbers.  Watering every four days or so with cans kept in the greenhouse to warm the water was also manageable. But with a severe weather warning and a reluctance to be slipping around on muddy paths I decided to bring several trays of seedlings home.



Here they are in the potting shed recently edited on one side to take trays of seedlings in need of protection from heavy wind and rain.  It’s a perfect holding environment for young plants with enough indirect light to encourage growth although not enough to provoke seed germination.

So plant juggling again but worth it since in spite of severe gale warnings two days later this is what we found…


The metal appears to be undamaged and the frame is back up and the cover will go on later this week. Gardeners on the allotment didn’t fare much better with the glass in traditional greenhouses smashed and there were casualties with cloches and propagators.

I’ve transcended it fast and trust I shall be growing some great produce comfortably protected within the frame over the next few months. The skirt on three sides will be weighed down with bricks and more wood chips piled on top to anchor it.

It’s always a challenge sowing seeds at the correct time-too early and you end up with leggy specimens that are tender and can’t be planted out for many weeks. Then seeds that are perfect for an early sowing and are growing well suddenly collapse at soil level for no reason. Two of my five cucumbers have just succumbed. So it will be mid to late April before I start most seeds off but tomatoes are about to be sown in the heated propagator.DSCN6356

A lovely bed of pale hellebores came into flower later than others and mixed with a very pale double-flowered daffodil they’ve cheered up the kitchen.


16 Comments leave one →
  1. March 31, 2016 10:23 am

    And there I was admiring your cosy little green tunnel when I read down to the devastation caused by the gales. So glad to read that the polytunnel is still usable but strong weather must still be a worry. I’m hoping that the good weather we’ve had this week (at least in London) continues into April – I’m getting whatever the seed sowing version of cabin fever is!

  2. March 31, 2016 10:42 am

    Yes and I’ve since discovered that the zips have torn away from the plastic. Pah.
    Gorgeous weather here and tempted to sow but will busy myself with other things such as composing assertive correspondence and awaiting a response.

  3. March 31, 2016 11:40 am

    Oh, bad luck! I hate wind; I was worried that the shade netting on the outside of mine would rip and blow away when we had the very strong winds last week; it was strong enough to blow a couple of the garden chairs around.

  4. March 31, 2016 11:46 am

    My heart went out to you when I saw that third image. Thank goodness you had the foresight to bring your tiny charges inside. I am just setting off home to see what damage Katie has done to our seaside garden and greenhouse. I’ll also be sowing seeds this weekend. Hoping you can get growing again soon 🙂

  5. March 31, 2016 11:53 am

    Like Caro, I was taken aback by the storm damage – what a shame! Lucky that the precious seedlings were safely stored at home.

  6. March 31, 2016 5:47 pm

    I’ve had one of those polytunnels and they are great – but the sides need to be dug into the ground – no amount of bricks, wood chip etc will keep it stable. Proof is this – on our site, mine was the only one that lasted 3 years – never blew away or ripped. You can repair the zips and seams with duct tape, a leather needle and marine thread (digging in the sides doesn’t make it vandal proof, but that’s another story!) Enjoy your plot and poly

    • March 31, 2016 6:42 pm

      Thanks so much for this. Oddly my next instinctive plan was to dig the polythene sides deep in the ground. Sorry to say the supplier KMS has had a very limited one short sentence response to my six or so emails today. ‘Speak to the hand’ comes to mind’.
      And there’s no opportunity to give a review- so a clever on-line sales technique for an inadequate seller/product. Be warned by my experience of KMS since the latest from them is there is no replacement cover available for at least six weeks. No doubt overwhelmed with disappointed buyers needing a new cover. Now have the responsibility of disposing the dratted thing into an already over-full recycling system. Fed up.

      • March 31, 2016 7:48 pm

        Honestly, if you are any good at all with a needle and thread, the cover can be repaired – the before and after is is in this youtube clip

      • March 31, 2016 8:14 pm

        I have a sewing machine and will consider repairing although it’s a bit muddy.

  7. March 31, 2016 6:02 pm

    Oh your poor greenhouse, what a shame. The winds were certainly strong enough. I’ve been struggling getting any seeds into growth so far this year, it’s been too cold I reckon.

    • March 31, 2016 6:47 pm

      Yes tragic and an infuriating email exchange with supplier see last comment.Meditating to calm down !!!

  8. April 2, 2016 8:29 am

    Oh no. Could it be taped using something like “gorilla tape”. I wouldn’t wish to put sheets of muddy plastic under my sewing machine. Lots of damage from Storm Katie at my allotment site too. My shed is now leaning to the left, the mice have eaten my broad beans and the psb needed a lot of work in strong winds to re-net and get them standing upright again. Apart from broad beans and sweet peas I haven’t sown anything yet – it is too cold and as I don’t have a greenhouse I will wait for better weather.

  9. April 2, 2016 9:23 am

    I got the sewing machine out and found I had some heavy duty curtain tape. I stitched the curtain tape to the torn edges and re-enforced it with another row of stitches followed by a zigzag. Then I carefully pinned the zipper tape to the curtain tape and sewed two machine rows on that seam. Gaffer tape sorted all the rips and two hours later three ripped seams were repaired.and it’s now back on the frame. It was dry mud luckily so no damage to my machine the challenge was in getting the thing under the needle to sew. Even that was manageable with the zippers open. It is now well bedded in with much soil round the skirts so a great relief till the next storm.

  10. April 2, 2016 7:50 pm

    I’m very sorry for your loss. I had a similar experience a few years ago when I constructed a large (and fabulous) winter pond cover out of 6mm plastic and PVC. The amount of damage sustained after it got hit with a fairly typical 20 knot storm was pretty amazing. My carnage resembled yours. A twisted heap of cover and supports. Just today I put a few trays of seedlings out on the patio for a bit of sun and a gust came through that flipped them all. Luckily it was mainly the chard that bought it and that grows fast.

    • April 2, 2016 9:08 pm

      Now all restored until the next severe storm of course. I enjoyed your dance with your seedlings-in and out of the greenhouse-similar activity all day here.

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