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16 October 2014
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Autumn 2001

Greenhouse Maintenance
by Brendan Little

With spring just around the corner it is a good time to pay some attention to your green house. Regular maintenance is necessary to preserve the structure itself as well as making it a productive and healthy environment in which to grow plants.
Choose a still, dry day (when did we last have one of those?) before tackling the exterior.

The glass may be cleaned with some warm water and a soft brush if necessary; in order to reach the ridge of the house I tie a sponge to a long bamboo cane. You will be amazed at how much extra light reaches the plants inside after this operation is complete. Remember that dirty glass will result in long straggly seedlings, so this is a job well worth paying attention to. To remove dirt and grime from between overlapping panes an old plastic plant label (or your partners credit card!) comes in handy.
Simply push the rigid plastic between the panes to loosen the dirt and algae.

This is also a good time to replace any broken panes. Do take care when washing or replacing the glass and always wear leather gloves when handling the glass itself.

Before starting any spring-cleaning inside the greenhouse it is important to switch off the electric power supply at the mains. If it is possible the plants should be moved to another greenhouse or warm shed. After this has been carried out the glass may be washed in the same way as the exterior. The glazing bars should be scrubbed with a garden disinfectant diluted to the manufacturers instructions, and do avoid getting this mixture onto any plants remaining in the house. The paths and any brick walls Greenhousemay also be washed with disinfectant, this practice will help to lower the red spider population.

Always practice good hygiene in greenhouses, the heat and humid atmosphere makes them an ideal breeding ground for pests and disease. Remove any fallen leaves from plants and beneath pots, and always prune out damaged or dead wood.

It is a good idea to keep a full watering can in the greenhouse this ensures that the water will be the same temperature as the compost in the pots, thus avoiding a sudden shock to the roots when you water.

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