Greenhouse growing for allotments

We’re lucky enough to have a greenhouse at home as well as having relocated one to the allotment. This means that we can grow very delicate and tender seedlings at home where the conditions are more controlled, and only move them to the allotment once they are properly hardened off and able to cope with less constant care.

As an example, we have our royal black chilli seedlings at home. Because they need so many days of light (not necessarily heat, but definitely light) I start them off on the east facing kitchen windowsill in little pots on a mirror tile which reflects back light to the seedlings – this gives them an early growth burst.

Then, when they have their first true leaves and are ready to be potted on, most of them will be moved to the greenhouse in the garden (which is not totally unheated, it has a frost heater that kicks in when the temperature drops to 1 degree so that it just keeps the interior above freezing) which gets even more light. A couple stay on the kitchen windowsill just in case something goes horribly wrong.

Once they are ready to go into their final 25 cm pots, I put two in each greenhouse and two outside on the allotment. The rest I give away. Because the chillies they produce are very small, and the plants themselves are quite small and very pretty, I bring a couple inside for the winter so that they can continue to produce chillies right through the winter.

We usually plant our broad beans in October so that they can overwinter, but this year, because plot 103 was such a mess, we couldn’t get them into the ground until January. That worked out really well for us because lots of people on our site lost their overwintering beans in the snow, so we actually gained ground on some people who waited to see if the plants would survive their chilly blanket. We sowed the seeds in open ground, covered in holly clippings to deter the rodents from digging them up and the birds from pulling them up as soon as they germinated, and then covered them with glass as soon as the first broad beans showed. It was quite difficult to get this photo, but as you can see, the beans are doing fine!

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Monday, February 28, 2011


Blogger Joanna said...

How big are your chilli plants? We grew some chillis last year and they were about 3ft high and 3ft wide.

I am surprised that the beans did not fare well under their blanket of snow. I am always pleased if we get snow first before we get the really cold weather as then the ground does not freeze. I guess the blanket was not enough. I am expecting better results from my overwintered plants this year as they got a good covering of snow before the temperatures dropped unlike last year when temperatures dropped before the snow did.

February 28, 2011 at 12:08 PM  
Anonymous allotments4you said...

I lost quite a few of my beans to the weather and have just sown some more so i guess I am in the same boat as everyone else. I only have the greenhouse at the plot but as it's only a two minute walk away it's never a problem!

March 2, 2011 at 9:55 AM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

Royal blacks are really small, about 2 ft by 18 inches and the chillies are the size of the top joing of your little finger. See the next post for details of their indoor adventures!

As for the snow, I think it melted below the surface, then refroze to form ice at soil level. It seems to have pinched off all the plants at exactly that point.

March 3, 2011 at 7:25 AM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

Tanya - still time to plant spring growing broad beans (the overwintering varieties will possibly be too slow to flower when their pollinating insects are around) and it's worth it because when we have a bad year, so do the market gardeners and the shop prices escalate!

March 3, 2011 at 7:27 AM  

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