Winter is coming, which means that many of us in the gardening community is preparing to transfer our plants from the garden to the greenhouse. But before you get your plants all cozy for the winter, it’s important to give your greenhouse a good clean to remove the summer plants that will now be dying off and ensure no nasty pests or bugs can find a hiding place. Here are a few tips to follow to get you started.
- Take out your plants and equipment.
Choose a mild day and keep your plants covered, or even take them into the house to keep them safe while you’re cleaning. Remove all equipment, pots and other storage containers from the greenhouse, vowing to return only the things that are absolutely essential.
A cluttered greenhouse can be a dangerous one, for you and your plants. You can trip or slip, falling and injure yourself or even accidentally fall on your plants, and cause them irreparable damage.
- Get your structural parts in tip-top shape.
In order to maximize the short daylight hours, we have in the winter, it’s important to make sure the panes inside and outside of your greenhouse are as clean as can be. Using specially designed cleaner helps to remove particularly difficult algae, mold, lichen and greenhouse sun shading, but be careful to avoid getting water on the leaves of your plants. Make sure to mend any broken glass to protect your plants from the cold, and clean down any metal or other structural parts.
- Declutter and plan.
Plan where your plants will be stored, so you know exactly how much space you’ll need. Keep pathways clear, get rid of any old garden tools or storage pots and brush down table tops and debris from the floor. Disinfect surfaces as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Clean out your gutters.
Cleaning gutters out ensures the free flow of water and limits the build-up of unwanted material. Scoop out any debris with a pair of rubber gloves, and run your hand along the inside length of the gutter to clear it out. Use a hosepipe to remove the remaining dirt, diverting any dirty water into a bucket to be disposed of.
- Check your ventilation system.
Ensure that your greenhouse’s ventilation system is working properly and not malfunctioning. The components, like the louvers and shutters, need to be oiled frequently so that they open and close without any issues.
- Check out your water butt.
Ideally, your water butts should be cleaned at least once a year to deter water borne root rots and algae. Empty out your water butt and clean out any dirt that may have gathered at the bottom by using a coarse brush. Refill as per the manufacturer’s instructions, and ensure the lid is fitted tightly if it has one. Uncovered water butts can attract wildlife, be contaminated with soil and debris, and be a hazard to animals or small children.
- Keep an eye out for pests
If you hear any insect sounds or find holes in your plant’s leaves, you very likely have the beginnings of a pest that can spread from plant to plant. You can fumigate your greenhouse once or twice a year to keep the insects at bay, but always be sure to immediately remove any infested plants.
Create a specialized quarantine area for situations like these – you’ll be glad to have a designated area just for infected plants, as the real dangers of pests spreading can cull all your plants. If you notice that you have aphids on your plants, you can also make sure to release one of their predators. Ladybirds are always extremely effective in taking care of these insects.
- Welcome your plants to their newly refreshed home.
Let everything dry off, then return your plants to their proper place within your now gleaming greenhouse. Before adding any new plant to your greenhouse, you should inspect it carefully for signs of insects that shouldn’t be there. Why not use your quarantine area to make sure no insects got past your watchful eyes?
These cleaning and maintenance routines should be done on a regular basis to guarantee a healthy greenhouse all year around. And remember, a decluttered greenhouse is a happy greenhouse full of happy plants.
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