Gardening Times

IT IS important to keep your glasshouse clean and tidy as best you can, so that it is easy and pleasant to work in.

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It also makes it better to look at too.

Some people say the downside of a glasshouse is that you don't have anywhere to hide things away. This means there shouldn't be any clutter and less chance of you falling over things or damaging plants.

When there isn't much growing in the glasshouse you should give it a proper clear out and clean.

Using a disinfectant like Jeyes Fluid is an excellent way of getting rid of the hidden dirt that may have been missed throughout the year.

As well as removing rubbish and tidying up it is as important to remove all the weeds growing in and around the glasshouse. This keeps the area tidy and gives the plants you want a better chance of surviving.

Weeds can quickly take over the area as the heat and moisture give them the perfect growing conditions.

Hand weeding is probably best as you can get much of, if not all, their roots, and collect seed heads that may have set.

If you attack the weeds with a hoe you may just scatter the seeds.

It is not a good idea to use weed killer in a glasshouse as it is a confined space, therefore there is a higher chance of your crops being hit too.

If you keep up the general housekeeping rules with regards to excess dirt, rubbish and weeds, you will help to lessen the chance of pests and diseases attacking your crops.

As with weeds the warm, humid conditions are ideal for pests such as whitefly and greenfly.

Insecticides are available specifically for indoor plants - if you choose to use them it is important to follow the manufacturer's recommendations for applying.

However, if you don't want to use chemicals you could use soapy water which when sprayed on to plants makes them too slippery for the pests to cling on.

ANOTHER pest that loves the conditions is the red spider mite, which burrows itself in nooks and crannies throughout the winter.

One of the best ways to rid the area of them is to give the glasshouse a good wash down with disinfectant and mend any gaps or broken areas.

Most of the diseases in glasshouses are airborne, so attacks take place through the vents or open doors.

The worst one making a re-appearance is blight. This affects tomatoes and potatoes and the solanaceae family and can be devastating.

Any affected plants have to be destroyed - putting them in a compost bin will spread the disease.

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