Fertilizer and irrigation for winter cultivation
There is no doubt that it is autumn in the greenhouse. You can use your greenhouse to save money on the food budget – even when it is autumn. It is October, but you can continue to cultivate vegetables all winter long in the greenhouse. Although, you will have to cultivate other plants than those you would cultivate in summer. Also, other forms for irrigation techniques and fertilization techniques will be needed.
The first thing you may notice when cultivating during winter, is how slowly they will grow – and even slower when you reach the end of the year. It might be tempting to start fertilizing the plants to help them and to kick-start their growth, but that is not the case.
To make a plant grow, you simply need to make sure that a couple of basic needs are met. Just like the human existence depends on a few basic needs such as food and water. Plants are just like that. The basic needs for growth must be present and in the right amounts to have growth that is ideal and healthy.
Few but important elements
Light, water CO2, oxygen heat and nutrients
Throughout the winter there is a lack of light and heat. However, do not help the winter cultivation along by providing additional heat or use grow lights. Let nature provide the free sunlight and warmth in the greenhouse on those wonderful winter days.
Liebig’s law of the minimum
Knowing this law when cultivating is important. The law of the minimum helps you understand growth, and you will know what to do and what not to do during your winter cultivation.
Plant growth is limited if one of the essential nutrients is deficient – even when all other essential nutrients are abundant.
Essential nutrients can for instance be light, water, CO2, oxygen, heat and nutrients. All winter cultivated plants will eventually lack light and heat during winter. In other words, adding fertilizer and water will not contribute to their growth. The plants will not be able to effectively use the nutrients, due to low temperatures in the greenhouse, and the water in the leaves will not evaporate as much as they did in the summer months. Therefore, winter cultivated plants need less water. The plants will grow on days with mild temperatures and sunlight – but they will be growing slowly.
Plants for winter cultivation
- Lettuce (short-day varieties)
- Broad beans
- Napa cabbage
Tips on winter cultivation
- Know the law of the minimum
- Avoid using fertilizer in the greenhouse during autumn and winter
- Irrigate once a week
- Reuse the soil from your summer cultivation
Christine Wiemann is a greenhouse grower and an agricultural technician and owner of the seed company Spirekassen. Christine is an author of several books about lifestyle, garden life and plant cultivation. Today she writes blogs and shares her knowledge and passion for greenhouses. Christine is a greenhouse expert and an ambassador for Juliana Drivhuse.Get to know Spirekassen
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