Sian Napier

22 Mar 2024 13:44

Diary of a Greenhouse Owner: Part 19


What a miserable day.

Yet again it’s raining, and I’ve had to cancel work, to be honest it’s so wet that if I worked outside today, I would probably drown. The ground is so waterlogged that, as a gardener, I would be doing more harm than good.

So instead, coffee in hand, I’ve decided to spend the day in the greenhouse, in preparation for this year’s growing season. Firstly, I need to make a bit more space, so some of the larger exotic house plants that I have been keeping in the greenhouse have been moved inside.

The greenhouse itself needed a good wash, so armed with a step ladder, long brush, and bucket of soapy water I tackled washing all the wood and glass until it was grime and spider web free. I admit it took me all the morning, but the greenhouse is all spic and span and ready for business.

The pelargoniums that I have been overwintering have had any dead leaves removed and have been moved to stand on the floor with the rest of the remaining houseplants. They add a welcome splash of colour as they are beginning to flower. Other cuttings and carnivorous plants are now on the top shelf, so I now have plenty of preparation room, from where I can sow this year’s seeds.



I’m attempting to use as much of my own compost as possible this year, but it took me quite a while excavating through the slimy old grass cuttings and rotting vegetables to get down to the good stuff at the bottom of my compost bins.

 I managed to get enough to fill my seed trays and a selection of pots. This was not much fun in the rain, and I will need to spend a day digging out the compost bins, so that I can collect all the lovely black nutritious loam and rotate the uncomposted organic waste to the bottom, to start the composting process all over again.

Once the seed trays and pots were prepared, I was ready to start sowing my seeds. I started with the three varieties of tomatoes that I have bought. A Pomodoro, Sungold F1 and Shirley. The Sungold and Shirley varieties I grew last year, with great success.

The Pomodoro variety is supposed to be full of flavour and is good for drying, making sauces and for having in salads, so I’m interested to see how that works out. 



There were also a generous number of seeds in the packet, compared to the others, where, as stated on the outside of the packet the average contents were only 10 seeds. This meant being very careful when opening the packets, so that none of the seeds were lost.

Lots of people like to buy their tomato plants directly from nurseries, as they don’t necessarily want a ton of tomato plants and the bother of sowing seeds and caring for the seedlings. For me this is the best part, and it also gives me a chance to experiment with growing and ultimately tasting different kinds of tomatoes that wouldn’t usually be available. I still want to get two more varieties of tomato, one will be a beef tomato and the other will be what I fancy, when I see it.

At the same time as sowing my tomato seeds, I’ve also sown some French climbing beans, two types of courgettes, a few cucumbers, and a pot of Basil. The cucumbers were called Passandra, I grew them last year and they were abundant and delicious, I would highly recommend them.

I am hoping that I haven’t sown the courgettes and cucumbers too early, but as I now have heating in the greenhouse, I thought it was worth the risk. I also have some spare seeds just in case they fail to germinate.


 Over winter, I have been growing a mixture of lettuce and salad leaves in my raised beds, which I have been harvesting for a little while now. I literally emptied last summer’s packets of left over seeds onto fresh compost in November and have been watering them gently and quite sparingly since.

They don’t appear to be susceptible to frost damage and are now providing the kitchen with a ready supply of fresh salad leaves.



Outside, two of my raised beds in the vegetable plot have been turned over to growing cut flowers. I have daffodil and tulip bulbs growing nicely, or I did until one of my chickens escaped and decided to attack some of my tulips.

I also have lots of Dhalia, Alstroemeria and Ranunculus. In the other beds I have some perennial vegetables including a massive globe artichoke and an asparagus bed, which is coming into its fourth year, so hopefully I can get a nice crop in early summer. The remaining space available is used for growing the vegetables that I enjoy using in the kitchen.

This year I will be growing banana shallots, peas, and perpetual spinach as well as courgettes, beetroot, and leeks. Most of these I will sow directly in spring, but before I can even think about that, I will need to Improve the soil in my raised beds, that have been compacted by the endless heavy rain we’ve had this winter. So, if we do have a break in the weather, I’ll be digging in the compost as well as generally improving the area around the greenhouse and vegetable plot. Fingers crossed for some sun.

Om Sian Napier

Sian Napier is a freelance garden designer and gardener with over 15 years professional horticultural experience to build beautiful garden spaces for her clients using plants to create movement, texture and all year season colour and interest.

Follow her journey of living with a Gabriel Ash Greenhouse and learn about different aspects of growing through the seasons.

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