Sian Napier

02 Apr 2024 10:37

Diary of a Greenhouse Owner: Part 20

Sprucing up the vegetable plot.

The greenhouse arrived about twenty months ago, and in that time, I rebuilt and changed the design of the kitchen garden.  I revamped some of the old, raised beds and built three more, for both vegetables and cutting flowers.


At this time, we still hadn’t tackled the ground to the front of the greenhouse which was too high and uneven and the gravel surrounding the vegetable beds had become very thin and patchy. We decided to give the whole area a facelift by levelling the soil and wheel barrowing in tons of fresh gravel. 

I also used some more reclaimed bricks to build a small, pathed area between two raise beds. Rather than being a dead space, I wanted to create an attractive area of interest between the beds, and I added a large pot to add some height and a focal point.


The downpipes, which collect the rainwater from the roof of the greenhouse are designed to be connected to a water butt, but I chose to divert the rainwater into the trough because I like simply dipping my watering cans into the trough and them being filled in seconds.

I have developed the habit of maintaining full watering cans inside the greenhouse so that the water temperature rises, and my new plant seedlings aren’t shocked by freezing cold water. The disadvantages of the water trough are that they are more prone to evaporation on hot days and are also more likely to freeze on frosty ones. I also need to keep them leaf free in autumn.



As well as the trays of germinating seeds that are being cared for in the greenhouse, my greenhouse floor is being filled with pots of new plants that have arrived through the post. I have seven new Dhalia tubers, some ranunculus bulbs and two alstroemeria, all destined for one of my cutting beds. In the past, I have planted my dahlia tubers directly into their growing position, usually towards the end of April, when the weather starts to turn warmer.

To give them a head start and to protect them from frosts, it is recommended that the tubers are planted into peat free compost in large pots, labelled, watered, and then kept safely in the greenhouse until May, when they are ready for planting out. At the same time, I ordered some geraniums through the post which arrived, bare rooted in plastic bags. These have also been potted on so they can develop a strong root system, before being planted out. It is amazing how quickly the new leaves develop, when the plants are protected from the elements.



My tomatoes, courgettes, French climbing beans, and cucumbers have germinated and are growing nicely. I never get tired of seeing each seed germinate and I still feel I need to check on them at least twice a day.The only disappointment is tomato Shirley, which is a complete no show and since they were planted in the exact same conditions as the other tomato seeds, I’m wondering if I bought an unviable batch of seeds. I grew the same variety last year, with really good results, so I think it’s worth trying again.

Along side the food crops, I’m also growing some annuals for one of my clients, these include, Ammi majus, Ammi visnaga and Callistephus chinensis, or Chinese Aster.I have also promised several of my clients some cosmos plants, which I haven’t started growing yet and I’m finding that I have run out of space. I would recommend to anyone buying a greenhouse, that they should get the biggest one possible as it seems as soon as you get the growing bug there will never be enough room.

A couple of days ago, I noticed that the salad leaves that had been over wintering in the greenhouse had suddenly become a host to a ton of greenfly. These plants have all been removed and fed to my chickens, along with most of the greenflies. There are a few stragglers left in the greenhouse and they seem to have set up residence on my French climbing beans. Obviously, my beans don’t need these tiny little sap suckers living off them, and I also don’t want to use chemicals. I wonder if I can entice a family of ladybirds to move in so that they can feast on the little dears!

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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