Last week we looked at the benefits of greenhouses when it comes to gardening in the cold winter months. While a greenhouse is a great help to anyone who wants to grow early crops or tender plants, like most other things in the garden a greenhouse does require a certain amount of maintenance. The real secret to growing strong, healthy plants in a greenhouse is regular cleaning. A clean greenhouse will provide a healthy environment where your tender plants and seedlings will be free from attack by pests and diseases throughout year.
A greenhouse should be given at least one major clean each year. Now is an ideal time to do this as February is usually one of the quieter months in the greenhouse and if you do a good job now you will protect your spring crops from any pests and diseases that have taken shelter in your greenhouse over the winter months. While now is a great time of the year for your clean out you should avoid tackling your greenhouse on a very cold day as tender plants may have to be moved outside. If you find that you have to move tender plants outside wrap them in horticultural fleece and try not to leave them out for too long.
To clean the outside of the greenhouse, simply wash the glass with warm soapy water. Rubbing the glass carefully with a sponge should remove the build up of grime, to reach the higher parts use a long handled sponge or window cleaning brush. When you have removed all the dirt rinse the glass with clean water. The glass on the inside of the greenhouse should be cleaned in the same way. You will often find algae growing in the joints where panes of glass overlap. To remove this squirt a jet of water between the panes and remove the dirt with a thin strip of plastic, such as a plant label.
To clean out the inside of the greenhouse you should start by removing all the clutter that you have accumulated through the year such as old pots and used compost bags. Along with these remove any dead or dying plants and sweep the floor to remove any dirt and fallen leaves. Any paths, walls and benches in the greenhouse should then be scrubbed down and sterilized with a suitable garden disinfectant, such as Armilatox. Any old pots or seed trays that you intend to use again should also be sterilized with a suitable disinfectant as diseases are easily carried from one plant to another in old pots and seed trays.