During part one, we looked at the role of the greenhouse and how it can act as a savior against some of the less ethical working practices carried out by the supermarket. Leaving the answer ambiguous, we questioned who is really to blame when it comes to eating genetically modified fruit and vegetables?
Part two looks at another of the greenhouse’s arch nemesis’ the weather. Maintaining a greenhouse and creating the right types of conditions for your plants to thrive can be difficult. Here we identify the villains and suggest some ways you can help your greenhouse keep your fruit and vegetables nice and healthy.
Villain – Grey mould
Grey mould is also known as ‘Botrytis.’ It is perhaps best known for its attack on strawberries: the disgusting mushy texture that you see them develop, is a result of this. Caused by the fungus ‘Botrytis cinerea,’ grey mould is the furry grey substance that grows and destroys your plants – leaving them dead and useless. Its most common victims include strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes and courgettes.
Botrytis thrives within a humid atmosphere. It begins its destruction by targeting dead leaves and rotting fruits, using them to develop in strength and grow more evil in the process. As soon as you see grey mould attacking the spores on rotting fruit, no plants are safe – healthy ones included. You will see tomatoes split and damaged leaves start growing the mould – a clear sign of death and further destruction. When you start to fight back, it defends itself, producing powder-like clouds of spores which are not pleasant to touch!
Your only defence, is vigilance, quick action and hygiene. Be aware of this villain lurking secretly and check for any signs of its presence on a daily basis. If you spot any yellowing, dead leaves, or those hinting at being infected – remove them at once. And when we say remove them, get rid of them entirely – do not leave them lying about where grey mould can find them and in the process, a new lease of life.
You can also keep grey mould at bay by reducing the humidity within your greenhouse. Bar its entry by increasing the ventilation (perhaps shut the vents and use a dehumidifier?) Be sure to act as soon as possible, because grey mould spreads quickly and is capable of instant destruction.
Villain – Bad weather
The winter is a treacherous time, killing plants and wildlife everywhere. You may think that you have secured your precious plants by purchasing a greenhouse, but failure to prepare for the winter can leave you helpless in winter’s wake. After all, a building made out of aluminium and filled with glass is, on occasion, little competition for a vicious storm!
The wind, rain, frost and snow will try and attack your plants, and you need to be ready. When you buy your greenhouse, think carefully about where you are going to keep it. How likely is it that your residence will be hit by a storm? Is there an area of the garden that you can keep your greenhouse hidden from potential destruction? Can you use nature to fight nature, and keep your greenhouses shielded by trees? Weather can be a harsh, miserable mistress, but its attention to detail is not always accurate.
Ensure that you take time to install your greenhouse properly, placing it on a level spot, on which you securely fasten it to the ground. Ensure the panes are well-sealed and are not liable to lose shape or be blown out completely. Think about your worried plants, cowering away from the evil outside – they will feel much more secure and happy knowing that whatever it tries, the weather is not getting in!
Villain – good weather
So, we’ve waited all year for those bursts of sunshine and we’re relaxing in the garden. When the weather calms and relaxes us as it does, surely nothing can go wrong? Right? Wrong! Don’t be fooled by the hype – glorious weather is as vicious a villain as bad weather. It will creep up and attack you subtly, like a beautiful seductress. Don’t let it manipulate you or your plants, take the necessary steps to protect them.
Consider the tomato: the plant that thrives under heat and light. Too much heat will cause pollination damage and growth issues. Ensure that the tomato and your other plants are given proper ventilation: use shading to keep out that attractive villain, and keep them in the conditions they need to survive. You can also use external or internal blinds and, when the weather gets particularly hot, your greenhouse might need to be doused with cold water. Fight back at that villain with the weapons at your disposal.
You should not only rely on these weapons, however, when protecting your plants. Trust the loving relationship you have with your plants, and find out from them how they feel. Do they have enough water? Are they starting to wilt in places? Switch your focus from sunbathing for a few minutes a day, and be attentive to their needs.
Taking care: general tips
It seems then, that your plants are never safe from various villains lurking to destroy them. However, with a bit of preparation and protection, your plants will survive. They have two heroes to help them after all: the greenhouse and you! In particular, we recommend that you plan your greenhouse carefully, by choosing a suitable location, by choosing the right plants to be grown under the conditions that you are able to create, and by using suitable equipment or resources to shade and heat the plants.
Above all else, the best way you can become the hero, is to listen and respond effectively to the needs of your plants. Keep checking them day after day, and take the time to remove anything that might stand in the way of them flourishing. Check water levels, and potential threats, and they will thrive under your loving care.