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‘Time for some cleaning up,’ says Gayton-based gardener Jamie Marsh

In his weekly Jamie’s Little Allotment column, Jamie Marsh talks cleaning...

The temperature has really dropped this week, especially at night. There’s nothing in the plot that will get hurt by a bit of cold now, sweetcorn is in the freezer, squash and pumpkins are stored away. I had a good clean-up at the weekend. Cut down the blackened dahlias, cosmos and strawflowers where they’ve had a little nip from Jack Frost. I chopped the sweet corn stalks down to compost level then finished mulching the last few beds. All the detritus were chopped up a bit and put on the compost heap.

The grass paths between the beds had their last cut, hopefully. Then I decided to go into the greenhouse and do a few jobs which are very important but maybe a little tedious, especially the first one – washing down the walls and roof.

Greenhouse insulation
Greenhouse insulation

There are a couple of reasons why we give the inside of the greenhouse a good clean, the first is to remove the grime, algae and moss which might have formed throughout the year. The dirt stops light from entering, and at this time of year light is at a premium so every last bit is essential, especially if you are planning to grow in the greenhouse over the winter, like I am,

The other reason I clean the inside of the greenhouse is to control pests and diseases. Slugs can hibernate in the greenhouse over winter, also red spider mites and mealy bugs can hang around in there till it starts to warm up.

Diseases like mildew and blight can linger, so a good scrub with just hot water and a bit of washing-up liquid really can help the eviction process.

Jamie's heating method
Jamie's heating method

Now the next thing I’m going to talk about is a bit controversial. Some gardeners like myself swear by it but others think there’s no point, I’m talking about insulating the greenhouse with bubble wrap.

Because my greenhouse is homemade, from wood, I can just staple the bubble wrap to all the beams which makes a great job, but if you have an aluminium-type greenhouse it might be worth investing in some small clips that fit into the recessed track in between each pane of glass, but I have seen someone using clothes pegs to attach it – his also works fine.

Now going back to the controversy of whether it works or not. I think it does, I’m sure it must do something to keep the heat in, but it definitely works if you add a little heat to the greenhouse. My preferred heat source isn’t electricity or even paraffin heaters. I actually use candles to heat it.

Heating might be a bit of an optimistic word to use. I’ve got two terracotta pots and saucers, and eight-hour burning tea light candles are my preferred choice. I place the lit candle on the saucer with a few pieces of broken terracotta pot around it then the upturned flower pot onto the broken pot pieces. The flame of the candle heats up the pot and acts like a small radiator.

If you try my method please don’t expect the temperature to rocket up to 20 degrees – all it is there for is to keep the inside of the greenhouse above zero.

I have done this for a few years now and there is generally a few degrees of temperature difference between the outside and the in.

Also, I just have to say if you do have a go at this method please be mindful that this is a naked flame, I always position the candle heater on the floor and make sure there is nothing flammable like frost fleece anywhere close.

As always if you have any questions at all about my little allotment please email me at Jamieslittleallotment@gmail.com

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