As our streets sparkle with fairy lights and our front doors have been upgraded with Christmas wreaths, we’re sure that like us, you’re looking forward to a well-earned festive break. Warm mince pies and boxes of chocolates have become part of the daily diet ‘as its nearly Christmas’ so it’s acceptable to eat them for breakfast and a midnight snack, right?!
It’s been an interesting year for us gardeners out there as the seasons have been extremely unpredictable, resulting in crops being affected and not harvested as normal. However, as winter blankets the UK in a chilly embrace, those with a greenhouse really do have a unique advantage… the ability to extend their growing season and enjoy fresh produce even in December. We have seen lots of customers still finding peppers and chillies hiding in their greenhouse, which will certainly add a bit of colour and spice to their Christmas dinner!
As overnight frosts sneak in, a greenhouse really does provide a safe environment to protect those less hardy plants and crops. There are just a few little factors to ensure the best out of your greenhouse in the winter;
• Temperature Control: Ensure your greenhouse stays within the optimal temperature range for winter crops. Use a combination of insulation, heaters, and proper ventilation to create a cosy environment for your plants. Invest in a reliable thermometer to monitor temperature fluctuations, adjusting settings as needed to protect delicate plants from frost.
• Winter-Friendly Crops: Choose cold-tolerant crops for December, such as kale, spinach, carrots, and winter lettuces. These resilient plants can thrive in lower temperatures and provide a fresh harvest during the colder months. Consider experimenting with microgreens and herbs, which can be grown indoors and add a burst of flavour to winter dishes.
• Lighting Strategies: With shorter daylight hours, supplement natural light with artificial lighting. LED or fluorescent grow lights can help maintain photosynthesis and encourage steady growth. Be mindful of the light duration – aim for around 14 to 16 hours of light per day to simulate longer days and promote plant health.
• Watering Techniques: Adjust your watering schedule to accommodate the slower growth rates of winter. Overwatering is a common issue, so monitor soil moisture closely and water only when necessary. Use room-temperature water to prevent shocking plants with cold water during the winter.
• Pest Management: Although pests are less active in winter, vigilance is still crucial. Regularly inspect plants for signs of infestation and promptly address any issues. Consider introducing beneficial insects like ladybirds or using natural pest control methods to keep your greenhouse ecosystem in balance.
• Soil Health: Pay attention to soil health by incorporating compost and organic matter. Healthy soil promotes strong root systems and nutrient absorption, contributing to overall plant resilience. Rotate crops to prevent the buildup of pests and diseases in the soil.
Greenhouse gardening in December requires a thoughtful approach to temperature, lighting, and crop selection. However, by embracing winter-friendly practices you cannot only extend your growing season but also enjoy a lush and productive greenhouse throughout the colder months.
So we’d like to wish you fabulous green-fingered bunch a very Merry Christmas and here’s to a fantastic New Year of greenhouse gardening!