For two consecutive weekends in February growers were subjected to some of the worst weather conditions nature could throw at them. Storm Ciara brought wind gusts of up to 60mph, which lifted sheds and greenhouses leaving them in a crumpled heap. Storm Dennis then came along a week later and flooded gardens and allotments, leaving them under several inches of water.
Not the best start for any grower.
Mother Nature can be severe and rarely tamed, however, here are a few tips which may help to protect your greenhouse:
- Site it away from the prevailing winds. If you are unable to do so, look to plant a deciduous hedge approximately 3-4m away which will help to filter the strength of the wind. Hornbeam and beech are ideal subjects.
- Screw the frame to the floor.
- Check the glazing clips are secure and even silicone the glass on exposed sites.
- Keep a check on the forecast and make sure windows and doors are firmly closed before the onset of strong winds.
Remember these tips are not guaranteed to keep your greenhouse safe but may help to reduce damage.
With regards to flooded plots the best way to deal with this is to let the water subside naturally. In most cases localised flooding is short lived and won’t do any lasting damage. Keep off the soil and avoid compaction.
Once dry enough, fork the soil over to increase oxygen levels and add some organic matter. This helps to keep the soil ‘open’. Worm activity will also assist in creating drainage channels.
Excess water will most likely have washed away any nutrients. Add a good dressing of fish, blood and bone fertiliser to improve the fertility.
March is a busy month for sowing. I prefer to sieve all my compost which I use for seed sowing. This removes those lumpy bits which you always find in every bag. I don’t waste the lumps as I line the base of seed trays with them before topping up with sieved compost.
Once my seeds have germinated and after pricking them out into larger pots, with the compost left, I save this and use it to earth up the potatoes which are to be grown in sacks.
Here in Oldham the weather is too unpredictable for sowing outdoors just yet. That is unless you can cover the seeds with a cloche. Cloches come in all shapes and sizes and are a see-through structure similar to a miniature green house. They are designed to protect plants and seeds from extreme conditions and are small enough to be moved around. You can purchase fancy ornate glass ones or make your own out of clear plastic and blue water pipes.
Seeds to try under a cloche include broad beans, peas, parsnip, cabbages and leeks.