Everything is taking off in mum’s greenhouse, which I have surreptitiously cleared of clutter and adopted for the summer. I have been wanting better success with tomatoes and aubergines, and there is no doubt that growing these under glass is leagues ahead when it comes to getting a decent crop. I have grown tomatoes outside successfully in the past, but it is a hit-and-miss affair in the UK and last year’s disaster harvest – suspended in unripened purgatory by cold snaps and then polished off by blight – really was too much to bear. When mum agreed I could grow ‘a few things’ in her little lean-to greenhouse I took that as a ‘green light’ to pack it to the rafters.
I won’t say that growing in a greenhouse is perfect… there seems to be more voracious snails in here than outdoors, and the mice also seem to enjoy midnight raids on any newly planted seeds. There is also a lot more green-fly. And, of course, no birds to keep those under control.
As well as keeping on top of pests, it’s also just as important to not let things get too hot and dry out. In addition to a daily water (sometimes twice a day), I’ve made up some makeshift water-crocks using un-glazed (porous) clay pots and sinking them into the soil between the plants, which I keep topped up with water. The idea is that the water will slowly seep through the clay, and the plant roots will grow in their direction and have a constant back-up of water.
I got the idea after a friend sent me some photos (see above) of old water-crocks he’d seen in Rome, and I was reminded of these again recently (see below) by some new versions I’d seen on an American website… sadly not here in the UK yet!
When I shared this on Twitter, New Zealanders @GrowFromHereNZ replied with this photo of their home-made water crocks, which they glued together with masonry glue (less toxic than superglue). They said they made ‘a huge difference’. (they have a fab website, by the way)
The beds in the greenhouse aren’t very deep, so I just used what I had to hand. I used a couple of wine corks (and, for the smaller holes, cane toppers snipped with a few cuts), to bung the drainage holes in the bottom of the old pots. And that seems to be working well enough in the greenhouse.
The plants seem to be in their element. I only planted these two weeks ago, and already there are signs of peppers and tomatoes, aubergines are in flower, and the cucumber is growing skyward. My mum referred to the greenhouse as “a tropical jungle” the other day…
I shall take that as approval!
Have you got any clever ways to keep your plants watered? Please comment below!