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14/01/2013 at 14:14

Hi everyone, apologies if this thread is in the wrong area but I just didn’t know where to put it!

I am a newbie to gardening against many of your folks and I would like to try and use my greenhouse more but dont know really where to start. I would like to start off some seeds for flowers and I have greenhouse heater but so many of the seeds require vast different levels of temperature.....any suggestions. Also do I leave the heater on all the time or for small amounts of time...These questions probably sound pretty daft I’m sure but I have yet to find a book on greenhouse growing that writes everything in easy to understand terms. Would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on what plants I could start with. Im looking for strong colour and of varying heights and also perennial if possible.

thanks everyone in advance

Yvonne

14/01/2013 at 14:22

It depends on what you want to grow-heating a greenhouse is expensive -so much heat is lost through the glass

A lot of seeds can be started off indoors-in a propagator or warm spot- but is still rather early especially for frost tender plants as the growing on is the tricky part

So Yvonne the main question is -what do you want to grow?

14/01/2013 at 14:35

I dont really mind to be fair as long as its strong colours. My problem indoors is I dont have space so my only option is a greenhouse. 

 

14/01/2013 at 14:44

Then leave it all till March-then you will not have to heat the greenhouse continuously and the natural temperatures and light levels will be higher

Starting anytime now will not give you any advantage-be patient

Are you looking for suggestions?

14/01/2013 at 15:38

Does your greenhouse have electricity? If so you can use electric propogaters to start seeds off. I have a cold frame in the greenhouse with a warming cable in it that I bought through internet. It doesn't use much electricity. I put seed trays in there. But I don't start sowing until March, as Geoff says, the light is better and the weather starts warming up. The other thing is that if you sow annual flowers too early and they get to a size that needs to be planted out but there are still frosts, you have to keep them in the greenhouse, re-pot them, feed and water them and they take up room. You can start off seeds on windowsills indoors too, either in a tray with a clear plastic cover or pots with plastic bags over them. I also use clear plastic food containers with clear lids.

I don't sow many perennials, I find it easier to buy a decent plant and take cuttings or split it. Annuals that are colourfull that I have grown from seed - petunias, rudbeckias, snapdragons, nicotiana, ageratum, ipomea, french marigolds, lavatera, salvias, cosmos, zinnias.  You need to get a good seed catalogue like Thompson & Morgan or Suttons. You can look up the plants on Google. Something to do for the garden during the cold weather.

14/01/2013 at 15:55

Hi Yvonne Parsons2,

First off, better to ask and be a fool for a minute, than not ask and be a fool for life, so don't worry about being a 'newbie' no one's born a 'gardener.'

2 books to recommend - Greenhouse expert by Dr DG hessayon, and RHS Growing under Glass by Kenneth Beckett - Both are extremely good books. I didn't know a thing last year, but have read the books, and re-read them, and am now ordering a greenhouse and know exactly what I want and can achieve.

I've decided to go all out and get the Bio Green jumbo propagator with water trays and capillary matting. It comes with a thermostat, which means you can keep a constant temperature, though it may be worth putting a min-max temp thermometer in there just to check the soil temperature is as required.

If you want to heat a greenhouse (I don't know costs of running as haven't got mine yet) I would suggest buying a thermostat that your heater plugs into, assuming it's electric. This will shut it off once at the desired temperature and switch on when too cold. As I've mentioned, I don't know how much it costs to run a greenhouse, but everyone keeps saying expensive. A thermostat should be a given me thinks.

Going back to propagator, the Bio Green one comes with a polypropylene zip up case, which means heat is contained. This should also keep the price of heating down. It's over a meter long so can grow tons if you get the right trays. As people have said though, don't sow too early, as the light levels will lead to long, spindly plants, with the first true leaves a meter in the air if you're not careful with heat and light levels.

14/01/2013 at 15:59

Any help is hugely received as I really dont have a clue

Thank you

14/01/2013 at 16:04

Then Yvonne I would keep it simple-buy,borrow, go to charity shops- get a bit of reading material-decide what you fancy-pop back on here and there is always someone who is willing to advise

A greenhouse gives you many more options and is somewhere to hide when it is raining

It is still very early in the gardening year

14/01/2013 at 16:06

All your advice is great, it really is. Ive always had the problem of wanting to do things right now and maybe its time to take a step back and wait ! So I will do as recommended and wait till March and will put my energy into preparing my veggie patch instead, even though I hate this job and the fact that my crops for the past 2 years have been dismall doesnt help...... I wish I could find a local gardening group that wasnt quite so much interested in people who already have some knowledge. I need a group that goes right back to the basics......

so grateful for all your advice x

Yvonne

14/01/2013 at 16:08

What happened to the little old man you mentioned before?

14/01/2013 at 16:12

Also, good shout on ordering a Thompson and Morgan catalogue.

Cosmos', Osteospermums, Nemesia's, Mimulus', Cerinthe Major, Echium Vulgare Blue Bedder,  Venidium Cape Daisies, Lobelias, etc, etc. These are some of my favourite annuals and the bees love the Cerinthe and Echium, though, do be ruthless in getting rid of seedlings of both, as they spread everywhere. 

14/01/2013 at 16:28

Yes my lovely elderly neighbour is great but has as much idea as I do when it comes to greenhouses  

14/01/2013 at 16:39

Have you approached the local gardening club Yvonne?

14/01/2013 at 16:43

Yes I have and they just werent interested to be honest, they were only interested in people who already had some knowledge....Aftet the first 3 weeks I gave it up as a bad idea as I spent the whole time on my own and you can only try so much!

 

14/01/2013 at 16:46

That is such a shame-how do they hope to increase membership if they dont nurture people-very frustrating

I usually find gardeners a helpful band -so if there is greenhouse owner near you-be brave and knock on the door

14/01/2013 at 19:12

Hello Yvonne  I am lucky in that I have 3 greenhouses - they are my passion If I can help you in any way I would be glad to

I heat one of my greenhouses over winter - with a thermostatically controlled electric heater. The amount of plants I have in there justifies the cost to me

I usually start my seed sowing in February - aubergines,peppers and chillies. Don't be too eager to start sowing - seeds sown a bit later always seem to catch early ones up

Pam LL x

14/01/2013 at 21:04

I think sotongeoff's idea a good one. Gardeners do like to talk about it. Peer over fences or at allotments til you see something you like and chat up the owner. a few might not respond but most will.

Also agree with don't rush to start sowing. If you'd got something germinated last week then this week's sub zero temperatures arrived you'd be struggling to keep them alive and it's not an encouraging way to start gardening. When spring comes seeds will germinate whatever you do and you won't need to spend a fortune on electricity.

I know what you mean about gardening clubs, I enjoy all the ones I go to but none of them are about basics. I've learnt more basics on this forum than anywhere else.

I've been gardening for years but there's a lot of things I'm still finding out. 

Give it til about mid March and gardening life will start properly. Though I shall be out pruning, hedging and cutting last year's dead growth as soon as the weather looks good. 2 cold days and I've got cabin fever already.

14/01/2013 at 21:28
I had the same experience in a garden club Yvonne. I found it very belittling tbh. They were quick to knock me down and not very helpful. A bit snooty because I asked questions. I decided I would learn by myself
I have a cold greenhouse and do have some seeds in at the moment. Aquilegia, larkspur, calenduls, sweet peas, cornflowers and a few more. They need a chilling period so will be fine. I also have some in the house which are doing well. Where abouts are you?
24/02/2013 at 00:06

Seems to be a fairly common problem:/ my local gardening club are rather patronizing to newcomers also. I had a lovely elderly couple living next door for years but sadly both have passed away and been replaced with neighbours who lock themselves away and the garden that was once beautiful with flowers, fruit and veg is now like Steptoes yard and I'm sadly not exaggerating the old fella was a mine of wisdom but I can't remember all his tips:/ so it's plod on, learn through mistakes and look on this great site and talk to you lovely helpful fellow gardeners for tips and advice 

24/02/2013 at 08:45

Hmm, miserable lot (the gardening clubs, not you), but there's other ways to get what you want -  Wiltshire Wildlife Trust used to hold Composting training days - if they still do it would be a brilliant way to get to know other gardeners in your area - just a thought 

http://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk/news/ruralfocus/5084048.Composting_courses_available/ 

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