The greenhouse in autumn

The greenhouse in autumn

The greenhouse serves as a cultivation area for your vegetables and flowers in the spring and, during the summer, it houses tomatoes, peppers, paprikas and cucumbers, amongst others. But what do you do during the autumn and winter seasons? Leaving it empty is not an option; after all, you want your investment to yield an optimal return. Here are a few tips!

Give the tomatoes some more time
You can still harvest plenty of tomatoes at the end of September and the beginning of October, but it is also not over at the end of that month. Let the tomatoes still hang for a while, as long as it does not freeze in the greenhouse. With the help of a weak autumn sun, most fruits still become ripe. Harvest the last aubergines, peppers and paprikas immediately and clean out all of the cucumber plants at the end of October. By that time, most plants are affected by mildew and it is advisable to remove the fungus.

TIP
Never throw sick and affected plants on the compost heap, put them in the organic waste container, or take them immediately to a container park nearby.

Ready for the winter
If the greenhouse eventually becomes empty, it is better to apply a sturdy bubble wrap. Attach the foil with clips, which easily hook into the profile and construction of your greenhouse. Bubble wrap has the property of raising the temperature inside by a few degrees. It protects your winter crops, so that you can continue to harvest without any worries.

TIP
If the weatherman or woman predicts heavy frost, you can also use fleece or freeze protection cloths to give your plants extra protection.

Still planting now?
Many gardeners think that the vegetable garden stops in autumn, but, the harvesting pleasure will continue in the greenhouse. You can plant early lettuce varieties in October, but also give lamb’s lettuce, winter purslane and chervil a chance. It is now too late to sow them yourself, but you can still find seedlings for planting at various garden centres.

Overwintering of exotic plants
If you would like to use the greenhouse in the autumn and winter mainly as a frost-free place to overwinter your plants, then it is advisable to wrap them up with bubble wrap. Try to provide an electric fire in the event of heavy freezing temperatures, or opt for petrol-based heating elements. Wrap exotic pot plants in freeze or fleece protection cloths and water them – not unimportant – regularly.

About ensilaging
You can harvest vegetables and process them immediately during the summer. It is a different story in autumn and during the winter. Ensilaging is the word. Potatoes, leeks, carrots, beets and cabbages can easily be stored for months in this way. It is usually done in a sheltered spot in the vegetable garden, but it is also possible in the greenhouse, where the circumstances are usually slightly more favourable.

Ensilaging is done as follows

  • Make a pit of approximately 25 centimetres deep.
  • Cover the pit with chicken wire, so that vermin, such as mice and rats, cannot get to your harvest.
  • Fill with straw and put the vegetables in it.
  • Arrange the vegetables in such a manner that they just do not touch one another, in order to avoid diseases and fungi. In this way you obtain an optimum air circulation.
    Seal with straw and soil.

Written by Angelo Dorny

Author of 7 gardening books. Zot van de moestuin en de keuken. (Crazy about the vegetable garden and the kitchen.) Chief editor @ De Tuin op Tafel. (Garden on the table.) Green expert at ‘De Madammen’ @ Radio2

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