A new greenhouse to grow annuals

18. April 2021 by Isabelle Van Groeningen
Categories: About gardening, english, the garden academie | Leave a comment

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Im Gewächshaus: Pflücksalat © Isabelle Van Groeningen

Flagge Deutschland für deutsche Übersetzung – auf Deutsch lesen – The area of high pressure Queen seems to have moved on at long last. The destructive night frosts these past days are finally over, and we can look forward to some spring-like temperatures at long last. I expect to see nature explode into action this coming week and cannot wait for it.

A new greenhouser

Das neue Gewächshaus © Isabelle Van Groeningen

Talking of explosion, our propagating house is full. Full to burst with almost 10,000 seedlings urgently in need of space. So it is with huge relief I can report that as of yesterday we have a brand new glasshouse to fill. Well, a new old house. One of our lovely old greenhouses has been renovated, and is finally ready. The old structure has been given a much-needed face-lift. Gone are the broken panes of glass, the hard to open or close vents, the inefficient heating system. A Dutch tomato grower would probably laugh at us, but even though it does not have all the modern contraptions of computer-managed automatic irrigation, lighting, shading, heating and space-saving moveable tables, it does have electronically controlled ventilation and shading systems and a new, more efficient heating system. But, most important of all, it remains full in keeping within the historical context of all our lovely greenhouses.

Automatische Ventilation im Gewächshaus © Isabelle Van Groeningen
Automatic ventilation

Home-grown seedlings from the greenhouse

We have always grown a small proportion of our own plants, but this year is different. Not only do we now have the luxury of a new greenhouse offering perfect conditions, we also have a new person solely in charge of propagating. And she has been busy. Very busy. By now the first batches of seedlings have been pricked out into plug trays, and we have started to pot on the first seedlings, so that in the coming weeks and months, we will have a constant supply of plants to sell. We sow a wide range of plants in small quantities at regular intervals. So, with a bit of luck, when a plant is sold out, the next batch will be coming along three to four weeks later.

Annuals to extend the flowering season – grow them in your greenhouse

Many garden owners are reluctant to grow annuals in a greenhouse. Many think they are too much work for just one season. But what they forget is the result! I find it is well worth investing that little bit of time and effort in the spring, as the dividends you reap are huge. They provide many months of colour in the border and endless flower bunches for the vase. There is so much more than little orange tagetes and red salvias to supplement your planting.

The tall, slender, dusky Tagetes ‘Cinnabar’ is a perfect gap-filler in a border, as are spider flowers (Cleome). Many of the broad selection of poppies and their close relatives that we have grown are also suitable  small gap fillers. Whereas dusky Nicandra physalodes with its magical physalis-resembling papery seedpods will take up more space. The same goes for the tobacco plants. The unusual pink and white Nicotiana mutabilis or the beautiful tall white Nicotiana sylvestris will fill a good hole of half a meter or more. For the fore to middle ground or a nice pot I adore dainty white Orlaya grandiflora and of the most beautiful of all: Didiscus caerulea, with its pale blue delightful umbels.

Für den vorderen bis mittleren Bereich oder einen schönen Topf liebe ich zierliche weiße Orlaya grandiflora und Didiscus caerulea, mit ihren hellblauen, zauberhaften Dolden.

Gewächshaus - Cerinthe © Isabelle Van Groeningen

Annuals as cutflowers – grown in your greenhouse

Many are annuals excellent cutflowers as they produce flowers over such a long period of time. I am particularly fond of all the cosmos and sweetpeas varieties for this purpose. But also the taler snapdragons are excellent for this purpose.  So this season, besides a great selection of the many new cosmos varieties that have come onto the market in recent years such as ‘Cupcake’ or the pale yellow lemon ‘Xanthos’ or ‘Lemonade’, and the new ‘Xsenia’ which is a warm apricot pink, we have some wonderfully scented sweet peas which are best on a terrace or balcony, where they can scramble up through a shrub or a simple climbing frame.

Greenhouse  Antirrhinum 'Rocket White' © Isabelle Van Groeningen
Antirrhinum ‘Rocket White’

Annuals as a weed-suppressant groundcover

If you have a lot of bare soil in your garden, you will have a lot of weeding to do this season, as mother nature abhors not being covered with vegetation, and will instantly make sure the next batch of weeds germinate and cover the space. Instead of making more work for yourself, you can be one step ahead and cover bare areas with low, spreading plants such as pumpkins and nasturtiums. In between perennials you can sow Californian poppies, or the lady bird poppy, cornflowers and love-in-the-mist.

Annual climbers as flowerings screens

No garden should be without the most obvious of all annual climbers: The sweet pea with its divinely scented flowers. But there are a few remarkable, less well known ones that really deserve more attention, as their rapid, vigorous growth provides excellent screening and can be useful along a fence, or on terraces and balconies where you want to shut out prying eyes. Eccremocarpus scaber, the Chilean Glower Flower even produced a modest crop of  yellow and orange flowers in my shady garden last summer even though it is a sun-lover, and survived the cold winter. Asarina scandens, the climbing snapdragon is an equally suitable fast-growing climber that will also cope with semi shaded sites.

Greenhouse - Eccremocarpus © Isabelle Van Groeningen
Eccremocarpus im Gewächshaus

A greenhouse for vegetables and herbs for great flavour

To my great pleasure we have noticed the demand for vegetables and herbs plants has grown steadily in recent years. What makes me even happier is to see how many people are open to try unusual and old varieties. Many of these have much better flavour than the conventional supermarket vegetables. These have not only been bred to be more disease resistant. More important is the ease to harvest by machine, that they are problem-free to handle and transport and have a long shelf-life. Taste and nutritional value are criteria that have slid to the bottom of the list. With this in mind, we have a large selection of tomatoes, aubergines, peppers, peas and beans, zucchinis and squashes but also salads, cabbages, basils and many more herbs.

Vegetables and herbs for their appearance

I love a nice vegetable garden, with rows of different vegetable plants coming on. As the eye likes to feast as much as the palate, I try to add some varieties that have a great visual impact. Colourful notes are added with ruby chard, bull’s blood beetroot, red lettuces such as oakleaf and deer tongue, purple-podded peas and beans (much easier to harvest!) and purple kale. (Just don’t be disappointed that in the cooking process most of these purple vegetables lose their wonderful colour and turn conventional green.) Red leaved basil is not only a visual treat in the garden, it also brightens up salads.

Dahlias in our greenhouse

To get a head-start on the slugs, we always pot our dahlias in March, early April in our greenhouse.  So those too will be ready to fill the gaps in beds and borders after the early-flowering perennials and bulbs have done their bit for the season and left unsightly holes in the planting.

Greenhouse - Dahlien im Gewächshaus © Isabelle Van Groeningen

The really good news is that as from this weekend, our customers are allowed back on site without a negative corona test. This means all areas, including indoors, are freely accessible again, so come along to have a look at our wonderful new house as it is filled with new life!

Greenhouse- Pickierarbeit im Gewächshause © Isabelle Van Groeningen
Pickierarbeit – es gibt noch viel zu tun …
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