How Greenhouses Help Grow Organic Food
Needless to say, there is nothing as rewarding as growing your own food. For one, it is much tastier than what you buy at your local grocery store and regardless of whether this holds any water, nothing quite beats the resultant satisfactory feeling. Greenhouses thus open up possibilities for growing many organic foods, irrespective of the season.
Sowing seeds in your greenhouse as the autumn drifts into the winter is a great way of not only producing early food yields, but maximizing available greenhouse space as well. For instance, prepare to have lettuces sown in November growing-on under glass as they get ready for use in salads by early spring. Although even the most common kinds thrive in this role, you should go for the mixed-leaves varieties which add maximum interest to both palate and plate.
It is advisable to keep the greenhouse going into the summer months even when the lettuces are ready to be grown in the main garden and then harvest the young leaves for use as some sort of tender garnish. Similarly, you can grow many herbs over the winter in pots thus affording you fresh cooking ingredients at a time when everyone else is reliant on the dry stuff growing in pots.
Undoubtedly, true hothouse crops are what make a greenhouse come into its own. These are things like aubergines, peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes. So long as you maintain a minimum temperature of about 12 degrees C, you can grow several different pepper types including both chilli and sweet peppers. However, seeds have to be sown by April and then transplanted into the pots as they grow bigger.
Sweet peppers turn from dark green to red, orange, or even yellow as they ripen and become sweeter as they reach maturity. Allow ripe, red hot chilli peppers time to ripen fully before plucking them.
While there are many types of tomatoes, the ones that are best suited to greenhouses are the 'cordon' varieties rather than sprawling bushes. When sown around mid-March, seedlings are usually ready for transplanting by May. Side shoots between the stem and leaf should be removed and when around seven trusses of fruit have began developing, pinch out the main stem as well in order to focus the growth on the ripening tomatoes.
Tomatoes are, arguably, the most rewarding greenhouse crop as a little attention coupled with potassium enrichment almost always guarantees a high yield. Some of the most popular greenhouse varieties that produce deliciously flavoured and tasty fruits are 'Shirley' and 'Sunbaby'.
Also known as egg plants, aubergines are related to both tomatoes and peppers although they require substantial warmth to thrive. Germination is enhanced by soaking seeds in warm water for about a day or two and when the seedlings are about four inches in height, they are ready for transplanting into pots. To encourage bushy growth, their tips should be pinched. Also, do not forget to provide them with the necessary support as they grow.
Growing cucumbers has become easier in recent times due to the development of numerous readily available hybrid varieties that produce tasty crops. Seeds should be sown by mid-March with transplanting ready to be done by May. As with aubergines, use cranes or wires for support during growth.
With a careful selection of vegetable or crop varieties which are suited to a greenhouse, either chosen for their cropping ability or taste and whether brought in grow bags or pots, a wide array of crops and other vegetables can be successfully grown even in the smallest greenhouse. While it may be easier getting your salad ingredients from the local grocery store, nothing will offer you more satisfaction than knowing you grew them yourself.
Written by Katie Day
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