Greenhouse And Nursery Maintenance In The Fall
Throughout the growing season, you clean your greenhouse and nursery as you go through the growing season.
Even though you periodically tend to it, you should still do an annual preparation and cleanup of your greenhouse and nursery for the fall.
The annual cleanup will prevent pests and diseases from setting up camp for the winter.
It is the time to check for pests as our greenhouse or nursery has lots of cracks and crevices that insects can lurk in.
There are still pathogens that will thrive in the soil when you aren't looking and those bothersome little gnats will reproduce on organic debris.
You don't want to face the spring and a new planting season with remnants from the last season negatively impacting your start in the spring.
There are a few steps that you can take to get your greenhouse and nursery ready for the fall.
It will make it so much easier when spring rolls around and you will be glad you took the time to prepare.
Start With Cleaning The Panels
The best time to clean is on a beautiful fall day before it gets cold. October usually cooperates with sunny days and breezes that will help to dry your greenhouse.
Clean the inside and outside of panels allowing light to come through.
Knowing the type of materials that make up your greenhouse will also tell you what kind of cleaning product to use.
You don't want to use any harsh chemicals that will leech into the ground and become part of the soil that you want to grow your plants in.
Look for a product that is both mild and biodegradable to clean the panels on your greenhouse.
While glass is a traditional material for greenhouses, it is heavy and expensive, so many home gardeners vote for acrylic panels or polyethylene sheeting.
You will want to use a cleaning tool that won't scratch the glass and mar or put a hole in plastic sheeting.
Inspect The Greenhouse And Nursery Framework
Most greenhouse frames are made of wood or metal. Check the framework of the greenhouse for moss or algae that might have taken root.
Key areas to check are the T-bars of the frame where pests may have decided to pitch their tents.
Use a firm brush in these areas to make sure you discourage these invaders.
A hose will help you on the outside panels and the vertical ones inside, but doing the roof inside may be a bit of a challenge.
In this area, use a well-wrung kitchen mop to reach and clean without getting drenched.
Open the doors on the greenhouse to get a good breeze through to help dry the house out.
Spray a little WD-40 on hinges in the house to keep them moving smoothly.
Inspect The Greenhouse Panels
Again, you may have glass, acrylic, or poly sheeting on your greenhouse frame. Check the panels over for any that are broken or have cracks.
While glass is a traditional material for greenhouses, if you did not construct the house yourself, make sure that the greenhouse does not have annealed glass.
If annealed glass breaks, it breaks into jagged shards that can do some severe damage to a person.
So, for safety sake, determine the material you will be working with before you begin.
If you have any damage to any of the panels, fix the area that needs repair.
Be sure to always wear gloves when handling the panels.
Your greenhouse withstands winds and the expansion and contraction from temperature changes.
This movement can cause the panels in the frame to become loose or slip.
While you are checking for cracked or broken panels, look too for panels that might not be adequately secured.
Check the connections of the panels to the frame to make sure they are in place and secure.
Check The Greenhouse Frame
Just as there are different materials for the panels in a greenhouse, there are also different frame materials.
The two most commonly used are wood and aluminum. If you have an aluminum frame, you will want to check the joints on the structure and look for loose, damaged, or missing bolts.
While you are checking the bolts, you might as well check the clips that hold the panels in place.
As mentioned before, your greenhouse will contract and expand, and that loosens both bolts and clips.
A wooden frame will need a bit more of your attention. Inspect a wooden frame for rot and woodworm.
Look at the joints on your wooden greenhouse for nails that have worked themselves loose.
Damp and mold love wood, so you will need to protect your wood frame with good exterior paint.
Check The Base Of The Greenhouse
Last but not least, give some attention to the floor of your greenhouse or nursery.
You have already cleaned the panels and inspected the frame, so any mess you made on the floor will be waiting for a cleaning.
Bases made from paving slabs or blocks are easy to maintain and keep clean.
Depending on your base, it is a good idea to wash it down with a disinfectant once a year.
Fall is the best time as any to do so. Planting has not begun and you have cleaned the greenhouse out so you have room to get to the floor for a good scrub.
Fall is still warm and breezy and the floor will be dried before you know it.
Now is also the time to decide on some of your plants. If you are not closing your greenhouse for the winter, you will need to make some decisions on your plants.
Space in a greenhouse is limited and should be used efficiently. If you have some struggling plants, it would be better to give space to healthier plants that will flourish.
If it is time to repot some of your plants, now is a great time to do so. There is still sun and warmth, and light.
Much better than waiting as it will be getting dark earlier, and the soil will be harder to work with.
Now is also the time to watch for weeds that love to appear when the soil gets cooler.
Chickweed, vetch, and henbit will send up sprouts at this time. You can use a pre-emergence herbicide or give your plants a good weeding.
Fall is also time to prune excess foliage. It is a benefit to the plant to remove parts of a plant that are struggling.
This allows nutrients to go to the parts of the plant that are doing well and result in healthier plants.
Test Your Greenhouse Systems
Check the heating system in the greenhouse and your watering, lighting, and any irrigation systems.
You don't want to wait until you need it and find out that it isn't working. Perform any needed maintenance or cleaning of the systems.
If necessary, order back up parts just in case.
It is especially important to prepare as the change in temperature in the weather changes the moisture levels in your greenhouse.
Use heaters and vents to control temperature fluctuations.
Monitor the moisture over the winter months as too much moisture can lead to rot and other diseases in the plants if not carefully monitored.
A Good General Clean
Declutter your greenhouse by tossing the empty soil bags or any broken items you thought you would get around to fixing.
Any seasonal plant that won't last in the cooler weather also needs to be discarded. Get rid of any containers that you thought you would use but didn't.
Some items come in handy, but clutter is also an excellent place for spiders, bugs, and critters to hide among.
If you didn't use it during the growing season, chances are you won't use it in the season coming up. Less really is more.
Maintain Gardening Equipment
You might not need your gardening equipment until spring rolls around, which is why fall is the perfect time to get it ready.
Spring will be here before you know it, and there will be plenty to do to get ready for another growing season.
If you tend to your garden equipment now, you will give yourself a head start. Anything that needs sharpening, like shears and pruners, should get sharpened.
Check out the handles on tools to see if they are broken or splintered and need replacing.
Store your tools carefully. Hang your long-handled tools so that the edges are not rubbing against rough surfaces.
Organize all the implements you will need and have them at the ready. Preparation is one of the keys to success.
The fall gives you time to catch your breath and regroup. All through the growing season, your attention was on the plants.
Now it is the perfect time to give some attention to the greenhouse and nursery.
The time and effort you put into your greenhouse will be well worth it. You will thank yourself for having been so smart to get ready in advance!