It was nice and sunny last weekend, so I spent a few hours tidying up the greenhouse. 

We picked the last of the tomatoes at Christmas, so I emptied all the spent pots onto the compost heap and put the empties away in the shed.   I swept up all the old leaves, dead bees and cobwebs and now it looks ready for next season. 

The greenhouse isn’t empty, though.  I’m striking some rose cuttings, and I’m growing a tray of rocket for sandwich filling and for pesto.  Rocket grows wonderfully well in the vegetable garden, but just like spinach it slows down in winter.  The wood pigeons also eat it if I’m not careful.  An inside tray will supply the kitchen nicely for the next three months, I think.

I’ve recently perfected a delicious pesto recipe that uses only local ingredients – equal weights of rocket, hazelnuts and Westcombe cheddar, then as much hemp seed oil and garlic as you think necessary.  I’m waiting for Westcombe to produce a parmesan style cheese next (please!) for extra piquancy.  

This year I will be using the greenhouse to raise lots of tomatoes and peppers.  The aubergines and okra didn’t succeed last year, but the peppers did, so I’m going to double down on those.  In August we visited West Dean Gardens, where they have the most wonderful vegetable gardens I’ve ever seen.  I was in heaven.  Two of their many greenhouses were dedicated to peppers and chillies, one plant per large pot, and that’s what I’m planning to emulate.

I’m not very good at raising things in the greenhouse for replanting, as you probably know.  My successes on the seedling front extend to tomatoes and artichokes.  For almost everything else I have found better success when planting seeds direct.  But I know that this slows me down and means I don’t make best use of the vegetable beds I’ve got outside.   I’m led to believe that if I raised seedlings in the greenhouse and transplanted them at the same time as I planted seed outside, I could get earlier crops from the first to combine with my later crops from the second, with higher overall productivity as a result.  Maybe I’ll try that next.    

Text and Images (C) Claire @theslowfix A slow food devotee, Claire is constantly searching for new ways to enable us all to live sustainably.

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