Great first day at the National Ploughing Championships, very busy and not a drop of rain. Traffic management seemed to go very well. If you haven’t been come and see us on Row 8 Block 3 Stand 195. A lot of interest in Livestock Tunnels for calves and for sheep as well as Polytunnels for gardening.
Horticulturalist Peter Whyte gives Polydome customers some tips on how to deal with Grey Mould.
Grey mould is a common disease of greenhouse plants in late summer and autumn. The key to controlling it is knowing how it lives and ensuring that it doesn’t get a grip. It is a fungus disease, caused by several different Botrytis species. The commonest one in greenhouses is Botrytis cinerea, which attacks unhealthy, dead or dying plant tissues. If that was all it did, it would be little trouble to growers and just another useful organism recycling our plant wastes into compost. But when established on dead or wounded plant parts it then attacks the neighbouring healthy tissues, killing them back too. It produces a forest of tiny hair-like stems on the surface of the plant, each one ending in a capsule of microscopic dust-like spores. This is the visible ash-grey mould. When you disturb the plant, the capsules release clouds of spores to attack more plants. Some land on tomato fruits where they fail to penetrate unbroken skin and die out, leaving ‘ghost spots’ with white edges and almost transparent centres. Affected tomatoes are edible but don’t look attractive.
Control the fungus by denying it food. Dead-head plants often and remove dying or infected leaves, stems and fruits right away. Never leave fallen fruits on the ground. Water regularly to reduce leaf die-back and fruit splitting. Reduce humidity by ventilating well, thinning out dense foliage, spacing plants further apart, removing weeds and watering only in the morning so plants and the ground surface will be dry all night. Feed plants less nitrogen (which encourages soft, sappy, disease-prone growth) and more potash (which encourages slower, harder, disease-resistant growth). Prune and de-leaf plants in the mornings so the wounds dry off before night. Disinfect the greenhouse and dig over the soil in winter to reduce resting spores.
Pelargoniums (geraniums) are easy to grow from cuttings whenever the plants are growing, but easiest in late summer. Fill a pot with seed compost and moisten it by standing it in water for a while. Then let the surplus water drain away. Choose your healthiest, most vigorous pelargonium plants for cuttings. Non-flowering stems are best because flowers give off hormones that inhibit root growth, but if you have to use flowering stems remove any flowers and flower-buds. Stout stems grown in good light are better than spindly stems grown in poor light; a few weeks on greenhouse staging can produce good stems.
Cut the chosen stems below the third node (joint) from the top. Cut off all but the top leaves, insert them into the pot leaving one node and the top leaves showing and firm them in gently to ensure good contact between the cutting and the compost. Place the pot in a warm bright spot out of direct sun. Don’t cover it as dampness can rot the cuttings. For the same reason, water it only from below by standing the pot in water for a while and letting it drain as before. Remove any cuttings that start to rot. Plant out the rooted cuttings when new leaves appear on them: let them recover where they were until growth starts again before placing them in full sun.
Looking forward to seeing new and existing customers at this years Bloom Show which starts this Thursday and runs until bank holiday Monday. Our stand is in the same place as the last two years, OR39.
Bloom is regarded as a great day out for all the family, and it looks as though we will be blessed with fine weather (God willing).
This year we will have a lovely Janssens Helios Orangery Greenhouse on show which can also be used as a Garden Room and will be an attractive feature in any Garden. It is a big Greenhouse at 3.92m x 4,76m, it is 2m high at the sides. The kit starts off in price at 6,770 euro.
Congratulations to our Happy Couple Marilyn O’Connor and Paulus Ungerechts who bought a Polytunnel from us this Spring and when the venue for their wedding reception ceased trading unexpectedly they improvised and used their Polydome Tunnel as the venue!
Here is a link to the story in the Irish Independent yesterday. Irish Independent Story
Very appropriate too as Polydome was founded on Saint Valentines Day 1985!
Cherry tomatoes on the vine
For a successful crop of greenhouse tomatoes you need to get the planting right. The plants should be a healthy green colour and not yellow (due to lack of feed and/or water) nor purplish (due to chilling), nor lanky and spindly (due to lack of light). Plant them out when the first flowers are opening. From then on plants will need more food and more room for their roots to forage for it.
The greenhouse soil is the easiest and cheapest to plant into but you can’t keep planting tomatoes (or any other crop) in the same soil every year as pest, disease and mineral problems will build up. Change the soil for fresh soil from outside the greenhouse, or move the plants around a large greenhouse each year, or use grow-bags.
Traditional vine tomatoes grow straight up to head height or more and can be spaced only 45cm /18” apart. Bush tomatoes need less headroom but much more space between them. Keep any seed packets or labels for guidance.
You need canes or twines to support vine tomatoes. Canes are easier to use but must be inserted before putting in the plants to avoid damaging their roots. Strings are simpler at first, but as you twine them around the growing plants they may need to be slackened at the top so use a shoelace knot and leave extra twine on the end.
Water the plants well before putting them in, and again after planting. Make sure the soil around the root ball is wet so the roots can grow into it: greenhouse borders can become very dry. Leave the plants slightly below the surrounding soil so water poured onto the bases of the plants won’t roll away from them.
When seeds have been sown and germinated in a seed tray, the process of separating the tiny plants and transplanting them into individual pots or containers is pricking out. It’s an essential skill for greenhouse users who raise plants from seed. Do it as soon as the seed-leaves on the new plants are opened out fully: delaying longer allows their roots to intertwine so that separating the plants damages them more severely. Fill compost loosely into the containers to be planted up. Level it but don’t firm it down. Using an old teaspoon, a metal tag or similar, dig under a seedling from the side as you lift it by one of its seed-leaves. Lower the roots down into a hole punched in the centre of the potting mixture in the target container and tap the container to level the compost around it. Firm it gently with your fingertips and water it. Set it somewhere warm, sheltered and out of direct sun until the plant recovers from the shock of transplanting and starts growing again.
Avoid sowing seed too thickly in seed-trays, as the seedlings end up too close together for easy pricking out Do as little damage to roots as you can while pricking out so the plants will recover and grow faster. Always hold seedlings by one seed-leaf and never by their stems: stems are much easier to crush than leaves and a plant with one damaged leaf still has another.
If a seed-tray is too congested because of sowing thickly or delayed pricking out, all is not lost. You can still cut the solid block of root-bound compost into squares, pot up each square and reduce the plants in each to one by snipping out the rest.
We recently built a canopy structure for Hannah’s Garden in Birr (formerly Ward’s Garden Centre), it is the kind of structure that customers ask us about for numerous applications. This type of structure can be used in Industry to keep pallets out of the rain, for livestock, for Garden Centres to avoid plants getting too wet (and of course customers too), it can be used for drying timber, hanging up your washing line, a car port (we have had people ask for this including for Vintage cars) – etc. etc. (I feel a competition coming on here for readers to think up practical suggestions of what it could be used for). This structure is the same design as our standard 6m wide Model but with extra height and a heavier frame than normal to carry the extra height. Thanks to our well equipped workshop and stock of steel we are able to customise our Polytunnels where the need arises.
Why not visit Hannah’s Garden when you come to Birr? It is on the Tullamore Road opposite Lidl.
The newest addition to our display area in Birr is this lovely Junior Orangery Glasshouse from Janssens. Using ‘box section’ aluminium profiles and 4mm toughened glass this greenhouse is good and strong. The protruding Porch makes for a lovely and unusual feature in the garden. It comes in black only – or as Henry Ford said about the Model T car – every colour you want so long as it is black. The Junior Orangery measures 3.14m x 3.96m giving room for a the essential table and chairs to relax in along with some plants to talk to and enjoy 🙂 The price for this impressive Greenhouse is only 3,515 euro as a DIY kit, we do offer a construction service the price for which varies with location – please enquire for a price if you are not DIY inclined. We need a flat and level base (or flat and level lawn) to be in situ before we arrive to build it. You are welcome to come and see this and other models at our display area in Birr.
March is a good time for starting potted plants that have overwintered in your greenhouse into summer growth. Although greenhouse temperatures vary widely at this time of the year, most of the hardest frosts will be over and new growth should not be killed back if you keep the vents and doors closed at nights.
Plants that don’t need repotting just need tidying up, watering and maybe feeding. For those that needrepotting the procedure is simple. Tip a plant out of its existing pot. A few plants like Amaryllis need to be kept confined, but most will probably need bigger pots this time if they needed frequent watering and feeding last year. Other warning signs of pot-binding are roots growing out the top or bottom of the pot, and a solid mass of roots and little soil when you turn a plant out of its pot. Don’t use a much larger pot; about two centimetres of soil or compost all round is enough for roots to fill before it gets stale and soggy.
Remove any loose material between the plant roots and use it as mulch in the garden. You can pot up plants with peat compost, soil or a mixture of both. Pure peat is expensive, hard to wet when fully dry and favours vine weevils. Stand the plant in a part-filled pot so that its original soil surface is about a centimetre below the top and fill up to there with slightly damp, gently firmed potting medium. The space between the surface and the top of the pot is to hold water poured in when watering. Water the pot/s right away, and if the plant roots have been disturbed much (like rooted cuttings and divided plants) give some shade for a week or so.