Home Exotics Greenhouse cleaning

Greenhouse cleaning

‘Outdoor housework’ grumbles

Greenhouse cleared out, with the obvious omission of the last tomatoes (ahem)

If you have a greenhouse or any structure that you’re going to be overwintering plants in, your number one priority is making sure it’s clean in early autumn – and/or before you start sowing in spring too.

Not only must it be frost-free, but pest-free.

Cleaning the greenhouse and conservatory is my least favourite job (apart from the pond), but a necessary evil.

My plants suffered last year from aphids overwintering in cracks and crevices, as I couldn’t get to out-of-the-way places in my packed conservatory.

9-point plan to a clean greenhouse

Emo fig sulks outside on the chair during clear-out in October

Here’s what you need to down to reduce the risk of pests:

1. On a mild day, take everything possible outside.

2. Scrub off any old shade paint from the summer.

3. Brush or vacuum surfaces to remove all debris.

4. Hose down the exterior and interior on a soaker setting, to loosen any pests/eggs and lichen.

5. Wash down the glass with warm soapy water and a sponge. A breezy day will mean it dries out more quickly.

6. Spray all surfaces with Citrox, a powerful organic citrus extract disinfectant for cleaning greenhouses, pots, staging, tools, seed trays, bird feeders and bird baths. It doesn’t harm plants and it’s effective against bacterial and fungal diseases.

Panels blown out in Storm Desmond, january 2016
Panels blew out in Storm Desmond, January 2016. I’ve since retrofitted glazing bars after 3 bouts of wind damage

7. The glass is best done with an anti-bacterial washing-up liquid – it doesn’t streak.

8. Check that all ventilation panels/windows are working.

9. Finally, check over plants that you’re overwintering carefully BEFORE bringing them in – you don’t want them to be harbouring pests. Better to cut things like geraniums back outside first – and check pot rims and bases for hidden slugs, snails, and vine weevils.

Endnote: After three incidents of serious wind damage after Storm Desmond (the big panels of tempered glass cost about £75 a time), I installed Vitavia’s glazing bars to replace the usual glazing clips. It’s worth doing this and splashing out the extra money as you’re building the greenhouse – it’s harder to retrofit – it took three of us five hours to do it.