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Two Good Gardeners

The Art of Glass

Season 2, Ep. 6

Owning a greenhouse is a luxury and privilege many gardeners dream of. In this special episode, recorded at Torberry Farm in Hampshire, Dan and Julia meet Nelly Hall, Brand Director at Alitex, to discover how to make the most of a greenhouse all year round. As the year draws to a close, Nelly explains how to use a greenhouse to prepare plants for Christmas and get an early start on spring, learning the importance of light and heat. Moving on to summer, we learn about ventilation, maintaining humidity and keeping pests under control before coming full circle to autumn for Nelly's tips on good glasshouse hygiene.

Nelly's top greenhouse gardening tips

  1. Good light in a greenhouse is as essential as heat to keep plants compact and healthy.
  2. Buy the biggest greenhouse you can - no one ever wishes they'd bought a smaller model!
  3. Think carefully about how you want to use your greenhouse to maximise the space and create the right growing conditions.
  4. Instal power in your greenhouse, even if you have no immediate plans. It gives you options in future.
  5. Consider using solar power to reduce energy costs.
  6. Make space for a chair and table so that you have somewhere to take time out and enjoy.
  7. Keep sacks of compost in the greenhouse over winter so it doesn't freeze and remains usable in cold weather.
  8. Play with a greenhouse to bring forward flowering and cropping to extend the growing season.
  9. Use the winter months, when there's less to do, to experiment by taking cuttings and making compost.
  10. Be vigilant and don't allow pests to take control - good hygiene is essential in an enclosed space.
  11. Don't over-sow and stagger your seed planting to avoid waste.
  12. Vents between a greenhouse and a cold frame can help keep a cold frame warmer.

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  • 1. The Secret of Saving Seeds

    In the first episode of the new series of Two Good Gardeners, Dan and Julia debate whether it's worth saving your own seeds and throw a spotlight on wool, the secret ingredient our gardens have been crying out for. Julia shares her top tips for growing lemongrass to fill your kitchen with oriental flavours, and Dan waxes lyrical about hostas, the foliage plant we'd all love to love if slugs and snails didn't love them more! As always, your hosts round off with a list of things to do in your garden over the next fortnight and news of where you can find or hear them next.Jobs for your garden this fortnight:Plant out hardened-off sweet peas.Deadhead daffodils and other spring-flowering bulbs.Put in supports for perennials and climbers before they get too large.Lift and divide hostas and other perennials you’d like more of.Protect fruit blossoms from late frosts.Feed citrus with summer feed.Plant out second-early potatoes.Sow carrots, beetroot, chard, spinach, salads, radish & peas.Watch out for box moth caterpillars and treat them if necessary.Ventilate greenhouses on sunny days.Website links:Dan Cooper GardenParker's Patch
  • 8. New Year's Resolutions

    In the final episode of Series 2, Dan & Julia reflect on the many highlights of a busy and eventful year and share their New Year's resolutions.They'll return with Series 3 in spring 2024. If you've enjoyed Series 2, then click follow on your favourite podcast platform, so you're notified when new episodes are launched. Leaving a rating or writing a review will help us know what you like and how we can do better in future.The book 'The Secret Gardens of Cornwall', which Dan talks about, is available from Waterstones. Sussex gardens are covered in 'Secret Gardens of the South East' by our friend Barbara Segall (which we really should have remembered!), also available from Waterstones.Your hosts wish you a very Happy New Year and look forward to entertaining you again soon.Website links:Dan Cooper GardenParker's PatchAlitex Modern Victorian Greenhouses
  • 7. Sustainable Christmas Special

    Christmas is a frenetic season when time and budgets are often overstretched. With less time to focus on living sustainably, how can we make the best environmental choices, especially when they're not always obvious? Talking as amateur gardeners, Dan & Julia discuss some of the options and reveal surprising facts - did you know, for example, that burning a real Christmas tree on a bonfire is far more sustainable than putting it out for collection and composting?Julia shares how much of her Christmas lunch she grows herself (prepare to be impressed), while Dan divulges how he keeps his dinner candles upright using a flower frog - watch him do it here.Your hosts wish all their listeners a very happy Christmas and a fruitful New Year 🎄 They'll be returning soon with a review of 2023, when they'll also share their resolutions for 2024.Useful links:Dan's guide to choosing the perfect real Christmas tree (and disposing of it!)Website links:Dan Cooper GardenParker's PatchAlitex Modern Victorian Greenhouses
  • 5. The Art of Overwintering

    As the days get shorter and the nights colder, it's time to bite the bullet and protect your tender plants from the cold, wet and wind. Dan explains how to tackle different groups of plants, from annuals to evergreens, and Julia shares advice on keeping herbs, citrus, ginger, chillies and pineapples happy until spring.Your hosts anticipate the outcome of the Garden Media Guild Awards, where Two Good Gardeners has been shortlisted (see below if you want to know the result) and look forward to visiting their sponsor, Alitex, so record a special episode which will air before Christmas.Julia offers advice on growing garlic from shop-bought or own-grown cloves, and Dan reveals a new Christmas trend - including seeds in your Christmas cards.Dan's guide to overwintering tender plants: Website links:Dan Cooper GardenParker's PatchAlitex Modern Victorian GreenhousesAlitex Events*our congratulations to Gardens Illustrated, who won the category for best podcast or radio broadcast.
  • 4. Planting Ahead for Christmas

    In episode 4, Dan and Julia offer advice on filling your home with plants and flowers this Christmas, including how to force bulbs and buy and care for seasonal plants such as poinsettia and cyclamen. Julia explains how to grow a crop of spuds for your Christmas dinner, and Dan shares his favourite garden-inspired Christmas decorations. Julia champions the humble beetroot (pickling recipe below), and Dan is elated that others are finally joining his crusade to revive the much-maligned chrysanthemum.Julia's recipe for pickled beetroot, adapted from a recipe by Clodagh Mckenna Ingredients6 small beetroot 4 sprigs of thyme 160 ml white wine vinegar 150 ml cold water 110 g caster sugar ( Suggest adding 90 g, then taste if you want it sweeter, add the rest) ½ tsp mustard seeds ½ tsp black peppercorns ½ tsp sea salt MethodCook the beetroot in a saucepan covered with cold water for 30-40 mins or until tender. Drain and refresh under cold water. Peel the beets and cut them into small wedges. Place in sterilized jars Put the thyme, vinegar, caster sugar, mustard seeds, peppercorns, sea salt and 150ml cold water in a saucepan and heat until all has dissolved. Pour this vinegar mixture over the beetroot and allow to cool completely. Seal and store in the fridge for up to one year. Dan's favourite chrysanthemums:'Dixter Orange' - very early, starting late June / early July and over by September - completely self-supporting and makes a terrific low hedge.'Percy Salter' - the colour of a well-baked custard cream, pretty and long-lasting.'EH Wilson' - produces delicate sprays of butter-yellow single flowers.'Breitner's Supreme' - lax form with white daisy-like blooms - use to flop over other plants.'Burnt Orange' - fiery orange quilled petals that are yellow inside.'Dulwich Pink' - neat and smothered with cranberry red flowers in November.Dan's Christmas decorations - & Julia's jobs for the next fortnightStart planting tulip bulbs and indoor bulbs to be forced.Keep gutters clear of leaves and moss.Gather fallen leaves and store them in hessian bags to break down into leafmould.Clean bird feeders thoroughly before filling them with fresh seed.Sow sweet peas, broad beans, peas, radishes and rocket.Cut away the old stems of autumn-fruiting raspberries, blackberries and loganberries.Reduce excessive top growth to prevent wind damage.Plant up, tidy and wash greenhouses and clear benches.Continue to mow lawns but on dry days.Visit arboreta to enjoy the blazing autumn colours.Website links:Dan Cooper GardenParker's PatchAlitex Modern Victorian Greenhouses
  • 3. To Winterise or not to Winterise?

    In episode 3, Dan and Julia mull the merits of putting your garden to bed for winter, sharing tips on preparing for windy weather and making space for tender plants that need protection from the cold. Julia chooses chillies for her 'top of the crops' slot and explains how to take cuttings from herb plants, while Dan offers advice on choosing and planting tulips, throwing the spotlight on three of his favourite bulb-planting tools.Julia's top chillies: 'Cayenne', 'Longhorn', 'Basket of Fire' (bush and yellow-green and red small chillies), 'Sigaretta di Bergamo' (suitable for decoration and it's not too hot), 'Habanero', 'Tokyo Hot'.Dan's most perennial tulips: 'Apeldoorn' (red), 'Golden Apeldoorn' (yellow), 'Apeldoorn's Elite' (yellow and orange), 'Pink Impression', 'Apricot Impression', 'Spring Green' (white and green), 'Flaming Spring Green' (red, white and green), 'Artist' (peach and green), 'Queen of Night' (inky purple) and 'Negrita' (smoky purple pink), Tulipa kaufmanniana, Tulipa greigii, Tulipa tarda, Tulipa turkestanica and Tulipa praestans.Dan's top bulb-planting tools: Dutch trowel, Tulip trowel, Barrel bulb planterDan & Julia's jobs for the next fortnightOrder and plant onion sets and garlic bulbsOrder tulip bulbs for planting next monthRemove spent tomato plants - burn them if you spot any signs of blightSow more salads, fennel and beetroot for late crops in a greenhouse or undercoverTake cuttings of herbs and salviasClean greenhouse benches and glazing as crops die backMake space in sheds and garages for plants that will need winter protection. Don't wait until the evening before the first frostLast spray of the season for box moth caterpillars; you won't see them until next May with any luck.Pick dahlias regularly, as they'll soon become pale and feeble.Take cuttings of plectrathus and coleus while the weather is still mild.Pick and store apples when they're dry and blemish-free - many varieties will keep for weeks or even monthsKeep an eye out in the hedgerows for sloes that can be steeped in gin to make a delicious winter warmer.Website links:Dan Cooper GardenParker's PatchAlitex Modern Victorian Greenhouses
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