Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Soil ‘is an important consideration in a greenhouse’

Soil is one of the key considerations that gardeners should spare some thought to when it comes to the maintenance of their greenhouse.

Indeed, it can be a tricky job – often a much more fiddly task than caring for and changing the soil on a traditional garden border.

British plant pathologist Pippa Greenwood said that she is blessed with the presence of trenches with brick bases in her own greenhouse.

However, in an article for Gardener's World, she said that those who have borders that are glazed at the base are likely to face a much more difficult task than she does.

Acknowledging that she does not refresh greenhouse soil as much as she would like, the expert explained that it can be a very tedious activity at the best of times, likening it to pulling a cooker out and cleaning behind it.

However, Ms Greenwood underlined the fact that if soil is left long enough without being replaced, plant growth could end up being adversely affected.

The expert went on to suggest that it would be interesting to carry out a test to establish the optimum length of time that one batch of soil can be left in place.

"As both a gardener and a plant pathologist, I’m keenly aware of the problems that can arise when soil-borne pathogens accumulate," she commented, adding that: "Experience has taught me that so many other factors affect plant growth and conditions vary so dramatically from year to year."

Author of the Veg Plotting blog Michelle Chapman claimed that many gardens in general suffer from overworked soil.

"While adding compost and leaf mould will eventually restore them to health, these methods take time, hard work and access to a wheelbarrow," she wrote in an article for the Guardian.

"Sometimes, short-term help is also required," Ms Chapman continued, adding that: "This is where mycorrhizal fungi, mineral-rich rockdust and seaweed fertilisers come in."

This could be useful for greenhouse growers, as a bag of this valuable substance can make a significant contribution to the full restoration of a green space to its former glory, following the experience of any difficulties.

Ms Chapman advocated the benefits of container growing, although she admitted that all the shifting of heavy bags that can go hand-in-hand with this approach is not a welcoming thought.

If this is a problem, lighter, peat-free growing options could be worth looking into. Here, weight reduction has been achieved by combining wood fibre and coir, which are still moisture retentive when wet, despite being very light when dry.