Hartley Magazine

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

Get going in your greenhouse right now

Almost the only way to get ripe Nectarines and perfect Peaches is to grow in tubs brought in early on.

With a greenhouse we can start producing crops months sooner than outdoors. Most advantageous is bringing in tub grown fruit trees and bushes to force earlier, weather and bird-proof, harvests. Indeed bringing in Peaches, and even more so, Nectarines, in tubs is THE way to prevent Peach Leaf Curl, and ripen perfect fruits, earlier. Apricots are also well worth bringing in. Apples are marginal, Cherries, Pears and Plums are difficult, as are Raspberries.

Blueberry bushes brought in now will crop months earlier.

Gooseberries are easy, earlier and sweeter when brought under cover. Blueberries are well suited, already grown in tubs of acidic compost their main problem are birds so bringing them under cover solves that, and gives earlier crops. Likewise Strawberries, best grown one plant per bucket sized tub these are easily moved, and by bringing in another tub each week you ensure a continual supply of fruit for a month or more well before outdoor ones start to ripen.

Have strawberries months before the outdoor crops ripen.
Early potatoes in tubs under cover started now crop by Easter.

Although their yields may not be heavy growing New Potatoes in tubs under cover will have you eating yours at Easter when others are only planting theirs. Plant one set (small seed potato) of an Early (fast) variety, especially Rocket, per tub. Feed and water well once the plants are growing and as with strawberries start a new batch every week or so to get continuity of supply.

Start Sweet potatoes now for fantastic crops in autumn.

Now a frost free greenhouse is all you need for many crops but you need a warm propagator for starting some, especially Sweet Potatoes. These are really worth growing but only if you can start soon enough as yields are much more rewarding with longer seasons. Pot a sweet potato and keep warm, shoots will appear, once these are finger length or so de-pot to detach these. Pot each up individually to grow on in large tubs (up canes) and you’ll get fantastic crops.

Modern cucumbers sown in January will be cropping before Easter.

You also need a warm propagator for starting Cucumbers, but amazingly sow a modern all female small fruited variety now and you’ll be eating cucumber sandwiches along with your new potatoes! By the end of January you can also sow first batches of indoor Tomatoes, Chilli & Sweet Peppers and Aubergines.

Fortunately you’ll need no heat for sowing Onions and Leeks in trays or cells. The sooner you sow these the better, sow thinly and plant out later when your garden soil has become friable.