I realize that not everyone has an official greenhouse, but every gardener that starts plants from seed has some sort of area (maybe more than one) for this activity. There is some place that the supplies are kept, some place that the potting is done, and some place that the plants sit and grow. Now is a good time to clean and evaluate these areas. In January, it will be time to begin seriously planning for next year’s garden. If the work areas are clean, everything will be more enjoyable. With the weather still not quite frigid, time spent outdoors during the cleaning effort can be pleasant.
I cleaned my greenhouse, with help from Ben and Carlie, this last week. My greenhouse has functioned as a space for all three categories above. During the process of deep cleaning, a few things metaphorically and literally came to light. So, here is my list of
Seven Reasons to Clean Your Greenhouse Before Christmas:
- There are probably spider egg sacks hidden in every nook and cranny. Fortunately, we took everything outside for a good brushing off, except for the cement work table and grow light stands. We found so many spider egg sacks that I thought I might hyperventilate just at the idea that they had all been in there! I am reservedly friendly to the spiders in the yard. I understand their job. They are NOT allowed inside. I have explained this to them. All small tables, bags of soil, pots that were going back into the greenhouse, were thoroughly examined for stow-a-ways.
- You will probably find tools and supplies that you had forgotten about stashing in given corners. Gloves, scissors, plant stakes, just to name a few things. If you don’t realize you have it, you might buy unnecessary duplicates. I found more packets of wooden craft sticks for labeling individual pots than I thought I had… Some items will likely be in need of fixing. Now is a more convenient time than right when you want to use it.
- This is a good time to check electrical equipment, such as heaters and grow lights. Right after all the tender little seedlings have sprouted is a bad time to find out that the bulbs need replacing or a cord is frayed.
- Besides the obvious dusting and sweeping, there may be plant matter to dispose of. This fell into two categories for me. First, and most important, there were elm tree seeds lurking in pots and trays. This happens because the Chinese elm tree seeds take flight in their paper saucers in mid spring, a time when I have many things growing in pots and spending the days on the patio in the sun. I spend a lot of time trying to make sure I am not planting them with my seedlings, but it gets to be overwhelming to pick them out of the trays between the pots. So, they lurk.
- Secondarily, I decided to dispose of many of my (badly neglected) house plants. These had been moved to the greenhouse one winter a few years ago and I thought it would double as an old-fashioned conservatory. However, space in the greenhouse is limited and I would prefer to use my space and time for other things.
- This is a great time to organize the greenhouse for maximum function. Now that there weren’t corners I was afraid to go into, or simply couldn’t reach, I thought hard about what would go back inside. The potting table was kept clear. The one-person-wide walkway was kept free. Boxes of seedling pots that I won’t need in the near future were relocated to accessible storage. The greenhouse, with all it’s beautiful windows, is being saved for growing things.
- Quite naturally, all this leads to taking stock of seed starting supplies that have been accumulated over the years. Some things were like the flimsy trays I had saved from purchases of flats of annuals, but when I tried to use them with my seedling pots were disasters waiting to happen. Those were tossed out. Crusty and broken misting nozzles were disposed of. I saw, and thus remembered, a seedling watering mat and a heating element that is put right into the soil before planting seeds. I thought of a couple of things to add to the Christmas list that my husband forces me to give him every year, like a bin for my potting soil.
Now, I’m ready for Christmas and it’s festivities in more ways than one. Since the greenhouse is attached to the kitchen, it makes the whole house seem cleaner. And I can look at my new seed catalogs with more leisure, knowing that I am using winter to be ready for spring. This is what should be called spring cleaning.