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Windowsills, porch and conservatory

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default Windowsills, porch and conservatory

Post by Wigan Pixie on 8th January 2011, 1:11 pm

I don't have a greenhouse yet, as the garden needs a LOT of work before we can grow anything but the house needs work before we can start on the garden. I though we could grow some things on windowsills and in the porch and conservatory. The porch points east, the conservatory points west and we have windows that point east, south and west, although the ones that point south are pretty shaded. Does anyone have any ideas of what we can grow on them. They would have to be pretty small, apart from in the conservatory which, I believe, had a very healthy grapevine grown there once.

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default Re: Windowsills, porch and conservatory

Post by Compostwoman on 8th January 2011, 3:08 pm

I have to go out now but will come back and fill you in on how I use my double glazed portch as a greenhous to get seeds going. I use a heated propigator or several, but yes it is all perfectly do able.

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default Re: Windowsills, porch and conservatory

Post by Zoe on 10th January 2011, 4:37 am

What you can grow does depend on the amount of light you are getting inside the windows and the daily average temperatures, as well as the max and mins. I would start by investing in a couple of thermometers, one for the conservatory and one for the porch. Monitor how the temperatures change. The east porch recieves first light, which is great for a long growing day but does it loose the sun light later in the day and get cold? The conservatory gets evening light so should stay warmer at night but when does it warm up? Did the grape vine produce ripe grapes? Also all plants need good air flow to be healthy - but not cold drafts....and water!

The porch should be good for early carrots as long as it has a reasonable day length over 10degC and salad leaves in the late spring/summer and more carrots and radish.

If the conservatory is warm (May onwards 15deg min with ripening days of 20+) and has good light try tomatoes. I would start with a small/medium variety. Sweet peppers and chillis if you have good summer light and heat. If you have room try some mange tout (start of soon they don't like it too hot), french beans - good education and something different fresh! Hanging baskets of tomatoes (special varieties) would give more space on the floor.

I would also investigate the light quality, especially on the windows sills by sowing some lettuce seeds on a seed tray, keep them just moist and watch to see whether the younge seedlings grow healthily or are weak and not very green. It may be an idea to try some seeds for tomatoes etc but also get a few healthy plants from a friend or other grower.

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default Re: Windowsills, porch and conservatory

Post by Hathorite on 10th January 2011, 6:30 am

i used windowsills exclusively last year as I didn't have any outdoor growing space. They're draughty but since that helped to acclimate the plants, it seemed to work (though I did block up drafts best I could when the toms and peppers were on the sills).

I have several south-facing windows which work best, and some of them are tiled so I don't have to worry about water damage either - though I put trays under to catch the most of it, it's not a given with cats and child that they'll stay in one spot!

This year I've two growhouses so I can move my plants out a bit sooner and keep them covered and protected under plastic so my sills won't be as loaded this year, but it is doable.
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default Re: Windowsills, porch and conservatory

Post by Compostwoman on 10th January 2011, 9:54 am

I have a double glazed porch which is a very effective unheated greenhouse. It is on the W side of the house so gets a good deal of light.

I use heated propagators and plant out my tomato, pepper, aubergine seeds in there at the end of Jan. They grow well and when they are tall enough I transfer them into a cloche inside the unheated Polytunnel outside.

I am careful to "turn" the seedlings on a daily basis, a quarter turn at a time, tray by tray and watch I do not over water. I also water from a can which has stood overnight in the porch, as our tap water comes out of a bore hole and can be very cold....too much of a shock for the seedlings!

I also grow early trays of various salads in there, and then transfer them to the PT although a cool windowsil would be fine as well.

Beans, peas, leeks, parnips in tubes all get started in the porch either to go into the PT /cloch OR later on to go into the PT or outside.

I also have an ongoing supply of herbs in the porch over winter and keep some of the more tender houseplants in there ( Scented leaf geraniums mostly) as the Polytunnel can get well below freezing if the weather turns icy, so anything which goes in ther emight lose foliage, whereas the posch will stay above freezing even in very cold weather due to the themal store provided by the brick walls of the house.

So....if you have a porch or conservatory use it! it will serve you well.

Windowsils are harder to manage for temperature, humidity and light levels ( you often get "leggy" seedlings ) but good results are certainly possible.

Also if you grow container veg , a good idea is to bring the containers in to your conservatory/porch and plant them up with the seeds/tubers and get them going early.

BUT be aware that you may not be able to put the containers outside and not have to worry about frost until May in the UK...

Hope this helps.

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default Re: Windowsills, porch and conservatory

Post by Dandelion on 10th January 2011, 12:16 pm

I try to use every available bit of space inside for growing things before it gets warm enough outside. Something which helps a bit is a reflector made from the side of a cereal box covered with aluminium foil. This is put behind a tray of seedlings, opposite the window, and reflects the light back. I still have to keep an eye on things so that they don't get leggy (and I have to be disciplined to not start things off too early, or to grow too many at once. Difficult when you're trying to make the Spring come a bit earlier!!)

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default Re: Windowsills, porch and conservatory

Post by Chilli-head on 10th January 2011, 1:24 pm

One common gotcha with this approach is forgetting that the seed trays you sow now take up a lot less space than the resulting pots of little plants waiting for the great outdoors to be warm enough ... Bear in mind the amount of space your plants will be taking by April ! I normally have two space crises per year, one in early April when the greenhouse tomatoes have to go out into their final positions earlier than I intended because they have outgrown their bubble wrap tent, and then a second one in May when the sweetcorn and squashes start to take over and I'm not sure that we've seen the last of the frost.
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default Re: Windowsills, porch and conservatory

Post by Lottie on 10th January 2011, 1:28 pm

I've decided not to rush anything this season... I was late with alot of stuff last season due to an attack of lateness... Shocked , but my stuff soon caught up so I'm gonna hang fire a bit longer, wake me in a month or so... Wink

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default Re: Windowsills, porch and conservatory

Post by Wilhelm Von Rhomboid on 10th January 2011, 1:47 pm

Lottie wrote:I've decided not to rush anything this season... I was late with alot of stuff last season due to an attack of lateness... Shocked , but my stuff soon caught up so I'm gonna hang fire a bit longer, wake me in a month or so... Wink

I'm with you Lottie. remember the golden rule of seed sowing: Not too early; not too thickly, not too deeply.

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default Re: Windowsills, porch and conservatory

Post by Chilli-head on 10th January 2011, 2:49 pm

Whilst I'm sure Lottie and Wilhelm are right abount not rushing things (now is too early for almost everything !), there is a compromise to be made. Being too early can be a mistake, but can that first warm broad bean and feta salad ever come too soon, or the first ripe tomato, or the first of the salad potatoes ? And are crops picked in the late summer ever as precious ?
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default Re: Windowsills, porch and conservatory

Post by Wilhelm Von Rhomboid on 10th January 2011, 3:57 pm

Chilli-head wrote: but can that first warm broad bean and feta salad ever come too soon,

Get that cheeseplant going.

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default Re: Windowsills, porch and conservatory

Post by Lottie on 10th January 2011, 4:48 pm

Laughing

I can't actually concieve of warm at all right now, it's freeeeezing.... Shocked

I've just found, over time, that when I start stuff early and get caught up in mass enthusiasm, I don't get such a good crop. I over winter alot of things such as Onions, broadies etc, but I found I was still getting toms in Dec from a later sowing... Shocked and chillis in November, so not too bad, but I wouldn't go leaving sowing til July or something. I think I maybe just lazy... Embarassed it seems less work to sow a bit later and not end up having to fleece or coddle stuff. I'm not talking months and months, I jsut hold off a couple of weeks. Very Happy

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default Re: Windowsills, porch and conservatory

Post by Dandelion on 10th January 2011, 10:15 pm

Wilhelm Von Rhomboid wrote:

Not too early; not too thickly, not too deeply.

I enjoyed that film too

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default Re: Windowsills, porch and conservatory

Post by Compostwoman on 10th January 2011, 10:20 pm

Well, I have various salads and soft herbs in now, Broad beans and peas, garlic ( natch) and some early carrots. The earliest spuds will go in end of the month and the rest of the stuff for the PT goes in at Imbolc, so start of Feb.

Not really too early if you have a large undercover area to grow the plants on in...BUT if growing outside toms etc yes leave it for at least another 2 months...

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default Re: Windowsills, porch and conservatory

Post by Chilli-head on 11th January 2011, 3:55 pm

I always work on the arithmetic that tomatoes need planting into final places 6-8 weeks after sowing. My last frost is usually end of May, so that makes it early to mid April for outdoor tomatoes. An unheated greenhouse is worth an extra month, so early to mid March. Impatience and heat from a soil warming cable allows another extra month, so early to mid Feb it will be for me too Very Happy
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default Re: Windowsills, porch and conservatory

Post by Compostwoman on 11th January 2011, 4:47 pm

Mine go out into the unheated PT BUT insode cold frames with lids.

By the time the plants have outgrown the side of the cold frame ( so I can't shut the lid) the danger of frost inside the PT has passed...but not outside, obviously.

I tend to plant 2nd Feb for all my earliest toms, all the peppers and aubergines and then sow more over the next couple of weeks as seedlings emerge and I can get the trays out of the heated prop and into the porch proper

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default Re: Windowsills, porch and conservatory

Post by Zoe on 11th January 2011, 5:55 pm

Wigan Pixie wrote:I don't have a greenhouse yet, as the garden needs a
LOT of work before we can grow anything but the house needs work before
we can start on the garden. I though we could grow some things on
windowsills and in the porch and conservatory. The porch points east,
the conservatory points west and we have windows that point east, south
and west, although the ones that point south are pretty shaded. Does
anyone have any ideas of what we can grow on them. They would have to be
pretty small, apart from in the conservatory which, I believe, had a
very healthy grapevine grown there once.



Also strawberries could be happy if the number of hours sunshine is good...and a grape vine Laughing (they can be kept small)...peach tree

Zoe
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default Re: Windowsills, porch and conservatory

Post by danksshady on 12th January 2011, 9:07 am

I use bedroom window sills and also the work surface in the utility room as it warm and light in there
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default Re: Windowsills, porch and conservatory

Post by Compostwoman on 12th January 2011, 12:04 pm

You might want to read this thread.

I posted it up last year and it shows exactly how I use my porch and heated propagators.

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default Re: Windowsills, porch and conservatory

Post by Zoe on 13th January 2011, 3:28 pm

If you do get a resonable growth on the window sill (or any where else) there is also micro leaves. This is just assorted salad leaves grown to only a few leaves in a seed tray, a bit like "mustard and cress" (which is often rape seed now..)

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default Re: Windowsills, porch and conservatory

Post by Dandelion on 13th January 2011, 5:36 pm

I have a small crop of beetroot micro leaves on my kitchen windowsill as we speak. This is a fairly cold, north facing window, so they're not doing too badly. (They're right by the sink so I remember to water!) Being able to sow something sorts out my growing urges until the warmer weather...

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default winter box planting

Post by Penny on 13th January 2011, 6:10 pm

I am so irritated with myself for not figuring out how to do that this winter. Too many "house plants" hogging all the good space. I keep threatening to throw them all out in the snow. One year I had lettuce growing and it was slow as toenails but it did mean a few leaves of our very own to add to store salad stuff.

Anybody know if red cabbage keeps for winter? A friend of mine used some in a salad recently and I thought it worked great.

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default Re: Windowsills, porch and conservatory

Post by Compostwoman on 13th January 2011, 6:36 pm

I have a tray of salad leaves on the kitchen windowsil right now, mixed salad bowl, and I keep sowing a regular supply so I usually have some.

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