A greenhouse is an incredible asset for gardeners, providing a controlled environment for plants to thrive. However, regular cleaning and maintenance are essential to ensure your plants’ health and productivity. In this comprehensive guide, we will break down the steps required to keep your greenhouse clean and rust-free, provide tips on cleaning greenhouse glass, offer guidance on when to clean, and explain how to maintain gutters and water butts. By following these beginner-friendly instructions, you’ll be well-prepared to create a healthy and flourishing haven for your plants.
Part 1: Cleaning Your Greenhouse
1: Completely Empty Your Greenhouse
Remove all plants, pots, and accessories from your greenhouse to begin the cleaning process. If you are cleaning during the summer, protect your plants from direct sunlight by covering them appropriately with shade cloth or moving them to a shaded area.
2: Sweep the Inside
With the greenhouse empty, it’s time to clear away debris. Start by brushing off any loose dirt, leaves, and cobwebs from the shelves and framework. Then, sweep the base of your greenhouse, paying close attention to corners and hard-to-reach areas. Dispose of the waste in your garden waste bin. If your greenhouse has a soil base, use a rake to remove debris and level the soil.
3: Tidy the Exterior Areas
A clean exterior ensures optimal functionality and reduces the risk of issues. Begin by removing any leaves or twigs that have accumulated in the gutters. This prevents clogging and allows water to flow freely. Next, empty your rainwater barrels to eliminate stagnant water that can harbour pests and diseases. For extra cleanliness, rinse out the barrels with a hose. If algae growth is a problem, consider using an oxygen bleach solution or specialised water butt cleaner to thoroughly clean the inside of the barrels.
4: Clean Greenhouse Accessories
Before returning accessories such as pots, trays, and tools to your greenhouse, please take the opportunity to clean them thoroughly. Use a mild detergent or a diluted disinfectant solution to remove any dirt or residue. This step helps prevent the buildup of pathogens and keeps your greenhouse hygienic. For a guide on how to clean your garden tools, click here.
5: Clean the Structural Parts and Glazing Material
The structural components and glazing of your greenhouse also require attention. Use a suitable disinfectant or detergent to clean the structural parts, paying special attention to areas that are prone to dirt buildup. Hydrogen peroxide-based products, garden disinfectants, or specialised greenhouse cleaners are effective choices. Consult the manufacturer’s instructions for the appropriate dilution and application method.
When cleaning the glazing material, it’s crucial to clean both the inside and outside surfaces for optimal light transmission. If you have plastic glazing, test any cleaning solutions on a small inconspicuous area first to ensure they don’t damage the material. Scrub off any old shade paint from the outside of the glass, ensuring it’s completely clean. For removing dirt trapped between panes, use a flexible scraper like a plastic plant label.
Inspect the glazing for any cracks or damage. Replace broken parts promptly to maintain the integrity of your greenhouse structure. Additionally, pay close attention to ventilation components such as vent controllers and draught excluders. Ensure they are functioning correctly to provide optimal airflow.
6: Pay Attention to Propagation Areas and Equipment
Propagation areas and equipment are vital for the successful growth of young plants. Clean these areas thoroughly to minimise the risk of diseases affecting vulnerable seedlings. Remove any old soils from pots and beds, as they can harbour pathogens and pests. Let the soils compost for a year or more to rejuvenate. Replace with clean, disease-free soil purchased from a reputable supplier. Rake or sweep out any debris and treat the entire exposed area with diatomaceous earth to control pests.
Part 2: Preventing Rust on Your Greenhouse
Regular maintenance is the key to preventing rust in your greenhouse. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Regular Inspections: Regularly inspect your greenhouse for cracks, damage, or faulty seals in the gutters, water butts, glass, and other components. Address any issues promptly to prevent them from escalating.
- Proper Water Management: Ensure gutters and water butts are not overflowing, as this can lead to moisture buildup and rust. Clean gutters regularly to prevent blockages and maintain proper water flow.
- Timely Repairs: Repair any cracks, broken glass, or faulty components as soon as you notice them. Prompt action prevents further damage and prolongs the life of your greenhouse.
Part 3: Cleaning Greenhouse Glass
Cleaning greenhouse glass is crucial for maximising light transmission and preventing the buildup of dirt and grime. Follow these steps to ensure sparkling clean glass:
- Gather Your Cleaning Materials: You will need an oxygen bleach solution or standard washing-up liquid, a large sponge or soft-bristled brush, and a step ladder if your greenhouse has a roof.
- Start with the Inside: Begin cleaning the inside of the glass using the oxygen bleach solution or washing up liquid diluted in warm water. Apply the solution with a sponge or brush, paying attention to cracks and crevices.
- Move to the Outside: Once the inside is clean, move outside and repeat the process on the exterior glass surfaces. Use the step ladder to access the roof if necessary. Thoroughly clean all areas, ensuring no dirt or residue remains.
- Address Wood Cleaning: Cleaning wood in a greenhouse can be challenging due to its crevices. Use a non-toxic vegetable-based horticultural oil to clean and protect the wood. Apply the oil with a cloth, ensuring you reach all the nooks and crannies. An old toothbrush can be helpful for thorough cleaning.
Part 4: When to Clean Your Greenhouse
Timing your greenhouse cleaning is essential to work in harmony with your planting schedule. Consider the following recommendations:
- For summer crops like tomatoes, clean in winter after clearing the crop.
- For year-round plants such as orchids, clean during mild spells in autumn to improve light transmission before winter.
- For periodic and successive crops like seedlings, clean between planting periods, such as autumn or spring.
Part 5: Cleaning Out Gutters and Water Butts
Regularly clean gutters to ensure the free flow of water and limit the buildup of unwanted materials. Follow these steps:
- Wear rubber gloves for protection.
- Run your hand along the inside length of the gutter to remove debris.
- Scoop out any leaves, moss, or debris that has accumulated.
- Pay special attention to the top of fall pipes, using a wire coat hanger to unblock them if necessary.
- Use a hosepipe or watering can to sluice away the remaining dirt, directing the water to a bucket for disposal.
- Place a wire mesh cap at the gutter’s meeting point with the fall pipe to trap leaves and larger debris. Clean the cap regularly, especially after the leaf fall.
- Dispose of the debris on the compost heap.
Cleaning Water Butts
Maintain a clean and healthy water source by cleaning your water butts regularly. Follow these steps:
- Drain the water butt by tipping it on its side to clear any remaining water.
- Scrub the inside of the water butt with a coarse brush. Use a proprietary cleaning product or garden disinfectant if necessary. Rinse thoroughly.
- Rinse the water butt again with a hose, ensuring all cleaning products are removed.
- Replace the water butt in its original position and reconnect it to your greenhouse’s downpipe system.
By following this beginner’s guide, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge and step-by-step instructions to effectively clean and maintain your greenhouse. Regular cleaning and proper maintenance ensure a healthy growing environment for your plants, maximising their productivity and keeping diseases at bay. Remember to always prioritise safety and consult manufacturer guidelines for specific cleaning recommendations. Enjoy the benefits of a well-maintained greenhouse as you watch your plants thrive and flourish.