A conservatory full of life! And not just people, but thriving plants and contented pets too.
Now that spring has arrived, it’s the perfect time to start off vegetables from seed. You conservatory provides ideal growing conditions and is a fine substitute for a greenhouse.
The beauty of using your conservatory for planting, is that it is more easily accessible from your home, so you can keep a close eye on your plants, ensure the temperature is suitable, and plants are watered regularly. Plus you can enjoy a little gardening even if the weather is cold and wet outside.
Tomatoes and peppers are very easy to grow and most popular. Tomatoes can be transferred to the outdoors after a few weeks, where they will grow happily if tethered well to a strong stake. Peppers need to remain indoors to thrive, so it’s best to think about whether you’d like to devote some of your conservatory space to your plants for the whole spring and summer season, or just want to use it for starting plants off.
You can also try cucumbers, celery, summer squash and lettuce, which can be happily planted out once established. Aubergines are perfect conservatory plants but should remain inside as they suffer from the cold.
It’s great to get the kids involved too, seed planting is a fun activity for them, and very rewarding. As they watch their plants grow, they learn so much, and are more inclined to eat the produce when it’s ‘home grown’ by their fair hands. Dare we say it even taste better too!
If you love cooking, your conservatory is the ideal place to grow a selection of your favourite herbs: basil, thyme, oregano and sage look nice when planted together, and it’s great to have a ready selection of herbs freshly picked just when you need them. Herbs are expensive to buy in the supermarket; look after your home grown selection and they’ll save you pots of money too!
If you have a little space, you could add a lemon, kumquat or orange tree. These take a little extra care to keep them happy and healthy. Citrus trees need plenty of feed between March and October, should be kept moist, ideally with rainwater, and stand their pots on a tray of gravel with water just below the surface to maintain optimum humidity. Remember to mist their leaves regularly too. A little tlc will be rewarded with fragrant flowers, followed by colourful and delicious fruit.
Whatever plants you choose to grow, be sure to keep your conservatory well ventilated to provide the best growing conditions, and to prevent spread of fungal diseases. Beware of hot sunny days, keep your plants well watered, and use blinds or sun shields to protect your plants from direct sunlight. It’s also recommended to clean your windows regularly with hot soapy water to deter pests.
And don't worry if you go away regularly. Simply use larger pots for your plants so that you can provide enough water to last, and add slow release granules to release feed.
Your conservatory provides the perfect ‘grow-your-own’ environment and will reward just a little time and effort with an enduring supply of plenty of tasty fruit and vegetables. If you’ve never grown your own before, you’re in for a real treat. So get planting, and let us know how you get on. You can even send us pictures if you like, we’d love to see what you choose to grow.