Plants love the warm, humid, cozy protection of a greenhouse. The problem is that pests and diseases love this environment too. Eliminating pests is crucial to keeping plants healthy. A deep cleaning not only helps eliminate pests, it also improves the overall aesthetics of the greenhouse. It’s a job—there’s no doubt about that, but it helps if you break the chore down into the simple steps below rather than careen from one task to another and back again.
This means everything: plants, soil, weeds, debris of any kind, containers, equipment, clutter that somehow made its way into your greenhouse. There can be no place for any creepy crawlers or pathogens to hide.
“Shop vac” or sweep down walls, internal structures and peripherals, such as tables, benches and containers. Start at the top where dangerous organisms lurk in places like rafters and window ledges. Clean the floor of the assorted debris that gathers there: soil, organic matter, weeds and broken pottery shards.
Now scrub or power wash everything. If you use soap, be sure it is a gentle, natural soap that leaves no residue. Make sure to rinse very thoroughly to remove any residue. Hydrogen peroxide-based products are both user- and environment-friendly. Garden disinfectants work fine, as do specialty greenhouse cleaners combining sulfuric acid and wetting agents. Whatever you use, it is of utmost importance that you follow manufacturer’s directions.
Wood tables and benches and any concrete areas (and, actually, any textured surface) need special attention. They are favorite places for root rot diseases, algae and insects to breed. If you are going to reuse containers, clean them thoroughly to remove all soil and debris even if there have been no problems with disease.
Let the Sun In
Most plants do well when they receive a lot of natural sunlight. Keeping the glass clean is a must. Begin by removing any moss or algae with a utensil that won’t scratch the glass; plastic plant labels get into every crack and crevice and work especially well for this chore. Wash the glass with a firm brush and a mild all-purpose liquid cleaner that doesn’t need rinsing. Open the windows to speed up drying and give the hinges a quick fix of WD-40 while you’re at it.
Clean Gutters and Water Butts
To clean the gutters, put on rubber gloves and scoop out any accumulated debris. Use a wire coat hanger to “ream out” the top of fall pipes. Then use the hose to sluice away the remaining dirt.
To clean water butts, tip them over to drain out any standing water. Scrub out the inside with a coarse brush and rinse with clean water.
Strive to keep the greenhouse clean at all times; it saves you work and it’s easier and less expensive to prevent a pest or disease infestation than it is to deal with them once they have settled in. Some routine preventive measures:
- Sanitize tools, containers and equipment immediately after use,
- Wash your hands prior to contact with plants, soil or equipment,
- Wash your gardening gloves after use,
- Keep a pair of shoes or boots to be used only in the greenhouse,
- Keep plants (and the floor) free of weeds,
- Toss diseased plants immediately, and (believe it or not)
- Avoid bright-colored clothing, especially yellow or blue—you’ll attract insects that will follow you right into the greenhouse.
Bryan Stoddard is a communications specialist for Homewares Insider. You can visit their website at HomewaresInsider.com.