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  • lukeathompson

The Greenhouse and the Toad

21st February.

If this house had a genius loci it would be a toad. Taking the dog out late at night I often came across this toad around the side of the house or squatting beneath the bench. And when I trained as an animal psychic for a book, it was this toad that kept popping into my head. Today, as I was wrestling the feral greenhouse, I found this beautifully coloured toad.


The greenhouse was in a bit of a state. The garden as a whole was largely ignored last year as we had scaffolding all around the house. The work was meant to take two weeks but lasted four months, covering June through September. On the few sunny days we had there were workmen climbing over the house and garden, so we stayed out of it. The result is a bit of a wilderness. Brambles poured out of the woods. The beds were neglected. The greenhouse became a storeroom for outdoorsy flotsam and jetsam. The ants had a wonderful time.

So today I’ve been clearing it out, weeding, pulling out some of the poor old soil and adding a little new compost in preparation for the chillies. I washed the windows a few weeks back but they’re already colouring up again. We’re good for algae and lichen here - my car mirror grew some spectacular stuff a year or two back. I’ll do them again before I put in the seedlings.


I’ve used an old wardrobe’s drawers as raised beds. They’re from a huge, slightly broken bit of furniture from the last house we rented and it wouldn’t fit through the door of this place, so it’s been sitting in storage. We tried to give it away on Freecycle but in the end had to dismantle it. I kept the drawers and cut out the bottoms. They work quite well, I think.


Optimising light is going to be one of my key challenges. The greenhouse is quite a sunny spot, but it does miss a few hours. It gets fair morning sunlight once the sun has risen over the trees, and it gets afternoon and evening sun too, only really missing a few hours in the middle of the day when the sun is at its hottest. Chillies want lots of direct sunlight to grow thick and bushy and to generate plenty of flowers and fruits. We should be okay if take care of the plants growing along the edge of the greenhouse and move the big plastic compost bin from the side. Those are the next jobs…


Still no sprouting seeds.

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