Painted wooden greenhouse frames will need exterior painting every four to five years and interior painting every five to six years. An exterior-grade white paint of good quality should be used. An undercoat as well as a topcoat will be required; if the old coats are stripped down to the wood, knots must be treated with knotting and a primer will need to be applied before the undercoat. The wood must be perfectly dry when paint is applied, and on the glazing bars the paint should lap mm (-1 in) on to the panes to seal the gap between wood and glass.
With greenhouses of western red cedar, treat the timber internally and externally every two to three years with preservatives sold specially tor the purpose: all that is needed is a light rubbing down with a fine grade of sandpaper and a single application of the preservative.
Greenhouses that have a framework of steel are normally galvanized. However, this surface treatment may be removed locally ifknoeked, and rust will quickly develop at the point of damage. Remove all rust with emery cloth or a wire brush, and paint the affected areas with a metal primer and then with a finishing coat. It is useless to paint over rusted steel.
Greenhouse ventilators should at all times tit snugly when closed, so attend to individual ventilators as and when trouble arises. Some designs of hinge require annual application of a lubricant, and if automatic vent gear is fitted the manufacturer's recommendations regarding maintenance should be followed ■ a few drops of oil on the pivots may be all that is necessary. Ensure that doors, too, are draught proof; it necessary fit draught excluders.
Replace cracked and broken glass with panes of similar thickness rake a bit of the old glass with you when ordering if you are uncertain as to thickness. Some putty-less glazing systems make glass changing easy. If glass is available and simply requires cutting to size the modern wheeled glass cutters make the task relatively easy: the carborundum wheel should be lightly oiled before use. Several thicknesses of newspaper spread on a perfectly flat surface make the ideal cutting bed and sufficient pressure should be applied when cutting to score the glass along its entire length but not to cut through it. Tapping the underside of the cut with the glasscutter will complete the job by causing the glass ro break neatly along the line.
In wooden greenhouses and frames replace any rotting timbers with wood that has been pressure-treated with preservative (not creosote). If the trouble is rectified it an early stage the whole piece may not need changing; a skilled woodworker may be able to splice in a suitable length, thus saving both time and money.
Water dripping within the greenhouse is not merely annoying; it may he harmful to plants. Dripping may arise through excessive condensation, owing to incorrect ventilation; or it may be due to a leaky roof. In the latter case the source should be treated if possible; this is not always easy, for water often runs down a glazing bar before dripping. The troublesome area can often be dealt with by use of a waterproof adhesive tape, or by mastic putty applied straight from the tube.
Once a year check the greenhouse foundation plates and rcsite any that may have shifted. It is essential that they tit well, for uneven foundations are not only a common cause of draughts but may eventually lead to frame stress and broken glass. Polythene-clad greenhouses usually require re-covering every two years, and this restores a good-as-new appearance.
The annual spring-clean of the greenhouse involves cleaning it thoroughly inside and out Spring may not In fact be the rnost convenient time, and many gardeners do this job in the autumn Make sure that all algal growth is removed from the glass Western red cedar structures (as here) must be treated inside and out with a special preservative every two or three years
Use ol sell adhesive bedding tape instead ot putty speeds ra-glazing 1 Tape is applied In glaring bar. 2 Glass is fitted, then secured with glaring sprigs. 3 Glass is sealed on outer surface with more tape
Most greenhouse equipment on the market today is robust and will give many years ot" satisfactory service provided it receives a little attention annually. Electrical gadgets abound and their reliability is rarely questioned and for this reason their maintenance is often neglected. Electrical fan heaters circulate large volumes of air and in certain conditions can get very dirty
Use ol sell adhesive bedding tape instead ot putty speeds ra-glazing 1 Tape is applied In glaring bar. 2 Glass is fitted, then secured with glaring sprigs. 3 Glass is sealed on outer surface with more tape inside. Dust within the casing should be removed from time to tune, and the fan hearings lubricated with a light oil.
A faulty thermostat can quickly lead to very heavy tuel hills in cold weather, and in the case of electric heating a meter within the greenhouse, read and recorded weekly, will provide both a check and a guide to running costs. Thermostats need checking annually and should be recalibrated every two years. To do this it is necessary to compare them at a range of temperatures with a thermometer known to be accurate, Many thermostats click quite loudly when switching on and switching otfand have a tolerance ol i to 2=C. Check also the bearings of the small fans fitted in some aspirated screens; they, too, need occasional oiling. Greenhouse lighting, if of the fluorescent kind, attracts dust and the tubes should be regularly wiped over with a slightly moist, soapy cloth, especially if they arc providing supplementary lighting tor purposes of cultivation, it is as well to check visually all internal electric wiring, for rodents occasionally play havot with the insulation: at the same time check that the earthing wire is securely fastened to its earthing point.
I he efficiency of mist propagation equipment depends to a large extent on the efficiency of the sensing mechanism. The artificial 'leaf found on older equipment needs cleaning regularly, and this is best done by inverting it in dilute hydrochloric acid for a few minutes. afterwards rinsing it in clean water. The mist-spray nozzles need thorough cleaning periodically and this should be done before a busy propagating period. It watering is by capillary benching, replace the mats annually.
Where heating is by hot-water pipes, ensure these are kept painted a matt black heat-resisting paint is best. Avoid metallic-based paints such as aluminium, because they reduce heat output; never use bitumastic paints because the fumes they give off" when the pipes are hot are harmful to plants. Electric tubular heaters are also prone to rust and should be repainted when necessary.
As in the home, in the greenhouse there is a large number of things that Ctin go wrong and some of them are expensive to replace. The best way to prevent this happening is to establish a system of regular inspection and maintenance, so that potential sources ol trouble are detected early.
Left Misl propagating units should bt> partly dismantled and cleaned, the sptay nozzles, especially, may become partially blocked unless they are cleaned periodically Right When summer crops are over, the benching should be re-installed for winter pot-plant displays and spring propagation
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