Every experienced greenhouse gardener has learned that good housekeeping is essential to healthy, happy plants and flowers. Yet, the most careful among us find an unbelievable accumulation of odds and ends and bits and pieces of just about everything imaginable working its way into every nook and cranny not occupied by plants. Cleanliness must be practiced daily. It must become an automatic part of the greenhouse operation; it must be a routine that you establish on the first day your greenhouse is put into operation and continue for as long as you have a greenhouse. Insects rarely reproduce and diseases rarely spread in a greenhouse that starts clean and stays that way. As you progress into the various phases of under-glass gardening, you will be glad that you developed the cleanliness habit right from the start.
Whether you are starting in a spotless new greenhouse or are an old hand at the gardening game who already follows the summer cleanup outlined later, try not to let planting and growing activities overwhelm you to the point of forgetting to be a tidy housekeeper.
Take a minute or two to plan each greenhouse activity. Collect the necessary materials: pots, flats, planting medium, seeds, bulbs, all the tools you will need. The actual work of planting, transplanting, or maintenance will go smoothly, efficiently and tidily if confusion is anticipated and avoided. Stopping in the middle of a job to procure a necessary tool or material encourages haste; haste causes spills, upsets, and laxness of attention to good planting procedures. Good intentions never seem to clean up the spilled and upset materials; one or two such incidents and you no longer have a spotlessly clean greenhouse. Occasionally an accident will occur. Broken crock or soil spilled in the work area is easily retrieved. Anything spilled that is not reusable, as liquid fertilizer, water, or rooting powders, should be soaked or brushed up and disposed of in a covered trash can kept conveniently under the bench for just this purpose.
To dispose of old soil or bark preparatory to repotting, to trim dead roots, or to remove foliage, hold the plant or cutting over the trash receptacle as you work and avoid an accumulation of debris in the work area. When you have finished a job, put away the unused materials, clean the tools, and empty the trash container. It is easier to handle half-empty receptacles than to lift and carry away those filled to overflowing, the contents of which, incidentally, may already be at work producing or reproducing pests and diseases.
Next to refilling benches with fresh soil, I think the dirtiest and least interesting chore in your greenhouse will be the cleaning of used flower pots. You will never be without a certain number of pots to be cleaned (even plastic ones must be washed, though they do not require wire-brushing to remove accumulations of algae and crusted salts), but these should not be allowed to accumulate in number to the point that you are faced with a large, time-consuming, dirty chore. When you know you will be in the greenhouse for an hour or two, use the first few moments to prepare a solution of Lysol, water softener and water, and place the dirty pots to soak. When your scheduled work is completed, it will be a simple matter to Wisk the soaked clay pots with a wire brush or wipe off the plastic pots. A quick rinse in clear water and a supply of clean pots will always be ready. A commercial product, Algae-Go, lightens the pot-cleaning chore considerably and lessens a natural inclination to let dirty empty pots accumulate.
Increased day length and more frequent watering during the spring growing season promote growth of weeds. Check under-bench areas frequently, bench soil and pots, too. At the first sign of weeds, dig outdoes not pull up these pesky little growers. Most weeds develop tremendous root systems; if they are not removed quickly, you are bound to leave broken-off roots in the soil which will produce new plantlets and a never-ending battle will ensue.