Sunday, 15 April 2018

the heat is on

It is forecast to be warmer from tomorrow.  The wind has swung round to the south, bring warm air from, I believe, Africa.  More to the point, it is forecast to be sunny.  That cheery orange disc with the lines radiating around it, that has been a stranger to our seven day forecasts for so long, is up there on my screen for four solid days at the end of next week, not even peering coyly from behind a cotton wool ball.

This meant it was time to get shading paint on the greenhouse.  I used to find it an odd notion, deliberately cutting down the light getting into the greenhouse, when the gardening books stressed the importance of not siting them in shade, and the desirability of a north-south axis for the ridge, but experience taught that if you are using your greenhouse to raise young plants from seed then at the point when the sun warms up in April they need some shade.  Otherwise they cook.  Later on in the season the tomatoes just have to make do with warmth and dappled light.

Language is full of phrases we use metaphorically and by extension, only grasping the reality of their meaning when we finally encounter the situation they originally described.  Chickens come home to roost.  A situation is touch and go.  Only when you have kept free range hens, and seen them converge inexorably on the hen house as dusk approaches, or felt the judders as the keel of your boat scrapes over a sandbank with no room to spare whatsoever, do you realize the original, literal truth of such phrases.  So while most people who refer to the greenhouse effect are talking about global warming and the effect of carbon dioxide and methane emissions, still when the sun's rays fall on an actual greenhouse it gets too hot inside, alarmingly quickly.

I looked hopefully in the greenhouse for the packet of shading powder, but I'd used it up last year.  Buying some more ended up being a long-winded process since the useful Clacton garden centre turned out not to open until ten on a Sunday, and the other garden centre I thought I could call at on the way home turned out not to sell it.  I ended up going back to Clacton, since I did need shading paint.  Apparently it is all to do with your total covered selling area, and not your financial turnover or whether you are an independent business rather than part of a supermarket chain.  At least I will remember for next time.

The packaging had changed since last year and I had a moment of panic that Clacton didn't have any shading paint either, but it was merely that it is now sold as a liquid that you dilute instead of a powder that you dissolve.  I apply it using a rather grubby long handled paint roller that lives in the shed from year to year awaiting its one moment of utility each April.  The whole bottle would have made more shading paint solution than I needed, so I am hoping that like the powder the other half will keep until next year.

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