The windowsills in the cottage and the greenhouse are already packed with seedlings. I was determined to get everything off to an early start this year. The little electric propagator is working 24/7 and seeds are germinating really fast.
Even though the greenhouse is lined with a thick layer of bubble wrap it needs a bit of extra heat to keep the temperature above freezing on really frosty nights. Do you remember that I bought an ancient Eltex greenhouse heater at the church fete last year? When the frosts hit I tried to light it with no success so turned to my paraffin heater that I bought when we built the greenhouse. We have a maximum minimum thermometer in the greenhouse and I noticed that over night the little paraffin heater often just didn’t have enough welly to keep the temperature above zero.
The option was to either buy another heater or to get the Eltex one up and running. Determination and spray oil is a perfect combination. I doused all the moving parts with it and let the oil permeate for a few minutes. Then with a bit of a creaky cronky start everything was working well. This heater is great as it has a large surface area which heats up quickly. A much better design than my old heater which just heats the chimneys and the little metal roof on top. Even running on just two wicks, rather than four, the vintage Eltex heater is keeping the greenhouse warm and snug and I’m delighted with it.
However paraffin can be quite pricey and during the really cold weather in January most of the Newmarket shops ran out of supplies. One of the entries for our recent gardening competition was from Kate (UK). She had an ingenious suggestion for a small greenhouse heater using a nightlight, a saucer and a terracotta pot. Usually a night light lasts eight hours so I’m going to experiment with these in saucers beneath a metal bucket and on a saucer in an old watering can. They would be a cheaper alternative to paraffin if they work. In fact I probably could adapt the Eltex heater to run on night lights too.
Watch this space.
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