Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Forward thinking

With all the snow gone from my terrace, it's making me feel a little more like planning where I'm going to grow all my goodies this year.

I have already ordered and received all my veg seeds - went a little mad due to the increased growing space I'll have with the purchase of a new raised bed frame and extra troughs - and mentally plotted it all out before I ordered so I'm sure I'll get it all in.

I've had some limited success with growing butternut in containers. I say limited because I've only managed to get 2 butteruts from any one plant. So this year I'm going to try what seems to be a new variety of pumpkin which is supposed to be ideal for containers.

It's called Summer Ball and has the added advantage that you can cut the fruit when they are very small and use them like courgettes, then leave some to mature into pumpkins. Hopefully I'll also get lots of the flowers which can be deep fried.

So, all-in-all this is a great choice where space is limited as you're not taking up an area or container with a plant which only produces crops late in the growing season.

The seeds can't be sown until April (indoors) but I'm looking forward to growing this new variety and will, of course, report throughout the coming season on how it goes.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

No gardening

As with much of the country, there's still lots of snow here. Not much point in going out to look at how the plants are doing. But rather than not write anything, I thought I'd go back to something I mentioned in an earlier post, namely coir.

Coir is wonderful stuff, especially if, like me, you grow in containers. It comes from the outer husk of coconuts and is often sold in small dehydrated blocks - excellent if storage space is limited or if buying heavy bags of compost is difficult.

Although there's not much nutrients in coir, it is light and clean to handle and can be mixed with soil or compost to bulk it out. And if you grow in containers, you will have to feed your plants regularly anyway so the lack of nutrients won't be a problem.

The blocks are usually about 20cm/8 inches x 10cm/4 inches x 7.5cm/3-inches deep and once reconstituted, make about 7 litres of compost. It only takes about 20 minutes to reconstitute the blocks. It can be used much like peat except it's obtained from a sustainable source.

I've found the easiest way to reconstitute is to place it in a thick plastic carrier bag - make sure there are no holes in it - then add the water and leave it. It's made my life much easier - I love it.