Monday, 29 April 2013

The Self Watering Planters

As I was going around this morning doing my normal morning watering routine I spotted something very exciting indeed.

The Gardeners Delight tomatoes, which have up until now shown absolutely no sign whatsoever of ever germinating, has suddenly got one seedling!

I planted two, and the other one is still showing nothing, but I am very excited about this.

It really is an excellent advert for the efficacy of the Self Watering Planter that I am using; because the Moneymaker Tomatoes had started so many weeks previously I have ignored the two containing the non-responsive Gardeners Delight but, because they are self watering, the compost remained moist and now I have a little plant to make me so happy.

The tiny Gardeners Delight Tomato seedling taken this morning, to much celebration.

The obvious success this demonstrates gave me the inspiration to do a blog post study of one of the Self Watering Planters (actually the one which contains the Moneymaker which has been on the floor twice).

So here you can see how, two months in, my Self Watering Planters are looking.

As I was warned by my mate, there is quite a lot of algae developed in the bottom of the planter; I'm using tap water and this is not so thickly coated that it isn't easy to clean if you want to.

This particular planter is stood in a warm area of the house, which receives regular direct sunlight. You can see that the water in the bottom has started to evaporate however, as the reservoir is sealed, the water condenses on the sides and collects once again; I have only had to refill these once in two months.

You can see the root system of the Tomato plant here, as the plant fills all the space available to it. There is also some green algae in the compost but this does not seem to be causing any problems to the plant. I am presuming this is down to the fact the wick keeps the soil very moist at all times.

Finally, as I move up the planter, this is the incredibly healthy plant which is growing in this 2 litre bottle.It is amazing to me how well this has grown.

And this is the full height of the plant in it's planter.

So there you are; I cannot recommend this homemade Self Watering Planter highly enough; it recycles waste and allows you to grow amazing plants with minimal effort - ticks all the boxes for me :)

Cheers for reading...

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Planting Potatoes and other progress

It's been a frustrating couple of weeks, every time you think that the weather is warming up a bit the wind and rain and snow and hail comes back and I think "actually I'm not going to risk putting plants out yet".

Today I finally felt ready and so I have planted out the three different varieties of potatoes into planters outside.

The Rocket Potatoes have chitted the best of all the varieties; I'm planting five seed Potatoes per planter bag.

I have put one layer of Potatoes in about 5" of compost; this is one of the Rocket variety.

This first layer consists of three seed Potatoes, on top of which I put another 3-4" of soil, another two seed Potatoes and then another 3" of compost.

The Maris Pipers have also chitted well and are here ready for planting out.

I've planted the Maris Pipers in the same configuration; this is the first layer of three seed Potatoes.

Finally for the Potato planting the Charlottes....

...... and the first layer as per the others.

Once I had planted all the Potatoes I watered them in well and then positioned the planters thus:

The three Potato planters set next to the Lettuce pot.

So that is almost the last of my planting done for the year; I'm going to run out of space soon. Now for some more regular updates....

Seeing as I was outside I'll start this update from there, and show how the Lettuce has finally started to develop and look like more than a tiny little leaf; I will plant my next round of Lettuce soon I think.

I did take a picture of the Onion but it really did not come out; they have not changed anyway from the last photograph I put on here anyway.

Similarly to the Lettuce, the Broccoli is also accelerating nicely now the winter has (mainly) left us.

The self watering planters have really proven their worth with the Moneymaker Tomatoes; they are both flourishing; this is the one which hasn't been dropped on the floor (yet)

And this is the one which has been dropped. As you can see they are both getting quite big and may be getting close to needing repotting; at least I've not accidentally grown 100 seedlings this year huh...

Both Geraniums are looking very similar, no sign of flowers but some good sized leaves and looking incredibly healthy.

The tangle of Foxgloves have continued to do well since I realised I needed to water them more often than the other seedlings; I have worked out where I'm going to plant these out and am just waiting for the correct time to do so.

The Birdseye Chilli, which took so long to germinate, is still not really blowing my socks off with it's development and you can see from this detail picture that it isn't looking very healthy at all... I'm going to have to keep a close eye on them.

The other Birsdeye is slightly more developed but still looking sickly; I do hope they strengthen maybe with a little more sun we're getting now.

By contrast the Ghost Chillis are looking great; still very short but with strong looking wide leaves.

All six of the Crossley Special chillis are developing well; this picture is taken just before I watered them for the day and you can see it is slightly wilted; by the time I am writing this blog up it has fully extended itself out again.

The newest addition to my collection, the Bromeliad, is a delight. I am so happy we bought it. I do my watering every morning during the week and get to appreciate its bright colours every day, which is great. If you look closely on this picture you can see I've just watered it and the water is settled in the leaves and flower.

The Globe Artichoke is still growing well, sending out spiky leaves and developing fast... Sadly I think the cat which I caught sat on it has done something strange to one of the leaves (at the back on this pic, and below in detail).

The other leaves all feel moist and pliable; this leaf is completely dry and you can see it is patchy; there is cat fur stuck to it too. Any advice/suggestions would be gratefully received regarding this...

The five pots of seed grown Coriander have started shooting up recently; they are thirsty plants at the moment (this is the hottest windowsill in the house as well) but they are all looking very healthy indeed (unlike the poor shop bought one which is very sad looking, though not included as a photo in this update).

This is the first Begonia which sprouted and it has made incredible progress in the last week or so; such a pretty looking plant too.

By contrast this is the Begonia with the least growth which has only just started sprouting. The other plants are at varying stages between this one and the first.

So, that is the full update for this week; I think you can agree that there is some good progress starting to show, though it's so late in the year I would have hoped to be a little further along to be honest.

Trees locally still haven't got any leaves on them, and looking out my window now you'd think it was either November or February; it really is a late spring this year.

Anyway, keep growing, please do get in touch with your progress as I'm always interested to hear about what other people are doing.


Monday, 15 April 2013

Globe Artichoke in detail, plus a full progress report

Life is, currently, getting in the way of me blogging as regularly as I want to.

Thankfully plants don't really need to be photographed every day to grow, nor do they need that much time out of your day (particularly when you're only growing the small amount which I am now.

I had a concept for this blog post; the Globe Artichoke plant is putting on a show at the moment with its large leaves opening and closing depending on the time of day. Unfortunately I have not been able to really capture the variety of leaf positions that I have been observing so you'll just have to take my word for it, and enjoy the two pictures that did come out of the fifteen or so I took.

 This is taken at night and you can see that the leaves are closed up...

... and this was taken the next morning and you can see that the plant is opened up and presenting more surface area to the light.

You managed to avoid an update with purely photographs of the Globe Artichoke but you are not going to avoid the rest of the pictures I have taken just now with some excellent progress for you. So here goes:

First of all this is a Bromeliad; a new flower we just bought from Tesco. It is tropical (so may not do that well up near Mankychester like I am) and you have to water it through the flower, and never directly onto the soil. I just love the bright colour and the contrast with the lovely rich green leaves. This will be a favourite I think.

The other recent purchase isn't quite as exciting but is tastier; this is a shop bought Parsley plant sat on the kitchen windowsill. I need to report this very soon I think.

Moving on to seedlings that are old friends by now, this is the Moneymaker Tomato which has been knocked onto the floor twice so far; as you can see it is very much alive and very much thriving.

The other Moneymaker Tomato is bigger and better established as it hasn't been on the floor at all.

I haven't taken pictures of the blank compost which is both my Gardeners Delight Tomato attempts; for some reason neither seed has germinated and pretty soon I'm going to re-purpose the planters for something else.

The Mint plant is getting back to being a bushy plant, after Sassy ate almost all of it the day she got onto the window sill.

The six Crossley Special Chillis on the front window sill are going great guns and putting more and more leaves out. Pretty soon I may have to consider staking these up as I am sure they will suddenly shoot upwards soon. Quite excited as per last year.

The two Ghost Chillis are looking very healthy indeed; while they aren't going upwards, they are developing a very strong looking set of leaves. They are still in the heated propagator as they are tiny and there is no point in moving them until they start to need more space.

By contrast the Birsdeye Chillis are still very small and haven't even really put out any second leaves; I'm hopeful that this one may have a little nub of a bud and this might indicate some fast development.

The Parsnip seedlings still inside (but maybe going out this weekend?) and showing some signs of sadness. There are also some impressive looking fungi growing which is probably perfect evidence of how much I over watered the poor things when they were in the toilet rolls.

The Carrots are in a similar state of unhappiness and have even bigger fungi. Much props to anyone who can identify the fungus.

The smaller Geranium seedling is now catching up with the first one to appear. I can't wait for this to flower.

Since I have started watering the Foxglove they have really started to thrive so there is a lesson learned; Foxglove does need to have more water than any of the other plants I am growing.

The seed Potatoes are still chitting and I really should get around to planting them soon; the weather does seem warmer now. Hopefully I've not left them too long.

The earlier photographs of the Globe Artichoke were taken at the end of last week, this was taken today; this plant is growing so fast and free. It is just outside the bedroom and I get to water it and appreciate it every morning.

My seed grown Coriander is now fully grown and probably ready for potting up into a bigger containers; this one is the most impressive looking but the rest are all growing fast and strong.

The Begonia tubers are all sprouting now (bar one) but this is the most developed of the four which are sending up growth. I am quite proud of this picture.

Of the other plants inside, there is still nothing from the Echinops Ruthenicus, the Kerela and the other Globe Artichoke which is obviously quite a disappointment but you don't win them all.

Outside the Lettuce is FINALLY starting to grow so maybe in the next month or so I can start eating it direct from the garden; I may start a few more Lettuce plants off in the next week or two, to see how they compare and also to ensure I have replacements.

The Broccoli is also putting on a burst now the weather has improved a bit; I have no idea what to expect from this plant so don't know if it is looking healthy or not.

Finally for this update this is the Onions which are now lagging behind badly. I really do hope these start to shoot up soon because I really love how my Onions last year tasted; they were SO much nicer than any I have ever bought.

So there you have it; a blog post finally and apologies for the slight slacking from myself.

I have some ideas for some other blog posts, including some more about my whisky and an idea I've had for drying chillis.

Thanks for reading.