Thursday, 24 April 2008

Bigger, Faster, More!...................

Now things are a bit more secure on the job front, I went out yesterday and bought a few more bits for my container garden. I'd been holding off for a while until I knew whether I would be staying here much longer, but now I feel confident enough to put down some roots. (Sorry - bad pun.)

This strawberry planter was going for half price in the local garden centre, and with 9 plants cost less than £30. I'm not 100% convinced that this will be a very productive way of growing them, but I'm willing to test it. I have a range of varieties, which will hopefully spread the cropping season a bit: Cambridge Favourite x 3, Pegaus x 3, Florence x 2, Pandora x 1.

I also bought some plastic troughs to increase my tiny acreage a little. I was tempted to by nicer, bigger, wooden or terracotta versions, but the plastic ones have the advantage that even when fully grown, I can pick them up easily and move them around. A distinct benefit in a small space, particulary as the sunniest spot where they will produce best, is also where the barbecue has to go from time to time.

In two of them I have sown carrots, and some "cut 'n' come again" lettuce, the other two I planted with Dill, Parsley, Rosemary, Corriander and mint, which I bought in pots ready to go straight out.

The tomatoes will go in hanging baskets, from brackets on the large post you can see in the background. I went for the bog standard variety for baskets called "Tumbling Tom"...or, as my allotmenteering mate Steve Seagull called them " Those ones that always look good on the packet."

Indoors I have runner beans, Climbing beans, Spring onions, courgettes and tomatoes just germinating. Although it may turn colder again in May, I don't think there will be much chance of frost, so this lot can go out in a couple of weeks.

I could fit in some more tubs, but I'm clearly making a rod for my own back when it comes to watering in the summer. I know people like Lottie manage their allotments with little or no water at all, but containers, filled with multipurpose compost, will dry out very quickly. As I have to carry cans of water from the kitchen, through the lounge, and down the far end of the garden, there's probably a sensible limit to how much I want to be irrigating every other day.

The jury is still out however, on planting some charlotte potatoes in sacks. I know I can buy them in Tesco "as cheap as chips", but they would be interesting to grow, taste better, and fill up an untidy space by the pigsty (as once was).

It looks as though the grapevine is just about to burst into life again as well. Ideally I had intended to chop it back a lot harder over the winter, when it was dormant, so that we'll get better fruit this season. But the best time to do is late Jan - early Feb, before the sap starts rising, and I was in Devon then, so it will just have to wait until next year I guess.

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