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An experiment in container veg growing
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nettie



Joined: 02 Dec 2004
Posts: 5886
Location: Suffolk
PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 05 11:37 pm    Post subject: An experiment in container veg growing  Reply with quote    

I've given up on the idea of the allotment, as the chap there hasn't got back to me, and time is marching on....and while tidying my miniscule front garden yesterday I realised most of it got about 7 hours of sun a day, albeit very early on. Sadly the soil is made of builder's rubble, but I thought I would make the most of the sunshine by planting up a few pots. Most of them are now in my tiny greenhouse awaiting the passing of the frosts, apart fron the spuds, which are in situ and wrapped up in fleece.

So today I grabbed all my largest pots, and filled them with 2" of drainage material, then a third of horse manure and the rest compost. Then I added the seeds.

The thought occured to me that one pot = one cabbage was a rather expensive way of doing things, so I've decided that only fruit and veg that will give me a high yield per pot will make it to the front garden. So I've planted 3 types of beans , two of peas, two types of potatoes, carrots, courgettes, gourds, sprouts, celery, chard, plus the redcurrants, blackcurrants, gooseberries and the dwarf cherry which are in the dodgy soil but sitting under a load of manure! I have found really cheap big pots at the local hardware store so hopefully they won't be nicked

Cabbages, leeks, onions, kohl rabi, caulis, broccoli and sweetcorn will be planted in the soil, in the tiny veg patch in the back garden where they won't use up my valuable pots.

Lettuces will be in window boxes, and the toms in grow bags on the patio.

Also in the greenhouse are charentais, watermelons and peppers, plus my strawbs.

I'm hoping that it's going to be easier to control the pests this way, it'll be easy just to tie a bit of netting or fleece round the outdoor pots.

I'm also hoping for a much better harvest due to the bigger pots and the horse manure! Last year was a bit of a flop due to crap soil, randy butterflies and hungry pigeons.

I also have a cunning plan to turn used water bottles into celery-blanching kits by painting them black and cutting the ends off

Wish me luck!

judyofthewoods



Joined: 29 Jan 2005
Posts: 804
Location: Pembrokeshire
PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 05 12:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Good luck, nettie.

Lloyd



Joined: 24 Jan 2005
Posts: 2699

PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 05 12:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Good luck, Nettie. I'm doing similar with my patch, so will compare notes as we both progress!

jema
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 26648
Location: escaped from Swindon
PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 05 4:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

For yield we have grown perpetual spinach which is quite phenominal.

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 05 8:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Nettie, that sounds very like the gardening we first did here. Can I reccomend the addition of chard, which looks great (different coloured varieties), tastes good, and can be used in salads and a cooked vegetable? I've grown it in little troughs with great success.

nettie



Joined: 02 Dec 2004
Posts: 5886
Location: Suffolk
PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 05 1:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Looks like I'm going to be picking your brains (again) then Cab!

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 05 2:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

nettie wrote:
Looks like I'm going to be picking your brains (again) then Cab!


This is one of those tpics where brains barely need picking! The only thing to be aware of is getting the compost firm enough for some crops, like brassicas, and selecting the right varieties (short carrots!). Other than that, you do what it says on the seed packet and growig veg in containers is just about the same as growing them in the ground.

The other thing I've had great success with in pots in the last year or two has been tomatillos; pretty plants, quite unusual, and very tasty.

Got room (and inclination) for hanging baskets?

Bugs



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 10744

PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 05 2:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

cab wrote:
The other thing I've had great success with in pots in the last year or two has been tomatillos; pretty plants, quite unusual, and very tasty.


What size pots did they finish up in, Cab?

We saw rainbow chard in person for the first time the other day; pictures don't do it justice. However, I have some white, and some red, ready to sow, so won't be growing it this year.

And Nettie, have you grown watermelons before? Have often been tempted, and we had reasonable success with melons in 2003 - but I thought watermelon was even touchier still so haven't dared.

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 05 2:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Bugs wrote:

What size pots did they finish up in, Cab?


Troughs, sort of window box size. Four plants to a trough. Did really well in there, we were eating tomatillos (green ones) for months. This year we'll put the seedlings in the ground, they'll sit nicely behind the strawberry plants in the garden.

Quote:

We saw rainbow chard in person for the first time the other day; pictures don't do it justice. However, I have some white, and some red, ready to sow, so won't be growing it this year.


It's a great plant is rainbow chard. The colours are marvellous; I put it at the back of beds for colour, and to provide salad and cooking 'greens' through winter. The red varieties are a bit 'beetrooty' for her, but I like them.

If I grew only one plant it would be sorrel. If I grew only two, the second one would be chard.

Bugs



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 10744

PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 05 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

[quote="cab"]Troughs, sort of window box size. Four plants to a trough. Did really well in there, we were eating tomatillos (green ones) for months. [quote]

Excellent - I was thinking they'd need a 9 inch or bigger pot at least to grow in a container. I've had so many seedlings of the green come up there might be room for some experimentation. Purple is being a bit slower though.

I've never tried chard, either. It sounds lovely though. Unfortunately, chickens like sorrel and I'm afraid they may have similar feelings about chard. Maybe containers would be worth an experiment there too.

Any tips for watering/lack of it? Some years we seem to spend morning to evening just watering, which can't be wise for anyone.

Nettie, didn't you say you use your bathwater? But you use much more natural soaps etc than us, I'll bet, and I'd be concerned about the contents being used on edibles. Am I over-cautious there?

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 05 3:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Bugs wrote:
[
Excellent - I was thinking they'd need a 9 inch or bigger pot at least to grow in a container. I've had so many seedlings of the green come up there might be room for some experimentation. Purple is being a bit slower though.


I'm sure they'd be happier in a bigger pot, but we got absolutely loads from smaller containers. Had a tendency to dry out a little, but it didn't seem to affect the crop.

Quote:

I've never tried chard, either. It sounds lovely though. Unfortunately, chickens like sorrel and I'm afraid they may have similar feelings about chard. Maybe containers would be worth an experiment there too.


Sorrel is happy in containers. It's happy in the shade (as long as it gets SOME light). It's happy if the containers its in get flooded through winter. It's happy to be trodden on. It's happy to be in a pot left upside down for three months. It's a great plant So long as you take the flower stalks on, it's the most useful and tasty plant in the garden.

Quote:

Any tips for watering/lack of it? Some years we seem to spend morning to evening just watering, which can't be wise for anyone.


You mean, watering the pots? Depends on the crop. If it's got a nice big root system, stand the pots in a tub of gravel and water (and feed) the pot of gravel. The extended root system will sop the water out of the gravel and you'll have about a fifth of the effort you were expending. Works well for tomatos.

Things like lettuce (less extensive roots) do fine in containers if you put lots of stones in the bottom and water very well straight into the stones (down a tube). You lose less water that way.

But at the end of the day, growing in containers means you need to be careful watering. No way around that

nettie



Joined: 02 Dec 2004
Posts: 5886
Location: Suffolk
PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 05 5:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Hiya bugs, yes I do use the bathwater! And I do use natural soaps so I think it's OK, but I did hear Alan Titchmarsh urging folks to use their bath water on their flowerbeds once. Not sure how that bodes for food crops. It's my first attempt at watermelons this year so will let you know how I get on

A for tomatillos, well I'd love to try them, but haven't seen any seeds for sale round here. I shall keep my eyes open!

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 05 5:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Nettie, I get tomatillo seeds from Nickys Nursery (find them in the links section).

nettie



Joined: 02 Dec 2004
Posts: 5886
Location: Suffolk
PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 05 5:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Thanks Cab

wellington womble



Joined: 08 Nov 2004
Posts: 14974
Location: East Midlands
PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 05 7:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

cab wrote:

Sorrel is happy in containers. It's happy in the shade (as long as it gets SOME light). It's happy if the containers its in get flooded through winter. It's happy to be trodden on. It's happy to be in a pot left upside down for three months. It's a great plant So long as you take the flower stalks on, it's the most useful and tasty plant in the garden.

But at the end of the day, growing in containers means you need to be careful watering. No way around that


Sounds like my kind of plant!

HDRA do several things that I plan to try for watering containers this year - I'm putting a lot of stuff in meat boxes on the patio. They do a grow bag watering kit, where you put water in a container, and attatch it to a drip feed-type system, and something called drippa taps (I think), which are just the taps that you plug into a plastic container any put the water in there - like those monstrously expensive big drippa things. I think a lot depends on the size of container, but they do at least allow you to recylce containers and are reletively cheap. I hope they will conserve water and patience by watering slowly and stopping it all running out of the bottom of the pot!

http://www.organiccatalog.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=62_190&products_id=1774

http://www.organiccatalog.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=62_190&products_id=667

- in case anyones interested!

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