Sunday, 19 April 2015

Hello

Wow, I've been really bad with this blog. But then not a lot has been going on in the garden during the winter. It's now spring & I've been working away at it.

First off I've started some of my own sweet potato slips, they are doing really well.


I've never had much success starting my own slips but this year I tried a different tactic, instead of putting them in water I put them in some compost which I kept wet & in the heated propagator. These are the 3 biggest, the roots are already starting to come out of the bottom of the pots. There are more to come. I thought I'd taken a photo of the potato itself but I can't seem to find it so will try & remember to take another so you can see.

So this is my first experiment of this year & it seems to be a success so far. My second experiment is going to be hydroponics, well on the smallest scale possible.

I have a pond in the garden, now with only 3 fish (they all seem to die on me) & it's always been dead space, pretty but not useful. So I have invested in some rockwool & made myself a floating garden.

Step 1
 The rockwool came as a 1 metre slab, I chose it like this so I could cut it to size, much easier than buying the pre-cut pellets. I wanted to cut them to fit the polystyrene planters that you get free from stores like B&Q when you buy plants (I have loads). This was very easy, just use a sharp knife. I found that the bit I cut off filled 2.5 cells, I just added the 2 halves to make a whole.

step 2
 Cutting them to fit & slotting them into the cells. They fit really well as you can squash them if necessary or cut a little bit more off.

step 3&4
Once I had filled the cells it was time to get the seeds in. I've put 2 seeds in each cell, these are lettuce & I want to use it as a bigger version of cut & come again, the pond is so close to the back door I should be able to just nip outside & get clean lettuce. I filled 2 of the polystyrene planter with lettuce & the third with watercress. I've grown watercress before in the pond but the fish ate more if it then I managed to pick. I am hoping they won't eat all the roots & kill the plants, that's of course if they grow in the first place.

Forgot the important part, I didn't even think about whether rockwool expanded or not, I can safely say it doesn't. So cut to the size you want & don't worry. The wool holds enough water to keep these polystyrene planters just low enough to keep it all wet but still high enough for it all to float, so far so good.

If they grow ok then I may invest in some special pots & a sheet of polystyrene to make it better but for now this is the cheapest way to try it out. I don't know if I could do the fish part though, growing fish for food. I know I couldn't eat these, they are comets, I may have to take a look & see what fish are edible & can stand cold temps through the winter.

Now my potatoes are growing well, they were started in the greenhouse in a large pot, I have been earthing them up & they are now outside. I think all chances of frost are now gone this far south.

potatoes started early

I have also planted out my sweetcorn today. I've been hardening them off for the last few weeks & planted them out today. I'm more worried about something digging them up then frost. Something's tried to dig my other potatoes up. I've had problems with cats pooping in the garden too. I have noticed that they prefer my veg beds when they are dry so I have made sure to water them even though they are empty at the moment.

Runner beans have been started & some are up already. Cucumber, pumpkins & squash have been sowed into the heated propagator. A few tomatoes have germinated but don't seem to be doing very well. I need to sow some plum types for cooking.

carrots

parsnips
Both the carrots & parsnips are up & growing. I've put the wire over the top to keep cats out & to stop my dogs eating any of them before they get to grow.

During the winter I didn't get to do much gardening, we were unlucky that we didn't get any snow (my dogs love snow) but it was wet & cold & uninviting. I spent the time indoors being very bored but I did learn how to make soap, I was hoping I could sell some of it but there are so many rules & regulations so unfortunately I can't. It's a shame the government don't help small business or allow rules to be waivered for small scale sale, I mean you can't even bake a cake & then sell it to your neighbour, you have to give it away.  They could always allow you to sell with no rules up to a certain turnover or something, like less than £10k. Never mind, the rules are there to protect buyers. We can blame Europe for all the silly H&S rules.

Hopefully I will remember to keep up with the blog this year, report on my experiments & let you know if they are worth the time & effort.

Happy gardening