Newspaper plant pots

28 February 2015

The move from Devon to Oxfordshire was minus lots of plastic pots and other gardening paraphernalia. All replaceable, was my thinking. Anyway, the removers strictly speaking wouldn’t take pots or other “soiled” contents as we were going in to store.

At this end, I’d thought make my own pots. After seeing the price of those fancy plant pot makers, thoughts turned to papier mache or using flour and water glue.

To my great surprise today, Google came up with the excellent YouTube tutorial above on turning newspaper into biodegradable pots, ideal for seedlings.

This afternoon I turned out 20 or so. Unfortunately, all those Saturday papers I’d save had been binned by the other half.  So, today’s travel sections was sacrificed and the sports section will follow once I’ve had a chance to read it.

tomato plants

I’ve started out with two varieties of tomato – Sweet Million and Zuckertraube. I’ll save Gardeners’ Delight and Moneymaker for the football and rugby pages. (Notice the recycled in trays from our office move.)

Broad beans

Meanwhile, I’ve sown Masterpiece Green Longpod broad beans. As this is my first year in the new allotment, I’m not sure how broad bean and other legume seeds survive if direct sown. Back in Devon, direct sown might as well have been fed direct to mice.




3 January 2012

As tradition demands, I sat down with a seed catalogue just after Christmas to choose and order this year’s crops. In fact, although I do get old school paper catalogues, you won’t be surprised to hear that the catalouge I used was online.

The selection was based upon a short list of vegetables I’m comfortable growing and plant varieties which have either been successful in past years or which present a challenge for the coming year.

A quick run through:

Potatoes, Robinta: for the first time since moving to Devon I’ve dropped Desiree from my list. Whilst we love the big red tubers, I opted for a variety coming in a smaller quantity. We’ve had a lot of wastage due to mice helping themselves during colder days. Robinta is another main crop red with fleshy tubers. It remains to be seen if I can reduce worm and slug damage.

Pea, Ambassador: not being able to find a true petit pois, I chose what looks to be a near equivalent. There are left over seeds from previous years though given an iffy strike rate in 2011 I’m not sure I’ll get much out of the old petit pois. “Tolerant of bad weather” it says in the catalogue. Ideal for north Devon, then!

Runner bean, White Emergo: an excellent cropper in 2011 despite wind damage to my canes. We were feasting on beans through October.

Broccoli/calabrese, Fiesta: a slight punt on an F1 hybrid. I can’t remember what I’ve sown before, but I’ve had great success the last two years. The trick in 2012 will be to stagger the plants so I’m not stuck with several kilos of head all at once.

Cabbage, Drago: a winter variety with a pointed head. This should be interesting. I’ve only grown summer cabbages before so not used to harvesting in the dark, wet days of December.

Brussels sprouts, Doric: success in 2011/12!

Tomato, Zuckertraube: a small, sweet, salad tomato that has been supremely pants in terms of cropping. But, the taste is a tease.

Tomato, Mirabelle Blanche: a yellow version of Gardeners’ Delight. If it crops like GD, then should be good. But, does it taste good?

Cucumber, Tanja: I didn’t have much luck with Marketmore in 2011 so decided to try a difference variety. I usually transplant the fruits to an outside plot though under a cloche. The cloche is knackered so I may have to keep the plants in a crowded greenhouse.

That’s it apart from the usual selection of mixed leaves and sprouting seeds. I may have to get some red onions to join my yellow onions, ordered several months ago. Not yet decided whether to buy some chilli plants as I’ve repeatedly failed to get all but a handful of fruits from seed grown specimens.

Finally, what’s the betting my 4 year old Gardeners’ Delight germinate yet again?

I can’t wait to get sowing!

You’d thought I’d given up!

10 November 2008


I’m sort of back. Not that I’ve been anywhere – except for that week and a bit in Mallorca. Boy, the crops in Mallorca!

The lack of blogging is down to blockage, muse remove, finger cramps or sheer bone-idleness. You decide.

That aside. Late again. The autumn planting has yet to begin though I have been busy digging between the Atlantic storms. A new potato bed is done. The bean and pea beds from this year have been cleared to make way for stuff to be determined.

In the 2008 maincrop potato bed will go some of the above.

Viz. Solent Wight garlic; Sultop garlic and Senshyu yellow onions. Broad beans? I’ve not made up my mind whether to risk an autumn planting given that I don’t possess a sheltered spot. (And, neither does anyone else on the allotments.)

Addendum: a trio of planting tunnels (not polytunnels) are waiting for me to collect in Barnstaple.

Yep. I’m back!

The sweet smell of success (or ‘you stink of Jeyes fluid’)

27 April 2008

An unexpected window of sunshine allowed a couple of hours digging this afternoon. But, I gave in around 5.30 and collapsed into the bath.

Not that I wasn’t busy in the morning. Jeyes fluid made another appearance as I disinfected a whole load of small pots in preparation for sowing seeds. Late sowing, this was.


We are well behind on greenhouse crops. Not that this leaves us worried. There have been enough disappointments in the past: see above. So, waiting until late April to sow tomatoes and cucumbers is not such a big deal.

I hope.

Tomatoes have never been our strong suit. And, I think it’s down to not understanding which shoots to prick out; too many plants craving too little sun; too much or too little water. Whatever it is, I’m determined that we do better this year. A little light reading in the evenings from my extensive, yet hardly touched, gardening library should put us right.

From this disastrous experience, we plumped for a couple of varieties that any idiot should be able to grow.


Moeymaker: just the name inspires confidence. ‘Well known for reliably producing heavy crops.’ Er, not in our experience, but we’ll give it another go. It is a medium sized fruit on large trusses, so a bit of scaffolding might be required.


Gardener’s delight: it sure should be. ‘Bite sized fruits…sweet flavour. Heavy crops…’ Can’t go wrong! (Note: The tray also contains some parsley I sowed.)


One of last year’s surprises was some success at cucumbers. We’d not tried them before and because we crammed the greenhouse full of tomatoes, the cukes wound up outside. Three plants ended up under a cold frame and half a dozen or so lived in one of the few sheltered spots in the garden on the greenhouse staging.


Not the greatest yields, I’m sure. The leaves got a bit brown and powdery, a sign, of some horrid bug. Nevertheless, we got a steady stream of 10-15 cm or so fruits through until September. I love cucumber, so a bit of a bonus.


Let’s see how Green Fingers -‘early cropping, high yielding baby cucumber…powdery mildew (ha!) resistant’ – do.

Let’s go for it!


As a coda, I popped in one of my maincrop potatoes – Desiree – into a pot to sit in the greenhouse next to my thriving first earlies.



Later on, I trundled up to the allotment for some back torture. The trip did yield something tasty: some lovely purple sprouting broccoli and spinach, courtesy of Barry (not his real name, of course).

I benefited from scone and tea around 4.30.

The late planted onions are starting to produce green shoots. I felt the earth yesterday and it has definitely warmed up, so no excuses now you boys!

Another four potato plants have poked above the soil. Another three of four spots show cracks in the soil, so the shoots are about to reach daylight. (Eight weeks from planting to digging: six weeks to go then.)

Bathed before dinner – including purple sprouting – but I still smell of Jeyes.

Rampant Consumerism

12 March 2008


On the day of the Budget, possibly appropriate that part of my huge consumer purchase from Tamar Organics arrived in the post.

All £6 worth. Well, not quite. The red onion sets are not ready.

Today, then, came some chilli pepper seeds (Hungarian Hot Wax) and some special offer plant labels (for £1). A bit big those labels!

Herbs – one week on

11 February 2008


Back indoors, there has been a bit of (upward) movement with the herbs.

Both pots of marjoram have germinated and the little sprouts have poked out for a peak. The ones in the relative warmth of the kitchen seem a bit less timid. Upstairs the sprouts get drowned with each watering – no matter how gentle I am.


Three pots of basil are perched on the landing with a south aspect. This evening it is easy to see the tiny sprouts developing leaves. (They’ll taste nice in lasagna – tonight’s dinner.)

Yeah, basil’s easy. But, you need to watch the watering and last year’s crop got a bit furry.

Oh, that alfalfa crop from last week has now been eaten. Another two batches are on the sprouter trays.

Herbs – first planting

2 February 2008

Herbs: where I have had previous growing success.


Last year we had a glut of sweet basil. So much so that a lot of the leaves went to waste.

I have yet to figure out how to dry basil. An experiment a couple of years back lead to a musty smelling cupboard. Guidance appreciated!

The same year as the drying fiasco, our Italian neighbour back in London babysat for our basil. Pina was somewhat dismissive of our efforts. Seeing her huge basil leaves I’m not survived. Anyway, Pina took good care of them and when we returned I had to re-pot the plants into 10 containers. A good supply. Too good, hence the drying experiment.

This afternoon I threw in half a packet of sweet basil into three pots. They will sit on the south facing window sill.


A bit early, according to the packet, but I decided to start off some marjoram. Two pots: thinking of placing one in the airing cupboard.

Meanwhile, there is thyme, chives, sage and mint are wintering outside. Of these, surprisingly the mint seems to poorest.