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.



Mirabelle: love unrequited

5 April 2012

2012 04 05_tomato_0001
By now, I should have a dozen or so thin green stems sitting in the spare room waiting for the spring warmth to return and so to make new homes in 10 inch pots in the freshly cleaned greenhouse.

Alas. Mirabelle Blanche, my new internet seed love match, has stood me up.

I’m left with a hotchpotch of old seeds some faithfully fecund others, whilst not entirely panda-like, just a bit more coy and fickle.

Last week’s delivery from Tamar Organics was a proverbial mixed bag. A new lot of red clover sprouting seeds and Mirabelle’s Dear John letter. (BTW, if you like sprouting seeds, do try red clover. Fantastically crisp with a hint of spiciness.)

In response, I resorted to the tomato family’s answer to cockroaches (they could survive a nuclear holocaust) in Gardeners’ Delight and Moneymaker. Despite being well passed their best before date, I’m confident of at least a 50% strike rate. Given that I’ve sown a dozen or so of each, if you need any plants in 4 weeks time, I might have a few spare.

I’ve also emptied my store of slightly more exotic seeds. There’s Golden Queen – a tasty yellow oval – and Zuckertraube – sweet little fruits. The former produced a couple of plants last year but were hardly big croppers. The latter went all moody and died, not favouring for my erratic watering regime. Wimps.

To date, there’s been a bit of life from the Golden Queen and not much more. The plants got a good shot of spring sunshine last weekend, but since then have had to cope with cold blast from across the Bristol Channel.

Oh Mirabelle, you tease. I’m yearning for a tomato that tastes of something. No more over chilled, watery lumps from Spain thank you. Maybe this is the answer.

Next up, finding a space to protect cucumbers from July’s inevitable Atlantic gales.



My “love apples”

3 April 2011

11 04 01_tomatoes_0021

A couple of weeks after sowing, I’ve got several tomato varieties on the go and some yet to germinate. Golden Queen, which strangely produce yellow fruit, were only a few days behind the old standards Moneymaker and Gardeners’ Delight.

11 04 01_tomatoes_0023

Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for my precious Zuckertraube to kick off. These took some time last year. I recall a strike rate of about 1/4.

Some of these “heirloom” varieties can be a bit finnickety. The fruits are delicious, but what’s the betting I get none?

Last of the cukes

7 November 2010

10 11 06_cukes_0019

Picked the last of the cucumbers on Saturday. November cucumbers: pretty impressive, I think.

Still eating greenhouse tomatoes too. I’ve got half a dozen ripening in the kitchen.

Greenhouse, this evening

4 August 2010

Tomatoes, cucumbers and chillis. Yum.

Salad days

10 August 2009

09 08 10_salad_0005

Finally. Looks like this year – yep, another damp summer – could be the year that I get a bumper crop of tomatoes.

I’ve assimilated loads of advice and tips. I sowed seeds in god time. Planted out when the plants were nice and healthy. The soil’s good. My magic liquid feed has been applied regularly. Thanks to Mrs Allotment 5 1/2 the greenhouse has been kept warm to ripen the fruits.

Everything else is down to sunshine. Intuitively, I’d say it’s not been great. But, we’ve had good stretches of sun in May and June. Plus, the last few weeks have seen a few decent days.

All told, I’m pleased that we’re getting a constant and growing stream of sweet little toms – Gardener’s Delight, indeed. Moneymakers are on the way.

Meanwhile, the salad bed keeps producing bags of sandwich filling. There should even be a cucumber or two ready by the end of the week.

Pete free

27 March 2009

This week’s Gardeners’ World (iPlayer should work for the next week) focussed on moving to peat free compost. I missed all but the last 15 minutes. Why was I watching cycling from Poland?

Peat, in case you didn’t know, is an unsustainable source of compost. Peat bogs have been laid down over the centuries by decomposing matter. The rate at which gardeners get through peat based compost means that the supply is dwindling. Peat cannot be replenished, except over many centuries.

It’s got to stop. In fact, it will stop.

I use peat free alternatives. However, as the programme mentioned, it is a trial for gardeners as the alternatives vary greatly in quality and nutrients.

This year’s tomato seedlings have done well in B & Q multi-purpose peat free compost. All 18 germinated within a week. On the other hand, we’ve seen no germination from our herbs and chillis. Now, I might put that down to watering or sunlight or my lack of green fingers. But, it turns out it might be that I’m not using the right growing medium.

As always, everything is an experiment.

And, please, phase out the peat.