grow: first potato planting, and more!

We have nearly made it to the end of our third month of growing, making and mending. Our first potato planting was on Saturday!

First potato planting

After a few weeks of leaving our Red Duke of York first earlies on the windowsill to chit (technical term for sprouting) they were finally ready to plant out.

Compost, seed potatoes, trowel, gloves and polypots.
Everything assembled for our first potato planting!

Seems a bit strange to be using polythene pots given our ‘less plastic’ journey, but there are some very good reasons.

For a start polythene pots are cheaper than anything else I looked at for our adventures with potato growing in 2018. Half barrels are very expensive. Potato grow tubs or sacks are also invariably plastic. Not only that but a lot of the grow sacks type have variable reviews in terms of durability and suitability.

In the end I opted to get a fifty pack of Hadopots 13.5L Polythene Plant Pots, at less than twenty quid. These reviewed well for potato growing, with one seed potato per pot. The price point was great. We don’t have unlimited funds for this  project! Made of recycled plastic, if we are mindful of them, we may also get several seasons of growing from them.

Recycled plastic Hadopots.
These Hadopots fold flat, have prepunched drainage holes and are made of recycled plastic.

We definitely wanted to go for container growing for potatoes. Although we have lots of room overall, it’s already very segmented by function. Container growing means we can move them anywhere. Once the crop is in, the compost can start enriching the rest of the garden and we can use fresh compost again next year. Right now, they’re against a fence, where football practice is not as likely to knock them over!

Potato containers lined against a fence.
Our ten first potato containers!

Decking scrub

When we moved in, there was already existing decking outside the back door. Our attempt to only replace half of it and reclaim the rest for vegetable growing was foiled by the discovery of hardcore underneath. Looks like there was once a garage in that spot. So we smiled and decked over it and put in a great big swing crossbeam instead.

There’s one big problem with wooden decking in our climate. It gets slippery. Mostly this is due to algae growth (thank you my good friend Google) which also causes discolouration.

Dark stained decking needing a clean.
Stained decking after winter.

I spent a lot of time (too much time) reading about various products that can be purchased to help with this problem. Many of them were extremely chemical and expensive. Pressure washing was also advised. We don’t own a pressure washer and let’s just say I wasn’t convinced we needed to either.

So this was my experiment to see if we could make do with what we had.

What did we have?

A yard brush, some ecologically friendly washing up liquid, some water and some effort.

A much cleaner patch of decking.
Well, that was surprisingly effective.

I can see that I might have gotten a better result with a hand scrubbing brush, if only due to not missing some spots a little bit. It’s quite likely that if I make a point to scrub it down like this on a regular basis, say, monthly, that I’ll make cumulative gains.

Once the weather warms up and gets dry for a bit, I’ll be thinking about staining it again anyhow.

Cherry tomatoes, in potentia

So before Christmas, probably about the time I was mulling over starting this blog. I was infected with wild enthusiasm. I picked up some indoor hanging baskets from Ikea and without really thinking about it, picked up some living herbs from a supermarket and delightedly potted the lot up.

They all died.

And to make it worse, before they all died, lots of little black flies revealed themselves in the compost. Then they went and moved in to all my houseplants.

Insert expletive here.

So there were lots of reasons the herbs all died. Supermarket living herbs are ‘forced’ – grown to a reasonable size faster than nature intended them to. Some of those herbs hate having their roots disturbed and so repotting them was a hiding to nothing all along. Finally, I just potted them all up and put them indoors where actually a lot of herbs just don’t do well. Too hot and dry.

Lesson about herbs learned.

That left me with the baskets, which were turned out of doors and left until I knew what I could try in them next.

Abandoned indoor hanging pots.

The answer, I fear, is also slightly wildly enthusiastic.

I’ve put fresh compost in them after a good scrub out, and thrown some tomato seeds in.

Planted indoor pots.
Tomatoes planted in indoor pots. This is almost certainly doomed to failure.

Let’s see what happens there shall we?

I think long term I would like a small polytunnel for growing tomatoes in properly – but let’s start with what I’ve got now!

Kitchen windowsill with lots of plants on.
The kitchen windowsill of eternal plant based hope.

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