Archives for category: crops

When I first started planting in small pots, I used dining table spoon and fork as my tools- Normal size gardening tools in the shops are all too big for the delicate tasks. My dad had the same problem too as he does small scale planting on his balcony.

It is ok to use the usual spoons and forks as they do the job. Or you can get patio tool sets from the shop but they are not that cheap (at least £20). I decided to find a cheaper alternative- children gardening tool set. It only cost a fraction of the price!

The trick is to pick the ones that are made of stainless steel, not pastic. They work just as well. Ok, you have to bear the colourful bag but the tools are just as good. The photo shows the set by SoGifted. It only costs £8.50.

It is good practice to line the bottom of the pot with gravels or broken ceremics before planting to aid drainage. By doing so, it minimises the chances of the hole at the bottom of the pot to be blocked by the actions of roots and soil.

I could be clumsy at times but it is unlikely that I break enough ceremics accidentally by the time I need to do the planting. Packing peanuts are perfect for the task!  I just put them aside in a bag each time I receive a parcel. I feel less guilty too as I am not sending them directly to the landfill sites. Bonus! Continue reading >>

Different plants need different nutrients. It is important to use the right fertilisers for the right plants so that they can grow healthily and produce good crops in return.

If you are growing different crops in small quantities, it can be quite costly and troublesome to buy special fertilisers for each crop. If you only want to invest in one good all round fertiliser, I recommend the natural seaweed extract. It is rich in nutrients and can build up a plants’ resistant to stress, pests, diseases and adverse weather conditions. Personally, I use it alternately with other specialised fertilisers but sometimes I just use it on its own when I do not have time.

Seaweed extract generally comes in 2 different forms: liquid and powder. They are used pretty much in the same way, ie. with added water. You add a certain portion of extract to a certain portion of water according to the instructions before pouring into the soil or spraying it onto the plant. Personally I prefer the powder version because it is neater to use.  Continue reading >>

There is no such thing as a free lunch in this world, except when I have wild strawberries growing in my garden!

Ok, I am showing off a bit. But I really could not believe my luck when I first discovered these little beauties in my garden. Even though they are only about the size of a pearl, they are a little bomb of flavour in my mouth. I usually wait for the fruits to ripen on the plant and pick them when they turn deep red (like the photo above). They are far tastier than any big farmed strawberries I have ever had.

I had no idea how they got to that special corner of my garden. I suspect my little friends, the Robins, brought them along when they hunt for worms and did a poo? I allowed the runners to grow across the planter. 2 years on, they have already covered quite a decent sized area. These days, I do admit that I ‘cultivate’ them a bit- I put seaweed fertiliser on them whenever I feed my other vegetables.

If you happen to see some in your garden, congratulations! My advice is: Eat the fruits and keep the plants. You will get more the next year!

‘No’ was the answer I was given by others when I first started gardening.

‘Yes’ is the answer I tell you now. I have tried it and I have proven them wrong!

I fell in love with Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference piccolo tomatoes . They are beautiful on the vine, with vibrant red skin and dark green vine. They are tiny but burst with flavour. I struggled to source the seeds but did not want to buy little plants. Against everyone’s advice, I decided to extract seeds from the supermarket tomatoes directly.

I had never extracted any seeds before. Common sense told me that I should choose a pack of good and healthy looking tomatoes so that I could take their good genes. So I did.

I used a small spoon to remove the seeds from the best looking fruit from the pack. There was some sac around each seed. I was not sure whether I should remove it as it may carry special nutrients for the seed. I decided to carry out a control experiment to find out the answer. I kept one batch with the sac and washed it off in another batch. They were then germinated in similar conditions, ie. in a self-watering propagator.
Answer? It did not matter whether the sac was there or not! 

Not sure whether I would get anything from the seeds of supermarket tomatoes, I germinated some tomatoes seeds of other species which I ordered online. Afterall, it would be a bit depressing to have no crop in my first year!

How did it go?

To my surprise, the piccolo tomatoes were the best crop! It tasted even better than the supermarket ones as mine was fresher and ripened on the vine (not by gas!). I particularly loved the lemony aroma when I picked them from the vine.

My first Piccolo tomato harvest