I am looking at the different ways we can grow plants in our outdoor spaces. Not all of us have a garden with open ground, some have only a patio covered in paving slabs, some maybe only a few window sills or a passage or back yard.
I grow a lot on my patio in a mixture of wooden boxes, ceramic pots, old galvanized tanks and dustbins I have picked up at the recycling centre or down the dump. They look really great with plants trailing over the edges and climbers growing skyward up trellises I have set up behind them. I have got the local farm shop to save me some olive cans that come in bright green and red. I make holes on the bottom using a hammer and screw driver to allow for drainage, add some broken crocks or some small stones before adding a growing medium and a plant. I am always on the look out for containers with a difference. Recently I bought some old ammunition boxes for next to nothing, £3 each which I have planted up with tulips for a show in spring. These are fairly shallow but great for lettuces in the summer. The main thing to consider is the depth of the container and whether it is possible to make drainage holes in the bottom. Plants grown in pots and containers get full of roots pretty quickly so the deeper the better.
Watering and feeding
Anything grown in a container is a commitment you have to feel able to take on as the ongoing maintenance is essential to your growing success. They will need watering everyday in hot weather and every other day once they have taken a hold. Your containers will also need feeding after a month or so of planting out and every two or three weeks after that.
For a long time now Riverford have been supporting a charity called Send a cow who ‘provide livestock, seeds, training and on going support to help families in Africa to leave poverty behind for good’ Guy is a huge fan of this charity and has been out to Uganda several times…… to see what’s happening first hand. Some of their growing techniques are ingenious such as the keyhole garden and the grow sacks. We have built our own keyhole garden using posts and chicken wire rather than stones. The idea is you have a central shoot into which you chuck all composting materials and water. This in turn feeds the surrounding beds that are planted up with veg seedlings. It really does work and also is a boon for anyone with back problems as there’s little or no bending down. The grow sacks are great to and can be planted with up to 50 seedlings in each. These are great for that redundant corner somewhere in your outdoor space.
In my next gardening blog
I will cover preparing the ground and tools and kit you will need as unfortunately run out of space here. So look out for people selling sacks of well rotted manure and take a look at your compost heaps too.