Va-va-voom!

If you are an optimist you might dare to hope that the coldest days of winter are past. There are certainly more daylight hours, so if you can provide a bit of warmth and protection it is time to get a few plants off to an early start. I  have sown some radish, and a salad rocket named Va-va-voom, indoors in Air-Pot seed trays, and then moved them to an unheated greenhouse now they have germinated. So soon we should be eating the first salad crops of the year.

Some Air-Pot potato towers have been half filled with compost and planted with chitted tubers. I have put them in a frost-free shed and as shoots emerge earth will be added to cover them. When the pots are full and the leaves are showing above ground, they will go into a greenhouse and watering tubes made from plastic bottles installed. This will allow thorough watering right into the core of the pot. I am hoping for really useful quantities of potatoes from a small area. Plenty of water and nutrients should ensure good harvests and we will be trying for two crops, one after the other in the same pots. I have high hopes for the superb Double Strength Dalefoot Compost which forms the bulk of the potato growing medium.This is a peat-free organic product made from sheep’s wool and bracken and contains a high level of long lasting nutrients.

I have planted out some garlic on the plot that was started in one litre Air-Pot propagation pots. Protection from the worst of the winter wet and cold has produced heathy young plants, that are definitely looking much better than my usual bedraggled Autumn planted ones.

When garlic and shallots are planted in normal pots or modules the roots quickly become congested, so it was good to see the roots were nicely dispersed through the compost in the Air-Pot containers.

4 thoughts on “Va-va-voom!

  1. Hi! Fantastic to find a blog about growing in air-pots! Started this year with air-pots, really excited. How does the “watering tubes made from plastic bottles” work? Is the cork still on, is it holes in the bottle-walls? This would be a great solution in my garden, for the pots not conected to drip-system 🙂
    -Line, Norway

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    • Hi Line
      Sorry I did not see your comment sooner, I hope you are getting good plants in your Air-Pot containers. My upturned bottles in the middle of the potato pots are really just a funnel as there is no top on the bottle. I simply put this bottle / funnel in place to ensure water was directed right down into the middle of the soil which can sometimes remain a bit dry even when the surface feels well watered. After watering the pot and filling the bottle they do empty quite quickly, I guess if you want to use that idea to try to slowly release water you could put the lid on and make tiny holes through the cap. I have done this to make a sort of mini-waterer. Simply heat a pin in a flame holding it with pliers then press through the plastic lid, lots of holes makes a good sprayer and on a 500 ml bottle is ideal for watering small pots. A big bottle upside down in the compost might release water over a few days, you could experiment with cutting the bottom off or leaving it in place for slower release of water. Have fun.

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    • Ants can be a problem if they start feeding or nesting in a pot especially when they remove lots of soil, this can happen with any container and seems to be more likely in the heat of a greenhouse. If I notice they are going in and out of a pot I move the pot to disrupt their pathways, often they can be seen emerging from holes in the ground or from under paving. Pouring boiling water into their holes or puffing ant killing powder around will eradicate them, or just digging them out where accessible. The pot containing ants can be completely submerged in water to force them out and a good spray with water will wash they off the foliage, if voids in the compost have been created as the ants remove material it is good to firmly tamp down and press the surface to ensure the compost is fairly compact, topping up with new earth if required. This might need to be repeated and the pot shifted around to different positions over a period to try and prevent the ants re-infesting the pot. Raising the container on bricks may help and I have heard that putting the entire pot into ladies tights or stockings keeps the critters out. Good luck.

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