Spring action

There is lots of new growth now the days are getting longer. Indoors the usual tender crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers are coming along well in small Air-Pot containers, ready to set out in the greenhouse as soon as the cold nights have passed. An experimental Autumn sowing of Aquadulce Claudia hardy broad beans in a pot is looking good. Keeping them in the greenhouse through the coldest weather means the plants are well advanced compared to outdoor sowings. They flowered well and were visited by bees so pods will now be swelling.

Digging around in the greenhouse I spied what appeared to be an Avocado pip sprouting a green leaf, when carefully lifted it turned out to be a fat sweet chestnut (no idea how it got there) with a substantial tap root thrusting downwards. This type of vigorous tap root will quickly become pot bound in a conventional pot; they hit the base and are forced sideways into an ‘L’ shape and then circle endlessly seeking a way out. Of course this Chestnut went straight into an Air-Pot container which will air-prune the tap root, encouraging a more branched root system with more fine feeding roots.

Some palm trees which were recently potted-on into bigger containers proved to have well air-pruned roots. Thick succulent roots of a date palm poked out through holes in the raised base of an Air-Pot but were unable to extend further due to the drying air circulating under the pot. Another well controlled root structure was in evidence when recently repotting an agapanthus. This is in contrast to the ordinary pot it came in which had been split open by these rather thuggish roots.

Once again the Hostas are thrusting up, looking like a miniature forest. Every year they get get more vigorous and more densely jammed into the pots. Best of all they do not suffer from slug damage. We think the side of an Air-Pot is a bit of an obstacle course for the slimy pests.

The cherry trees in pots have broken bud and are showing lots of blossom, and a pip grown apple tree is going to produce its first ever blossom. If an apple results it will be interesting to see if the genetic dice-roll has been lucky. It could be delicious like the Pink Lady parent or it could be a sour like a crab apple. All the advice is not to bother growing apple cultivars from pips as they are usually unstable hybrids but this was from a pip which actually germinated inside a Pink Lady apple so I felt it deserved a chance.

2 thoughts on “Spring action

  1. I’ve just bought and put together my own Air Pots after being intrigued by your own successes, which I read about over years of following you on Twitter. I am starting with some tomatoes, but wonder if you have grown citrus in yours? And if so, do you have any tips , other than don’t leave them out in winter. 🙂 I have bought a yuzu tree from The Wasabi Company. Thanks

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    • Hi Kellie, thanks for your interest.
      Tomatoes are always a winner and are pretty straightforward in an Air-Pot, the only thing which might be different is water trickling out too quickly due to very loose filling of the pot leaving voids and spaces in the compost. Just be sure to jam the compost into the base and against the sides then tamp down firmly and fill nearly to the top to above the top holes (be sure to have the portion without holes at the top).
      Citrus do well in Air-Pot containers but it might be better not to use the traditional citrus potting mix which can be very sandy / gritty to ensure it is free-draining. Best advise seems to be to allow roots to get quite dry between watering and if soil gets extremely dry some sandy particles start to trickle through holes, so perhaps just ordinary compost or a mix of citrus soil with all-purpose compost. The traditional free-draining type of citrus soil is not really required in an Air-Pot container because good drainage is already ensured due to the raised base and holes. My yuzu is against a south facing wall and has come through a couple of winters outdoors although the last winter seems to have been hard on it and I see a lot of leaf drop so in future I will wrap with fleece during the coldest weather. I picked up a tip from a Vancouver grower recently who entwines his Meyer Lemon with Christmas lights in addition to wrapping in fleece, the small heat output from the lights raises the temperature just enough to protect the tree during cold snaps.
      Best, Alex

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