26 May 2011

Grow Your Own Guide - Aubergine

Aubergine haven't always been dark purple. It has evolved from a spiny plant from India with a small, white egg shaped fruit. That is why it is called an eggplant. Grow from seed to harvested plant in 20 weeks in a hot, sheltered but sunny place.

1. Fill a pot with seed compost after making some holes in its base. With your fingertips, make a hole about 6mm deep in the soil.









2. Sow two seeds in the hole and gently brush some surrounding soil over with your fingers. Remember to add a label and water. Keep on a windowsill.









3. After germinating remove the weakest seedlings to allow the strongest one to continue growing and developing good roots.









4. Make a hole in the soil in a large container. Carefully, tip the young plant out of its pot and place into the hole. Pat the soil around it and water in.









5. Water little but often as aubergine plants don't like their soil too wet or to dry. If you have a greenhouse, your plant will flourish there.









6. Look out for flowers. These have five petals with a yellow centre. They are very colourful to attract insects for pollinating.









7. Spray the new fruits to help them set. As the fruits start to swell, add liquid feed each time you water.









8. Pinch out the growing tips once the plant has grown to 30cm. You may want to tie your plant to a cane for added support.









Cut each fruit with scissors when it is more than 10cm long and still has a shine on its skin. You might get between five and ten fruits over a few months.

25 May 2011

How To Grow Your Own Potatoes (In containers - no digging!)




Learning how to grow potatoes the easy way with no digging! Growing potatoes is easy when you know how. There are lots of varieties of potatoes to grow such as King Edward's or Maris Piper potatoes. Potatoes grow from seed potatoes and are ready to harvest in 12-28 weeks in a sunny position. Learn how to grow potatoes with this easy to follow guide complete with pictures.


1. Buy seed potatoes at the end of winter. Lay them out separately with their 'eyes' uppermost in a cool, dry, light place or windowsill. They'll take about six weeks to sprout shoots.




2. Make holes in the base of a large container, such as a bin or a large mesh sack. Add some crock, gravel, or stones and fill the container with a 10 cm (4 in) layer of soil.




3. In spring, once the potatoes have sprouted short shoots, they are ready to plant. Carefully place five potatoes  on top of the soil with the shoots facing upwards.




4. Add a little more soil to cover the potatoes by a further 2.5cm 91 inch) layer.





5. Once the shoots re-appear cover them with more soil so they are just buried. This is called 'earthing up'. Keep repeating this until the container is full.




6. Keep the soil watered especially in dry weather. Remove any weeds. Use a general purpose fertilizer every couple of weeks.





7. Flowering shows that the potatoes have reached a good size, so you could lift some. Early varieties can be lifted as 'new potatoes' in early summer.




8. Otherwise wait until the leages die abck in autumn. Now tip over the container and enjoy finding the potatoes buried in the soil. Look carefully.





Last year's potaotes looked like this:
We got ours free from Potatoes for Schools where you can pre-register for your free seed potatoes and free grow bags. Join in with the activities too. Open to all schools, nurseries and childminders. It's also a good site for resources and seed suppliers in the UK.

Potato Peelings
Here's something for all the scrimpers and savers. Instead of throwing away or composting your sprouted potatoes, use them again. Peel the sprouted potato and use them potato in cooking if it's still good and then plant the peeling and they will grow the same as the chitted potatoes will.




Potato Planters

Gardman 7505 2 Pack Potato Tubs    Gardman 7505 2 Pack Potato Tubs


Potato Ricer
OXO Good Grips Potato Ricer  OXO Good Grips Potato Ricer

Grow your own Potato Books
Ultimate Potato Book: Hundreds of Ways to Turn America's Favorite Side Dish into a Meal  Ultimate Potato Book: Hundreds of Ways to Turn America's Favorite Side Dish into a Meal


How to Grow Potatoes: A practical gardening guide for great results, with  How to Grow Potatoes: A practical gardening guide for great results, with


Where do I buy seed potatoes?

Plants By Post  12 for £1.99

Primrose 12 for 2.95

Thompson and Morgan 5 tubers from £2.49 (more expensive but has a greater range of seeds and plants)

20 May 2011

Grow Your Own Guide - Tomato

Tomatoes, they come in many different shapes - round, plum-shaped,cherry or monster-sized in yellow, orange, green, red and stripy.

Grow Your Own Tomatoes Guide

1. Fill a shallow container with soil (egg boxes are great as they are biodegradable). Scatter the seeds thinly over the surface. Make sure the container has holes in the bottom for drainage.





2.Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil, then water them gently. Add a label, then place the container on a windowsill.






3.Thin out the seedlings to allow room for others to continue growing and developing good roots. Water to keep the soil moist but not too wet.





4. Once two true leaves have formed, the seedlings are ready to be put into individual small pots. Be gentle and careful as you place in a seedling.





5. Once your plant has grown twice as high as its pot, plant it into a larger pot. Make a hole first, then place in the plant, pat the soil around it and water.






6. Push in a cane a little away from the main stem. Use the string to tie the stem to the cane.







7. Pinch out the shoots that appear where the leaves join the stems. Pinch out the growing tip once your plant has four or five flowering stems.






8. Spray leaves with water to encourage the fruits to set. Water each day and liquid feed every week to grow the best fruit.





Companion Planting

Grow marigolds in the same pots as the tomato plants. These flowers cna keep aphids away, which might otherwise infest your tomato plant. This is called companion planting.


Kids Gardening

If you are gardening with small children, they can take part in growing tomatoes. Generally I use tomorite growbags but containers are great and children can take ownership of their plant. They can also make their own lolly stick labels and stone markers. Cover the tip of the cane with a topper or a plastic bottle to prevent any eye poking. The children can take a trip to the garden centre to select the seeds or plants and then help plant them.

For older children they can become more involved by selecting the seeds, making charts to show growth progress and to help design planting calendars.It's a great way to test maths, 'how tall is the sunflower?' or 'how big is the pumpkin?'


Handy Websites

Companion Planting - Garden Toad


Handy Books

Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful GardeningCarrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening

by Louise Riotte.


The classic volume on the confirmed benefits and accumulated folklore of companion planting. In addition to vegetables, it covers companion planting techniques for fruit and nut trees, grasses and grains, ornamentals, and weeds.


The Complete Guide to Companion Planting: Everything You Need to Know to Make Your Garden Successful (Back-To-Basics Gardening)The Complete Guide to Companion Planting: Everything You Need to Know to Make Your Garden Successful (Back-To-Basics Gardening)


Great Garden Companions: A Companion-Planting System for a Beautiful, Chemical-Free Vegetable GardenGreat Garden Companions: A Companion-Planting System for a Beautiful, Chemical-Free Vegetable Garden


The A - Z of Companion PlantingThe A - Z of Companion Planting

Roses Love Garlic: Companion Planting and Other Secrets of FlowersRoses Love Garlic: Companion Planting and Other Secrets of Flowers