SOME MORE RECYCLING

Quite a few years ago I started making flower pots out of newspapers – using a jam jar as a mould they were just the right size for transplanting my seedlings. The advantage was that they rotted in the soil when I transferred the plants out into the open soil.

This is a step further. I have started growing my sunflowers for our annual Johnson sunflower competition. They started well, I put them into little pots and they did even better there. Now I needed to put them into something even bigger – but what?

I have been saving the brown paper than some mailing companies fill their boxes with – just because I hate throwing things away, it might come handy.

Today was the day. I used a tall vase as a mould because I needed something bigger than a jar and with straight sides. It is just perfect, I have used most of the paper and the plants look fine. I’ll keep them in the greenhouse for quite a while and when all danger of frost is gone they’ll go out. Last year I managed 11ft and 11inches, my hope is for that one inch more!

SUNFLOWERS

I love growing them on the allotment, they attract the bees and other insects and anyway – they look great. Especially if they manage to grow tall or have huge faces, like this one. I had to cut it and bring it home, in the past the squirrels found it and before I knew the seeds were gone.

This beauty wasn’t the tallest but had the biggest face – 39 cm! Enough seeds to grow a field of them next year.

SUNFLOWERS

The time for measuring is here – the annual talest sunflower competition is upon us and this year I’m quite confident that I’ll do well.

The tallest one is 9ft and 11 inches. It stands beside the greenhouse so it is protected and also needs to grow tall to reach the light. I think that’s the secret!

SUNFLOWERS

My sunflowers aren’t the tallest but they have great faces – I can see character there!

PREPARATION TIME

I think this year I have finally managed to do what I knew I should be doing – not to get carried away when deciding what and when to sow.

In the past years I was sometimes way too early and then plants got leggy or just died so I didn’t gain anything or I simply sowed too many seeds and was then swamped.

This year is different – I’ve got quite a few kohl-rabies and cabbages, purely because I wanted a lot of them. As I have my brassica nets on the allotment, I shall have enough space to house them all and, as I have read in the RHS information pages about mushroom compost, that is excellent for brassica growing because it means that the plants are less likely to be affected by club root.

In the brassica line I’ll have cabbages – white and red, kale, purple sprouting broccoli, kohl-rabi and cauliflowers.

All of these are neatly transplanted into bigger pots and there they can take their time to grow, ready to be transplanted into the cages.

The tomatoes are doing well too, again the same rules apply – less is more and I’m quite pleased. I managed to find some purple tomatilloes, delighted about it as so far I only managed to find the green ones. It will be very interesting. I have got a few chilli peppers and sowed some sweet peppers today, just to make sure I’ve got a bit of everything.

I’d like to grow the tomatoes and tomatilloes on the allotment, inside the net cages – these do offer some protection and the fruit is much more tasty having been grown outside.

Apart from the veg I’ve got some sunflowers coming up, I’d like to plant them out on the allotment to encourage the bees – we have got a hive there, hopefully the bees are still in.