Sunday, 1 July 2007

Organic veg plot in tubs

Jill just emailed last week asking about the salad tubs I mentioned. We had some sun with only a few showers on Wednesday, so I was finally able to whip back the breathable agricultural fleece and let the fresh air in. The fleece keeps the slugs and wind out whilst allowing light in and usually isn't needed much in June. The Mizuna, Pak Choi and Wong Bok above (about 18 plants per tub) should have been packed like sardines by now and bulging out the top of the tub, growing faster than I can eat. Instead it looks like this...

But hey, I'm amazed and pleased they are alive at all given the weather (sun, rain and hail later on that day). Usually the fleece is enough to keep off summer showers, but with so much torrential rain to contend with I've used some salvaged ridged plastic over the top. It funnels the rain off but , crucially, still allows airflow through the fleece below so the plants don't get mouldy.

For anyone who wants details:
I drill about seven 1cm holes in the base and put a little bit of landscape fabric over the holes to stop the slugs and beasties sneaking in. That is followed by 1cm of drainage material (sand, grit, stones, broken brick or even old chopped bits of polystyrene will work). I add about 15cm of compost from the previous years courgettes mixed with some garden compost (yes, the stuff I pee'd on last year) and a handful of perlite for water retention in drought.

I love growing salad leaves in these discarded Ikea storage tubs
because they provide such a protected little environment for tender seedlings. In the early stages I let them have sun all day and then tuck them up for the night with the fleece when it gets chilly and the leaf munching monsters come out to slime everything. I put a lot of plants in because I 'graze', picking a few leaves off each plant each day so they never get too huge for the space. I can usually harvest each tub for 3-4 weeks that way, less if Mr P starts munching too.

It works incredibly well and it means they need very little watering compared to normal tub planting. Last year, which was hot, I only needed to water them once a week once the the main leaves had spread out ( I pack them in close. I can also move them each month to the sunniest spot and the white surface stops the sun from overheating the soil in the tub which also reduces the need for watering.

Each tub is at a different stage so that there will always be fresh plants every few weeks to replenish the supply. When the plants from one tub are finished the tub can have a little fresh garden compost added to the mix before sowing more seeds. I like the Chinese salad leaves best as they seem more able to deal with extremes of temperature, the slugs don't like them as much once they are large, and I love the taste of them, especially Mizuna, I LOVE Mizuna.

So Jill, I hop I answered all your Q's, much easier with the pics I hope. I've farted around for days trying to make this read OK, my brain is increasingly mushy just now and it's seriously impacting my ability to do anything other than short posts. Hoping lots of sleep and green veggies will eventually improve things. It means I'm having trouble keeping up with comments and emails,
sorry, I'll do my best but rest is a higher priority, I'm trying not to spend much time on the computer.


Susan Schwake said...

rest should be your mantra cally!
this project is super. i love alternative gardening in all forms. this is WONDERFUL!

Anonymous said...

You are always full of useful information.
Your salad tubs look wonderful, so happy you are keeping up with the gardening. Have plenty of rest, health is the most important thing!

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