Garden Organic

One Pot Pledge® Blog

March 26, 2010

Notes from a gardening novice

Filed under: Gardening Tips — Tags: , , , — Simon Lovett @ 4:19 pm

A crazy, smiling strawberry

As the resident idiot novice here at Garden Organic, where I’m surrounded by some of the keenest gardening experts around, I am here to represent all gardening newcomers.

I, Simon, am here to tell you that we newbies are one; in solidarity we shall give it a grow! Your compost-y triumphs and struggles shall be mine… Or something.

I invite you to come to me with your new-gardener issues. I won’t know the answers, I’ll barely understand the questions, but I do know, I’ll be able to find someone who does.

More importantly, you may rest assured that I’m here for you. I can and will investigate the answers to any question. I will do whatever it takes as we embark to become growers not showers. The flowers of our pots shall not wither, not on my watch; we shall encourage them to bloom along with our understanding… Or something.

That said; I feel I may be getting a little bit ahead of myself. When starting out growing you need to make some decisions. Firstly; I guess you need to decide what you want to grow. You’re all going to have your own methods to reach this decision; be that ease or what you want to eat at the end of it, etc. Personally, these are factors that interest me less.

As I’m going to have to blog about my experiences as a novice gardener there is only one factor that really concerns me, pun-a-bility. For all our sanities to remain intact I need to choose the unpunable.

So the tubers are out, as I feel that is one way to get to the root of this problem. Beans, to my palate, are far too unaPEAsing.

I would try and grow coriander and basil but I haven’t really got the thyme and as for rocket, although I’m sure growing it would be a blast, there are far more important things to think about.

Lettuce consider the salad, a veritable crop of punnery is possible, likewise, growing chillies would leave this blog peppered with awfulness.

Which leaves us courgettes or strawberries. Being of a sensitive disposition I would much prefer to grow a product that doesn’t leave me feeling somewhat emasculated; call me marrow-minded if you will.

So, strawberries it is. Which is lucky…as I think they are the tastiest out of the lot of them.

All that’s left for me to do now is to berry the seed… Or something.

March 22, 2010

Musings on broad beans in pots

Filed under: Gardening Tips — Tags: , — Charlotte Corner @ 6:44 am

Last year I planted a spare broad bean plug plant (crimson flowered broad bean) in a large bucket-sized pot along with some nasturtiums and violets. I wasn’t sure if it would work as Broad bean plants can grow really large and tall – but it did. Not only did the pot prove to be a magnet for bees and hoverflies, but I reckon I got two meals for two using my very own freshly picked broad beans.

Here’s my top Broad Bean tip: Broad beans are expensive to buy in the supermarket. Grow your own! Blanche them, then remove the cloudy white skin before eating.

Mmmmmm. Good!

image: ‘broad beans’ via thirsty magpie/flickr

March 21, 2010

Top tips for getting the most out of your coriander

Filed under: Gardening Tips — Tags: , , — Andy Strachan @ 6:47 pm

a coriander seed, sprout

coriander in a potThe best tip for coriander is simply to roll and crack the seed before sowing.

The idea behind this is that each coriander seed has two embryos; when you crack these apart, both parts germinate and you get far more reliable germination and twice the plants!

images: ‘coriander seed’ via Zero-X/flickr
cilantro!’ via Kathleen Farley/flickr

March 20, 2010

My first foray into growing in pots

Filed under: Gardening Tips — Tags: , — Andy Strachan @ 6:33 pm

A handful of freshly harvested potatoes

When I first came into horticulture, many years ago, I was inspired to grow some veg at home. I lived in a flat with a very overgrown garden out the back and having only limited time I decided to grow some potatoes in some old compost sacks.

I knew the theory and set about chitting my seed potatoes (See the Get Growing pages for info on growing potatoes). I was so excited to see them start to ‘chit’ and after a few short weeks they were ready to plant in my sacks.

I filled the sacks a third full with some soil and potting compost and gently put my chitted potatoes in and covered them up with more compost. I did 4 sacks and hoped I would get enough potatoes for a couple of good dinners.

A few days later there were little green shoots showing and I knew all was well. As they grew I added more compost and soil mix and kept them nicely watered and fed them with some tomato feed.

After a few months the tops started to die back and I thought I had killed them!!! I asked my boss about this and he said that meant they should be ready to harvest.

When I got home I shook the contents of the sacks out onto the patio and there were dozens of beautiful new potatoes. I collected them up in a bowl and proudly showed them to my flat mates. We ate them for the next couple of weeks with salads and they were just beautiful.

I have done this most years since with constant success but I do tend to restrict my chosen varieties to early salad potatoes as they seem to be most reliable.

image: ‘new potatoes’ via jackhynes/flickr

March 19, 2010

Microgreens go from pot to plate in just two weeks

Filed under: Gardening Tips — Tags: , , — Simon Lovett @ 6:12 pm

a bunch of microgreens

Stuck for time but still want to give it a grow? One Pot Pledge champion Alys Fowler suggests microgreens:

“Microgreens are highly nutritious baby herb leaves that you harvest once or twice before resowing. They take less than two weeks to grow and are perfect when added to pasta, salads or pizzas. As the leaves are so young they are full of energy and flavour. It’s incredible how something so small can taste so good.”

Here’s how to do it.

  • Find a flat container with a large surface area that will sit on a windowsill, ensuring there are holes punched in the bottom for drainage.
  • Use good quality peat-free seed compost and sow your seeds liberally across the top, roughly a centimetre apart.
  • Cover with a little more compost and water by sitting the container in a bowl of water and allowing the compost to soak it up (this stops the seeds from being disturbed by gushes of water).
  • If the seeds need high temperatures to germinate (basil, fenugreek, dill, amaranth) then cover with a shower cap or clear plastic bag. This will keep the moisture in and let the air surrounding the seeds heat up.
  • In a few days they should have sprouted. Once you’ve got a thick carpet of young seedlings between 5-10cm high, start harvesting. The easiest way to harvest is with scissors.

Alys’ best seeds for microgreens:

Varieties don’t matter so much when harvesting such young plants so go for the cheapest seed.

  • Basil (lemon, lime sweet genovese and Thai or cinnamon)
  • Fenugreek
  • Carrots (the greens taste surprisingly just like their roots)
  • Amaranth ‘red army’
  • Swiss chard (bright lights for multicolour salads or ruby for intense red leaves)
  • Red cabbage
  • Celery
  • Garlic chives (Herb)
  • Coriander (lemon coriander has an intense flavour)
  • Fennel (Herb, bronze fennel looks very pretty as garnish)
  • Mustards (look for red frills or golden streaks for their unusually shaped leaves)
  • Rocket
  • Summer savoury (herb)

Image: ‘Micro Greens (And Some Reds)’ via ilovemypit/flickr

Beginner gardeners’ question time!

Filed under: Beginner Gardeners' Question Time — Tags: — Simon Lovett @ 4:47 pm

A packete of seeds, a trowel, and a pot.

Not sure how deep you should plant seeds in a pot? Wondering what kind of soil grows the best vegetables? Can’t decide if your basil pot should be in the sun or shade? Never fear, help is here.

As part of the One Pot Pledge campaign we’re inviting pledgers to send in their sowing and growing questions.

With ‘Non-gardeners question time,’ we’ll do our bit to provide you with the answers. We can’t guarantee we’ll have room to answer every question, but we’ll do out best and certainly address all of the often-asked queries from you, our new band of first time growers.

Drop back each week to see our answers and suggestions, or use the Subscribe box on this page to get email updates from the blog and then watch for your question.

So go on, email your question now to

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