If you want to get involved with the One Pot Pledge this year but you’ve surveyed your growing opportunities at home and they’re not very inspiring, then why not look further afield?
Most of us spend around half of our waking hours at work, so why not pot up a plant and take it with you? You can water it on your tea breaks, talk to it while you’re waiting for the printer and harvest your crop to liven up your lunch!
One of the best crops of peppers I ever grew was in an office. I had a nice, sunny spot by the window and the long days of artificial light and temperature-controlled air-conditioning provided the peppers with just the kind of conditions they love.
Peppers (sweet and chilli) are happy growing in pots as long as they get enough light and enough water – something it’s easy to keep an eye on when you’re at your desk. They also appreciate regular liquid feeds with a tomato fertilizer that’s high in potassium (the K value) to encourage them to grow lots of fruit.
Peppers are largely self-fertile and don’t require the attentions of bees, but in the calm air of an office it can be helpful to either gently shake the blooms or rub your finger inside them to encourage the transfer of pollen. You’ll know which flowers have been pollinated – their insides swell into little green fruits – whereas unpollinated flowers simply drop off.
Peppers can take a long time to ripen, which makes them tricky to grow outdoors but perfect candidates for an office, where they can grow year round. They are perennial plants, so you won’t need to replace them, although they will need repotting every so often as they get larger. You can prune any unruly branches off if they’re getting in the way of your computer screen!
Having an interesting plant on your desk really adds life to the office, and if you work for a big company then you might be surprised at who stops by to take a look! You may be less pleased to see that some fruits disappear when they’re ripe – unfortunately a bit of ’scrumping’ is often inevitable, so try and look upon it as sharing with strangers. And you’ll need to find someone reliable to keep up with the watering duties when you’re on your holidays.
And if you don’t have a sunny spot for a pepper? Then think about plants that don’t mind less light and don’t need insect pollinators – a little pot of salad plants, or a couple of herbs, could really liven up your lunches.
Emma Cooper is a freelance garden writer living in Oxfordshire with her husband and three pet chickens. You can read her garden diary and listen to The Alternative Kitchen Garden Show online at http://coopette.com. Her first book, ‘The Alternative Kitchen Garden: An A to Z’ was published by Permanent Publications in August 2009.