Posts Tagged ‘growing’

Poppies

Poppies are some of the most beautiful flowers, and are useful for filling empty beds on an allotment. However, be careful, as many varieties are poisonous. Check they are safe around any children or pets you may have, and ensure that you are safe while around them.

Poppies can be sown around April, although it varies depending on the variety. They usually need half to full sun, and well drained soil.

Poppies are often invasive, as they have many seeds which grow easily. In order to combat this, it is a good idea to pull up their seedlings when they start to grow, or to dead head them when the flowers start to fade.

Choosing The Right Pots

An Apple.

A common problem that people face when trying to grow plants it that they do not know what pots to choose. The right type of pot depends in what you are trying to grow.


Seeds are best planted in plastic seed trays or small biodegradable pots. Biodegradable pots are better suited to larger seeds, and are useful as the roots are not damaged when the plant is potted on.

Cuttings can also be planted in plastic seed trays or plastic cellular trays.  However, they are best planted in biodegradable pots so that their delicate root system is not damaged.

Shrubs are best planted in plastic pots which are strong and allow for some movement if you are careful, as they are heavy.

Larger or more permanent plants should be planted in large plastic  or metal pots, or frost resistant terracotta pots. Terracotta pots are best both aesthetically and practically as they absorb water and often are stable.

New Weekly Project

If you grew some crops for last weeks project, they will probably be large by now, which means it is a good idea to prick them out / pot them on depending on how you grew them. If they are not, wait until they are large enough to handle first.

Soil Types

Depending on where you grow crops, you may have to change your strategies. This is partially because of light, but mainly caused by soil types.

If your soil drains badly, can be moulded in to a ball with your hands and keeps that shape, it is probably clay soil. This is often hard to dig, especially after heavy rain.

Sandy soil drains well, and may contain visible sand, and if you roll it into a ball, it will fall apart. This is useful as it drains well, but plants often grow better if you dig in some compost.

Loamy soil is well drained and contains nutrients. It is evenly balanced, and possibly the best type of soil for an allotment.

Growing Seeds

When growing seeds, whether in a heated propagator, or outdoors, there are a few important guidelines that you need to follow to ensure that the growing process runs as smoothly as possible.

  1. You should always label the seeds so you know what they are. It is best to put plant, variety, planting date and expected germination date on the label. This means that you will not get plants mixed up, and you will know to dispose of those which have not grown after about two weeks after the expected germination date.
  2. Do not over-water the seeds. If they have too much water in their soil, they will rot. This means that seed is wasted and if the rotting is fungal, it may spread to other plants nearby. Just moist soil is best.
  3. Do not forget to water. Seeds need water to germinate, so without any, nothing will happen. Keep soil moist by spraying with a water spray, standing in shallow water so it is absorbed (remember to remove it), or watering the pot or seed tray with a watering can with a fine rose.

Growing Crops in Heated Propagators

A seedling germinating.

Heated propagators are the most common way of starting crops off early, especially in cold rooms that require more heat. When choosing a heated propagator, make sure it is large enough. It should easily accommodate a seed tray, or more if you grow more. I have two small propagators, which means that I am able to have them on at different times for different plants. Whatever you go for, make sure you know where it will be put, so you can ensure that you have power there.


Normally, you plant at the same times or slightly later in heated propagators as the seeds often germinate faster, but you may be able to plant early to get quicker and earlier crops. You should never plant more than a month early, but remember to use common sense depending on your climate.

When planting early, keep the plants indoors in good sized pots until they can be planted out. Be careful with heavy pots.

Although heated propagators are useful, you must check that the vents are left open during the day, or mould will develop. This is a common problem when not ventilated correctly, as a warm, humid environment is perfect for fungal growth.

You should also check that you have no condensation on the glass / lid, as it may drop down on plants, and often indicated that they are over watered. You should aim to wipe it off in the morning and evening, and, as with all electrical devices, ensure it is safe, not wet, and the instructions are followed.

If a lot of condensation forms, open the vents slightly, and water less. The plants should not be soaked, just slightly wet.

When the plants have germinated, remove them from the propagator, or switch it off. This helps to make sure that the plants grow sturdily, not rushed on by overheating. Follow the instructions on the pack for ideal propagator and aftercare temperatures.

Growing Radishes

Radishes are a useful crop on an allotment as they can be used as a space filler so you have no empty space. They are also easy to grow and delicious.

Radishes should be planted from March to June, in well dug, weed free soil. It does not have to be extremely high quality, nor does it have to be in a sunny position. Radishes can easily be grown in pots for ease. If you plant rows at two-week intervals, you will soon get an almost continuous harvest, which can be useful if you will not eat a lot in one go. There is no need to feed radishes, although they should be kept well watered and weed free.