Kitchen – potting shed?

IMG_5069Groundhog day at the Potwell Inn as we turn the kitchen into a temporary potting shed for the third year running. Madame (who prefers not to have her name or photograph in the blog) pricked out basil seedlings while I potted on all the chillies, peppers and aubergines which had all begun to outgrow their small pots.  As I was doing that it became clear that my haphazard watering device last week had caused a certain degree of stress, and although I only lost one seedling, others had suffered a bit. Chillies seem to grow to fit their pots and then stand still until you pot them on.  Last year when I potted them on they shot away as if I’d given them a dose of steroids.  One stressed out pepper plant perked up within a hour of being moved into a new pot, and others had become very dry.  I suppose as the leaves grow the transpiration rate increases and the small pots can’t hold enough water to keep up. Anyway it was a satisfying morning’s work indoors.

After lunch we went up to the allotment.  Ironically in spite of the weather forecasts we must have had the worst wind gusts yet during the night and we found anything that wasn’t actually tethered down blown here, there and everywhere, so all the preparatory work turned out to be worthwhile.  While Madame sowed leeks I spent an hour weeding the brassica bed and feeding the purple sprouting sprouting broccoli which seems to appreciate some food when it’s in flower. We’ve been using pelleted organic poultry manure which gives a fairly concentrated dose of general fertilizer.  When we got back home Madame said “Isn’t it lovely how we learn something every time we go up to the allotment?” So what did we learn today?  Despite our misgivings about the Jiffy Seven coir modules we’ve been using, largely because the outer netting doesn’t seem to be compostible, we’ve decided to give them another year. All my experiments suggest that the outer casing is made from some kind of resistant plastic mesh, but a recent article by Sarah Raven suggested that they could be cut off before the modules go into the ground. That’s an idea worth trying because we’ve no problems at all with the modules themselves, and we really do try to eliminate peat if we possibly can. We’ve also opted to use Sylva Grow compost for another year.  You need to follow the instructions because there aren’t enough nutrients in it to sustain a plant for more than five or six weeks, however its a very good – if rather expensive – compost.  Sometimes doing the right thing is a bit more expensive I suppose.

Otherwise it’s all going well – photos below. Very pleased with the hotbed.



Author: Dave Pole

I've spent my life doing a lot of things, all of them interesting and many of them great fun. When most people see my CV they probably think I'm making things up because it includes being a rather bad welder and engineering dogsbody, a potter, a groundsman and bus driver. I taught in a prison and in one of those ghastly old mental institutions as an art therapist and I spent ten years as a community artist. I was one of the founding members of Spike Island, which began life as Artspace Bristol. ! wrote a column for Bristol Evening Post (I got sacked three times, in which I take some pride) and I worked in local and network radio and then finally became an Anglican parish priest for 25 years, retiring at 68 when I realised that the institutional church and me were on different paths. What interests me? It would be easier to list what doesn't, but I love cooking and baking with our home grown ingredients. I'm fascinated by botany and wildlife in general, and botanical illustration. We have a camper van that takes us to the wild places, we love walking, especially in the hills, and we take too many photographs. But what really animates me is the question "what does it mean to be human?". I've spent my life exploring it in every possible way and the answer is ..... well, today it's sitting in the van in the rain and looking across Ramsey Sound towards Ramsey Island. But it might as easily be digging potatoes or making pickle, singing or finding an orchid or just sitting. But it sure as hell doesn't mean getting a promotion, beasting your co-workers or being obsequious to power, which ensured that my rise to greatness in the Church of England flatlined 30 years ago after about 2 days. But I'm still here and still searching for that elusive sweet spot, and I don't have to please anyone any more. Over the last 50 or so years we've had a succession of gardens, some more like wildernesses when we were both working full-time, but now we're back in the game with our two allotments in Bath.

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