Friday, 25 April 2014

Potting on

Not much to report this week. I've repotted the Joes Long and Ancho seedlings that had outgrown their cells and burried them deep so the stems are supported. Chillies planted in this way will also throw out roots from their stems underground, further supporting and feeding the plant.

Having moved house recently I couldn't find my plastic plant pots I'd so carefully packed and had to resort to the terracotta pots that had been gathering moss in the garden. I like the patina on these pots, they've got a certain charm to them, unlike the shiny plastic variety. Perhaps when my greenhouse is built I'll switch to terracotta pots all the time for that retro Victorian feel.

The new seedlings have been potted on and are looking happier in the larger pots

I've been moving the overwintered plants into Root pouches, taking the opportunity to shake off the old compost and pot them into fresh new compost. Hopefully this will encourage them to start throwing out new roots.

Some of the overwintered plants are showing new growth.

Whilst others have yet to sprout.

Somewhat surprisingly some grass has started to sprout in the new pots, in supposedly sterile compost. I quickly tracked down the culprit,;a small mouse, hiding out the winter in the warm chilli shed, had eaten holes in a packet of wild bird seed which, in turn, had spilt into the potting tray where I'd been storing the compost. So now I'm busy pulling flourishing grass stems from the pots at every opportunity. I suppose I should be grateful that something is sprouting in those pots.

Expanding the empire

So the plans for world domination continue.  Another batch of seedlings are growing in the heated propagator and this time I've had success with the Padrons that I collected from Galicia last year.

Alongside these seedlings I've also got some more Dorset Nagas, 7 Pot Habs and Scotch Bonnets growing.  As one of my favourite chillies, I don't believe there's such a thing as too many Scotch Bonnets so the more plants I get going, the better.  

I've also planted a variety of sweet peppers for bulking up the chilli sauces and also some marigolds to help attract beneficial insects to the garden.

The main project has been the purchase of a greenhouse. After plenty of due consideration, weve plumped for an 8'x6' greenhouse with toughened glass and plenty of ventilation.  It's not due to arrive for a week or two so the time has been spent preparing the garden for its arrival.

Because the garden is north facing and quite shady there isn't a lot of options when it comes to siting it. I've tucked it into the north west corner of the garden, sufficiently far enough from the fence to allow access all round for maintenance and to minimise the shade from the fence and the trees.

Marking out the area for the greenhouse. Initially I'd considered a slab base but decided on something more permanent.

Digging the footings - 6 inches deep and 8 inches wide.
You can see some of the overwintered chillies from the growroom have been moved outdoors into the little growhouse.  Moving the plants outside will slow their growth but also inhibits the aphids which are becoming a real problem in the growroom at the moment.

Adding the shuttering - cheap and cheerful feather-board fencing.  Not particularly strong but with plenty of bracing it will do the job.

3 inches of ballast added to the base and tamped down hard.

3 inches of concrete on the top and expertly smoothed by my father.
There's a pressure treated timber base to be added on top of the concrete which will help level out any roughness in the concrete, as well as adding a couple of extra inches to the height of the eaves. Once that's done and the greenhouse erected, the centre will be covered with tough landscape fabric and a layer of pea shingle.

In terms of growing space, I've added two new Quadgrows to the two existing Chilligrows which, combined with the pots I already have, should give plenty of growing space.