Saturday, 12 May 2012


Flowers, oh so many flowers. One of the jalapeño plants that wasn't as far along as the others has gone into super speed mode, overtaken all of them, has 5 open flowers and is now growing the first chilli :)

This has cheered me up and almost makes up for the massively stressful day yesterday. The wind was incredibly strong and it managed to move the whole greenhouse and knock most of the plants off of the shelves, spilling compost everywhere and damaging quite a few young plants. I'm a very calm person, but I got really annoyed by it. Every time I tidied it up a bit, the wind would come back and ruin everything again. The weather's been much better today though.

This is one of the plants that started off purple. It's not as pretty now that the purple's gone :(
It seems like the purpleness is trying to spread, but the plant is growing too quickly.

The next batch of purple chilli plants, although these have outgrown the purpleness incredibly quickly. There's only 3 left that are properly purple. This picture also shows one of the problems I've been having. As you can see, there's green algae-looking stuff on the surface of the compost. I think this is caused by dampness and bad circulation, both of which I'm now working on improving because this stuff is on damn near all of my plants.

My habanero, ring of fire and hungarian hot wax chilli seedlings. Planted a bit late in the year, but hopefully the growdrobe can get them to grow a bit faster than they would outdoors so they'll catch up with the others.
In the top left of the picture, you can see the beer can reflector I made after reading about cheap ways to improve my lighting situation. It seems to be working pretty well, so I'll put one on each of the lights tomorrow, I think.

The petals starting to wilt and fall off to make way for the first chilli that you can see starting to grow in the center, yay :)

Not sure what to write about this one, I just like the picture.

This is a slightly old picture, but I thought I'd post it because it's my little mutant plant. It has 3 cotyledons instead of the usual 2. I did a little bit of googling, apparently this is the plant equivalent of siamese twins.

In other news, the massively overcrowded radish/parsnip/carrot bucket isn't as bad as I thought. The radishes are actually growing perfectly happily, I've been pulling up and eating handfuls of them every few days. Also, I bought 3 new plants on ebay. Ordered them one day, they arrived the next, it was awesome. They're chocolate mint plants, so they have the lovely smell of mint but with a hint of chocolate. They smell just like After Eights.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

First flower & massive update

My first chilli flower has finally opened, and as you can see in the background, the others will be opening pretty soon :)
Fun fact: my camera sucks at focusing on the right things when taking close-up pictures. When you add to that the fact that the humidity in the greenhouse kept fogging up the lens, I'm amazed I managed to get a picture at all.

I think I'll make this update a picture-heavy update, instead of the wall of text that I usually post.
1 of the new strawberry plants that I bought from B&Q to increase my eventual harvest. I bought Elsanta, Pegasus and Cambridge Favourite. That means I now have a total of 5 strawberry plants, but I'm not sure what variety the other 2 are as I got them from my auntie's garden. Also, 1 kale.

Jalapeño forest. These are just a few of my jalapeño plants, so I should get a nice sized overall harvest.

My new batch of tomatoes. These should grow to be huge plants with huge fruits, fingers crossed.

4 of my onions, with some newly planted carrot and parsnip seeds around the outside. These onions will never grow to be huge, but that pot is bigger than it looks in the picture so they should grow pretty nicely. I have a few more onions in other pots and things, so I'll have plenty of them to eat.

My newly constructed vegetable patch thing. Simple job, just moved the gravel stuff that was there, pulled up the weed-cover stuff, dug it all over a bit and mixed in some compost and fertiliser, then added some bricks I had lying around to keep the stones out. I plan on getting rid of all of the stones and turning the whole thing into a vegetable/flower patch eventually. That little section has had a few things put in it since I took the picture and it's already feeling cramped.

The radish/carrot/parsnip bucket from an earlier post. This is after some serious thinning-out, and it's still incredibly overcrowded. I put way more seeds in than I needed. If you look carefully, you can just about see some baby carrots and parsnips, being deprived of light by the radishes. I'll do some more thinning out today.

My new water spray/mist bottle. I absolutely love it. I know it's weird to get excited about a spray bottle, but this one is so awesome compared to my last one that broke after just a few weeks. I wish I'd had this from the start, it would have made watering seedlings so much easier.

I'll save the rest of the updates (yeah, there's more) for another time, this post is too long already. If you made it this far, congratulations.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

It's getting hot in here

This is a happy post :)
I finally have a greenhouse. It's nothing special, just a cheap thing from Argos, but it does the job brilliantly so far. I bought it just in time, the extension that powers the lights in the wardrobe had to be used for something else, so I needed to get my plants outside and the cold would have been too much for them.

I also harvested my first crop. It was a single, small radish, but it feels good to finally eat something that I planted.

My trays of 12 tomatoes and 12 black hungarian chillies are all up and doing great, and the tray of mixed chillies is just starting to come to life, so they're all under the lights now. I'll leave them in there for at least a month because I don't have to make room for new seedlings, I think I've got enough plants now.
As soon as I typed that, I decided I want to grow salad leaves in there, simply because the thought of going out to the dark, cold, dirty garage to get a nice, healthy salad amuses me.

I was given 2 strawberry runners a couple of days ago, so hopefully I'll be able to get them to settle in nicely and produce their own runners so I can get lots of strawberries. One of the runners I was given had hardly any root system though, and the wind today has knocked it about a bit, so it might not last very long.

To finish off, here's a picture that I took a few days ago of a few of my plants. The largest ones in the black pots have now been potted up into the bigger pots (like the plants in the back), and the smaller plants at the front have been separated into individual pots. The weather today is really cold and rainy, hopefully my plants can stay strong for a little bit longer until the sun returns.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Growdrobe v1

It's been a while since my last update, so here's an awesome update to make up for it.
The first version of the growdrobe is complete :) It will be upgraded eventually with more lights, possibly being split into more levels and getting some fans in there, but for now it's working nicely.

It took a lot of fiddling around with cardboard boxes and planks of wood to get all of the plants up towards the top of the wardrobe so they'd be in the warmest area, but I think I've sorted it now.
A couple of days after I'd spent ages putting new door hinges on and  getting them lined up perfectly, something's gone wrong so now the door on the right doesn't open up properly. I'll try to fix that some time soon.
The wiring was a pain too, having to cut holes out of the shelves and walls of the wardrobe to run wires through, but the drill wasn't working properly so I ended up stabbing holes in the wood, then using the blade from a coping saw (without the coping saw, I had to hold the ends in my hands and move it side to side, really hurt my fingers) to widen the hole enough that I could fit the jigsaw in it. It took hours. The hard work paid off though. The area with the plants is the perfect temperature for them, and the heat rises up to warm up the propagators and pots in the top shelf area.

I have 4 propagators in the top area at the moment, I'm really trying to boost the amount of plants that I have because I'll be giving some of them away/possibly selling them soon. The propagators have giant tomatoes, various lettuces and black hungarian, ring of fire, hungarian hot wax and habanero chillies.

There have been a couple of problems along the way though. The picture on the right shows a plant that I have named Burny after it fell over during the night and his poor leaves were rested against a hot light bulb. He's only got 2 real leaves left, I'm hoping that's enough to keep him alive long enough to grow new leaves.

The other plants are doing good though, and are all covered in preflowers, so hopefully I'll have lots of pretty flowers soon so I can experiment with cross pollination and things and then get some lovely chillies :)
Also, check out the mutant melon seedling on the bottom left.

In other news, I've planted a few potatoes and onions. I did try writing a post about it with pictures of the whole process, but I bored myself just writing it, so I didn't think anyone would be interesting.
Oh, and I think I might be buying a greenhouse today, so the plants can go outside into the lovely sunlight and make room for the new seedlings.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Another update

I always try to make these posts really short, but it never works. I have a feeling this is going to be another long one.

My chilli plants are starting to branch out a bit and form flowers, which makes me happy because soon I'll be able to play around with cross-pollination and things for next year's seeds, and of course, I'm one stop closer to harvesting some chillies :)

A few days ago, I was feeling bad about how much chocolate I'd eaten, so I bought a tray of melon chunks and grapes to make me feel healthier. I found a few melon seeds in it and thought I'd try planting them. I didn't really expect anything to grow, shop-bought fruit usually comes from hybrid plants that produce sterile seeds, but one of the seeds I planted popped its head up above the surface today. I doubt it will ever produce melons, I don't have the right environment/enough room in my garden to do that, but I think it's pretty cool that it's growing at all.

All of my current plants, as much as I love them, were just the test batch to see if I could create the right conditions for them inside and whatnot. The test was a success, so now it's time to start planting the real plants. I bought a few more propagators today and made sure they were small enough to fit inside my little growboxes, and I'll be planting about 100 chilli seeds tomorrow, I think.
I bought some rooting powder today, too, so I can start cloning my strongest plants and taking cuttings from nice plants that I see while I'm out and about. I'll be taking some cuttings from my auntie's strawberry plant too, as well as trying to grow some from the runners. Yay for strawberries.

I mentioned a while ago that I'm trying to convert a wardrobe into a much larger and super awesome grow box. I've ordered the things I need to get the basic stuff done (it will be upgraded a lot later on), but most of it is still waiting to be delivered. I thought it would be here today, but maybe the bank holiday and whatnot has slowed it down.

Lastly, here is a picture of my favourite plant, the completely purple, Black Hungarian chilli:

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Quick peek into my box

I'm still waiting for a few things to be delivered, so I can't get back to working on the growdrobe or any of my outdoor planting plans yet :(
So this is just a quick post to show what's going on in my mini box right now. I did have peas and things in there, but they've all been moved outside, so now it's full of chillies and 1 cucumber plant (the plant closest to the camera).

I'm really happy with that box actually, the plants seem to like it and it's really good for germinating seeds (look at the back of the picture, there's some new chillies just coming up). Hopefully I can get my growdrobe sorted soon. I need to move these chillies out of the little box really soon, they're getting too big.

As for the outdoor plants, the bucket of carrots, parsnips and radishes is doing pretty good, despite being regularly attacked by my dog. The radishes have been up for a few days now, and the carrots have just popped their heads up today. No sign of the parsnips yet.
I have another one of those yellow buckets which I will be growing potatoes in as soon as the seed potatoes get here (in a couple of days, hopefully).

Lastly, here's a picture of the grow box that was taken on the 22nd of March to show how much the plants have grown since then:

Monday, 26 March 2012

Another quick update

I'm really bad at updating this blog properly. I'm supposed to be keeping track of every detail of my plant's growth, but I always forget.
I've just separated and repotted all of the bigger chilli plants, so now I don't have to kill off the weaker ones, yay :)
I've also repotted some of the peas, cucumbers and radishes that were in fibre pots, because their roots had started to poke holes in the pots.
Lastly, the yellow bucket with radishes, carrots and parsnips is showing signs of life. Lots of radishes have sprouted, hopefully the carrots and parsnips will be up soon.

Boom, updated.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

What a difference a week makes

It's been a while since I last posted pictures of my chilli plants, and this whole blog is supposed to be about keeping track of my plants' progress, so I think it's time for an update.

That picture on the left shows two jalapeño plants at about 10-15 days old. As you can see, one of them is extremely crooked. I thought it was about time to kill off the weaker plants from the pots with multiple seedlings in, but I wanted to do an experiment first.
I read that you can pinch plant stems so they break slightly, and the broken section will heal and be even stronger and better than before.
The experiment seems to have worked, that particular plant was way behind most of the others, but it's very quickly catching up. It will still have to be killed though, neither of those plants will grow happily if they have to live so close together.

Here's a picture of my chilli plants from just a week ago to show you how quickly they're growing now.

I've bought some more seeds (I think I've developed a seed buying addiction). They're chillies again, but they look so awesome, they're black chillies :) Check them out here on Amazon. I think I should point out how amazing the seller was. I ordered the seeds one afternoon, and they came not the next morning, but the morning after, which was pretty awesome considering it was free delivery. They came in a padded envelope to keep them protected, with a business card in case I need to contact the seller, a nice little packet inside with pictures of the chillies and instructions on how to grow them. The receipt thing even had a hand written thank you on it, with a phone number to ring if I want help with my seeds.
Best customer service I've ever experienced.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Let's take this outside

All of my plants so far have been sown and grown inside, so I decided to plant a few things outside. I planted carrots (chantenay red cored 2), parsnips (hollow crown) and radishes (sparkler 3).

I started with a yellow plasterers bucket that I found in my garden and washed with some watered down bleach to kill any nasty germs that may have been living in it.
Then I filled it up with various compost mixes that I had in my garage. The bottom section was mainly the Wilko multi-purpose compost, because that's lumpier and I thought it might be better for drainage to have it lumpy at the bottom.
The middle layer was mainly the John Innes seed compost, because that's really sandy and I read that carrots like sandy soil. I mixed a bit of the B&Q Value stuff in with it too because the John Innes was a bit too heavy, and the B&Q Value helped with that.
The top layer was a fairly equal mix of B&Q Value with Miracle-Gro potting mix, because they're both really light and my other plants seem to find it a bit easier to sprout through the finer soils.

When I'd eventually finished filling it up and getting a mix of layers that I was happy with, it was time to sow the seeds. I've done a bit of reading online about planting carrots and parsnips, and I found the best way was to scrape a few lines into the soil, sprinkle the seeds thinly in the lines, then fold the edges of the lines over so the seeds have a thin covering of soil.
I put quite a few more seeds in there than I should have, but I'm going to pull up the weakest ones when they start growing, so it won't be a problem.

After that, I tried to fill in most of the other gaps with radish seeds. They're super easy to plant too, I just roughed up the soil a bit, sprinkled seeds over it and then smoothed the soil out again so they were covered.
The reason I planted radishes in with the carrots and parsnips is that I read they grow nicely together. The radishes fill in the empty spaces and finish much quicker than the carrots, so when you pull them up it loosens the soil a bit so the carrots and parsnips can grow better.
Lastly, I gave them a nice big drink of water so they'd be moist enough to germinate.

I'm quite happy with how it turned out, hopefully I'm rewarded with a tasty harvest in a few weeks.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Growbox Construction

Would anyone be interested in seeing pictures of me converting the wardrobe into a grow box? I've already started on the first step (painting the insides white), and I'll just be filling it with lights that I already own and a few other little things that I already own + stuff I'll be buying over the next few days, but I think it might be a nice, basic guide for people growing on a tight budget like me.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Quick Update

I thought I'd post a quick update as it's been a few days since my last post.
I made a new cardboard grow box, the other one just couldn't fit enough pots in, and the new one has 2 bulbs in it, which has obviously had a massive effect on the plants. It was sort of a waste of time building the new one though, as I've just managed to get my hands on a wardrobe that one of my relatives was going to throw out, so I'm in the middle of painting the inside white (it's apparently a better reflector than foil, I'll be upgrading to mylar when I can afford it), installing some fans and finding a good way to fit the lights.

All 8 of the jalapeño seeds I originally planted have germinated, and now I've planted 2 more jalapeño seeds, 2 hungarian hot wax and 2 ring o fire. My habaneros are just barely breaking the surface of the soil now too :)
I'll try to take a picture of all of my baby plants when I move them into the wardrobe.

Also, I'm going to try growing carrots because I was given a packet of seeds. I have a couple of those big plastic buckets (I think they're usually used by bricklayers or something like that) to plant them in. That should be fun :)

I think I'll be buying a couple more lights tomorrow, as the new grow space is quite a lot bigger than my cardboard boxes and will need more lights to keep it properly lit. With the new bulbs I'll have 120 watts of CFL, that should be enough while the plants are still small.

So that concludes the update. Wasn't quite as quick as I'd planned.

Thursday, 8 March 2012


My jalapeño seeds have germinated, yay! The packet that they came in said they could take up to 5 weeks to germinate, but mine only took 8 days. I think that was probably due to the warmth from the light and the heat mat.
Only 1 of them had popped up at first, then I checked on them a few minutes later and I had 6. Hopefully the others will catch up soon.

The box has changed quite a bit since my last post. It's almost completely covered in foil, I have a better light bulb, I've lowered the floor to stop the stretched radishes touching the bulb, and I have a few more seeds in there.
I'm still looking for something more permanent to put them in, but I don't have the money to buy anything decent yet. I do have a more sturdy cardboard box that I might test out, but I want to move away from cardboard. I have a wardrobe thing in the garage that would be perfect, but my sister's claimed it :(

At the moment, the box contains 8 jalapeño seeds, 4 (or 6, I can't remember) habanero seeds, 5 radishes and 2 tomatoes. I planted some new radishes because the stretched ones are a bit weak for obvious reasons, and I want to try growing them properly. Obviously I'll plant a lot more of them later, 5 radishes isn't exactly a great harvest, but I want to get my chillies started first.

The tomatoes are quite amazing (to me, at least), the first one grew even after I knocked the pot over about 5 times, and the second one grew in a pot that I didn't even plant a tomato seed in. I still don't know how that happened, the only thing I can think of is that a seed fell into my compost bag and ended up in a pot when I planted a radish.

Lastly, I've set up a new, temporary growing area in my kitchen. I'm calling it The Plant Hospital, because it was set up to bring some life back to some seriously sick tomatoes and cucumbers that had been hurt by the cold weather today. I know they shouldn't really be outside yet, but I thought they'd appreciate the direct sunlight. Stupid clouds blocked the sun though, and my babies got cold :( They've recovered quite nicely now though, I might keep them in the plant hospital until they're big enough to go outside, they seem to like it more than being on the windowsill.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Mini Growbox Test

I needed somewhere warm and bright to get my chillies started off and to keep them healthy until they're ready to go outside, so I built this box out of scraps I found around the house.

There are 2 jalapeño seeds in each of those 4 'empty' pots. I'll let them all grow a bit, then kill off the weaker ones. I read that that's a good way to make sure you only end up with strong, healthy plants, so I thought I'd see how well it works.

That tall, thin plant is a radish that I put in there as a sort of test subject. I have radishes in other places too (the garden, the kitchen windowsill, an artificially lit propagator etc.), and I compare them all so I can keep a check on which growing environments are working well. They're all a bit stretched though, as you can see in the picture, because they didn't get enough light when they first popped up.

I also have a heat mat underneath them to keep them nice and warm, even when the light's off.

This is just a temporary box, I'll be upgrading to a more solid structure with proper insulation and lighting when I get some more money. I'll also be making little modifications to this box while I save up for the new one, like putting foil on the other sides to help keep the heat in.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

And so it begins

I decided to buy a few seeds and other things from a local shop while I waited for my chilli seeds to be delivered. I bought some cucumber, dwarf tomato and radish seeds, a cheap little propagator, some cheap compost and some miracle-gro compost (to mix with the cheap stuff to give it a little boost).

The propagator has 24 cells, so I decided to use half of it for those seeds and save the other half for my first batch of chillies. I made an oopsie though. After I filled up the 12 cells, I went to put the propagator on my bed while I sorted out a warm place to keep it, and I dropped it, covering my bed in compost and mixing up all of the seeds :(
I picked out all of the seeds that I could find, replanted them and whatnot, but I must have missed a few as some of the cells now have multiple stems coming up.

A little tip for people that don't have heated propagators or an airing cupboard to keep it warm: I put mine on top of a laptop charger and covered the whole thing with a towel to keep some of the heat trapped in. It seems to be doing a great job, I have 7 germinated seeds just 3 or 4 days after planting, whereas my sister's propagator has produced absolutely nothing so far.
I will be upgrading slightly in a few days though, I'm planning on ordering a heat mat to place under the propagator as soon as I get the money for it.

My chilli seeds have arrived now, so I'll have some more posts coming up in the next few days which will show me testing out two methods of germination (wet paper towel/straight into soil) for chilli seeds, some basic propagators that I've made out of water bottles, and the beginnings of my attempt at making an indoor growing box, complete with lighting, air filters and automatic feeding systems.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Buying my first seeds

I'll be buying my seeds from Amazon, as they're a trusted website with a great review system to let me know which seeds are worth buying.
This is the first set of seeds I'm going to buy:

This seed set includes 15 Jalapeño seeds, 15 Hungarian Hot Wax seeds, 15 Habanero seeds and 15 Ring O Fire.
This is a great set to start off with as it has the Jalapeño peppers that I love, with some interesting new peppers for me to try. It's also apparently fairly easy to grow in the UK under the right conditions.

I'm also considering buying Bhut Jolokia seeds, just to see if me and my family and friends can handle the chilli that once held the title of World's Hottest Chilli Pepper, and Piri Piri/Peri Peri seeds, because I love it in sauces and on chicken.

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