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.

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