February Meeting 2020

GROWING VEGETABLES IN CONTAINERS

The Society may have had to change their meeting day from Tuesday to Thursday but it did not dampen the loyalty of members who turned up on the 27th to hear Barry Newman from the National Vegetable Society enthuse about growing Vegetables in Containers! 

Who would have thought so many different vegetables could be grown in so many different pots?  However it does take a little bit of thought; like fitting the pot to the result you are aiming to achieve!

Barry cultivates his own allotment but with the help of slides he showed what could be done in the smallest of places.  With an eye to climate, terracotta is Barry’s favourite choice of new pot but with so much old plastic around, a lot of which can be recycled, wooden barrels or metal containers there is no end of choice but make sure there are adequate drainage holes… 

Barry also talked about the soil and contrary to common sense purely garden soil is not really the best.   A combination of 50-50 soil and compost will have more of the nutrients that growing crops in a small space need and will enhance results.  Grow bags can be used but it was suggested that their soil depth is not the best although a good way to use them is to stand them on end and open the top giving much better root space and would even be good for potatoes.  Good tips about potatoes in containers, leave just 2 chits (shoots) and better not to treat them as you would in the garden by drawing up the soil over the shoots but place near the bottom of a largish container over good manure and just fill up the pot – slides showed it works.   It helps as well if you can place in a trench allowing the roots to spread into the soil.

Other slides showed sweet corn grown in old wheelie bins and beans in old metal dustbins and it seems we can all have fresh rhubarb grown this way.  Likewise tomatoes and strawberries which are not averse to growing in hanging baskets!

There are so many options – polybags, old tin baths, sinks and for smaller seeds like radish and cut-and-come-again greens, old plastic bottles with a bit sliced off the side make great little troughs for this type of crop.

On the subject of seeds, Barry recommends always looking for the AGM logo (Award of Garden Merit).  These will have been tested to ensure they give good results and special minicrop varieties are now available.  But why stop at vegetables?  With so many dwarf fruit trees now available you can even grown your own apples and pears!

After questions were ably answered at the end of an entertaining informative talk, it was clear members left fired up to squeeze their own pot produce somewhere in their garden or even on the patio.