Going Potty


Betty Kehoe

Now that all our birds have flown the nest, we are in the process of downsizing. We sold our house early last year and we are currently renting a house in Rosslare, while our new house is being built. I am so looking forward to our new garden and greenhouse!

The biggest challenge we faced last year was, having no garden or greenhouse to grow our own delicious home grown fruit and vegetables. We couldn’t bear the thoughts of not having a constant supply of produce, so we got the thinking caps on and decided to go potty.

We are serious home composters and luckily we had a stash of beautiful, finished, home compost which we bagged up and brought with us to Rosslare, when moving house. Well, we were not going to leave it behind after all the love and attention we showered on it!

Us gardeners get very ‘precious’ about our home compost.

Growing food crops in containers is a bit of a learning curve but we had some experience of container gardening. The quality of compost is key to successful container growing.

The first thing we did was make a list of what crops were most important and most likely to thrive in containers, on an exposed patio by the sea.

The next thing was to source seeds and get them started in warm conditions. We were lucky that our house had a lovely conservatory which was temporarily turned into a seedling nursery.

We mixed some of our finely riddled home compost with sand for our seed trays and had great success with all seeds. Then we pricked off the seedlings into small pots and grew them on in the conservatory until it was warm enough to harden them off and get them ready for transplanting.

We acquired lots of large containers and plastic trugs and filled them with our nutritious home compost. There were some woody bits in the compost so we riddled it, so as not to attract the natural composters, woodlice, who are quite partial to nibbles of tender salad leaves and strawberries for desert.

We planted potatoes in large pots, building up the compost as the stalks grew. These were a great success. But the interesting thing about growing spuds in pots is, the fewer number of tubers, the greater the crop.

We grew lots of salad leaves, tomato plants, basil, beets, carrots, spinach, scallions, garlic, peas, mangetout, strawberries, blueberries, various herbs, potatoes, autumn raspberries, dwarf french beans, celery, and rhubarb. The only failure was rhubarb. It grew, but the pots did not supply enough root space to produce good stems. We can plant it into the ground when our building is complete, and bed it down with lots of compost.

The compost was amazing. Compared to the normal bagged commercial compost, well, there was no comparison. It was easy to water and rehydrate and had a lovely crumbly texture compared to a dusty dry texture of commercial compost. The crops loved it and thrived. You can always judge a good compost when you taste lettuce. If the compost is poor, the lettuce is bitter.

Our compost was made from, grass clippings, shredded shrubbery, 50:50, sea weed layer and a layer of comfrey leaves, all cut very small, mixed and kept moist.

Our plant food was, worm compost tea. Now, that’s a story for another day.

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