Saturday, 23 May 2020

Vivigrow Soil-Less Planting

I haven't grown tomatoes in years, something I have never been very successful at. Whilst in lock down I have Facetimed my sister loads. She is a big veg grower and told me about these tomatoes she had found, that if left on the plant 'self dry'.
I always like to try something new and bearing in mind I had sold/given all my tomato growing 'stuff' away it meant starting from scratch. The problem with my greenhouse is it is in a south facing garden and even with shading it gets extremely hot and no matter how much watering I do it never seems enough.
So I did a bit of research and came across a website Greenhouse Sensation where I found Hydroponic Planters. Hydroponics has always fascinated me and I was delighted to find a rather interesting piece of kit 'Vivigrow' and yes I went mad and bought a kit and a very large parcel arrived.

Inside was everything I needed, it all looked very scary. .

 I had to make up bottles A & B and I wrote on them so I didn't get them mixed up. Eventually during the set up I will have to add 3ml of bottle of A to the water and then 3ml of bottle B has to be added separately.

The all important pump.

So off I went to the greenhouse with the Vivigrow kit.

Apologies for the reflection in the above pic it was very sunny when I set this up.

The pump outlet, pumps water with added nutrients from the reservoir below to the growing area on top. The fun bit was getting the PH level correct.

I live in a very hard water area so it took a number of goes, the above is our water with only the nutrients added after an hour of running. The PH is supposed to be between 6.2 and 7.2.

Because it was way off and at the top of the scale I had to add the 'downer' and run again for another 1 hour and as you can see it went to the opposite end of the scale.

To achieve this I had to bail out about 1 litre of water from the reservoir and add 1 litre of tap water and we got there in the end.

So in went my tomato plants that I had potted up. Yes the whole plant soil and all went through the little hole to sit on the membrane and thats it. I have to check the reservoir to make sure it doesn't drop below the pump. Pump it out every 3-4 weeks and refresh the water going through the same PH checks. But being in a nardwater area I have to do regular PH checks.

The photo above and below was taken after just 2 days, you can see the roots stretching out to the membrane.

Its quite odd not going down all the time to water.

The photo above and below are on day 5. The roots are really going for it. I find it a bit creepy but fascinating as well.

The plants themselves are looking really good.

I have to rig up something called a 'yoyo' which is a string support for the plants. I will keep you posted on how my new hydroponics system goes and how the tomatoes grow.
Lots more to come as the great big plant out begins for me.

Friday, 15 May 2020

Frost fried plants!!

It was just as well I protected my plants earlier this week, but as you will see from the following pics, I probably didn't protect them enough!!

This was the sight that greeted us early Tuesday morning, a -2.3C frost and what has caused most of the damage.
We had another lighter frost last night 0C

The tree ferns are a bit brown round the edges.

Both the Paulowina have been hit even though they were double bagged!!

I learnt many years ago when I first got these never to rub of the growing points until I am sure all frost has passed. hence all the growth points, as you can see some are ok and some are not!

Random buckets and tubs used for frost protection, fortuately my neighbours are quite used to seeing me dashing madly around the garden late at night because a frost is due.

As you can see Lobelia Tupa (left), Canna Cleopatra (middle) and a dahlia (right) have come through unscathed, but  had to dispatch a number of  unwanted baby slugs that had also taken shelter under the boxes.

The Cyphomandra corymbifolia has survived just, I think, we will see over the next few weeks. This was wrapped and bagged.

Good old 'Colocasia Pink China' only had a fleece sheet over it and seems fine.

Solanum laciniatum, wrapped in fleece is looking a bit brown!!

Canna Stutgard, has survived.

This TRex had a very large plastic plant pot over it and seems to have come through unscathed.

Whereas this one, further down the garden and double bagged has been 'fried' for the 2nd time this year!

The Gunnera had a whopping great tarpaulin over it and still got caught.

My Washingtonia filifera and Cyathea only covered by a tarpaulin came through fine. 

I must admit it is not often, we get such a heavy frost at this time of year. This is one of the challenges I have when I choose to grow these different types of plants!!

Lets hope the weather improves and all the plants I have waiting in my greenhouse will at long last be able to come out.

Sunday, 10 May 2020

Frost Warning in May

Normally I don't worry about a frost but, after the beautiful weather we have been having in April the garden has really begun to sprout. The TRex, which had already been frosted earlier has really got going. The Canna, Dahlia, elephants ears, have really got going as well.
So we have a predicted low of 1C, Monday, 4C Tuesday and 2C Wednesday. But as you know living in a frost pocket I expect lower, quite a bit lower.

So we have been preparing, both the Paulowina's  growing tips of which there are a few, I usually let them grow until I decide the direction I want them to go.

 These would be easily frosted.

Canna and Colocasia (Elephant Ears) all covered, under the frame on the right which is wrapped in fleece is a Solonum laciniatum.

As you can see I have covers dotted round the garden.

Under this tarpaulin, is the Gunnera,

My Washingtonia filifera's and Cyathea are under the blue tarp. I would put them back in the greenhouse but there is no room!!!

I'm sure the arid bed will be fine  I am just being cautious.

The Trex, my lovely neighbour loaned me these fleece bags.

Looks funny from the other direction.

I expect, nothing will come of the frost, but I would be devestated if all the growing tips where damaged and set back the plants, especially after they have had such a good start.
We will have to see.

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Colour or lack of it!!

It is exactly a week since I last blogged and to be honest I haven't really been outside much apart from a trip down to the greenhouse to water or prick out.

I took some of the bubblewrap down as it was just getting so hot in here and even put up some shading.

The trays and pots on the shelf above are all doing well.

At least two  of the trays on the 2nd shelf above  need potting on.

 Four trays on the left hand shelf above need potting on to. The Ensete were out but I brought them back in as some of the nighttime temperatures are just a little to low for my liking.

More little seedlings growing on.

The new bed is flourishing and is obviously enjoying the rain.

Quite chuffed with how well its turned out.

My garden is not a winter garden, because the plants I grow can often be tender or delicate and are not reliable at reappearing the next year, I rely on a lot of seed grown plants, but I have one or two ordinary plants that show there colours beautifully at this time of year and I don't always share.

A beautiful Acer, had it for donkeys years, no idea of the name but I love the acidic green leaves.

 Acer Garnet, I believe the one above is. I love acers but find them very difficult to get through the spring, I was assured this would do well next to a pond and lo and behold it has come through albeit a very mild winter!

 Another larger Acer, was in a pot till last year I decided to release it into the garden, again another lovel coloured leaf but also sadly prone to frost damage.

Below some self seeding Honesty, stunning coloured cerise flowers, I do like a bit of pink!!

Lurking behind the Gunnera, I spotted this clematis flower, which surprise me. A couple of ears back I bought one of those 'cheap' Clematis in cardboard box that look half dead and you get in supermarkets for a silly price. Well I found one that looked alive and planted it. Saw nothing of it that year or last year so assumed I had lost my £1.99. But obviously not, it lives!!

Scilla Peruviana I believe, although my picture does not do it justice it is the most beautiful purple colour.

Another plant I thought had died  Euphorbia amygdaloides Purpurea, will look a lot better when its in a bigger clump.

So a little bit of unusual colour in my garden at this time of year!!