Friday, 15 March 2013

Dirty fingernails and a paper pot tutorial

I finally got around to sowing my vegetable seeds. Sweet peas, courgettes, onions, bell peppers and strawberries all went in today. There's more to come, but as I've made a start I can happily relax for a while.

When sowing seeds I usually use these pots.

They make transplanting seedlings quicker, easier and cleaner. They're also much better for them as they avoid disturbing the delicate roots. As the seedlings grows, the roots eventually push through the pot which itself then breaks down harmlessly into the soil.
As I'm a little strapped for cash I thought I would go down the DIY route this year. As well as using egg boxes and toilet roll tubes, I made some out of newspaper. I've heard that paper makes the best biodegradable seedling pots as it's not too restrictive on the plants roots and breaks down the quickest.

And in case anyone would like to make their own paper pots, here's a quick how-to.

Take a sheet from a newspaper (this is a double sheet folded down the middle).

Fold in half length ways again

Fold the paper once more until it's the right size for your tube

Tightly roll the length of paper and then unroll again. This just makes the next step easier.

Tuck the newspaper into itself. This will hold the paper in place, see step 6.

Tighten or loosen the tube until you get it the exact size you want.

Cut tabs along the bottom.

Fold them in on themselves so they create a bottom for you pot. I didn't think this would work as the tabs are not secured with anything, but surprisingly it does work. 
Alternatively, you can skip steps 7-8, scrunch up a little newspaper and stuff it down the bottom of the tube. 

Et voila! Fill them up with soil and get sowing. 

Each year I like to try growing something a bit different. Last time it was gherkins. They started off well, but due to some destructive chickens and a bout of powdery mildew all I managed to harvest were two feeble looking fruits.

This year it's the humble sweet potato. Alessi loves them so I thought I'd give them a go. Turns out, they don't grow in the same way regular potatoes grow. The fact that I've just found this out probably speaks volumes about how successful this experiment will be!

After the pot making and seed sowing, I didn't want to stop so I dotted some primroses around the conservatory, tidied it up (again) and hung up some curtains. The result makes me smile so much.
The room looks inviting again, but most importantly it's clean and not too bright for Alessi who can play in there without squinting. Always a good thing.

And speaking of the little dude, she was awesome company throughout. It was her first healthy day following last week's tummy bug and it was so good to see her little face all lit up and smiley again. She also managed to squeeze a week's worth of mischief into one day. Like chowing down on soil when I wasn't looking.

Or helping herself to the chicken feed. I probably should have stopped her, but somehow documenting the moment seemed more important. Besides, it's got to be better than earwigs.

And then we goofed around with the camera for a bit.
We've had so many illnesses in this house lately that days like this are like gold dust. While I was playing with pots and dirt, I kept thinking about all the chores I was neglecting. The laundry basket was overflowing, dirty dishes sat by the sink..the list went on. Sat here now, with an aching back and dirty fingernails I'm so glad I ignored it all.
There's supposed to be grey skies tomorrow. Perfect washing up weather.

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