From compost bag to planter in three easy steps

A little bit of cheap and cheerful upcycling. Don’t throw away the bags your compost comes in; turn them into plant containers.

Here’s how.

1. When you get your compost, open the bag by slicing it across the top.

When you get your compost, open the bag by slicing it across the top
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Help! Our radishes have bolted!

We were just getting over the shock of discovering that we really like radishes when our plants stopped producing the tasty and colourful edible roots that had become a regular feature on our dinner plates.

When we first sowed the aptly named Scarlet Globe back at the beginning of April, neither of us liked radishes. I’m not quite sure why we planted so many. We had new raised beds to fill and had somehow acquired the seeds, so thought we’d give them a go. Β And thank goodness we did: they are delicious! We’ve had them in salads, roasted them and even added them to curries.

A bunch of Scarlet Globe radishes

Scarlet Globe

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Choosing the right fertiliserΒ 

Fertilisers provide plant nutrients. But what nutrients do your plants need and how do you know what to use?

Garden centre shelf full of an array of different fertilisers
I should mention right up front that this article has been a long time in the making. There has been much debate at Quest for Veg HQ about what to include and how to make it easy to understand. We have tried to produce a simple, readable guide to a complicated and sciency area. If you have any questions or suggestions, please let us know.
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Setting up our tunnel cloche

It had no instructions, some of the parts were missing and the box had been partially eaten by snails.

But we weren’t going to let those sorts of details put us off trying to erect the tunnel cloche we inherited from the previous plot holder.

And besides, the greenhouse was overflowing with plants and the risk of frost diminishing daily. It was time to think about moving our plants to the plot. We would need a structure to give them a little bit of protection while they were hardening off.

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Preventing damping off disease

A zinnia seedlings which has gone brown at the base of its stem

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It looks like we’ve been visited by damping off disease. We found this little zinnia seedling flopped over, and going brown from the base of the stem upwards.

It looks as though we have been lucky in that we only seem to have lost three zinnia seedlings to date. It can wipe out a patch of seedlings in a tray or spread to the whole tray or beyond.

What causes damping off?

Damping off is caused by several types of organism, particularly certain types of fungi and bacteria. They live in the soil and are usually carried by water.
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Our first harvest

Quite unexpectedly, Andrew spotted a radish that looked ready to eat. 

He carefully extracted it from the soil and here it is: the first vegetable to be sown and harvested on the Quest for Veg plot.

Our first harvest was a small radish

Radish Scarlet Globe

We carefully carried this little jewel home to wash it and try it.

I should say at this point that neither Andrew nor I like radishes. I have wondered why we are growing so many. So we were a little bit apprehensive as we sliced into this tiny prize.
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End of April tour of the plot

On the face of it, the allotment looks pretty similar to how it looked at the end of March. This is partly because much of the obvious activity has happened in the greenhouse, and partly because the things that we’ve planted – mainly potatoes – have yet to show much growth.

But we have come a long way. It’s good to look back to remind ourselves of the progress we’re making.

April started with the exciting news that our blog was featured in Grow Your Own magazine.

Page from Grow Your Own magazine featuring our blog
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We’ve been sent some seeds to try

We all like to be asked our opinion, right? So, when Westland got in touch and asked if we’d be interesting in trialling and reviewing some of their products, of course we said yes.

As a start, they sent us some seeds from their Bursting with Flavour range.

The six packets of seeds we received

According to the Westland website, the Bursting with Flavour range has been designed: “… to help food enthusiasts reach new flavour heights in their home-cooked meals. The range includes a mix of easy to grow fruit, vegetable and herb seeds that can be grown in small spaces …”

I think that here at Quest for Veg we can safely be described as food enthusiasts!

The seeds we received were:

Here’s Andrew sowing the tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers in the greenhouse, and the radishes in a raised bed in the allotment:

We’ll sow the carrots and beetroot as soon as we get the beds prepared.

One thing that did strike us was that for the ones we sowed in the greenhouse: there were not many seeds in each packet. The average packet contents for the peppers is just six, and the tomatoes and cucumbers ten in each. At Β£2.99 per pack, I think if we were buying these in the garden centre, we’d probably choose a variety with more seeds in the packet – we do like to feel we’re getting our money’s worth! But if space is at a premium, or you’re looking for something promising more flavour, why not give these a try?

I am happy to report that we will probably not go short of beetroot (200 per pack),  radish (400 per pack) or carrots (500 per pack).