Lockdown Growing

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Easy salads and herbs

In these days of having time to spare on our hands but a reluctance to spend it standing in supermarket queues, why not have a go at growing some of your own salads and herbs? You can grow enough in a very modest container to at least spice up some dull lettuce, and if you are more ambitious grow some exciting micro-greens, baby leaves or a full blown mixed salad. (More of that to come)

Rocket is an easy winner in the fast food race. It is tasty to eat, bought in bags are often wilting before you even get them open, and you need very little space to grow a decent amount. Even better, when it ‘bolts’ or starts to flower, you can add the flowers to your salad, and if you keep cutting it down it will just keep growing.



Urban Backyard Gardening

One of the positive outcomes of the Covid-19 lockdown is that many people trapped at home have been inspired to have a go at growing some of their own food. This in turn has meant that there is a shortage of seeds and plants and many suppliers have ceased to take orders.

We at Octopus are keen to keep our Community Plant Nursery active, producing both plants and fresh food to help out other growers and those needing supplies of fresh food to supplement food bank parcels. I along with my Octopus colleagues have been working from home, and being in a vulnerable category, have not been allowed to work outside my home.

As an avid veg grower myself and lucky enough to have my own greenhouse  I had both a decent stockpile of veggie seeds and also lots of tomato plants that I had been growing for a planned Plant Sale at my allotment site. When the Covid-19 crisis prevented our sale from happening I looked for an alternative home for all my surplus plants, especially tomatoes. I arranged for some to be collected from my home by our volunteer who is helping to keep our Plant Nursery open, together with a pile of assorted seeds including lots of salads plants, beetroot, carrots and climbing beans.

Rocket in a Fish Box!

Being a resourceful person, I am currently growing ROCKET in a polystyrene fish box, picked up from outside a fresh-fish shop and given a good wash to remove the smell! It measures about 30cm x 45cm and is around 20cm deep. Filled with some multi-purpose compost and with a few drainage holes punched in the bottom it is the ideal container for the job. Rocket seeds are tiny. Just a couple of small pinches sprinkled finely across compost that has already been moistened will do the job. No need to cover the seed with more compost but a plastic bag or cling film will help keep the seeds moist until they germinate, which should be in 5-7 days. Other suitable containers that would do just as well might be a wooden fruit box lined with some plastic with holes punched in the plastic to allow water to drain through, a window box or just one or two flower pots.

Put your planter in a bright place but not in full sun as the leaves will scorch. In around six weeks you should have leaves suitable for cutting. Snip or pick them off about 0.5 cms from the base of the plant. Other leaves to try in a similar container and just as easy to grow would be mixed lettuce leaves, a salad mix or you could grow some radishes (although once eaten they will need to be sown again).

Herbs to add to your salad can be grown in an even smaller container and will be cheaper and tastier than the shop bought herb post.

Photo of my Rocket in a Fish Box will be coming soon. You can post photos of your Rocket in a Fish Box on our Twitter @OctopusCN.  I am looking forward to seeing them come in.