coco fibre the next gold

Peat to be Banned – For All Plant Growers

Peat to be Banned

Peat to be Banned

So the government in their wisdom have finally decided to put a time limit on the total ban of using peat. Of course peat has been the central material for all growers and gardeners. Especially for the making of compost. In the past few years then garden centres and peat suppliers have been working on a self imposed ban. However, this does not appear to have done the trick. Bowing from the environmentalist lobbies the UK government have decide to impose a legal banning date.

Personally then I am not concerned because other materials that will do the same job ,if not better will be available. First thing to mind is the now well used “Coco” derived from the husks of the coconut during the seeds transformation in to different types of food product. Also better know to the standard gardener is materials. Such as rotted wood-waste, used mushroom compost, composted garden materials or green kitchen waste, leaf mould or well-rotted farmyard manure are more effective and less expensive soil enrichers.

I suspect though that the use of “Coco” is a going to continue as a favourite. So, this replacement is very similar to garden peat. Consequently, Coco fibre is lighter in texture and feels very much a lighter version of peat. Of course as I have mentioned the famous grow media is made from pure coco fibre. Both organic and resourceful. The coco product ensures a perfect air and water retention ratio. Available from all the Hydrostore shops and online the product is part of Canna’s high-performance grow media range. Importantly, which ensure rich root growth and accelerated plant development. Of course every much as good as the now to be banned peat.

Stocking up could be a good idea!

Subsequently, there are many good articles for my readers to digest. About the reasons that stop using peat will do for the planet. Of course, if you believe in this sort of stuff! Personally then I have an open mind about these things. So, as long as there will be good alternatives then perhaps we should not worry too much about it.

So to conclude this important message I think it would be prudent for any large user and supplier of the Coco option to buy plenty of stock in if possible. This ban could go global and I am sure that the world supply of Coco will be stretched to the limit. This will also be a target for Entrepreneurs eager to make a fast buck out of the situation.

I am old enough to remember a sugar crisis and shortages led to rich people filling warehouses with the stuff and making a fortune out of it. Product shortages always lead to inflated prices and I cant see why this wont effect the Coco fibre industry! So watch this space.

is may warming up

Is May Warming Up!

Is May Warming Up!

Is May Warming Up!

So, as I have mentioned many times 2021 has become one of the coldest on record. Importantly, gardeners and all growers of plants need the weather to be warming up as we get into the month of May. Consequently, I am writing this article half way through the month. On checking the 10 day weather forecast then I am over the moon to see that the threat of frost has now subsided.

Although I am still taking caution then I am going to through caution to the wind and get ready for the outdoor plants. Of course , it means in my case that the lemon and orange plants can now go outside for the summer. Therefore my greenhouse can be cleaned out and get ready for my new season tomato plants. I will grow twelve plants down the length of the greenhouse.

12 pot Autopot system

For the second time then this year I will be using the Autopot twelve pot system. My system was purchased online from the Leeds Hydrostore at the start of last years growing season. However last years weather was totally different to this miserable cold year. We were at the start of lockdown and the weather was scorching hot. Just the start that us growers require for a good start. Of course this year will be different. Especially outdoor growers where the soil is still very cold!

Fortunately, I have a greenhouse, providing early heat by using an electric greenhouse heater. So, as a growing medium then this year I will try “CANNA Coco Pebble Mix“. Last year I mixed my own so this year I will try the ready mixed, mainly because it should be a little easier and time saving.

As you can see in the image that my pots are all set out and connected to the water tank to check that the water flows into the system correctly. In the background the plants are all waiting to be planted. This year I was going to grow some American varieties such as “Kellogg’s breakfast” . However, because of the lower temperatures early on then I have decided to stick to varieties to grow in lower temperatures. This attached link “cold weather tomato varieties” gives a good list of some of these varieties.

I could go for the well known tomato varieties.

Of course I will keep my readers informed and which plants I eventually decided to grow. Mind mind is still swinging towards some of the more common and well tried varieties such as Money Maker, Alicante and Ailsa Craig. Also Beefsteak varieties are now popular and I will grow a few of these.

Finally one of the reasons that I decided to go with the “Autopot ” system. Of course, was that my plants will still be fed and watered, if I need to take a short break. In the past then I found it difficult to go away and find someone to look after plants correctly.


Growing Strawberries using Hydroponics

Growing Strawberries using Hydroponics

Growing Strawberries using Hydroponics

This time of year is synonymous with growing sweet, ripe and succulent strawberries. In my opinion it probably the most liked fruit in the UK. So, it is certainly mine and I have already started the ball rolling by buying some bare rooted plants from the famous Scottish fruit growers “Ken Muir“. Strawberries come in a few different varieties, which are Early Midsummer, Midsummer, Late Summer, and perpetual.

So ,I am growing some mid and late summer varieties for a little variation. I must confess that I will be splitting the growing methods this year. Bare rooted plants should be planted as soon as the arrive from the growers. Subsequently, then I planted the bare roots on arrival in individual three inch pot. The pots were squeezed into a space in my heated greenhouse. Since then they have now started good growth and are at the moment outside hardening off.

This year however will be a bit different. So I will wash the roots off and grow six plants using the hydroponic system. of course the rest will be planted out using the more conventional soil method in a wooden crate.

Quicker fruiting expected in Hydroponic system

According to my reading then strawberries will produce fruit much quicker when grown hydraulically. I am looking forward to my experiment and am also thinking that the fruit will be kept cleaner and free from the dreaded slugs. So, The ones grown in the wooden crate will require protection from the fruit being splashed. like all my experiments the I will keep the readers of my blogs informed.

Excitedly, I believe that strawberries can be grown throughout the year using a heated facility along with lighting equipment. So, I should have enough room in my heated greenhouse to try this out. I can root cuttings the the many runners that strawberries produce in any growing season.

Although, it looks like the strawberries require any special attention then it is worth a mention about the plants crown. So, when planting strawberries you must not plant them too deeply. The plants have a crown which must protrude above the growing medium whichever method of growing that may be used. Consequently, if planted too deeply then the strawberries can become susceptible to root rot and botrytis and quickly die off.

Finally, growing pots and air pumps can be purchased online or collected from your Hydrostore Wakefield branch.

growing the Kratky system

The Kratky system

The Kratky system

The Kratky system

So here we are at the beginning of May 2021. This is important to me because it is my birthday on the 6th. Consequently, I can also remember the weather in that particular week. Traditionally the early may weather is hot and sunny. Unfortunately, according to the forecasters then this year will be much different. Frustratingly, we have just survived the coldest April since 1922 and as growers and gardeners then dont we know it !

Gardening, techniques include having to move things about to fit other things into. As I look out of my office window the weather is dreadful! Heavy rain and windy making it feel very cold. Unfortunately, my citrus plants are holding up my circle of planting. So, when my citrus goes outside then my hydroponics grown tomatoes can go in. Because of the cold then I am about three weeks behind this year.

With past experience then I realise that the weather can catch up over night! Lets hope so. So, as I have written in some of my earlier posts then I am really looking forward to growing by using one of the Kratky methods.

Who was Kratky ?

Kratky was a guy studying in the “University of Hawaii“. B.A.Kratky discovered a method of growing plants by using “Deep Water Culture“. Subsequently, his simple system would be used without the use of an electric pump. So making the growing system simple and easy to use. His growing method was simple and easy to use, developing into perhaps six split off systems. So, making growing plants possible in all situations. Including growing indoors with the aid of grow lights .

However the actual system of hydronic growing came from a succession of people experimenting in soilless growing conditions up to the emergence of Professor Gericke. Professor Gericke experimented at the University of California” in the 1920’s and 30’s. By growing tomatoes in commercial sized buildings. His experimentation lead to the growth of tomato vines growing to twenty five feet long. Of course by not using soil but water and a mineral nutrients solution. In 1937 prompted by a phycologist (W A Setchell) he introduced the name of the new growing system as water culture and hydroponics.

Of course the system moved forward at a rapid pace up to the huge amount of technical aid now used in hydroponics and its derivatives. Of course the Kratky system is perhaps the basic way of growing . Requiring no electrical aids. However, because the system doesn’t use any form of aeration then problems can occur with temperature spikes. Say if the weather gets very hot the solution can become stagnant with blooms of algae growing in the solution mix.

Air pump the solution for algae growth

The obvious solution to this is to add an air pump into the system. This added air will oxygenate the growing solution. Importantly, the plants roots will have a good access to oxygen. Accordingly, the pumped air will regulate the temperature of the growing solution cutting the levels of any algae growth due to heated stagnation. So, I will adding a small aquarium pump to oxygenate my hydrotropic tanks (As soon as the weather warms up ) .

So, at the moment I have collected my plastic boxes and mesh pots to start my salad growing hydroponics system to kick off and cant wait!

All equipment can be purchased in the York area from Hydrostore York.