This week I am going to give you an update on any new developments in our polytunnel and I have a Solar Quadgrow to unpack and set up.
The Sweetcorn we planted last week is doing extremely well, 22 of the 24 seeds I sowed have so for germinated and are currently standing at 1 cm tall, these will remain in the propagator until they are around 10 cm tall before they are planted out in our raised beds.
As the seedlings grow it is essential that the vents in the propagator are gradually opened to decrease the humidity and help prevent the shoots from damping off.
Elsewhere around the polytunnel the warm weather has brought everything into flower, most impressive is the heirloom tomato ‘Brandywine’ pictured below.
Brandywine tomato flower
As well as the tomatoes the cucumbers and courgettes are in full flower providing us with bright yellow and orange flowers, contrasting with this is the deep purple of the aubergines. Of course you don’t have to wait for these to produce fruit. Courgette flowers make a delicious snack when they are stuffed with ricotta cheese and deep fried.
On the subject of Courgettes, I found a fruit developing this morning. These courgettes are the defender variety and should be left on the plant until they are around 7 cm long, picking regularly will keep the plant productive and ensure your courgettes are as tasty as possible.
Courgette defender fruit
Now that the majority of plants are in flower it is worth considering the pollinating insects. If like me you are growing your plants in a polytunnel or greenhouse you might want to leave the door open during the day, both to allow air and insects in. If you are growing a self-pollinating plant like a chilli and you notice a lot of the flowers falling off without producing fruit you may want to give the plant a gentle shake to encourage the flowers to pollinate. For many plants you should be picking the fruit on a regular basis when its ripe, this will not only keep you from having too much fruit ripe at once but will also keep the plant productive. Below are a few chillies which were ripe this morning the two smaller ones are the variety Hungarian Black, our plant has 20 more fruit waiting to be ripe and ready to be picked.
Next I have a Solar Quadgrow to unpack and set up.
The solar Quadgrow is a new planter based on out best-selling Quadgrow but with the added benefit of solar-powered drippers which enable us to use super-aerated no water-retaining Hydro-Coco instead of compost, resulting in the plant roots having excellent access to air.
So onto the assembly, you set up the reservoir in the same way as you would an ordinary Quadgrow, just ensure it is on a level surface in a suitable growing position. The pump and solar panel come packaged together, all you need to do is place the pump in the centre of you reservoir and choose a spot for the solar panel where it is not going to get shaded from foliage. After this you will need to cover the reservoir with the feeder tray and insert the dripper tubes into the pump.
Pump and Solar Panel
Position of Solar Quadgrow
Plants potted in Hydro-coco
Next we need to look at what is going to grow in the planter. This particular planter is well suited to tall-cropping plants therefore we will be planting Aubergine, Tomato, Chilli and French Bean. These are planted in same way you would an ordinary Quadgrow, the only difference being the growing medium. They are then place on the Smart Reservoir with the wicks running through the holes in the feeder tray and two dripper tubes inserted into each pot.
Inserting the drippers
Solar Quadgrow in place