Last year I grew begonias in a polystyrene box which originally had been delivered with a butcher’s order. It was reasonably large so I kept it, as I do everything else I think will come in handy one day. The begonias, lovely as they are are non-productive in the food line and my neighbour who loves begonias and dahlias, became heir to the tubers when the plants died down for the season.
He had only taken the tubers so the box and compost was left over winter until I decided what to do with it. Rather naively I had been in the habit of disposing of all spent compost and starting afresh the following year with bags and bags of new compost which turns out to be a fairly expensive habit if you have several containers to fill and not just the odd hanging basket.
I did understand that spent compost can come with residents of various kinds but I would take that risk. I already grow tomatoes in a hydroponic tank and that is only water with nutrients added. The earth box doesn’t get the compost changed, only the central trough gets refilled with fertiliser and that seems to work well. Compost must work the same way, if a plant takes out nutrients, it still leaves the soil so surely it would work by invigorating the compost with fresh nutrients again. Armed with a selection of nutrients such as chicken pellets, blood and bone meal, some commercial fertiliser granules and worm compost, I was ready to create my garden wonderland.
I decided to grow sweet potatoes, a difficult process in the cooler northern British climate so the polystyrene box together with a cloche might just work OK and a chance to try out my recycled compost. I grew O’Henry in the polystyrene box and Carolina Ruby in the black plastic box. It was a good start when neither were killed off. I was especially pleased about that because I had been trying for some time to get sweet potato slips from a sweet potato bought in the supermarket. Having failed miserably on two occasions, I came to the conclusion that they had been irradiated and therefore all regenerative life would have been rendered extinct.
The box with the compost had plenty of worms in it so reckoned they were already helping it along, a good mix with some more nutrients and it was ready. I was delighted to see the sweet potatoes grow, although the polystyrene box seems to have had better results, however, they don’t have to share their box with two begonias and a foxglove!
Why not visit my other blog Grannysattic