Hooters Hall

Seed sowing & making a hot bed

I spent today in the polytunnel getting ready for the 2017 growing season. This year I’m going to try growing a variety of sweet peppers. I grew some last year which were quite sucessful but I didn’t really have enough space for them and I didn’t start them early enough so we only had a small harvest.

I’ve bought 13 different varieties this year, all from the Real Seed company. Sweet peppers need to be planted in January / February so they have a long enough growing season but they also need a temperature of about 25 C to germinate. Fortunately I have a heated propagator which is very useful for getting everything germinating early.

Last year I grew my sweet peppers in the raised bed in the polytunnel. This year I’m going to grow them in pots in a hot bed. We’ve made our first hot bed using an easy reach raised bed kit from Solway recycling and a large amount of muck from mucking out the pigs & chickens together with some fresh horse muck from the field and chipped prunnings. The beds are 62cm high and 122cm square which should be big enough to generate a decent amount of heat.

When growing in hot beds you can simply put a shallow soil layer on top of all the muck but I want to experiment with putting pots in the bed so I can easily move plants and also top up the bed when I need to. Once the bed is full I’m going to cover the top with a weed suppressant membrane and then cut holes for the pots which will be embedded in the muck. I’ve got a soil thermometer so I can monitor how hot the bed gets.

The muck in the hot bed will rot down over the next few months but we’ll always have some to add and then at the end of the growimg season I’ll empty the hot beds onto the raised bed and soil beds in the polytunnel to continue improving the soil.

Here’s a picture of the sweet pepper seeds I’m growing, my Vitopod heated propagator and the hot beds in constructions.

The other task for today was potting up some Blueberry plants that I’ve bought. I have a couple of Blueberry Sunshine Blue.

Blueberries need acidic soil so I’m going to grow them in large pots in the polytunnel rather than in the ground. As well as the Sunshine Blue variety I’ve also got three Blueberry Top Hat which is a dwarf variety growing to a height of 50cm when mature. I’ll start the Top Hat blueberry bushes off in the polytunnel then move them to our front porch area in the Summer.

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