Introduction: Grow Your Own... Beans and Tomatoes
Welcome to the first in my series about gardening. It's all about food and food miles. You're set on a magical journey (and it really is quite something if you've never done it before) learning how to feed yourself cheaply and efficiently using all kinds of odds and ends.
In this episode, we'll be looking at pots and seeds. There's not much to growing seeds - you put them in the ground and within a few days or weeks suddenly that small spec of dirt has germinated into a small green plant.
We are going to make use of recycled materials where possible. You will need:
1) Seeds (runner beans or tomatoes)
3) Toilet roll innards
4) plastic tray - you could use the plastic (washed) tray your old beans/chicken legs etc came in, or like in this example a seed tray.
You could just fill a seed tray with earth - but if you're using a very shallow plastic meat tray for instance, this just isn't practical. Toilet roll innards provide more depth for the roots and are biodegradable. I only used a seed tray because we don't generally buy stuff in plastic trays - most our veg comes in paper bags from the grocers or our allotment. Enjoy...
Step 1: Preparing the 'tray'
First take about 28 toilet rolls. Use them, ideally in the way nature intended and discard the tissue, we really don't want to see that again. Take the innards that you get in the middle of a loo roll and put them in a seed tray (as many as you need to fill the tray, or until you run out). They will have difficulty standing up until they are filled. Ideally you'll need a flat surface too...
Step 2: Filling Time
Fill the tubes around 1/2 full of compost and use your fingers to compact the soil down (ie poke them right into the bottom to compress the soil against the bottom of the container). This forms a firm base to the bottom of the biodegradable pot so when you pick it up, the contents doesn't just empty itself on your feet.
Step 3: Continue Filling
The idea is to fill the rest of the tube with soil to the top. Since we're going to fill them to the top and seeds require different amounts of soil, pay attention to the packet but not until you've watered it down in the next step - compost is full of air and will compress massively. Beans usually need to be about an inch under ground whereas tomatoes require just a small amount of coverage (a fine dusting).
We're going to pre water these in the next step which stops the soil (and tomato seed) from floating out!
Step 4: Watering
Before we water it's time to transfer them out of the tray - if you have two trays it is much easier - this'll allow you to get the compost that has fallen down the gap between tubes back into the bag. Once this has been done (or if you don't care about wasted soil, just carry on below...
Watering requires 1337 n1nj4 skills - water wrong and you'll get wet feet and extra mess to wipe up. Unless you're sensible and doing it outside (rather than a disused 5KG Cadburies chocolate bar box. Yes I'll be diabetic soon, but so much chocolate mmmmm).
The water compacts down the soil and unsurprisingly soaks the cardboard tube - that's why we fill the tube right up to the top and carry on topping up with soil as required.
Step 5: Sowing
To sow a seed you just put it on the top of the tube and erm, cover with soil. Difficult huh? Different seeds required different depths as I've said in step 3. These have tomato seeds - I could have sown the beans in this one, but I'd already planted them during my first go at this. Cover in soil, water a little and put on a sunny windowsil
Step 6: Wait...
This is my sunny windowsill - south facing is best. Soon you'll see sprouts coming out of the top and hey presto, bean/tomato plants.
You only need to water when the cardboard tube looks dry - it's fairly difficult to overwater them when they are like this as the seeds get plenty of drainage and the cardboard tube indicates when they are a little too dry.
I will update this instructable with photos over the coming weeks and months with shots of the seeds as they germinate.
Anyone can do this - I live in a flat.