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Thread: First year growing - renter problems!

  1. #1
    Terobi is offline Germinator
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    Default First year growing - renter problems!

    Hey all,

    I'm new to the forum, and to growing food in general! My girlfriend is the black thumb from a family where growing food and raising animals is normal. Meanwhile, I grew up in a dingy, rainy ex-industrial town in the north, it just wasn't a thing we did. Now we've moved in together and have a garden that gets sun in places, we're seeing what we can do.

    One pleasant surprise is that what we initially thought to be a slightly overgrown hedge turned out to be a large wild blackberry bush. Beyond that, though, as our house is rented (and especially as the landlord sends a teenager to mow our lawn every few weeks, which will almost certainly ruin anything we put into the ground), anything we want to plant will have to be container based. Additionally, because our house doesn't have double glazing (hurray for renting!) I'm worried that my house will be too cold to grow plants effectively on windowsills without spending a fortune on heating.

    At the moment I'm aiming to grow tomatoes and chillies, a small selection of herbs, and maybe some soft container-worthy fruits like strawberries or blackcurrants this year. Any suggestions would be welcome!

    So for now I've put a few (ring of fire) chilli seeds in compost in a propagator tray, two per section, watered it to damp and placed it in the airing cupboard inside a sealed sandwich bag.

    I have a cheapo windowsill propagator - and I've ordered a heating mat for use with it. I'm hoping this will at least get my seedlings to potting-on stage without them all dying off - but I'm still a bit worried about what happens after that.

    So, specific areas where (I think) advice is useful;

    1) If my house is still cold, will I have to use a similar hardening process to that used to move things from the house to outside - i.e. a few hours in the house and then back into the warmth, etc.?

    2) As I am limited to container growing, how do I know what size final pots are needed? I've tried to look these up, but they often seem vague and unhelpful. Will planting in an undersized container just cause stunted growth and low yields, or will it kill my plants off entirely?

    3) My kitchen window doesn't get a great deal of direct sunlight. Can I keep anything alive on it, or am I stuck with my herbs and so on in the living room?

    4) As I can't build a proper greenhouse, how can I make sure a mini/temporary one doesn't blow away if it gets a bit windy? I have a few old pallets in the garden that I was considering securing a temporary greenhouse to, and weighting it down with sandbags or something. What do you guys think?

    Cheers for any help you guys can give!

    Jonny
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  2. #2
    burnie is offline Veggie gardener
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    Hi Jonny, if it were me I'd wait a month , then when it's a bit warmer start growing with a view to grow every thing in pots/planters/growbags. Easy to move if you do and protected from random lawn mowers.
    lottie dolly likes this.

  3. #3
    Snoop Puss's Avatar
    Snoop Puss is offline Mature Fruiter
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    Hello and welcome to the Vine, Jonny.

    To answer your questions in order:
    1) Yes, you will still have to harden things off. Your house will be warmer than outside temps, especially at night.
    2) The size of pots you need depends on the plant you're going to put in it. There's no one-size fits all. By and large, the bigger (think courgettes) and deeper (think potatoes) the plant, the bigger the pot you'll need.
    3) Some plants do better out of direct sunlight, so depending on the plant, your kitchen might do fine.
    4) I can't answer this, but if you have a search, you might find some answers to this. It's a problem lots of people have.

    If you can't find the information you're looking for, start a new thread with a fairly specific title. This will make it easier for people to identify whether they can help you.

    General advice: you haven't put your location in your profile. There's a world of difference in climate between northern Scotland and the south of Cornwall. Depending on where you are, it could be way too early to start certain plants off, though that never stopped some members here (see Vegetable Chicken!). If you add your location to your profile, people will be able to give better targeted advice.

    Good luck. Hope you have lots of fun growing your own.
    Note to self: Getting too old not to have a life.

  4. #4
    Terobi is offline Germinator
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    Quote Originally Posted by burnie View Post
    Hi Jonny, if it were me I'd wait a month , then when it's a bit warmer start growing with a view to grow every thing in pots/planters/growbags. Easy to move if you do and protected from random lawn mowers.
    Hi burnie,

    Thanks for the response!

    I've read around a bit and I think you're right, so I've held off on everything else for the time being. However, from what I've read, reasonably hot varieties of chillis should be planted earlier in cold climates, else there's a risk they won't mature enough to bear fruit by the end of the season. Is this not the case or have I misunderstood something?
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  5. #5
    Terobi is offline Germinator
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snoop Puss View Post
    Hello and welcome to the Vine, Jonny.

    To answer your questions in order:
    1) Yes, you will still have to harden things off. Your house will be warmer than outside temps, especially at night.
    2) The size of pots you need depends on the plant you're going to put in it. There's no one-size fits all. By and large, the bigger (think courgettes) and deeper (think potatoes) the plant, the bigger the pot you'll need.
    3) Some plants do better out of direct sunlight, so depending on the plant, your kitchen might do fine.
    4) I can't answer this, but if you have a search, you might find some answers to this. It's a problem lots of people have.

    If you can't find the information you're looking for, start a new thread with a fairly specific title. This will make it easier for people to identify whether they can help you.

    General advice: you haven't put your location in your profile. There's a world of difference in climate between northern Scotland and the south of Cornwall. Depending on where you are, it could be way too early to start certain plants off, though that never stopped some members here (see Vegetable Chicken!). If you add your location to your profile, people will be able to give better targeted advice.

    Good luck. Hope you have lots of fun growing your own.
    Hi and thanks for the pointers!

    I'm in Manchester.

    I did actually try to edit my profile several times to include this info but it keeps telling me I lack the authorisation.
    Snoop Puss and Jungle Jane like this.

  6. #6
    veggiechicken's Avatar
    veggiechicken is offline Warning, May contain nuts
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    Hi Jonny and welcome to the wonderful world of Grow Your Own.
    Lots of us grow veg and fruit in pots - one of our favourite pots is referred to as the MFB, or Morrison's Flower Bucket!. Morrison's sell about 8 used cut flower buckets for 99p and they're a good size to grow lots of veggies - spuds, carrots, tomatoes, salad leaves. Next time you're in the store, snap up a few and make some drainage holes in the bottom or sides. Use a couple of bags of compost or growbags to fill them, and you've started your Allpotment. http://www.growfruitandveg.co.uk/gra...ent_93105.html
    By the way, everyone mocks me on here (like Snoop Puss ^^^) because I do things differently, so when I say I've sown my cucumbers and courgettes in January, its not what sensible people do. If others support me and say they do it too, its probably "sensible" advice and you could try it, if they all call me Nuts, its best you don't try it.

    You won't be able to add your location to your profile until you've made a few more posts, but you could tell us where you live in as that would help us to help you.
    Happy gardening.
    A Chicken walks with small steps. Be more Chicken
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  7. #7
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    Zelenina is offline Cropper
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    Hi Terobi and welcome!

    A propagator, even with a heat mat, is only good for germinating seeds. You'll have to take the seedlings out as soon as they're up. So I also advise sowing non-hardy veggies later, unless you have growlights or a heated greenhouse or conservatory. Maybe in March, or for tomatoes even April because they grow faster. I'm not sowing mine yet for sure. You might not have such sunny weather in Manchester but your plants will love the the long daylight hours of summer.

    Ring of Fire should do fine in containers. I also recommend you try lemon Drop and/or Aji Omnicolor. These are Capsicum baccatum, a differernt species from the more usual C. annuum peppers and chillies. They are easy to grow and can tolerate cooler conditions once they are mature plants, and can be overwintered more easily for a quicker start the next year.

    They are also just as good for cooking, or maybe better, before they are ripe, so lack of ripening isn't such a problem. These two varieties are more compact than many of their species, though Lemon Drop is less compact that Aji Omnicolor. Both do well in flower buckets and can be very prolific as well as decorative.
    .
    Last edited by Zelenina; 01-02-2018 at 11:30 PM.
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  8. #8
    Mr Bones's Avatar
    Mr Bones is offline Early Fruiter
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    Hi Terobi, I can't add anything to the above but welcome to the Vine

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