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Gardening Articles for week ending 24th March 2018

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Written by Wally Richards.


I am a big fan of growing plants in containers and being doing so for more years than I care to remember.
Originally it used to be growing indoor plants which we called pot plants; but now days likely that name means growing a specific type of plant called Pot.
Growing plants in containers has some advantages and some disadvantages which we will look at both of these aspects.
To grow house plants or in door plants for decoration and to help purify the air inside your home you need to use containers unless you have a specifically designed home and have an indoor garden.
Indoor plants are a challenge to grow successfully because of the light levels aspect and the humidity problems.
Various types of house plants have different light level requirements and a good indication of this is the leaf size.
Small leaf plants such as maidenhair ferns need a good strong bright light but not strong direct sunlight from a north facing window (if close to the window)
Large leaf plants such as philodendrons will tolerate a much lower light level once they adjust to it.
Houses do not have natural light from overhead instead natural light is only through windows.
This is sideways light which means plants have a tendency to grow towards the light and stretch.
Even on a north facing window sill a recently germinated seedling will stretch to the window and likely spoil.
North facing windows will have the strongest light levels as long as outside trees or other structures are not blocking the direct light. Suitable for bright light plants including indoor flowering plants.
South facing windows will only be getting reflected light. There it is only suitable for low light plants.
East facing windows receive early morning direct sun only where west facing window receive only afternoon sun directly. Suitable for low to medium light plants.
The further away from the window we go the great is the reduction of light and in fact the area directly in front of the window and within the first metre of the window is the ultimate light level from that window. Beyond a metre the light intensity drops sharply.
Next problem indoors is the time of the year as during winter the amount of light during the day drops to about 8 hours and the strength of that light is also reduced.
In the height of summer we can have up to 16 hours of light much of which is strong, but overhead not directly all day long through our north facing window.
Many indoor plants go into a semi dormancy during the winter, have minimal growth (if any) and do not require much water in the root zone but in rooms that have heating they may suffer from dry leaf tips and edges because of the low humidity.
To overcome this we can create humidity around the plant by putting wet sphagnum moss on top of the mix and re wetting it every few days when it dries out.
Putting the container inside a larger container with wet sphagnum moss between the two containers or by placing the pot's saucer into a larger saucer and having the outer saucer filled with water.
Heat exchangers are the worst for drying out the air next would be fire burners.
Thus one of the reasons that your expensive palm has dry tips the other reason is the chlorine in the tap water.
A plant that does well near a window in summer may not be so happy in winter because of lower light level and dry air and if you then overwater it, you can say good bye as you watch it die.
Growing indoors is not an easy thing but by choosing suitable plants for the places you want plants and being careful about your watering during the year you will find that plants will tolerate the conditions fairly well.
Whether indoors or outdoors container plants eventually become what we call pot bound.
That is when the root mass becomes so great that the plant has virtually all roots in the pot with no mix left to talk of. We can go to a bigger container and do a bit of root pruning when we repot.
Now this is very important and here is an example outdoors when you buy a shrub in a plastic bag or pot and its root system has fairly much filled the bag and is spiraling around the bottom of the bag.
You pull the bag off and put it into your freshly dug hole and plant.
Then you spend the next few years wondering why the plant does not grow much.
Reason is it cant make new roots because all its roots are in a tight ball which it has difficulty breaking out of.
In the nursery when we 'Bagged up' which means going from one bag size to another larger one we would take our secateurs and cut through the bottom spiral roots a cut at the four cardinal points.
The cutting of these roots allowed the plant to growth new roots quickly into its new bag home.
This is what you should be doing when you plant an established plant into your gardens.
Some people try to tease the roots out, that can help a bit but really a waste of time.
Alternative with either a sharp knife or cross saw you slice off the bottom third of the root system and repot or plant.
Doing the later means you can go back into the same container with fresh compost at the bottom to fill the area you have cut off.
On perennial plants (trees shrubs & roses) grown in containers you need to preform this root pruning about every 2 to 4 years dependent on the plant.
I like growing fruit trees in 200 litre plastic drums after cutting tops off and placing drainage holes not underneath but a few inches up from the base.
Alternative is to make 100 litre containers by cutting a 200 litre drum in half.
Use a good compost such as Daltons (they dont use green waste so no herbicide in the compost) and add in goodies such as Rok Solid, blood & bone, animal manures or sheep manure pellets, Neem Granules etc.
Do not fill container up to the top leave about 10 cm gap to top to allow easy watering. Drainage holes on side about 4-5 cm from base to give a reservoir of water.
After planting you have a nice growing area between the tree's trunk and the sides where you can plant parsley, lettuce, spring onions etc.
This also tends to reduce moisture evaporation and its easy to see when you need to water again as the top growing plants will be the first to droop.
Polystyrene boxes used to transport fresh fish to shops are often free to take away.
These are ideal for growing a few vegetable in and can be moved around as you please.
In a future article I will soon be writing about what I have found to be an amazing new way to grow some food crops. You are going to love it as I am.
NOTE: The recent article about glyphosate possibly being in most cotton products including feminine hygiene products because of GE cotton which are Roundup Ready (Sprayed for weeds during growing without killing cotton plants and those crops not GE are often sprayed prior to harvest to fascinate easy harvesting. In my mind cotton products containing the herbicide are not good for your health or body.
It is a problem and so I have found an excellent solution that is not only chemical free but is negatively ionized to make it superior to normal feminine products.
Manufactured overseas branded DRION:
Drion sanitary pads and panty liners are organic and are made up of layers of non-allergenic, non-woven paper (non-recycled therefore no bleaching), super absorbent organic polymer and is kept together with glue/adhesive that is made from natural starch so is food grade (not made from synthetic chemicals).
The pads are completely biodegradable, unlike many other feminine hygiene products which have a high environmental impact.
They are also free from dyes, artificial colouring, bleaching or chemical additives making them sensitive to your skin.
We have 3 Drion products on our mail order web site if you are interested.