Six On Saturday: Staying One Step Ahead

It’s been another busy and challenging week in the garden. We can’t go anywhere, do anything or see anyone so the bugs, birds and plants have the pleasure of our undivided attention.

1. Beetroot Blues

Only two seeds of the Hullahup beetroot I planted on Feb 22nd have finally germinated

Over a month of twice daily motivational pep talks resulted in just two weedy specimens. They are so small I’ve highlighted their location with a big red arrow.

In desperation I bought ten seedling plugs from the local garden centre. I have no idea of the variety but I know it won’t be any thing fancy.
Beetroot seed plugs

I was amazed when I saw the roots, I thought they grew like carrots. They don’t! I won’t waste any more of these prescious seeds planting directly in the ground.

I don’t want to spread conspiracy theories but I think the ants stole them. I wrote about it here: Ants Are Stealing My Seeds!

2. Lettuce

The Rollo lettuce seeds I planted in a seed tray on the 2nd of February have now been replanted in one of the lettuce containers. I have five containers each with different types of lettuce and/or in stages of development.

Lollo Rosso Lettuce


New lettuce plugs 24/03/21
Purple lettuce

3. Red and Yellow Peppers – Little and Large

I planted a coule of varieties of red pepper from seed California wonder (Red) 2nd February and Corno Mixed on the 27th Feb. Nothing. I planted yet another variety, Spanish Doce on the 7th March in small pots and two seedlings have already germinated.

California Wonder (Red) on 2nd Feb

When I went to my local garden centre I conceded defeat and bought five yellow and five red pepper seed plugs. Five planted in one of the new raised beds and the others will be planted today.

4. Potatoes

Gnome planted his first chitted potatoes on the 12th February.

Potato plants as at 26th March. Anyone else grow potatoes in pots? Ours seem to put all their energy into the foliage. I can’t believe how quickly they have grown! The biggest problem we have is deciding how much water they need. Too much or too little, either way, the leaves will turn yellow.

5. Upcycling Plastic

Since the second wave of COVID we have home supermaket deliveries so all meat and some fruit and veg is prepackaged in various plastic containers. Much to Gnomes annoyance I don’t throw any of these away. I recently gave 25 large water bottles to a friend to reuse as plant pots.

Plastic bottles upcycled as containers

I also use to make mini cloches and seed trays.

Upcycling Plastic

And since my experience with ants infiltrating my cloche area and stealing even more seeds I’ve moved my seedling trays to the cacti and succulent display area on the terrace.

6. Raised Vegetable Garden and Nets

A couple of years ago Gnome bought me a large plastic cloche for my seedlings. I was delighted but after just one summer the plastic cover began to disintergrate and it rained plastic dust over the young plants. The cover was binned but much to Gnomes annoyance I kept the frame – just in case. Our garage (for those of us old enough to remember the TV show) is like Steptoe’s junk yard. We hoard everything just in case it can be repurposed.

This year the frame was repurposed to support a netted area for the brassicas. Unaware of the cabbage white’s tenacity I used strawberry netting I found in the garage to cover the frame. That will stop the ‘cabbage whites’. Nope, they even found their way through that. Today, we add more layers so it becomes more of an assault course to penetrate the area.

I also use plastic crates and old fridge trays to protect the plants from birds.

For us, gardening has come to the point we are constantly trying to outwit nature so we can protect our meagre crops.

That’s my six words of gardening woes and wisdom for this week. Now coffee, plant some bedding plants, thena glass of wine while I peruse fellow Saturday gardeners challenges and success stories.


37 thoughts on “Six On Saturday: Staying One Step Ahead

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  1. Your upcycling ideas are inspirational! I’m doing more of it too, using food trays for seed trays and the cut-out bottoms of drinks cartons as pots. Good job on the lettuces, they look great and not at all nibbled – at least there you have outwitted the pests! Let’s see how the potatoes turn out…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am the same with plastic bottles, presentation trays and yoghurt pots (cut they make great labels). Also, I admire your netted cloche. Good thinking! Although I do sow beetroot directly outside. I also just bung a whole load in a pot and prick out the seedlings. It sets them back a bit, but not for long.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like the idea of using yoghurt pots for labels. hmmm …. while my pots are too thin the washing detergent bottles are nice and thick as are the large greek yoghurt pots. Off to our recycling bin the retrieve those before I forget. I know wooden icecream style sticks don’t work because they absorb the moisture and the print disappears.

      I think in the next few weeks I must start of some beetroot in trays/pots. I am tenancious if nothing else.


  3. I tried tomato plus last year and was so disappointed I am going back to seeds! My beetroot seeds did quite well last year, but I did start them off in trays in the greenhouse, reminds me I need to start them again for this year!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Have you grown beet from plugs before? It can be risky. Confinement can disfigure developing root vegetables. Some stay disfigured as they mature, and are are unable to get very big and shapely. If you grow seedlings in a flat, you can prick and plug them before the roots start to expand.


    1. Only once and that was many years ago. I never gave them enough water so they were stunted and woody. I have tried transplanting carrots and that def didn’t work.

      Tony, I am not sure what you mean by growing seedlings in a flat. Please can you expand on that comment?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, seedlings in a flat that can be pulled shortly after they are barely big enough to pull, before roots start to expand. They can get pulled and planted directly and soaked in. My concern with plants in cell packs is that the roots are already developing, and have already reached the bottom of the cell, so can already be disfigured. If so, they expand in their disfigured form. They do best if they grow from seed sown directly where they will mature. However, I know that is not always possible.


        1. Thanks, Tony. I will try that. Makes sense. If ants are going to steal seeds planted in the ground, and fully developed plugs are not always reliable I will try the flat method. I will either have beetroots growing out of my ears or none. Haha… at least I can pickle beetroot if they all grow. It seems to be a matter of deciding what works best in your garden, climate and other influencers such as bugs.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. You are very resourceful! I have used cut plastic bottles to create collars to try and protect new plants from assault by the S&S and I use them as cloches too. And I find buying plug plants is better for me than trying to sow seeds, more expensive, but at least they have a chance of survival!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I only started growing seeds in earnest last year because the markets I used to buy my seed plugs from closed due to Covid. So I ordered lots of seeds online. I confess I’d rather buy the plugs, but I have no idea of the variety.

      I’ve become more resourceful since not being able to ‘pop’ to the shops on a whim.


  6. I grow a few potatoes in pots and have had varying success.
    I now grow most in a few raised beds which has produced a better crop this year.
    A lot of foliage is supposed to be indicative of over fertilizing (too many nitrates?) or something.
    This bloke has a good site and he seems to know his stuff when it comes to potatoes, especially when grown in containers.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I usually grow all my potatoes in pots or bags – no choice last year because of restrictions. This year I am going to grow half in the allotment and half in bags. But I won’t be planting any until mid to late-April. I tried some in a large plastic dustbin last year (out of necessity) but they didn’t produce as many potatoes as I expected given the larger area.

    Last year, I used plastic bottles to grow some salad crops. I halved litre bottles, drilled a hole in the lid and threaded through a strip of old t-shirt. I filled the bottom half with water, the top half with compost and seeds and the fabric acted like a wick with the plants taking what they needed.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. When you say ‘bags’ what do you mean exactly? Have you got a picture on your blog?

      Unfortunately, we don’t have room for another bed to grow the potatoes directly in the ground. 😦

      What a good idea to use fabric from an old t-shirt like a wick.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Lettuce is the one thing I seem to be able to grow all year. I am useless at growing lettuce seeds though. I confess trying to upcycle plastic is become quite an obsession. I am also checking the shape of icecream tubs now as potential seed trays

      Liked by 1 person

  8. For the first year, I will grow potatoes in a plastic bin. And I’m not the only one to have started since Sel from Belgium also started at the same time as me (in her post this weekend) . We are 3 at least and we will be able to compare the results on France, Belgium and Portugal.😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ll have to check out Sel’s blog. It will be interesting to see how our results differ. I can’t believe how quickly mine have shot to the top of the pot which is worrying. If they grow this quickly to the top not much can be going on underneath. I’ve never grown potatoes in the ground as we don’t have the space. So how do they grow there. Interesting.

      Liked by 2 people

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