We've been using the conservatory as a junk room since we moved.
If you look closely, you can see a cat in this picture.
The first job then, and it was no trivial task, was to clear space in the conservatory.
The next problem was the pots. I was impressed by Louisa's planters made from scrap wood, and thought I might have a go at something similar.
The trouble was, I lacked a ready supply of scrap wood, or the skills to make planters out of it. As the tomatoes got increasingly insistent in their demands for a new home, I decided to bite the bullet and just buy some pots. I looked up prices and found that you can get suitable tomato-sized pots (and they're big plants) for a pound each. That didn't sound too bad until I counted the tomatoes in need of pots. There were 44 of them. That's the best part of fifty quid. Ouch. That's before I've even thought about compost to put in them or trays to stand them in. Maybe I wouldn't resort to buying pots just yet...
Over on the SelfSufficientish website, AngeB had recently won a competition with her money-saving tip for the garden:
Hmm, I did have a lot of empty compost bags in the greenhouse that I'd kept, just in case they came in useful. Now could be their chance!
The final component was the compost. I had two bags of bought compost, and stretched that by mixing it with garden soil (first weeded - another job along the way). When that ran out - and it went a surprisingly long way - I opened up the big compost heap. That is, I lifted some of the weeds that were growing on it and dug into the side of it. Hey presto, compost! It was pretty coarse, and not as dark and rich as some I've made, but still definitely compost. That also got mixed with soil before giving to the tomatoes.
So, with all the elements in place (and having tidied the conservatory), the procedure was:
- Collect compost bags, gravel bags, whatever I can find, and roll down tops of bags until they could pass for pots
- Fetch stones* and lay a layer in the bottom of each bag for drainage
- Cut comfrey** and add a layer of leaves on top of the stones, because I've heard that tomatoes like it
- Fill bag with compost/soil mix and one or two tomatoes, depending on size
- Carefully push down the compost around the plants until they're nicely snuggled in
- Repeat many, many times, digging and mixing more soil and compost as required
You won't see a cat in that photo, no matter how hard you look, because she was on the roof:
Ignoring Pebble's dastardly deeds and returning to the tomatoes, I am very excited by the first tiny fruit:
Let this tiny tomato be the first of many, and let them all grow big and juicy.
Well, maybe not the cherry tomatoes.
I'm feeling very pleased with myself for doing all that, especially as I managed to avoid spending any more money at all.
* This was another incidental tidying up job. Our garden is full of stones and I keep digging them out of the soil and leaving heaps of them about the place. One heap on the patio got sorted, leaving the largest stones in a neater pile and taking the smaller ones.
** The comfrey has been making a nuisance of itself trying to spread its seeds all over the potato patch. I wasn't sorry to cut the horizontal stems and, by the time I'd finished, most of the vertical ones too. There are plenty of new leaves growing from the base.