Monthly Archives: June 2016

Untangling pot-bound tomato roots

“Green Thumb” Tip: Release those pot-bound roots!

Have you met Woodland Gnome? I am a great fan of her Forest Garden blog where she shares her gardening experiences along with photos of her wonderful plants. Woodland Gnome recently suggested the idea of “Green Thumb” Tips, for fellow gardeners to share their helpful hints with others – be they beginners or experienced gardeners. She said,

“Let’s work together to build an online resource of helpful tips for all of those who are passionate about plants, and who would like to learn more about how to grow them well.”

Woodland Gnome, Forest Garden

“What a good idea!” I thought.

The next day, I happened to be potting up some rather pot-bound tomato plants. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, but other garden tasks had been keeping me occupied … such as dealing with rabbit problems! (If you’ve not seen my bean-plant-nibbling bunny story, you can find it here.)

I was potting up my tomatoes out of their original upcycled yogurt pots where I’d sown them and into large buckets of growbag compost. The tomato plants will then remain in their large buckets in the greenhouse to flower and hopefully produce tasty fruit as the Summer progresses.

Dealing with pot-bound tomato plant roots
Pot-bound tomato plant roots on the right. Loosened tomato plant roots on the left.

When I turned out the first tomato plant from its upcycled pot, I could see how the roots had begun to grow round and round the base of the pot. I often find this happens with houseplants or other plants that have been grown in solid-sided containers. The plant would then need re-potting into a larger container.

I thought I’d share my “Green Thumb” tip on potting up plants when they’ve become pot-bound.

As you’d imagine, having its roots running round in a tightly packed circle is not a natural or healthy condition for a plant. Roots are designed to spread out as they grow, to find nutrients and water for the plant.

My “Green Thumb” tip for re-potting a plant that has become pot-bound is this:

Teasing out pot-bound roots
Carefully tease out the pot-bound roots from their tight circle

I always very gently tease out the roots that have formed a pot-shaped circle on the base of the root ball. We don’t want to damage any of the roots, if at all possible, so it’s best to take time and go slowly with this task.

Potting on tomato plant
Now with loosened roots, the tomato plant is ready to re-pot

You can see on this tomato plant that the circle-bound roots ended up being several inches long. Now that these end roots are free rather than being bound to each other, they will be much more effective in supplying the plant with water and nutrients.

I then just pot up the plant in the normal way into a larger container – in my case, the plant was going into one of my large tomato plant buckets (they’re upcycled flower buckets from my local supermarket – I’m a great fan of upcycling!).

Potted-up tomato plants in the greenhouse
My potted-up tomato plants, now back in the greenhouse

Now that’s my greenhouse full of tomato plants … and there are still a few spare! I’ll just have to find a space in the garden for them … somewhere … 🙂

You can click here to visit Woodland Gnome’s Forest Garden blog for more “Green Thumb” Tips.

J Peggy Taylor

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Sunderland’s Fountains

A trip to Sunderland is not complete for our family without a visit to Sunderland Winter Gardens and Mowbray Park.

Fountain - Sunderland Winter Gardens
Fountain – Sunderland Winter Gardens

The “Winter Gardens” is really an absolutely enormous greenhouse, full of exotic plants such as banana plants and pitcher plants that you’d normally find in a tropical rainforest. It’s probably hardly surprising that in this mini rainforest, water features are important. One of our favourite water features is this stainless steel fountain. The water cascades down the surface of the tall steel tower, making wonderful wave patterns and catching the light as it flows.

Fountain - Mowbray Park, Sunderland
Fountain – Mowbray Park, Sunderland

Right outside of Sunderland Winter Gardens is Mowbray Park, a lovely old-fashioned municipal park, complete with a duck pond and this rather marvelous fountain. I love the way my son has captured the falling water in this shot.

Do take a look at the fountains others have found for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week.

J Peggy Taylor

Here’s a Clever Camera Gadget for your Mobile Phone!

Do you like taking photos with your mobile phone? My eldest son is a photographer, graphic artist and all-round general geek. This week he shared this rather clever camera gadget idea:

“Vyu360™ A revolutionary mobile accessory & companion app that enables your smartphone to easily capture and share 360°media”

I say ‘idea’ because currently the Vyu360™ is on Kickstarter and its inventor, Alexis Fernandez, is seeking backers for his project.

Alexis Fernandez calls his Vyu360™ “immersive 360 media for everyone”.

Vyu 360 - Alexis Fernandez

My son says this camera gadget is useful not only for taking VR-viewable photos and videos, but also for generating environment maps for 3D graphics work where you need to create a 360 degree spherical projection. He thinks it may have some limitations but would still be good for basic rough maps for visualisation or getting an idea of an environment before you shoot a real HDRi with a mirror ball.

I think it looks like you could have a lot of fun shooting street photography with it too.

So for all you mobile phoneographers, camera gadget geeks or 3D video game developers – here’s a Kickstarter you might like to take a look at, the Vyu360™ by Alexis Fernandez

… but you’ve only got a few days left to join the fun!

J Peggy Taylor

Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge: Keep off the artwork!

Keep off the artwork sign
“Keep off the artwork” – Gateshead Interchange

I see this sign every time I travel through the bus station at Gateshead Interchange. It always makes me smile 🙂

We have many public artworks in our area – in the town centre, along the cycle path by the river, and even in our local woods – but this is the only one that seems to require a sign to discourage any adventurous types from climbing on it!

I thought I’d share my curious sign for Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge this week.

J Peggy Taylor

Cherokee Trail of Tears climbing beans - young plants

Bunny’s been eating my Cherokee beans!

I was delighted to see my Cherokee ‘Trail of Tears’ climbing beans were germinating well along my tall bean frame and teepee as I took my daily trips around the allotment garden earlier this week.

Tall bean frame and teepee
Tall bean frame and teepee

Four plants one day turned into six plants the next and then I counted eighteen the next day. However, the next day after that, I was rather alarmed to find several plants had ‘disappeared’ overnight!

Bean stalks left after rabbit has eaten the leaves
Who’s been eating my bean plants?

All that remained of these five plants were little stumps of stalk sticking up out of the soil. I learned later that our newest ‘furry friend’ had been spotted in the garden that day. My neighbour has had this allotment garden for forty years. All kinds of animals have visited: badgers, foxes, squirrels, moles, cats … but never a rabbit … until this week! My bean plants had become rabbit food! I pulled out the stumps and sowed new seeds in their place.

Protecting young bean plants with cloches
Protecting young bean plants with cloches

I also took the precaution of covering up all the newly germinated bean plants with bottle cloches … just in case.

Newly germinating bean plant
Newly germinating bean plant

Now, whenever I spot a newly germinating bean plant I will be ready armed with another bottle cloche!

Covering germinating bean plant with a bottle cloche
Adding a bottle cloche to protect the germinating bean plant

Gotcha! … the bean plant that is, not the rabbit! Bean, you’ve been cloched!

Rabbit-proofing germinating bean plant with bottle cloche
Baby bean plant in its bottle cloche

My bottle cloches are doing the trick, especially as it seems this rabbit only has a taste for the newest Cherokee bean seedlings. Fortunately, the slightly larger plants have not been nibbled (or not yet at least!)

Those long ears must have heard that I am not best pleased, as Beany Bunny hasn’t dropped by again while I have been in the garden. Although, I do know it has been back because I found a piece of pea plant that I guess it must have dropped when making a rapid escape!

J Peggy Taylor

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Cars, Trucks and Motorcycles

Robin Reliant 3-wheeler car in black-white
Robin Reliant 3-wheeler car outside our local garage
Suzuki N600 motorbike in black-white
Suzuki N600 motorbike

My photos are more often of castles, trees or making things rather than Cars, Trucks and Motorcycles, but as Cee was kind enough to choose my “Steps and Stairs” post from last week’s challenge as one of her Featured Bloggers, I thought I’d dig in my archives and create a response to this week’s Cars, Trucks and Motorcycles theme by way of a ‘Thank You’ 🙂

Do take a look at what others have found for Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week.

J Peggy Taylor

Living History Events for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

Our family’s home education journey has taken us to many events over the years. One type of event that has always proved very popular with our boys is Living History. Here in North East England, the Romans, the Vikings, and the English Civil Wars have all played their significant parts in our local history.

We have enjoyed some wonderful learning opportunities at Living History days at museums and Roman forts around the North East. We’ve met people dressed in authentic costumes of the era and learned all about the lives of the people they represent. As a parent, I have found this kind of ‘hands on’ approach has really brought the history alive for our boys. For Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week on the topic of ‘Events’, I thought I’d share with you a few photos of some of these Living History events.

Children having fun at a Roman history day
Young trainee gladiators learning their moves at Arbeia Roman Fort, South Shields

That’s my young gladiator, second from the right 😉

Tablet weaving at Viking living history event, Great North Museum, Newcastle upon Tyne
Tablet weaving demonstration at a Viking living history event, Great North Museum, Newcastle upon Tyne

Another thing we have found with the participants on Living History days, is their generosity with their time and knowledge. We talked to this lady for ages about her Viking tablet weaving. It was fascinating to see how the different patterns were made.

Musket-loading demonstration at English Civil War living history event
How to load your musket – English Civil War living history at Segedunum Roman Fort, Wallsend

Our boys took a close interest in how to load a musket at this English Civil War living history event held at the Segedunum Roman Fort, Wallsend in Summer 2010. Later in the same Summer we saw muskets and Civil War artillery in action at the re-enactment of the Battle of Hylton Castle.

Sunderland’s Hylton Castle was the scene of this important English Civil War battle in March 1664. The rivalry between the North East cities of Newcastle and Sunderland is legendary, especially in terms of football. Back in 1644, things were no different! Newcastle supported the Royalists and Sunderland were on the side of the Parliamentarians.

The Parliamentarians really needed to win the Battle of Hylton Castle to keep the port of Sunderland out of Royalist hands. The Parliamentarians did win which meant the port of Sunderland was also able to continue to supply their allies, the Scottish Covenanters, which in turn meant that the Scottish Covenanters were properly supplied for the pivotal Battle of Marston Moor on 2nd July 1644 – the largest battle ever to take place on English soil.

Battle of Hylton Castle - English Civil War battle re-enactment
Battle of Hylton Castle – English Civil War battle re-enactment

This large-scale re-enactment was organised by the Sealed Knot re-enactment group and a very dramatic battle it was too, with musketeers, pikemen and field artillery. The armies marched to the beat of their drums. The smell of gun smoke filled the air as the musketeers lined up and fired off their muskets and the field cannons were loaded. “Have a care!” they called out, before,”Boom!” the cannons were fired off too. The sturdy pikemen in their steel helmets clashed pikes in noisy groups on the battle field. The ‘injured’ were tended by the female camp followers.

As well as the battle re-enactment itself, there was also a large living history encampment with demonstrations of food, entertainments and various skills and crafts of the time. We spent the whole day at this event, exploring the living history encampment, watching the dramatic battle and soaking up the atmosphere among the crowds of people who had come along to experience the Battle of Hylton Castle.

Do take a look at the events others have shared for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week.

J Peggy Taylor

Cee's Fun Foto Challenge Badge