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BobTheGardener


Latest posts by BobTheGardener

DIY heated propagator

Posted: 01/02/2014 at 22:47

The final top 2" layer of sand was then completed:

http://s4.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/36879.jpg?width=288&height=350&mode=max

and depth checked:

http://s4.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/36880.jpg?width=288&height=350&mode=max

Finally, this is it with 8 seed trays in position.  Each one is effectively a propagator in it's own right so that it's lid can be removed when seeds show signs of germination, without affecting any of the other trays.  To the right you can see the thermostat - this is a fancy one I already had and the probe is on a cable so can be placed inside a seed tray rather than in the sand if I wish.  However, it is really an overkill and the standard Parasene thermostat would be fine:

http://s4.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/36881.jpg?width=288&height=350&mode=max

I've set the thermostat to 25C as a test tonight and will check in the morning.  I filled one seed tray with compost and put my max-min thermometer on top before covering with the lid.  That should give me a good idea of how warm the compost in the trays will actually reach when the sand is at 25C.  Fingers crossed!

DIY heated propagator

Posted: 01/02/2014 at 22:34

Next was a 2" layer of sharp sand:

http://s4.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/36875.jpg?width=288&height=350&mode=max

Now for the tricky part!  Somehow the cable needed laying evenly so it covered the whole area without any loop touching another loop or any crossing cables as these would cause hot-spots.  The trick here was to plug the cable in for 10 minutes to let it warm up, making it more flexible.  However, it wouldn't stay in place even if I patted it into the damp sand, so I came up with an idea - use pieces of decking to temporarily hold it in place - these will be removed later:

http://s4.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/36876.jpg?width=288&height=350&mode=max

Clever, eh?!   Now I filled the gaps between the bits of wood with more sharp sand which would hold the cable in place:

http://s4.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/36877.jpg?width=288&height=350&mode=max

removing the wood left it like this, ready for adding the rest of the sand:

http://s4.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/36878.jpg?width=288&height=350&mode=max

DIY heated propagator

Posted: 01/02/2014 at 22:21

I used a 6m long Parasene soil heating cable as this is the recommended length for a 4'x2' propagator and is rated at 150W:

http://s4.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/36873.jpg?width=288&height=350&mode=max

it needed feeding through 13mm a hole (there is a blue seal on the end of the cable which needs to go through the hole) in the side which was made 2" (50mm) from the bottom of the propagator:

http://s4.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/36874.jpg?width=288&height=350&mode=max

DIY heated propagator

Posted: 01/02/2014 at 22:10

Next would be to line it with insulation so that the heat would be retained.  I had a roll of polystyrene insulation which was left over after fitting a laminated wooden floor in my conservatory (which has a concrete floor.)  This stuff is very cheap and ideal for the job:

 

http://s4.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/36870.jpg?width=288&height=350&mode=max

First layer stapled in place:

http://s4.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/36871.jpg?width=288&height=350&mode=max

Second layer now stapled (with galvanised 12mm staples) and trimmed:

http://s4.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/36872.jpg?width=288&height=350&mode=max

 

DIY heated propagator

Posted: 01/02/2014 at 22:01

 

 

I worked out that it would take 4 x 25kg bags of sharp sand to fill it to the required depth (4 inches: 2 inches below the heating cable and 2 inches on top.)  As that meant the whole thing would weigh over 100kg, very sturdy support would be needed!  I used 50x50mm (2x2 inch) timber to make a frame and used steel legs from an old office desk I found in a skip:

http://s4.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/36863.jpg?width=288&height=350&mode=max

Pic below is it in place on top of the frame:

http://s4.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/36864.jpg?width=288&height=350&mode=max

DIY heated propagator

Posted: 01/02/2014 at 21:53

Hi all, before I post pics of all the latest work done today, here's one of how I decided on the exact size of base to make.  I originally wanted it to be roughly 4ft x 2 ft to fit the space available in my shed but decided to make it an exact fit to multiples of standard seed trays by laying them out on the plywood I used for the bottom then adding 2 x the thickness of the decking boards used for the sides.  This is how it turned out:

http://s4.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/36862.jpg?width=288&height=350&mode=max

 

best-potato-to-grow

Posted: 01/02/2014 at 20:36

My OH won't eat them with the skins on Alan!  Personally, I don't even mind a bit of soil left on things I eat!  We couldn't be more different really.

Garlic growing

Posted: 01/02/2014 at 18:17

Hi nikki, yes, if you have somewhere which isn't waterlogged (does anyone?!) I would get them out now.  They need a bit of cold to trigger the bulb to split into cloves.  If they don't get that they might just grow into larger single bulbs - still useable in the kitchen but not ideal.  Given the weather, putting them under open-ended cloches for a while might be a good idea to keep the worst of the rain off.

Clematis

Posted: 01/02/2014 at 17:50

These deep pots are what I use to grow-on clematis before I plant them out:

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/10-NEW-PLASTIC-4-LITRE-EXTRA-DEEP-BLACK-RIGID-PLANT-POTS-/301079978671

If they are small plants/large plugs, they stay in these for a year before being planted out in about mid-march.  I plant them 2 inches deeper than when they arrive into these pots and then 4 inches deeper still when I plant them into the garden in a year's time (in March).  I have lost small clematis by planting them into the garden too quickly so am always patient and stick to this method now.

best-potato-to-grow

Posted: 01/02/2014 at 12:05

I have heavy clay and keeled slugs but Kestrel were untouched last year and also the best tasting so those together with Sante (also slug resistant) and Pink Fir Apple are my selections for this year.  The last one will get attacked but I just can't resist the taste so some damage is acceptable (and being knobbly means cutting out the damaged bits doesn't add much longer to the preparation time than the rather tedious peeling!) 

For anyone just starting out I recommend you get a pack with several different varieties (eg 6 x 10 tubers) if you have the room.  Potatoes grown on different types of soil DO taste different, so you really need to find out which grow and taste best on your particular plot.  I grew over 50 varieties before finding 8 or so that I really like and do well.  I still try a row of a new variety every year, too (Mayan Gold this year.)

Happy spudding, spudders! 

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