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Blueberries in a Bath

Wednesday and Thursday were reasonable days with sunny spells as the weatherman says but I didn’t have any gardening time. A good friend came to stay on Tuesday evening for a few days. We’ve not met up since we were house hunting further south in Wales last year and stayed with him for a few days.

Portmerion

Portmerion The Village

Portmerion The Village

We’d a lot of catching up to do and some bottles to empty together of an evening. On Wednesday we took him for a drive around Snowdonia and on Thursday it was a trip to The Village as Prisoner fans call Portmerion. It really is an amazing place even if I couldn’t shake off the feeling we were being watched. We didn’t go onto the beach in case large white bouncing ball things attacked us. (Don’t worry if that doesn’t make sense, you need to have seen the Prisoner)

 

Knowing the rain was coming in overnight, I was pleased to find a length of 1” hosepipe I’d bought via Ebay had arrived. I’d set up an overflow from my water butts by fixing a tap high up to one barrel with an ordinary garden hose attached but it wasn’t coping. Once full the water was coming over the side of the butts and running down by the wall of the cowshed. This won’t help stop damp getting in!

So off with the tap and fitted the outlet from a linking kit to which I attached the hosepipe. The pipe runs down to the house drains and thence to a soakaway. Unlike most of the DIY jobs I tackle, this only took a little longer than I would have guessed.

That being done, it was back inside where our guest was cooking dinner for us. Normally we don’t expect guests to cook for us but he insisted. Being as he was, before illness struck, a top chef and has awards for his cooking, we didn’t argue that he needn’t too hard! There are some recipes he sent to us in the recipes section under Granny Dumplins, all developed so mere mortals and cook them.

It was a simple meal, by his standards, and absolutely delicious. Fish on a pepper, tomato and onion  sweet sauce followed by home-made ice cream with a cassis and redcurrant sauce. The mouth wanted more long after the tum was full!

Friday’s weather was quite simply rotten. Wind, rain and cloud coming down at times. Hard to credit it’s the middle of June so, after our friend departed us, back to work. Being self-employed and working from home I’m lucky that I can choose when to work and when to play. Sadly though, I do have to do the work. How’s the song go? “Hi ho, I owe, so off to work I go”

One benefit of starting crops off in pots is that you can carry on whatever the weather from the shed. Another is that you can start them off before the land is ready for them. I covered this aspect in some depth in my book about growing in small spaces and containers: Vegetable Fruit & Herb Growing in Small Spaces.

By starting in small pots, moving up to larger and finally planting out; combined with successional sowings and vertical growing you can grow far more than you would think possible from a small area. Here we’re not short of space as such, it’s getting the soil good enough to grow vegetables in that is the problem.

Planting Blueberries in a Bath

No matter how much room you have, some crops actually do better in containers. I’ve got some blueberries in pots but they’re filling them now. Blueberries require an acid soil and plenty of water, almost swamp conditions. Our neighbours are renovating and kindly donated a bath. The plan is to sink the bath into the ground, well sink it as far as possible. It will then be filled with ericaceous compost which Val picked up at a bargain price in the Focus closing down sale, with just the plughole for drainage.

This should provide perfect conditions for them. You don’t need a bath, an alternative would be to build a high raised bed and line it with thick plastic. Just so long as you can maintain a wet acid soil (not with standing water though). I may well underplant the blueberries with cranberries, which are low growing but require similar conditions.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
3 comments on “Blueberries in a Bath
  1. Sue Dennison says:

    I am interested in growing blueberries in an old bath, does it need more drainage than the plug hole? I’m also worried the plug hole will block up eventually!
    I would be interested to hear how you got on with this.

    • John Harrison says:

      Drilling extra holes (about 15mm) in the base, layer of small stones topped with pea gravel will prevent blocking up. The problem I hit was that sinking the bath into the ground slowed the water draining out too much.
      Decided to raise the bath, put a layer of rocks as a soakaway under the bath and to surround the raised part of the bath with decorative rocks but haven’t got around to it yet.

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