Saturday, 7 May 2011

Ryan's Garden: Made from toilet tubes and council compost

It’s been a little while since I posted something here but I guess that’s just a nod to the fact it’s Spring.  Everything wants to get growing and the allotment is dictating how I spend most of my spare time at the moment, well that and life in general.  Everything is bursting in to action and plants, with weeds included, are keen to get growing.  Of course, this is no hardship.  In truth, this is utter unadulterated enjoyment.

This year, much like the last, I’ve taken to growing most of my vegetables and flowers in toilet roll tubes.  It seems like perfect logic to save what we already have but what’s more is that it works fantastically well.   Beans and sweet peas are big fans of this treatment and I know that later in the year the sweet corn will also be equally appreciative.  I’ve managed to rope my family in to saving these for me and despite thinking that I’m mad at the start they’ve now come round to the idea.  The tubes are planted directly in to the soil when the plants are ready to go out in to the garden and they then decompose gradually.  In addition to this I’m sowing all of my seed in to compost that I receive free from the council as a result of our food and garden waste disposal.  There seems to be a lot of wincing about this when I talk with other gardeners and allotmenteers but in truth it’s worked really well so far.  I’d imagine there would be some trouble sowing very fine seed but the compost I’ve picked up has sieved easily and actually makes a nice medium to sow in to.  So far I’ve sown broad beans, runner beans, sunflowers, oriental spinach, Nero di Toscana, cabbage, sweet peas, Siberian onions, parsnips and beetroot and everything has grown very well.  The Cabbage seedling above is an example of many of the seedlings currently sitting in my front garden grown using the compost mentioned.

Today it was time to plant the runner beans.   This year I’ve decided to make a feature of the runner beans and I’m growing a cultivar called ‘St George’, which has beautiful red and white flowers, with Ipomoea lobata, commonly known as Spanish Flag.  Over the course of the year I’ll be updating you all on the progress of my beans and if you would like to know more about growing them for yourself, or maybe want some new ideas for preparing them, then the tastes of summer website will have a wealth of information for you to find more inspiration.  I was surprised to find out that only 12% of households bought Runner Beans during the 2010 season, a decline of 22.7%.  Surely they are one of the best tastes our British Summer provides?  If you’ve decided against growing these plants or are unsure about them then I’d urge you to give them a try.  

In other news, the chickens appear to be enjoying the increase in daylight and recent cooler temperatures.  This has been reflected in the number and size of the eggs they’re laying and today I collected my first 80g egg.  They’re also enjoying eating lots of comfrey, weeds and the last of the winter veg.  The latter I find left by other plot holders in piles and bags by the coop.  The girls are very grateful for this and adore eating their greens and rummaging through the leaves for bugs and other tit-bits.

I found that two of my Gooseberry bushes had fallen prey to Gooseberry sawfly larvae so do keep an eye out for this.  These were swiftly removed and look set to contribute well to tomorrows eggs.

Oh yes!  It’s also raining so no watering for me for a while then. . . I hope.


  1. Great article - I always admire people who reuse materials. This may be a daft question, but how do you stop the compost falling out of the bottom of the toilet roll tubes?

  2. You just have to put the tubes in to a seed tray or any other tray or box and that will help to keep the compost in. I use sturdy trays and they hold around 24 tubes perfectly. I hope that helps.

  3. the toilet roll trick is cool and works well I find. I also wrap strips of newspaper around cans to make pots works just as well!

  4. Great use of loo rolls Ryan. I feed mine to my composting worms :) It's been difficult to fit much else in with all the recent good weather but hasn't it been great to have had a decent downpour. 'Fraid that you will not convince me about runner beans although they do look good. Much too stringy for my taste - give me French beans any day in preference.

  5. Couldn't you go a step further and use the 'black gold' as well?
    Luv hearing about the chicks. Find it very heart warming that stock can be looked after so well.
    Hoping that in the next life, if it is essential that I come back as a chicken, I will end up in similar circs!


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