I decided to invest in an Earthbox, a brilliant idea of a planter and although perhaps a bit costly to buy, there are instructions for a home made version. I would think you would need to get an idea how it all works first though. It is in fact, a large oblong plastic box with a perforated shelf which allows the base to become a storage tank for water whilst the compost is in the upper half.
The other thing is, the compost is built up as much as possible above the level of the box, a channel is scooped out down the middle and to this, you add the company’s blend of nutrients. A cover goes over it all and holes are made for the plants to go through. There is also a pipe which is used to top up with water, if needed. There is an overflow so no danger of the plants getting waterlogged.
I didn’t know what to try in it first, then I saw a box of living lettuce in our local Co-op for about £1. That’s when I decided that the box was going to be Christened with lettuce. I was very impressed with the results and it kept me supplied with cut-and-come-again lettuce, I just needed to take what leaves I required at the time.
Having been quite impressed with lettuce, it kept them clean and virtually slug free which was good, because when you grow a salad vegetable you don’t want added protein in it.
I grew lettuce again this year, again Sainsburys’ provided a nice selection in a box from their produce counter. They were difficult to separate but I wasn’t too pernickety, I put little bunches in and left them to fight it out. The red lettuce was very nice but included with the green and red, there was oak leaf.
As time went on, I noticed a slug tucking into it, and by the looks of it, it was enjoying it, but it was mine and I didn’t want it half eaten before I got time to harvest it, so the slug was dispatched. I noticed it again, although I doubt it was the same slug but the strange thing was, it was only the oak leaf lettuce that they bothered with. Then suddenly there was not a slug to be seen near it.
By this time, it had started to bolt (the lettuce, not the slug) and now I understand that is the reason that nothing wants to eat it, not even humans. Apparently it is thanks to sesquiterpene lactones, a chemical released by the plants to make sure all their strength goes into producing seed, and that’s why anything which has bolted tastes bitter.
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