Hello Hello and welcome to the growing family!
Your recent purchase means the world to me, and I just wanted to start with a massive thank you! If you are a recurring growing family member from April or May then welcome back, I’m so happy and excited to show you Junes box!
The good news is now the weather is finally starting to improve, so the June box is all 100% grown outside.
Let’s get growing together!
In your June box you will find:
1 small recycled fabric pot
1 medium recycled fabric pot
1 large recycled fabric pot
Twine securing your pots together
1 pack of basil seeds, 1 pack of cucumber seeds and 1 pack of carrot seeds
2 blocks of peat-free compost
Organic plant food
3 grow guides
1 how to start your compost guide
1 thank you for your order and how to dispose guide.
Now let’s get growing! ( This is the same as April and May )
It is a good idea to get started with your compost blocks. You can expand one block to start off with but I like to expand them both at the same time.
You will need a water tight container such as a bucket or tray. Place your compost blocks into your container, but make sure the compost has room to expand. It might look small now but its going to grow like crazy!
Start by adding 1 liter at a time, warm water will speed up the process but it is by no means necessary. Overall the dried compost blocks will absorb around 6-10 liters.
After a few minutes the compost will start to expand, if it is not expanding, try breaking a few chunks apart and adding a touch more water.
Now its time to get your hands dirty, break apart your blocks making sure to break apart any chunks. You might find you need to add more water at this stage.
Your coco coir compost should be lovely and fluffy with no lumps, and not saturated with water. If you still have lumpy compost, continue to break it apart with your hands. If your compost is soaking wet you can squeeze out some of the moisture.
Now let's get your seeds started!
Lets start with your cucumbers as they are really easy to grow, and I cannot wait for you to try the delicious taste of home grown cucumbers, they are miles better than the store bought ones!
I have selected Gherkin cucumbers as the variety, as I have been growing it for years and it never lets me down. It is also quite compact as cucumber varieties go, so it’s perfect for our pots. Do not worry if you do not like pickled gherkins, it is just called that as it is the best variety to pickle, they are still a great edible variety too!
Start by filling up one of your large pots to around 70% full of your compost, and sprinkle in half of your organic plant feed.
Once you have added your plant feed add in more soil up to around three inches off the top of the pot. Now I like to fold this over to make it level with the soil, but this is personal preference.
Now, using your finger or a dibber, poke one hole for each seed, spaced evenly apart. Please sow your cucumber seeds on their sides, this will help germination. Please see the below image to see what I mean by on its side.
Once you have sown all your seeds, it is time to put them back to bed by covering them up with soil.
The key to success with your cucumbers is to keep them well watered, please give your seeds a massive drink, making sure the water has penetrated all the way through the soil.
Leave your pot somewhere warm and sunny outside and after a few weeks your baby cucumbers will start to germinate. Please make sure to keep the pot well watered as all times. Make sure to give your cucumbers a great name using your wooden plant label.
After around three weeks your baby plants will develop two leaves that look identical, and one leaf that looks a little bit different. This leaf is a true leaf, and that means it is time to select your plants you want to keep.
I recommend keeping no more than two plants in your pot, and gently remove the rest. If you are careful when doing this, they will be able to be replanted in another pot.
Cucumbers are a fast growing tall crop that will need the warmth and sunlight to thrive, so please put in the sunniest outside spot you have available. Soon your cucumbers will need a support. A fallen branch from your local park or a bamboo cane is perfect for this. The image below is the size where I like to provide supports for my plant.
From here your cucumber will really start to grow fast, and soon little yellow flowers will appear. Behind these little flowers you will notice tiny little cucumbers. If a flower appears an it does not have a cucumber behind it, it can be a good idea to remove it. By leaving the male flowers, it can make your cucumbers taste a little bit sour.
Please make sure to keep your pots well watered as cucumbers do not like being dry.
For the best results with cucumbers we need to hope for a good summer, a warm sunny summer will increase your yield dramatically.
Once your cucumbers start to swell up to around the length of your hand and a girth of about 6 to 7 inches then they are ready. Make sure you harvest your cucumbers before they turn yellow and are still a nice green colour.
We will be returning to Cucumbers in the snacking section!
Now let's get your basil growing.
For me basil is king of the herbs, it smells amazing, it has so many great uses in the kitchen and if harvested properly, you can simply keep growing more and more. It also goes great with the tomatoes we are growing from the April box! So lets get started.
To get started grab your small size pot and fill up with your compost leaving five inches from the top. Mix in 1/4 of your organic plant food, and once again please wear gloves and wash your hands afterwards. Then cover your plant food with soil up to a few inches off the top of the pot. As you can see from the images below I enjoy folding the top over so its even with the soil.
Your basil seeds are very small, you can scatter them on top of the soil and cover with a little bit more, but this waste a lot of seed as we will only be growing 4 or 5 plants in the small pot.
I like to poke 5 or 6 small holes in the top of the soil and drop one seed into each hole. That way you do not waste any seed and we are only growing what the pot can support. Once you have popped one seed per hole, pop them back to bed by covering with soil.
Because my growing family are the best, I will always give you more seeds than you need. Please keep these safe as you can sow a few more batches or keep them for next year.
Make sure to give your basil a good drink, but please do not over saturate the soil. Basil comes from hot dry climates so does not respond well to being saturated and cold.
If we have a lovely hot June place your basil outside in a warm sunny location, however, if the weather is a bit iffy, then you can start your basil off on a sunny windowsill inside. Also add in your bamboo plant label and give your basil a great name, I have been loving the names you guys have been giving your plants in the last two months.
After a few weeks your little basil plants will start to germinate, and once they reach around 5 cm we have a choice to make. If you want large bushy plant then thin out your seedlings keeping only one or two plants. If you want a smaller bunch of plants to keep picking leaves off for the kitchen then leave your strongest 5 or 6 plants.
After a few months of growth you will notice little side shoots along the stem of your basil (I have a video on my Instagram called how to harvest basil, you might find useful). These little side shoots will appear where the side branches are along the stem. Once you can see them harvest the tops of your plants just above these two side shoots, this will allow these to continue to keep growing. What will then happen is those spindly stems will branch off into two, giving you a more sturdy larger plant.
From here just make sure you are growing your basil in the warmest sunniest spot you have available. Please keep your basil well watered, but you also do not want the soil to be saturated. I like to leave the soil to dry out a little bit between each water.
We will be returning to Basil in the cooking and snacking section!
Let's get those carrots planted!
Home grown carrots are simply delicious, super sweet, juicy and crunchy, I cannot wait for you to try these bad boys! I know I say it a lot but there is no comparison between home grown carrots and store bought carrots.
I have selected chantenay carrots, yes there may be more exciting looking varieties but for me nothing comes close to their taste. Growing carrots in pots is great as you can hopefully avoid carrot fly. These little buggers fly low to the ground and their young destroy carrots planted in the soil. By growing in our pots they should be out of reach, but you can always elevate them higher to be safe.
To get started grab your medium size pot and fill up with your compost leaving five inches from the top. Mix in the rest of your organic plant food of your organic plant food, and once again please wear gloves and wash your hands afterwards. Then cover the plant food back up with your remaining compost. as your carrots are growing down into the pots fill them right to the top this time.
Poke a few holes evenly spaced apart and around 2 cm deep, please see below how I spaced mine.
Once you have your holes, drop one seed per hole. Now this can be quite hard as the seeds are tiny! If you drop more than one seed per hole, please do not worry, you can thin them out when they grow.
Once you have one seed per hole,gently cover them back up with compost and give them a good water. Of you can please try to water gently as the force of heavy watering can cause your hand spaced seed to all wash into the corners of the pot. As with Basil I will give you far more seeds than you need, so please keep them safe. And as always do not forget to give your carrots a creative name using your plant labels.
After a few weeks your little carrots will start to say hi! It is super important to keep you carrots well watered as they can bolt if stressed, giving you a really bad harvest. If any of your carrots shoot out a really tall stem with a flower on the end, please remove this one and sow another seed in its place.
When your baby carrot seedlings appear, just double check they have grown where you planted them and spacing is still okay. If any seeds have moved, thin out a few seedlings to make sure they are all spaced okay.
Carrots are very low maintenance, from here, just make sure they are getting a good amount of sunlight and the soil is kept damp but not saturated.
After a few months your carrot tops should be quite wild and bushy and little orange tops should be emerging from the soil. If you cannot see any orange tops, carefully scrape away a little soil. Once the top of your carrot is roughly the diameter of a 2 p coin or slightly larger, pull them out! replace any harvested carrots with another seed. You should get another harvest before autumn.
We will be revisiting carrots in the cooking and harvesting section below.
Storing, cooking and snacking on your cucumbers, basil and carrots.
Cucumbers harvested from home has a lovely sweet taste and are miles better than those watery ones from the store. I highly recommend just chopping them up raw in a salad or making a cucumber sandwich.
As your cucumbers are a outside variety they may have a rather thick skin, so it can be a good idea to peel this before eating.
If you are feeling a bit adventurous you can try to make your own pickles. To do this I like to add vinegar, pepper corns and a few chilies to a sterile jar. Drop your pickles in whole or sliced and leave for a few months. Yum Yum!
Cucumbers will store in the fridge for a few days, but they are always best eaten fresh.
Carrots are super fun crops to grow as you have no idea what it will look like until pulled from the soil, some are perfect some are wonky, but all are delicious.
It is a good idea to harvest your carrots slightly young, around the diameter of a 2 p coin or slightly larger. I find any larger than this, they loose flavor and start to turn woody.
Carrots are amazing chopped up and added to a fresh salad. They add a lovely sweet colour and break up all those green colours.
Harvest them as and when they are ready and use within three days. They will keep for a few days in the fridge, but nothing beats fresh.
The real fun is with the carrot tops. Keep the leafy green parts of the carrots and wash them.
Pop them in a blender, add oil, pine nuts, cheese, salt, pepper and garlic and blend. This with give you an amazing carrot top pesto for you to have with your pasta.
Where do I start with basil? It has endless uses in the kitchen as an ingredient. You can make your own pesto, use it as a garnish or add it to your Italian cooking for that fresh taste.
Remember we are growing crimson basil, so when blended or cooked it will be purple rather than green.
My faverouite way to use basil is to chop it up really small, get some good break and add fresh sliced tomato, salt, pepper and olive oil then sprinkle your basil on top. Yummy yummy!
Basil does not store well unless it is dehydrated, so it is best to pick as and when you need it.
Thank you all so much for your support and Happy growing!
ps, don't forget to email me if you need any further help or want to share your pictures.