I'm sure you realise by now that, my heart is with organic growing. There is nothing more satisfying than picking fresh from my garden, knowing that I have done everything in my power to keep it as natural as possible. However there is another side to me that has me pottering around and enjoying the fruits of my labour. The hot house has become a bit of a favourite of mine. Like anything the more success I have, the more I want to grow in there, and the more I want to experiment. By having the hot house in use (even over summer) I can grow more varieties earlier and obviously keep growing for longer into the cooler part of the season. Now I have my early veg happening, cucumber, zucchini tomato and beans are the first to deliver. I'm not out of season rather early in the season with these veges. I learnt early on that growing in soil in the hot house delivered nothing but trouble, in the way of pests and disease because the soil is a living thing that breeds a veritable feast of both good and a lot of unwanted bugs. We emptied all the soil out and added river stones in a thick layer which works fantastically, as it's easy to walk on and the stones hold the heat (over the cooler months). Then we set up a variety of Autopots to grow in, these work really well as they don't need power or pumps ...we call it "new age hydroponics" The grow medium is inert (meaning is has no goodness in it at all) it's simply the vessel that the plants use to put out their roots and grow. The nutrient comes in the form of a liquid that is added to the Autopot water tanks, which is then gravity fed to the pots, its an amazing system and fool proof. (NO POWER NO PUMPS)
I guess some of you will be posing the question, how does this fit into growing organically? The simple answer is that It doesn't. What it does do however is compliment the food variety we grow and consume. Given that I mostly work on the 80/20 rule (80% organic 20% other) it gives me the choice and also takes the emphasis away from getting really hung up on "organic" and that allows me to concentrate on my goal of a continual food supply that is grown in natural ways with just a small amount of help from non organic means. Further more because we produce the nutrient here on site we know exactly what we are putting into the nutrients and because the plants are so healthy, there is very little need for pest control (except for white fly, that I treat organically)
As the season goes on, I will start to grow more bean ands tomatoes outside in the soil and set up the likes of eggplant, and chillies in the hot house. Both of these plants need a lot of heat and water to grow successfully, so the Autopots are great for this. Finally I am also going to give growing Ginger a go in the hot house. It is normally grown in the tropics but Im feeling confident I can get it growing ...I'll keep you posted.