What am I growing inside my Vegepod?
Since I first told you about my Vegepod much has changed. Back in 2018, my Vegepod was set up in an area of my garden that enjoyed partial shade, but after trialling the Vegepod in this fairly beneficial position (vegetables thrive when they’re grown in sunny and partially shaded sites), I decided to move my Vegepod to a more shaded area of my garden, to see what I could grow successfully inside my Vegepod with more challenging growing conditions.
Moving the Vegepod
When I decided to move my Vegepod, I’d initially intended to scoop all the compost out and dismantle my Vegepod, before moving and reassembling my Vegepod in its new home. I thought by going through this process myself, I would then be able to give you some helpful tips and suggestions on how best to do this. However, my advice is very simple – it’s unlikely you’ll need to take your Vegepod apart.
Let me explain: after the compost had been scooped out of my Vegepod, my Vegepod was empty and ready to be dismantled. However, my husband found that he was able to move the empty Vegepod to its new site, without needing to dismantle or even partially dismantle anything. My husband managed to lift the Vegepod single handedly, which was great! He found the Vegepod was a little awkward to lift, but it was far easier than he had anticipated.
What compost am I using inside my Vegepod?
Once my Vegepod was installed in its new, shaded site, eleven bags of Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables and Salads were tipped into the Vegepod. I mixed in vermiculite, along with 25L of sharp sand and a small amount of grit to keep the compost open during periods of inclement weather and then I was ready to start growing again!
Using a Vegepod in full shade
In its new location, my Vegepod is screened by tall, evergreen planting on two sides and by a combination of buildings and plants on the other two sides. There isn’t much room around my Vegepod, so it is protected from the worst of the weather.
As my Vegepod is now positioned in a very shaded site, the growing conditions tend to be a little cooler away from the sunshine. This is beneficial for growing salads and other leafy vegetables that tend to favour comfortable growing conditions without high temperatures.
What can you grow inside a Vegepod in shade?
Salads are so wonderful to grow. Freshly picked salad leaves taste wonderful! Growing your own salads is one way to avoid purchasing single use plastics. Whether you have a Vegepod, a raised bed, or you just have a few containers, growing salads is something I’d encourage you to try!
Mr. Fothergill’s Lettuce ‘Saladin’
Instead of spacing my lettuce seedlings out, as you would if you wanted to grow a lovely large ball of an iceberg lettuce; I sowed seeds of Mr Fothergill’s Lettuce ‘Saladin’ thickly, to create a packed row of lettuce seedlings that I used as ‘cut and come again’ lettuce plants. You can see the row of ‘Saladin’ lettuces – they’re the second row in from the right hand side, next to the double row of Rocket plants.
Chiltern Seeds Chinese Kale ‘Kailaan’
I purchased my Chinese Kale ‘Kailaan’ seeds from Chiltern Seeds. My Chinese Kale ‘Kailaan’ plants grew less strongly in this rather dull spot, compared to when I’ve grown these plants away from the shade, in a brighter, sunnier location. I sowed my plants closer together than they liked and I didn’t end up with as many plants as I had hoped.
I adore Chinese Kale ‘Kailaan’; the raw leaves, stems, and flower buds have a lovely fresh, pea-like flavour. Chinese Kale ‘Kailaan’ tastes sweet, succulent, and delicious!
Mr Fothergill’s Landcress
Landcress (also known by its botanical name of Barbarea verna) is a really easy to grow vegetable; I’ve found Landcress grows happily in the shaded conditions inside my Vegepod. This brassica gets its common name from the fact that the plant’s leaves taste very similar to watercress, but instead of growing in water, this plant grows on land! I purchased my Landcress seeds from Mr Fothergill’s.
The leaves of Landcress have a hot, peppery taste; to me the flavour is incredibly similar to watercress. The leaves go nicely in sandwiches, salads, soups, and in any recipe where you want a substitute for watercress.
Landcress is easily grown from seed; the plants soon develop a rosette form, rather like a dandelion. When grown in protected conditions, (like those found inside a Vegepod) the plants are able to produce a steady harvest, throughout the year. This is a biennial; so the plants produce flowers during their second year of growth.
Real Seeds ‘Mild, Cultivated Rocket’
Rocket (also known by its botanical name of Eruca versicaria) is one of my favourite salads to grow. I’ve grown quite a few varieties of Rocket in the Vegepod; with flavours that have ranged from mild to really rather hot, spicy, and peppery. My favourite Rocket cultivar is Real Seeds ‘Mild, Cultivated Rocket’. The leaves of this variety have a mild, fresh flavour that I really enjoy. This is a super Rocket for children or anyone who dislikes hot, spicy flavours. If you’ve grown Wild Rocket and found its flavour too intense, try this Rocket – I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.
Suttons Seeds Speedy Veg leaf salad, Californian mix
I’ve also grown Suttons Seeds Speedy Veg leaf salad, Californian Mix. This pack contains a mix of Mustard Golden Streaks, Komatsuna, Purple Choy Sum, Greek Cress, and Wild Rocket; these quick growing plants rapidly form a row of mixed leaves that made a tasty addition to our lunches.
Suttons Seeds Salad Leaves Andean Superfood Mix
My least successful sowing was the Suttons Seeds Salad Leaves Andean Superfood Mix. These plants all prefer to grow in a much sunnier spot than my Vegepod occupies and were not keen to try growing in the shade. As a consequence, I found that I had many gaps in my row of seedlings and the plants that did grow were not long lasting. I’d have enjoyed many more salads had I sown these seeds in a brighter location.
Watering the Vegepod
We’ve endured some appalling weather over the autumn and winter months; prolonged periods of heavy rain, high winds and storms have battered the country. The inclement weather will hopefully be just a memory soon; as we’ve enjoyed some lovely moments of sunshine, over the past week or so.
Certainly there has been no need to water any of the plants growing inside my Vegepod over autumn and winter, but as I recall, my Vegepod was only watered a couple of times, last spring and summer. When I set my Vegepod up, the growing compartments were filled with water retentive compost from Dalefoot Composts. I find that plants grown in Dalefoot Compost require less irrigation than plants grown in regular compost.
Currently, my Vegepod is not connected up to a tap or a water butt, so any water my plants receive is deposited by rain or hand watering. However, if you’re interested in finding out more about the Vegepod’s watering system, you can click this link to read about the automated watering my Vegepod plants enjoyed when they were growing in the sunshine, near a tap). The plants are watered by hand, as and when they need it.
In sheltered situations, such as the one I’ve intentionally moved my Vegepod to, the air circulation can be impaired, which can lead to less than ideal growing conditions; having said this, I’ve not experienced any problems, so far.
Using a Vegepod to avoid pests
The Vegepod’s protective cover is a great feature that helps prevent any plant pests from coming into contact with my home-grown vegetables and salads. There is a very tiny, narrow gap around the edge of the Vegepod, but this isn’t a problem – I’ve found that the Vegepod’s cover is very effective at protecting my plants from pests.
Naturally, while you’re tending to your plants your Vegepod cover is off, there’s a very slim chance that a minute plant pest can find its way to your plants, before you unknowingly close the lid and trap the pest inside your Vegepod!
It’s easy to see where flea beetles have fed, as they leave a distinctive trail. The leaves of brassica plants that have been feasted on by flea beetles are peppered with tiny bullet-like feeding holes, which transforms what remains of the leaves into an unappetising prospect when it comes to meal times.
I grew Rocket successfully inside my Vegepod for about a year, but then one day in August last year, I opened my Vegepod to discover that many of my Rocket plants’ leaves were displaying leaf damage, where flea beetles had feeding on my plants.
To remedy the situation, I pulled up my Rocket plants, along with all of the plants (radishes, oriental vegetables, and salads) that were growing inside my Vegepod at the time. Then, I left the lid of my Vegepod open for two days to ensure that the flea beetles had plenty of time and opportunity to escape.
After the two days had passed, I headed back over to my Vegepod to sow some new seeds. I chose to sow a few rows of Rocket, as it’s a particular favourite of mine. Thankfully, my Rocket seeds germinated quickly and soon were growing away. None of the plants I’ve grown inside my Vegepod, since August 2019, have been attacked by flea beetles. Naturally by writing this article, I’ve probably issued an open invitation, complete with directions to my Vegepod, to all the flea beetles in the county!
The Vegepod’s cover has successfully protected all of the Brassicas from Cabbage White Butterflies, over the past year, which is fantastic!
Whilst my Vegepod was in its previous sunny position, the determined Cabbage White Butterflies laid eggs on a couple of brassica leaves that had been accidentally trapped just outside the Vegepod, when the lid was closed. I love caterpillars and butterflies; so I was happy to allow these caterpillars to feed on some of my brassicas. The caterpillars turned into pupas inside my Vegepod; when I found them a safe place, inside my garden, to emerge from their pupa and fly away (sadly, I missed the butterflies emergence).
Growing my own seeds
I really enjoy the taste of Real Seeds ‘Mild Cultivated Rocket’ leaves. As I’ve enjoyed it so much, I’ve decided to allow my ‘Mild, Cultivated Rocket’ plants to go to seed, so I can sow more seeds and grow more plants. I am currently leaving the plants to flower and set seed inside my Vegepod.
The ‘Mild, Cultivated Rocket’ plants that I’m now waiting to flower and produce seeds, were grown from seeds I sowed in August 2019.
Growing my own moss
What else have I been growing inside my Vegepod? I’ve been cultivating some moss; I love moss! I am such a fan of moss gardens, but I use moss indoors, too. Many of my orchids are mounted using moss and I have moss inside most of my terrariums.
The largest section of my Vegepod is currently taken up with moss. What will I grow next? I’ve got so many ideas, I can’t wait to show you my Vegepod later this season!
Other articles that may interest you…………..
To see my Quadgrow Self Watering Planter, please click here.
To see all of my Container Trials, please click here.
For articles about automated plant care, please click here.
For more articles about container gardening, please click here.
To see what I grew inside my Vegepod when it was positioned in partial shade and the plants enjoyed brighter growing conditions, please click here.
To see my Access Garden Products glasshouse – it’s a brilliant glasshouse designed for small gardens (although it would be useful in large gardens, too), please click here.
For tips on setting up an asparagus bed, please click here.