How to Grow Broad Bean Plants with Vigoroot Pots, Growlite Coir and Water Saucers
Now I would like to share with you a new and rather different method of growing vegetables. In this case broad beans. I have been experimenting with air-pruning pots, coir growing mediums and self-watering systems for many years. It gives me great pleasure to see Vigoroot Pots, Growlite and Water Saucers on the market and available to everyone.
This very simple demonstration shows how to use these three products to grow some broad beans. An old favourite of mine best eaten smothered in melted butter.
I sowed the broad bean seeds in December, which is really much too early for broad beans. I wanted to see just how early the beans would grow if kept permanently indoors on large, bright windowsills (a bit of an experiment in itself).
The beans were germinated in Haxnicks Growlite. They were then potted on in Growlite. Growlite is a coir based growing medium that I have experimented with, developed and perfected over roughly the past 8 years. It has excellent water retention as well as good drainage and although it naturally contains only low levels of nutrients it can hold other added nutrients well and allows easy absorption by plant roots. Growlite includes various organic nutrients including seaweed and will feed a wide variety of plants during the first 8-10 weeks of their life. After this I simply add a little organic plant food on a regular basis to the water I give them.
We make the Vigoroot pots from recycled polypropylene. The density of the fabric is designed to air-prune the roots of the plants. As the tips of the roots grow into the fabric, their tips die off (air-pruning), which stimulates the plant to grow more roots from its core, and these roots become more fibrous and are able to absorb more nutrients. The result is that the plants don’t get ‘root-bound’ and don’t need to be potted-on into larger pots, but grow larger, faster and healthier, producing more abundant crops. Vigoroot Pots work especially well for fruit trees and fruit bushes as well as flowers, herbs and vegetables.
I used the new Haxnicks Water Saucers as a permanent watering and feeding system for the bean plants. Each Water Saucer comes with a capillary wick that is pushed up into the middle of the Vigoroot pot (cut a small hole first), and the plant then draws up the water through the Growlite and capillary wick from the water saucer, which needs topping up every few weeks. After the first two months I started adding a little Maxicrop plant food to the water. Obviously you can choose your plant food to suit the type of plants you are growing.
As I had started growing the broad bean plants too early in the season, they didn’t get enough hours of sunlight during the first few months . Subsequently they grew a little too tall and ‘leggy’ as they searched for more light. I decided to cut them back to about half their height. Within a few days their energy was diverted to producing an abundance of flowers. These will hopefully start to turn into beans before too long.
This whole system of growing plants using the Vigoroot Pots, Growlite and Water Saucers is remarkably simple to set up. It is also incredibly ‘low-maintenance’. The plants require almost no attention other than a few kind words of encouragement every now and then. Their use of water and plant food is almost 100% efficient - very similar in fact, to a hydroponics set up. So far, the beans are growing beautifully, and look set to produce a great crop later in the season.
Must put butter on the shopping list...