The spirepose or “sprout bag”

I’m always happy to receive odd gardening innovations as presents, as I wouldn’t buy them for myself: the ecopotagator is in its second year, only suffering from the rather poor compost that I used for some planting.

This year, for my birthday, I got a “spirepose”, or sprout bag. From what I can find online, this is some kind of traditional Scandinavian method of growing small sprout seeds. The company Flying Tiger produce these foil-lined bags, which I think is what I’ve got:

Spirepose at Flying Tiger

How was mine, then, at growing oregano? In a word, hopeless:

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This one tiny sprout died shortly afterwards. I think I followed the instructions properly:

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But the soil level in the bag I found was much lower than those diaagrams imply.

To be honest, I’m not convinced these would ever work. The foil-lined bag is too likely to either waterlog or dry out; the growing medium (which appears to be moss, groan, with perlite) doesn’t seem particularly forthcoming with nutrients, and the bag too deep to let light in. I did later on trim the sprout bag down somewhat more, to try to get more light to the seeds, but perhaps the depth is the point, to encourage sprouting.

Either way, I’m not convinced the spirepose is for me. A bit too wasteful, even if it had worked. Nice to try it out, though!

Update: how’s the ecopotagator working for windowsill basil?

Back in mid-March I planted up an Ecopotagator with the basil seed that came with it:

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At the end of April, I transferred this “little pot” of sprouting basil seedlings into the upturned “big pot” that the ecopotagator forms when you flip it over. This was probably the most worrisome part of the whole process: the instructions did say that you should do this as soon as the seedlings were touching the clear-plastic cover/jug fitting; but I was convinced that tapping it out would just leave me with a loose collection of soil and seedlings all over the place.

In the end, the roots had knitted together really strongly, but given I had to juggle (a) the plug of seedlings (b) the pot it was originally in, and was going to be in again (c) enough soil to fill said pot up when I flipped it, then it was slightly awkward. And if it had gone wrong, it would’ve gone wrong quite badly!

Immediately afterwards, though, it was looking pretty good:

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What was the base, now detaches to form a saucer to put water in. I found that, without this saucer being very full indeed, the shallow-rooted plug was prone to wilting for the first week or so. But another few weeks, and some judicious pruning, later and the seedlings are doing very well:

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Would I recommend the ecopotagator? I think so. It’s made from recycled materials, and in its initial propagation form is really quite handy, insofar as it provides that winning formula of both moist and free-draining compost. But the switcheroo from propagator to big pot was tense and fiddly, and it does take up a lot of space on the windowsill. I guess one option would be to have two ecopotagators, and use them to succession-plant over a season. But maybe that’s how they get you!

First planting and the ecopotagator

On Friday I did my first proper veg planting of this growing season. Much as I love garlic, I don’t quite count them, as they were planted along with the ornamental bulbs at the start of what’s felt like a long, wet, dismal winter.

Here’s my first round of planting:

  • Broad beans “Super Aguadulce”: 24 plug cells; in the growhouse.
  • Lettuce “Tantan”: a seed tray, with 30-35 seeds; in the growhouse.
  • Carrot “Parisian” (the weird rounded ones): a drill of 125cm to thin later; in one of the decking-board planters left behind by the previous owners.

A couple of days later, I planted more in the growhouse:

  • Rainbow chard: 20 plug cells.
  • Lettuce “Tantan”: 20 plug cells with 2–3 seeds in each.

You can see the locations of both planter (covered with black tarpaulin, weighed down with bricks) and growhouse (bright green) in the following picture:

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Exciting as it was to start planting, I appreciate pictures of watered compost aren’t visually very stimulating. So here’s something a bit more exciting: the Welsh Rose bought me an ecopotagator for Christmas, and I planted that up with basil.

The compost for it comes in a small puck, which expands when you immerse it in water:

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The base forms a small, well-drained pot for said compost:

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Later on, you can disassemble it and turn the top bit upside-down, to form a bigger pot plus saucer.

Here’s the whole ecopotagator, potted up with the basil seeds included in the pack, with the measuring jug as a lid to keep the moisture in:

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It’s an interesting experiment: the hardest bit has been finding somewhere in the house consistently 10-15 degrees, also with sunshine. The second hardest bit has been stopping myself calling it an ecopotager, which gives it a decidedly confusing French feel. We’ll see if I get any actual basil out of it.