Agriculture Food Growing Organic Urban

Beetroot Planting

The last cold night in Central London this year was Tuesday 14th March. As you can see from the Frost Map above this last freeze happens sooner with us in the metropolis owing to the effect of the urban heat island.

The final spectacular growth of my seedlings.
At last we are free.
Alarming white salt residue on the surface – that’s London water for you.

If I had more space I would have a water butt on the roof and would gather rainwater there to feed the plants. That’s because using chlorinated tap water seems a real shame. The hard water deposits also build up calcium on the leaves of salad greens. Farming operations like the legendary Jadam in Korea filter their water. If one was using water from a borehole at least the chlorine wouldn’t be a problem. Following this thought to its logical conclusion in the summer, in the absence of as much rain, I would need to filter the London tap water to some degree. There are some quite ingenious techniques for creating DIY filters using charcoal but at the moment life is too busy.


The root ball here is what they call “air pruned” in the soil block. That’s to say, unlike roots in a seed tray which start growing back in on themselves, in a soil block when the roots reach the air at the edges they stop. Or at least that’s the argument… These seedlings were multi-sown, that’s to say I put three seeds in each block so they get to grow with a buddy.

Laid out on my raised bed.

I worked out where I was going to bury them here and then, as you can see below, buried them relatively deep. I could have done deeper I guess but didn’t want to disturb the soil unduly.

Six feet underground.
Dug in deep and dressed with compost.

Last year I remember being worried when I’d planted my seedlings. Like these above they look very defeated. The expression gardeners use for this period of adjustment is transplant shock. Soil blocks supposedly fare better, and you can sort of see why as they’re already in their little universe, but like everything in horticulture people give you a million reasons why one thing or another is optimal – and most of them are bullshit. Dressed with a little compost just to tuck them in; these will do fine.