I'm already familiar with Air-Pots, as the Yew I bought at the garden centre 2 years ago came in one and Martyn used a close-up picture of one for his mystery guess quiz a few weeks ago. It looks like they're going to be more widely available in the future, hence the product test. Since getting my Yew, I've been intrigued at how they work as a pot with holes seems plain wrong doesn't it? According to Martyn, the holes encourage the roots to grow a myriad of fine hairs in response to their contact with air rather than spiralling round the pot as usually happens. I'm yet to remain convinced as I'm worried about keeping the pot watered sufficiently well. Whenever I've watered my Yew, it only seems to take a small amount before leaking everywhere.
I was concerned it might be too late for the product test this year, but then remembered that I'd planted some of my left over seed potatoes rather late for a compost bag growing trial. Therefore I could split the young plants for a comparison test between the Air-Pot and the compost bag method. My Air-Pot came on Friday and surprise, I had 2 instead of the one I was expecting! As you can see from the main picture, the kit is pretty simple, comprising a base, a wall and some screws to hold everything together.
They took less than 5 minutes to assemble. The base needs to snuggle in between 2 of the rows of dimples and I found it was easy to do so and include a hole in the bottom if I didn't roll the wall around the base tightly enough. Everything seemed fine at my second attempt, but closer scrutiny of the picture on the instructions showed I'd assembled it upside down. Some of the dimples don't have holes in them (which are easy to miss) and where these are is important for the finished product. Everything came together at my third attempt thank goodness - luckily the screws come out as easily as they go in and the assembled pot looks and feels pretty sturdy.
Then came the potato transfer. If I'd been planting them as newly chitted potatoes, I'd just be filling the first 4 inches of the pot and adding compost as the plants grow just like I'm doing with my compost bags. However, the plants were large enough for me to fill up the pot immediately as you can see in the picture. I made sure the compost was pressed down well (as instructed) and I found it took about 70 litres of compost to fill the 50 litre pots. The instructions also say that the pots will need more water than conventional ones, so I thought I'd mix some water retaining gel into the compost to keep the need for watering down a little. Now all that remains for me is to keep an eye on progress, water the pots and then pull them apart when I'm ready to harvest. Luckily I've kept the join to the front of where I've placed them on the lower patio, so I don't have to move the pots around come harvest time.
I'll let you know how I get on :)