Northern Exposure

Triumphs and failures on a window ledge.

Wind + Time = Damage March 31, 2009

Filed under: bulbs,Colour,Flower,Spring,Summer,Weather,Winter — northernwindowgardener @ 1:47 pm
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Wind-Damaged TulipsOne of the first things I realised when the window boxes went out last year is how the wind can affect all that good planning. Forget all the great write-ups about how lovely a plant’s flowers are or how they attract bees, butterflies and other bits of nature – what I really needed to know is how big they grow and whether they can stand up to a force 10 gale!

As the pic on the right shows, the tulips have taken a battering over the last two weeks. I was so lucky to see them in the first few days when the weather was calm and their blooms opened wide to catch the sun’s rays.

Since then it’s been a bit blowy and they’ve suffered accordingly. Even in the really calm days there is often still a breeze and this gets multiplied on the seriously windy days. The buildings all around create strange eddy currents that all seem to focus on my window ledges, rattling the frames and bashing the poor flowers about like a heavyweight boxing match.



Pause for thought March 29, 2009

Filed under: Info,Review — northernwindowgardener @ 12:17 pm

Spring ColourMaybe it’s the artificial shifting of time today but I was thinking a bit about what I’ve written over the past months.

I started this because I couldn’t find simple advice on the web. In hindsight, given that I’m posting three or four times a week, I’ve probably fallen into the same trap of making growing plants all sound hideously time-consuming and complicated.

Although I spend a fair bit of time thinking about how everything is doing the actual planting and maintenance takes up very little time at all, especially at this time of year.

In truth I’ve deliberately made things more difficult by trying to grow things from seed, and generally not spending too much time planning. I quite like just giving things a go and barreling headfirst into something new so the relative complexity suits me.



Wimbledon Colours March 26, 2009

Filed under: bulbs,Colour,Flower,Spring,Weather — northernwindowgardener @ 6:14 pm
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MaggieIt’s amazing how things have moved on over the last few weeks, even with a bit of a chill and then the coming of spring’s wind and rain. Here’s a little selection of pics of the progress of Maggie, the big window box that gets morning sun. (more…)



Filed under: cactus,Indoor,Seeds,Spring — northernwindowgardener @ 1:35 am

Seed tray No. 468

Somewhere underneath (or mixed in with!) that good Scottish sand are 40 cactus seeds just waiting for the right moment to burst into action.

I couldn’t resist, although I have absolutely no idea what I’ll do with them if any of the seeds manage to germinate. Fortunately as they are very slow growers I have plenty of time to come up with a solution, should one be required. The slow growth won’t put me off looking at them all the time but with a thin covering of sand I have no idea where the actual seeds are.

There’s a lot of conflicting and confusing advice out there on the interweb. For instance this site recommends using specialist cactus soil. The British Cactus and Succulent Society recommend well aerated soil of compost mixed with sand and Lophophora suggests a mix of sand, gravel and sphagnum moss peat. So in the spirit of almost complete confusion I mixed seived seed compost, multi-purpose and random sand. Then I spoiled it all by watering it from above which has probably compacted all that nicely aerated soil mix.

Lots of time to see what happens develops though.


Seed Trays – Reloaded March 25, 2009

Filed under: Seeds — northernwindowgardener @ 12:24 am
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Seeds IINot one to rest on my laurels (hmmm, laurels!) I’ve started a whole new batch of seeds in the heated prop. I can fit 45 one inch pots in there and I’ve learned from my previous experience¬† and added a bit of flexibility.

Some seedlings needed transplanted earlier than others (in hindsight, this is of course blatently obvious!) and I had some wasted space for a week or so while I waited for other seeds to germinate. But now with the judicious use of a pair of sharp scissors I’ve cut the plastic pots into sets of ten with one row of five snuck in to make up the numbers – they’re really too unstable in single rows of five so that’s just a last resort to pack the propagator.



Seedling Watch – week 7 March 23, 2009

Filed under: Indoor,Seeds,Spring — northernwindowgardener @ 11:00 pm
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MarigoldDay 42 in the Big Brother Propagator.

The Marigold have spread their wings and are starting to take over the house. The result is that Marigold one, the leader of the clique, has been removed from the BB Propagator to spend some growth time alone. It looks like there’s no coming back for this one since it’s outgrown the BB house.

Meanwhile the Geraniums continue their collective development and are co-exsisting in their own part of the BB seedling factory. Every day they grow a little bit bigger and they may need to be controlled over the next few weeks.

In another part of the BB nursery the Verbena have quietly asserted their authority and are developing their own unique style. They really are turning over a new leaf – in fact about two new leaves a week at the moment. The Aster and Lobelia meanwhile plug away relentlessly and might just sneak through to the final selection.

Tune in next week for more from the BB Nursery.


Seedling watch – week 5 & 6 March 22, 2009

Filed under: Indoor,Seeds,Spring — northernwindowgardener @ 2:09 pm
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Marigold seedlingLots of catching up to do. At least I’ve been doing things, well nature has!

First, a quick review of early March. As you’ll see from the pictures below the seedlings have been coming on really well. As you’ll know if you’ve read any of this blog I have zero experience and therefore no real idea of how things should progess. This is both a blessing and a curse – as ever. Any expectations I have I can quickly rationalise and say “well, obviously I thought wrong”!

Putting that excuse to one side, the seedlings have outperformed my expectations. The Geraniums all seeded and have continued to grow in their 3″ pots in an unheated propagator. The sunny warm conditions have surely helped, as has being able to put them in good light in front of a window . (more…)