Northern Exposure

Triumphs and failures on a window ledge.

Cactuses Updatesus May 11, 2009

Filed under: Accessories,cactus,Indoor,Seeds,Spring,Watering — northernwindowgardener @ 5:04 pm
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A cactus, yesterday.In a moment of profound weakness six weeks ago I filled up a seed tray with an odd mix of soil and sand, and planted some cactus seeds. Although I was aware that these could take some time to germinate I started taking a picture of the tray every day, even though I had no idea what I was looking for.

During those first few days any unrecognised lump or shift in soil seemed like it might be the imminent arrival of the first cactus seed. Well of course when the first seedling did make an appearance I realised that all those other possibles were nothing of the sort, just the eyes playing tricks on me.

It’s now been about seven weeks with the seeds kept in a moist and partially humid environment in an unheated propagator. There are now around 12 seedlings from 40 seeds although each of them are about the size of a very small stone. This really is an act of patience now just to leave them alone and take a look once in a while.

With all the regular seedlings now planted on into little pots the cactus seeds are enjoying the warmer environment of the heated propagator. I need to do a bit more reading on what the optimum conditions are for cactus seedlings but they’re kept wet and given lots of light. The reading I did do suggested lots of specialist conditions in everything from the type of soil and sand to use to the type of water (rainwater is best). I’ll admit to making the best of what I had rather than getting stuff especially so so far so good! Another update when they’ve grown a bit, which should be in about six months. 🙂


Cactii! March 26, 2009

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.


Weekend Work March 5, 2009

Filed under: bulbs,Colour,Flower,Indoor,Seeds,Spring,Weather,Weekend Work — northernwindowgardener @ 5:31 pm
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CactusWith the spring bulbs coming along nicely and the seeds germinating there’s not too much to do in the window boxes at this time of year. Winter plants like the cyclamen and pansies got a tidy up, mainly deadheading or removing flowers that have had their time – sadly too many of them. But generally it’s time to sit back, watch the progress of the bulbs and enjoy the fruits of the autumn planting.

A shortage of soil for potting-on the seedlings sent me off to the garden centre for the first time this year – with all the fun of getting caught in alternate hail and rain showers. I swear it looked nice out for most of the morning.

Anyway, freezing water to one side, I once again found myself buying completely unecessary seeds. Only these ones are truly unecessary rather than just overkill. Anyone for cacti?! They’ve been put to the back of the seed inventory and will get brought out as the seed factory winds down for the summer. They’re not the quickest of growers so there’s plenty of time to give them a go!

The other seeds aren’t quite so odd – some coleus, which I’ve liked in every picture I’ve seen. However as is often the case I’m not sure that I have a place for them if I do grow them. I may try them for houseplants but we’ll see how things progress before making any decision.

Surprisingly there wasn’t much on display at the garden centre. The bright primary colours of the primulas were really nice and next year I’d like to try these alongside the cyclamen and pansies. But beyond that there were big empty shelves waiting for the new arrivals. I guess it’s just a little bit between seasons at the moment.

Photo courtesy of dailylifeofmojo on Flickr.