Northern Exposure

Triumphs and failures on a window ledge.

Weekend Work – Part 2 May 13, 2009

Filed under: Indoor,Info,Spring,Summer,Weekend Work — northernwindowgardener @ 8:00 am
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Soil SoupFollowing on from yesterday’s post

It quickly became apparent that I would need somewhere to mix all the ingredients for my wacky soil so a big plastic recycling box was hastily requisitioned and pressed into soil-making service.

I decided to soak the crystals first so that they were already part way expanded when I mixed them in. I did this because I didn’t want to fill the boxes up, plant everything then find that the whole thing expanded when I gave it a good soaking. That’s kind of what happened last year with all these rubbery crystals working their way to the top so I was hoping to learn from experience.

Not Breakfast

Moisture-Retaining Crystals

So a few small scoops of crystals were put into a spare ceramic flower pot and water was added. In about ten minutes they were really soaking up the water and in twenty or so the pot was full to the brim with inflated crystals. It really is amazing how much they expand and I’m fairly sure they could soak up much more than I gave them. It was enough to make sure that weren’t going to completely upset the soil mix though.

The first window box I cleaned out had some tulip bulbs, cyclamen and a really old pansy left in it so they all got removed. Throwing the plants away was ok on this one as they had dies already but in later boxes it was difficult to toss a healthy looking plant away. However I just don’t have the space or the knowledge to keep them at the moment. I’ve kept the tulip bulbs for now as it could be that they can be stored for next year – I just need to learn if that’s possible or not.

With that done the soil was tipped into the mixing bowl and the rest of the ingredients were added.

More tomorrow …

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Weekend Work – Part 1 May 12, 2009

Filed under: Indoor,Spring,Summer,Weekend Work — northernwindowgardener @ 1:36 pm
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The KitI finally took the bull by the horns this weekend – although it was much simpler and less life-threatening than actually grabbing a bull by the horns – and took the first steps to having wonderfully lush, colourful and striking summer window boxes. In contrast to the fading and unkempt boxes that were currently adorning my ledges.

The weather cleared up considerably on Sunday and so I spread the old Sunday papers across the table in an attempt to control the mess I was going to make (only partially successful) and made a quick inventory of what I needed.

Soil, moisture-retaining crystals and control-release fertiliser were first on the list. Then I got it into my head that I needed the soil to be more free draining so I went out an bought some Vermiculite. This is supposed to help with moisture retention and keep the soil light and less prone to compacting. At least that’s what the experts (and the back of the packet) say so who am I to argue?

The plan, if indeed there was a plan, was to start with one box and clean it out, removing the bulbs and winter bedding plants. I can feel experienced gardeners wincing as I say this but I intended to retain the soil and mix in some new soil with the crystals, vermiculite and fertiliser. At this point it felt more like a soup recipe than gardening!

Part 2 – tomorrow-ish