Northern Exposure

Triumphs and failures on a window ledge.

Try, try again July 18, 2009

Filed under: Flower,Indoor,Seeds,Spring,Summer — northernwindowgardener @ 7:00 am
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It hasn’t all been a success story although the way the window boxes look at the moment I have no idea where I would have put anything else. It wasn’t the intention to grow everything from seed but unfortunately some seeds just didn’t work as well as others so they needed a bit of a boost from some shop-bought specimens like these pink petunias.

While I thought I was starting a bit early (looking back I see it was late Jan\Early Feb that I sowed my first geranium seeds) some of the seedlings still weren’t ready for planting out and ultimately I was too late in sowing Impatiens and Nemesia in particular. Neither really got going and by the time I was planting up the few that had made it into seedlings were much too weak for them to stand a chance.



Decisions Decisions May 4, 2009

Filed under: Colour,Flower,Indoor,Seeds,Spring,Summer — northernwindowgardener @ 8:17 pm
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Geranium LeafAfter being so sure that this was the time to plant out the window boxes for summer I’ve been overcome with indecisiveness. The geraniums and marigold seem strong enough to have a fighting chance but everything else looks a bit weedy and straggly. A visit to the garden centre didn’t reassure me, in fact it only made things worse.

I know I’ve said before that I’m aware that garden centre plants seem to be generally forced or at least grown in near perfect conditions and therefore are far ahead of home-grown specimens at this time of year. That may well be true but it’s hard not to compare my weak and straggly verbena with the strong, lush and healthy examples on the shelves.

The geraniums match up reasonably well but the brachycome, sweet pea and impatiens are all unworthy of comparison. The plants on the shelves seem tighter and bushier than my home grown ones as well. In some instances they look like completely different varieties although sadly I know they aren’t. (more…)


Idle Hands April 28, 2009

Filed under: Colour,Flower,Indoor,Seeds,Spring,Summer,Weekend Work — northernwindowgardener @ 7:30 am
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The potting shedWell they do say that the devil makes work for idle hands and while I’m not sure this is what the saying intended I’ve certainly been busy. After ducking out of a full scale planting of the window boxes due to the incoming bad weather I decided to attack the last set of seedlings in the propagator.

The sweet pea experiment prove that the non-chipped seeds germinated while the chipped ones didn’t. It was 3-0 in the shootout which alternatively means that none of the five chipped seeds germinated and two of the untouched seeds didn’t either. A bit of an odd result but I might have been too harsh with the chipping.



Between Seasons April 15, 2009

Anemone Blanda

Anemone Blanda

I seem to have found myself between seasons at the moment. The tulips and crocuses were a welcome blast of spring colour after the dark nights of winter but all too soon they have fizzled out. The pansies and anemone are doing their best to keep things colourful and there’s plenty of foliage to make it colourful.

The seedlings from the indoor nursery are coming along nicely but it’s still a bit early to plant them out. Instead they’re getting a bit of hardening up by sitting on a sunny (sometimes) and bright window ledge in front of a slightly open window.¬† The hope is that a storm doesn’t blow in while I’m away and ruin all that, well… all that waiting really. Sow, water, wait and worry – there really isn’t much more to seeds than that, is there?



Seed Sowing April 13, 2009

Filed under: Colour,Flower,Indoor,Seeds,Spring,Summer,Weekend Work — northernwindowgardener @ 5:33 pm
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Seeded Seed Pots

Seeded Seed Pots

I get the feeling that I take an overly scientific approach to gardening and it’s this that is the source of both my success and failures.

Seed sowing is a good example. Generally I carefully read the packet to find the time of year to sow them and the conditions they prefer – mostly to see if they need to be covered by a little sifted soil or just pressed gently to make contact. Then if there’s anything left unsaid I might scout around on the internet to see if I can get the missing info. This results in a range of advice, often conflicting, so I need to make a few decisions.

Once I have a set of conditions there’s a near-religious observance. Each seed will be sowed in exactly the same manner and after-care will be carried out in strict accordance with the instructions (unless of course I leave the seeds in a heated propagator in front of a very sunny window!) Basically my modus operandi is that of a white-coated lab assistant – preparing the seed trials for future rating.



Seed Stroke April 8, 2009

Filed under: Indoor,Seeds,Spring — northernwindowgardener @ 11:04 pm
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Bleached soilSo I have to confess to my first rookie mistake in the seed factory. At some point in the mid-afternoon last week, as the sun blazed through the window, I remembered that I’d left the heated propagator switched on, sitting inside on the window ledge, at the sunny side of the house with the cover full on and the vents closed. In fairness I did feel bad at that moment and rolled my eyes at my own stupidity. Some hours later when I lifted the lid I will also admit to a slight stifled laugh at the carnage this simple mistake had caused. Well if we can’t blame anyone else (really – sunny spring days in northern Britain – who thought THAT would be the problem?!) we might as well laugh at ourselves.

Unfortunately the fail-count is 8 1/2 Sweet Pea, 9 Nemesia, 5 Lobelia (which were proving just as rubbish as the last lot), 5 Aster (also proving impossible to grow – radiation treatment or not) and 9 Impatiens.

Until this major misjudgement I’d been pretty good with the propagators – moving them into the light and turning the electric one off in the morning, then moving them back from the chill window and applying the heat again in the evening. It just reminds me what a delicate bsuinesses this whole seedling thing is and gives me a kick up the backside to pay attention in future. The ambient temperature is probably good enough to do without the heated prop now although I’m always aware of how suddenly temps can drop again so after a bit of repotting (while I’m typing this) and reseeding I’ll start them off again and keep the fingers crossed that nature forgives me this one goof.


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.