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.



Planting … Chris May 23, 2009

Filed under: Colour,Flower,Indoor,Info,Review,Seeds,Spring,Summer,Weekend Work — northernwindowgardener @ 7:00 am
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The Line-upI really do feel a bit bad for Chris. Out there on his own ledge, doing his own thing, travelling the path less travelled. And in this case, getting a random mix of everything that wasn’t getting used somewhere else.

The phrase ‘runt of the litter’ might be a bit harsh but the reality is that this is where all the strong, well-developed plants ran out. No geraniums, marigolds or shop-bought plants here. Instead it was a rather sad mix of verbena, asters, sweet pea and brachycome – none of which looked truly ready to flourish outdoors.

Unfortunately for them, and for Chris, this has become my experimental box. The remaining seedlings were basically split 50/50 between being planted outside and remaining indoors on the sunny ledge. We’ll see how they compare in a couple of weeks.



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.



Weekend Non-work April 27, 2009

The Public ViewSo when it came down to it I chickened out of planting everything this weekend. Instead the boxes that will get completely re-done have been left to do their own thing – which is mainly to do nothing with the supposedly dwarf tulips, which ended up growing to about 12 inches, still looking lush and healthy. The won’t even die back despite my neglect. The others got a quick tidy up which consisted of deadheading the pansies.

After looking at the weather forecast it looked like it’s going to be a colder and wetter week and I just didn’t think that was a good way to start the still-tender seedlings off. As much as I think the garden centre plants have been pushed along, and are therefore a couple of weeks further on than my seedlings, the brachycome, verbena and sweet pea still look very weak. I just didn’t have the confidence that planting them today would give them the best chance of survival. (more…)


The Nursery April 17, 2009

Filed under: Flower,Indoor,Seeds,Spring,Summer — northernwindowgardener @ 12:14 pm
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SeedlingsThe weather has turned a bit grey and misty this week so things aren’t looking at their best. At times like this it’s fun to think about what’s yet to come rather than what is currently happening.

Despite my miscue with the last set of seeds the first couple of batches are healthily growing on a sunny ledge indoors. When I remember I open the window a bit to let some cooler air circulate in an effort to harden them up a little. This means one room in the house has become an improvised, and distinctly oversized, cold frame.



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.