Ok, so I am not green fingered and I know nothing about gardening. In fact, what I actually know about gardening you could fit onto a postage stamp. So far the only things I have ever had success growing are few cacti on my bedroom windowsill when I was about 10 and lately some IKEA bamboo in a vase. Turns out that stuff if pretty hard to kill. But, in the last few weeks Phil and I have been inspired to start our own little garden. It’s funny this inspiration should hit now, when we live in an apartment with absolutely z-e-r-o outside space, not even a balcony. In fact, it would probably have been better if this had happened when we actually lived in a house with both a front and back garden which we woefully ignored.
So why now? Well, partly due to a couple of friends of ours who have had a bumper crop of summer veg this year with equally little outside space which made us think it might just be possible, and partly because we’ve been a bit inspired by our new veg box scheme (post coming soon) which sort of reminded us how totally neat it is to remember that vegetables grow in the ground, in soil! and taste pretty good when they’re fresh (who knew?? … super easy to forget when you live in the city.) . Although, according to a few gardening blogs we read, inspiration hit about 3 months too late for us to actually grow anything this year, so we decided instead to be proactive and grow bulbs for next spring.
Soooo, to turn our whimsy whim into a reality we both took a break from study this Saturday afternoon to hit the garden centers of Edinburgh and spruce up our lounge windows with a couple of planters to grow bulbs in. Just to give you an idea of the kind of space we’re working with here’s a before picture of our window ledge.
It literally is that – a ledge. The plan was to sort of wedge our planters in the space resting on the concrete ledge at the back and the metal railings at the front. Phil did a quick measure up before we headed out so we knew that we had about 8 inches width and around 2 arms length of window space to fill (I never said it was precise measuring, lol).
Our first stop was Homebase. Normally, B&Q would be our go to shop for all things DIY as its actually about 5 times the size of Homebase, but Homebase is much closer so we thought we would try it before driving all the way out of town.
Well, Homebase did have plastic troughs but a) they were kind of more expensive than we expected at about £10 each and b) the selection was pretty limited and none of them were quite the right size and shape to fill the space. So, we headed back to the car and drove on out to B&Q where we hoped they’d have a bigger selection.
Verdict: Success. Although they were more or less identically priced, B&Q had a huge selection of troughs in green and terracotta colour. And, they had a few green ones which, placed next to each other would be pretty much exactly the right size (fingers crossed). Hooray. Troughs done.
The next step was to buy soil as we don’t have any, living in an apartment. This is the part of the shopping trip where my lack of gardening knowledge became painfully apparent. Luckily, Phil has actually been in a garden or two, so he set to looking for what we actually needed while I giddily wandered up and down the compost aisle asking helpful questions like: “Phil, is soil and compost the same thing?” “Phil, couldn’t we just plant them in fertilizer then they’ll grow really fast?” “Phil, look this compost is for strawberries and this is for tomato’s but theres none for daffodils, what are we going to do?” Lol. It was quite a learning curve, but, just in case anyone is quite as gardening dim as me, here’s what I learned:
- There are A LOT of different types of compost (which is sort of the same as soil apparently.)
- Plants don’t like it if you only plant them in fertilizer (which is also different from compost.)
- Some composts advertise as being for specific things, like tomato’s or strawberries but actually they have the same ingredients (I was a bit mistrustful of the compost companies after I found this out).
- Bulbs will grow in more or less anything.
So, Phil decided we should go for the tomato compost which was cheap because it was the end of the season. I really really tried to point out that we weren’t growing tomatoes and maybe it had different nutrients in it or something but then I got distracted by the pretty watering cans we definitely needed (and Phil assured me we didn’t – but I still think we do) and Phil put the tomato compost in the trolley. Ho hum, you win some you loose some.
The bulb decision was a bit simpler. We knew we didn’t really know what we wanted so we plumped for a colourful looking mixed selection of 70 bulbs which was on special offer.
All in all the total spend came too:
2 Green Troughs : £10 each but only £15 total thanks to a surprise £5 discount which came off at the till – we love when that happens!
2 Bags of Tomato compost: £2 each, £4 total (they were super cheap thanks to being on end of season clearance).
1 Box of Mixed Bulbs: £9.98
Grand Total: £28.98
Not bad really, especially considering the troughs are hopefully going to be used again next spring and summer to grow some vegies.
Once we got home the potting process was pretty easy really. We popped an old towel on the floor in front of the window to protect the carpet and limit spread of soil.
According to Phil, it’s a pretty good idea to give bulbs and plants some drainage (who knew he knew so much about Gardening!) So, step one was to poke some holes in the bottom of the troughs. Apparently the trough makers knew we would do this so they handily left a series of little dimples along the bottom where the plastic was weaker which meant you could just pop a screwdriver through it to make a line of nice little drain holes.
Step 2 was to empty the bags of soil into the troughs. This is the part where the towel really came in handy because it was a bit of a messy process (well, anything can be a messy process with me around, but soil+carpet=bigger than usual mess).
Step 3 was to lay out the bulbs and have a look at what we’d got so we could divvy them up evenly between the pots. According the information sheet which came with the bulbs we had: 10 Narcissus triandrus Thalia, 8 Tulipa triumph Passionale, 8 Tulipa triumphe Mistress, 20 Muscari armeniacum , 14 Crocus tommasinianus Ruby Giant and 10 Anemone blanda Mixed. Phew, try saying that ten times fast. The names are pretty much all greek to me, except that I always thought that Anenomes were sea creatures lol, so who knows what will pop up!
Step 4 was to just dig a little hole in the soil with the end of a spoon (not sure a spoon is the recommended equipment but it was the first thing we thought of) and pop the bulb in. Now, it turns out there is a right way up to put bulbs in (yet another piece of Phil wisdom!) which is with the little hairy bottom down and pointy bit pointing up. We also followed the instructions on the box about how far apart to plant the different types of bulbs and how deep.
Step 5 was just to pop the troughs outside. This required man power. Thanks Phil 😀
Once we were done I gave them a little water to settle them in (although I did have to use a jug as I don’t have a watering can, *cough cough, Phil hint, cough cough he he he he).
In the end we were left with something which looks like this:
‘Ta –DAH’ – a box of soil. Lol, oh dear.
So now we just need to wait. (Although, I will secretly admit to having peeked at least 3 or 4 times this afternoon to see if anything had grown yet – it hadn’t). Fingers crossed they stay all snug in their compost for our long Edinburgh winter and come spring we could have something which looks like these.
Hurry up little bulbs and grow grow grow, so we can have pretty flowers this spring.