In the beginning…


This is a blog about nature and, being the kind of person that I am, also arts and crafts.

As well as being a new blog, it’s a new year and I’ve moved to a new flat. One with a roof terrace!
For the last few years I’ve made do with not doing much in the way of growing things because I’ve either not had a garden or other outside space, or I’ve known that I’d be moving in a few months. But no more!

This year I’m determined to turn the bare roof terrace to a productive space for wildlife and for my partner and I. There’ll be planters of fruit and vegetables, a mini-wildflower meadow, living screens of climbers for privacy, and hopefully a small waterfeature. As I’m pretty poor, all this is going to have to be done on a pretty tight budget, and I’ll have an eye towards saving seeds and plants for next year so that purchases continue paying off in the long run.

Roof terrace - the beginning.
Roof terrace – the beginning.

Yesterday I had my first garden package arrive in the post. My spring bulbs! (Naturescape and The Wildflower Shop   gave me the most native british bulbs of the types I wanted for the least amount of money)

Unfortunately it was recommended that the blbs be planted as soon as possible, so I had to spring into action!

First project: Recycled pallet planters

My first step is to make some planters. My space being a roof terrace, I have no soil to work with so everything is going to need to be in containers. While I could have very easily purchased some planters ready made, I didn’t really fancy paying around £50 for each planter. Making them, while much more effort, is much cheaper.

Lumber is fairly cheap to get in quantitites needed, and hardware stores that sell lumber will often also cut it down to size for you. $1 per cut was what it ws in my north american experience. Used wooden pallets though, are free! I did have to purchase a saw, mallet, and a crowbar set but that was only about £25 in all; £10 for the crowbars and £8 for the saw, and £7 for the mallet.

The pallets

The pallets

After some handy youtube research, I figured out the basics of deconstructing a pallet. Basically you place the loopy end of the crowbar against the seam between two boards, close to a nail, and use the mallet to hammer it in. Then pry it apart, being careful not to splinter the wood. This can be the most difficult part, but then you dont need to go to the gym, so not so bad. Once a board is out a hammer can be used to hammer and yank out the nails, or just bash them into the wood so they don’t stick out.

I quickly also figured that I didnt need to completely dismantle the pallets. I wanted rectangular planters, conveniently around the width of half of a pallet, so I just sawed a pallet in half to use as the base of the planter. The other sideI sawed in half again and nailed in place as the short sides of the planter. Then all that was left was to nail in place the pried off boards (conveniently already the right length) to complete the long side of my rectangle. It may be a bit wonky, and there are gap between the boards. But I managed to make a good sized planter in a couple of hours.

Next step was to line the planter so the soil doesnt’t pour out through the gaps between the boards. This I accomplished using landscaping or weed control fabric. 10m x 1m for £5, not bad. I just cut some squares big enough to come up the sides of the planter. Not nails or staples, though I’m sure those would help keep it looking tidy and prevent the liner from shifting. I figured the soil would hold everything in place. 130L of soil later, and sure enough the liner wasn’t going anywhere. Just fill the planter slowly.

Roof terrace - planter complete

Roof terrace – planter complete

I was far too excited about finishing my first planter to tidy up. Instead I rush to plant my bulbs into their new home.

The bulbs in their new home.

The bulbs in their new home.

And there they are. Snowdrops, Bluebells, and Lilly of the valley.

But those arent all that are goinginto this box. The current plantings are around the edge becuase my other order of bulbs has yet to arrive. When they do they’ll have a home ready and waiting for them. Then in a month or two when things start to bloom the local bees and butterflies will have a year round source of food, and I’ll have something beautiful and blooming straight through till October.

More on that though when the rest arrive!


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