7 things I learned from my first attempt at vertical gardening
So the summer has passed and with the upcoming Super Blood Moon, I feel like fall has inevitably come. Time to evaluate my first attempt at vertical gardening!
For starters, here’s what our little construction looked like on our scruffy city terrace:
I’m so glad to have taken my love for plants outdoors again, even if it is on a terrace. I actually enjoyed the extra challenge of creating a suitable vertical garden with limited space and money to spend.
So here’s what I’ve learned so far:
1 – You will need a boatload of sunshine!
This was a bit of a bummer. Our terrace is east-oriented, which results in only about 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight each day during the summer months, while 6 hours is recommended as the bare minimum for good growth. This wasn’t a huge issue as it turns out, but it did result in our plants not carrying nearly as much fruit as they could have. So if you’re planning on a project, consider you might have to lower your expectations depending on the orientation of your terrace. I still enjoyed the whole experience and watching the plants grow over time, but we were very far from skipping a trip to the greengrocer’s every week.
Whilst they did look good on instagram, especially the cucumber, zucchini and eggplant didn’t really take without a decent 6 hours of sunlight, we only harvested about one fruit per plant. Maybe extra fertilizer, more space or some sort of mirror-contraption would have helped… I’ll have to look into that before next spring.
2 – The city is your warm and cosy friend
Living in the city can benefit your plants! The warmth of the walls surrounding our terrace and the fact that we are living close to the centre of Brussels makes for some welcome extra warmth. It’s always 1 or 2 degrees warmer in densely populated places in comparison to the countryside. All the stone and concrete keeps the heat close to your terrace and releases warmth at night. Cherry tomatoes and strawberries love it! Be extra careful to water your plants when the weather is dry though (in the evening so the wet leafs don’t get burnt in the sun).
3 – Plant stuff you enjoy eating
We bought a lot different varieties of lettuce this, mostly because all of the little plants at the market looked so cute and it was nice to have a few of each variety to just watch while it grew. It was sheer enthusiasm. Also we figured not all of them would make it. But yay they did! And argh I’m not at all a fan of lettuce.
I ended up making a pretty decent soup out of the abundance of leafy, curly and wavy leafs, but in retrospect, I should have utilized the space for something I would have enjoyed more. Like the zucchini, the zucchini rocked. … Both of them.
We bought small plants at the market instead of starting from seeds. We started on this pretty late in spring, so starting from seeds was not really an option and in any case it also felt like the smart thing to do as beginners.
4 – Animal-proof your veggies
As we have tons of cats lurking around the neighborhood, including our very own Ananas, we decided to cat-proof the lowest planters with some netting, just for suresies. It also helped keeping caterpillars away from the lettuce.
5 – Try fertilizing
I don’t think we did enough of this, mostly because we never bothered to go buy or make any fertilizer, but it would have probably been better for the plants.
6 – Put your planters to work, visually
If you have a small and not-exactly-goodlooking terrace, like we do, you might consider approaching your vertical garden as a means to make your terrace look better.
We created our vertical garden based on a pin I found, linking to a post from Man Made DIY (thank you guys ♥!) . We didn’t follow the instructions through and through (if you plan on keeping your vertical garden for some years, please do drill pilot holes!). We opted to make more of a temporary version with less screws, more nails and some random wood we had lying around. That shouldn’t have sounded as dirty as it did. Ahh well. I’m leaving it in.
We also used the wall of veggies to create a bit more privacy on the terrace, as you can see, it faces the yards and windows of our neighbors.
7 – Improvise
Have fun with it! If this is going to be your first garden project, you might as well just go for it and improvise a bit. If anything goes wrong or some plants don’t make it, you will have learnt something new and will be better prepared the next year!
It’s much better to try and start building up some experience, maybe someday you will be able to start a big in the ground-garden with confidence and a ton of city garden-acquired knowledge!
Have fun with your green thumb!
Moving house with your cat 🍍
Ananas, our 8 month old cat, was a bit startled by our move from the big house to an apartment.
He seemed to have a hard time not having an entire house all to himself, not being able to play outside and of course missing my housemates. He actually had five big loving human play-with-me-and-pet-me-machines. There’s only two of us left now.
I too would be very displeased with a 60% drop in attention.
It stressed him out, he got a bit of a bladder infection and his fur wasn’t looking quite as awesome as usual (never underestimate fur as a health indicator on pets). It was time for some serious kitty TLC! I’ll share with you the 5 things we came up with to make sure Ananas felt welcome and fit in his new abode.
Our solutions to The cat’s moving stress
- Having more toys for him lying around the apartment
- Buying one of those Feliway diffusers that spread soothing cat pheromones
- Making sure he had a spot all to himself
- Growing some cat grass
- Keeping an eye on his bladder infection (when in doubt go to vet)
Since we’ve moved, we’ve had to keep him inside. In these first months, he would be very likely to run away in a new home, so there’s that reason. But besides that, it’s been too cold outside to take him onto the empty terrace and play with him there anyway. Also frankly, I don’t trust the looks of the huge neighborhood cats. Playing outside will be an activity to reintroduce come spring (please come spring*).
To make the inside of our apartment more interesting, Tim and I are constantly finding and making little toys for him to play with; out of ribbons on gifts, balled up socks (he loves worn socks much better than clean ones – go figure), but the one toy he absolutely adores is this:
He is an absolute twist-tie lover and will chase one of these for an hour on end – or untill he loses it under the refrigerator (sad meowing*). We already had these lying around, so they’re easy fun for him as well as cheap and amusing for us.
You can actually find/craft tons of cat toys with stuff you already have. Last week, I put a bottle stopper cut in half in a toilet paper roll, folding up the edges and he had a blast tossing and chasing it around.
I agree that having more toys lying around in the apartment adds a bit of clutter, but it’s a cheap way of keeping your cat up and happy, even when all the humans are out.
This one helped a lot in getting Ananas to relax. Too bad we only got this after the move, because it’s recommended to introduce the pheromones to your cat a week beforehand. The diffuser has been plugged into a socket for the past month, but even on the first day, we noticed a difference in his behavior. He just calmed down and became more affectionate, where he had been a bit skittish right after the move. Maybe if we’d known about this product before, he might never have had the stress-induced bladder infection in the first place…
3. A spot of his own
Tim’s cat-loving grandmother actually pointed out the importance of some personal space for the cat. A place where he can hide away from the humans, but is still able to keep an eye on his environment. Eventually I got to crafty with an old towel and made this awesome cat hammock right underneath our coffee table. I made a detailed tutorial if you get inspired to make your own!
Additional bonus on this one is the fact that it acts as cat-toy storage as well! When guests come over I just throw the ribbons, socks and twist-ties in there and they magically disappear out of sight.
4. Cat grass
You can easily buy cat grass online, you get a box of seeds and soil sent over, add some water and start growing. Ananas was showing a bit too much interest in our house plants. So with the cat grass, we provided him with an alternative to munching away on our pretty-pants plants. I couldn’t have the white plastic box the grass came in on my living room floor though, so I planted the grass in two oversized mugs.
5. Stressed out bladder
Since Ananas is a neutered male, we had to keep a close eye on his pee. Now there’s a fun thing to share on a blog. Stop reading if you’re already getting grossed out ^_^
we noticed some red discoloring in his urine, so I did some online reading and decided to keep a very close eye on his toilet behaviour.
Neutered males can have a shortened urinary tract and are more prone to FLUTD ( feline lower urinary tract disease) than female cats. When crystals or stones are formed in the bladder due to the infection, your cat can be in big trouble. If their urethra gets blocked by the crystals, your cat could die within days if you don’t take it to the vet.
Since I didn’t see or hear any signs of actual pain and discomfort in him while he did his business, I turned to a food supplement. It’s called Amiqure Urinary Tract Paste. We’re still adding it to his food twice a day and the discoloring has disappeared. We also make sure he gets his meals around the same time each day, which reduces stress and is better for his digestive system. To make sure he’s drinking enough water, we put out an extra water bowl and made sure that the water in his bowls is always fresh (cats are surprisingly picky about this – they will drink out of a puddle outside, but got forbid they’d drink the same bowl-water two days in a row). In the beginning, we even added a bit of water to his dry food.
I’m happy that it didn’t have to come to this, but if at some point he would have mewed in pain while peeing, or if he had started to pee suspiciously often, I would have taken him to the vet asap.
So that concludes the five ways in which we have tried to make the move into our new apartment les stressful for our cat 🍍
Do you guys have any experience with this or any extra tips? Feel free to leave me a comment.
Love and purrs
Pinterest image :
And so the decorating begins…
A lot of stuff is happening in the apartment. Between me discovering Pinterest – thus completely losing myself in DIY plans – and actual life happening, I found some time to decorate over the past few weeks.
Bit by bit, we’re putting the finishing touches on things (not that anything is ever really ‘finished’, nor should it be in any living space*).
So now there’s this handsome corner that leads from the sitting area in the living room to the bathroom. It used to be a nothing-space, white and empty and stuff, but aha! No more!
Reasons why this is now my favourite thing to look at
- Our great high ceilings give us the room to experiment, like for example with a shelf right above a doorway.There’s about a meter and a half of space left between the shelf and the ceiling, plenty room for plants and picture frames.
- It fits perfectly into our BUY ALL THE PLANTS-plan! Plus ivy makes me want to use the word ethereal. Which is a nice word to think of when you walk underneath its strands to go take a shower.
- I finally found a great spot for this art print, a portrait by the talented Dieter Vanfraechem (check out his amazing portfolio) that I never displayed before.
So why would I have been hesitant to display it?
Well, that’s me in the picture (plays You’re So Vain by Carly Simon in the background). And I’m a bit scarcely clad, which I absolutely don’t mind looking at, so I love having it out** until maybe the in-laws come visit. It’s one thing to have my naked lady drawings hanging everywhere, but yeah. You catch my drift, probably. Eve-points for the subtle leafy-coverup!
- I had this pretty shelf still lying around and the black brackets work great with the black and white books, the portrait and various black details on the rest of our living room furniture.
IN OTHER NEWS:
I am happy to say that since last Saturday, when we raided IKEA (and our bank accounts), my desk is no longer moonlighting as a dining room table, but now has it’s own corner complete with golden fairy lights (yes, DIY project) and the ever sexy looking Eames rocker. How I’ve missed having a workspace!
* Get it? Living space? *adjusts glasses*
NYE and no interwebs
First and foremost:
All the best to you and yours in this brand new year!
We’ve moved into the apartment!
Two weeks and three days ago to be exact. And it was quite the busy day with parents, siblings and housemates helping out, driving back and forth with two family cars, loading and unloading and even picking up some online-bought second hand furniture in the outskirts of Brussels.
All of that with Tim’s broken elbow, lots of stairs and traffic jam galore. Our knackered parents drove back home at 11.30PM, leaving us with furniture and boxes all over the floor, but not before making sure the biggest pieces had already been properly set up. Like the bed. That was awesome. So proud. So sleepy.
On moving day, we got ourselves a new second-hand Belgian designer sideboard which was near-impossible to fit into my father’s car and had turned out to be enormously heavy. But it now looks oh so b-e-a-u-tiful opposite the kitchen ❤.
We found out that the corner-cabinets we spotted online (also second-hand) are almost an exact match for Tim’s beautiful mid-century modern (hand crafted way back when near our hometowns) cabinets. The wood of the corner piece is a bit lighter and instead of a base board, like the other ones, it has 4 pretty legs. Apart from that, the handles and details turned out to be matching exactly – bliss*.
The dining room table we had our eye on was quite damaged (which was not mentioned in the advert, nor visible in the pictures – not cool bros), so we passed up on that one, which is a bit of a pity for the wasted time, but not spending that much money on a damaged table was certainly for the best.
By consequence and necessity, my desk is moonlighting in the kitchen with a couple of tip-up seats. It doesn’t seem to mind ^_^.
Since the move we haven’t had a proper internet connection – hence this late post, but that’s supposed to get sorted this Thursday (and not on the 29th as was planned – grmblgrdamnyouinternetprovider).
Ooh! We already had our first little houseparty on NYE! And the first reactions to the place were very positive – so yay! More prouds! I made some fresh hummus and guacamole and all night long we ate and drank it up cosily/sillily – hope you too had a great start of 2015!
*Never you mind that chipped nail polish! I was slaving in the kitchen and making the place look great all day, so myeah!
(also – that’s the Eames rocking chair in the back!)
Cheers babes and hunks, much love.
Online furniture shopping
On this beautiful lazy Sunday, sitting on our almost ex-couch in our almost ex-living room, Tim and I gently slipped into an online second hand shopping spree.
After a day of looking around, we’ve got our eyes on some gorgeous mid-century modern style furniture. So we sent out some emails and did some bidding on eBay.
As I write these words our living room is morphing in my mind. If we get the cherry wooden dining room table, my desk table won’t have to be temporarily repurposed, so where do we create a working space? And if we get the corner closet, do we need to leave another piece behind? Confusing and exciting, online shopping for second hand stuff is definately keeping this moving process interesting.
One of the pieces on eBay that we actually got our hands on was this beauty!
Although a replica, it’s designed after the Eames molded plastic rocker, so I am totally psyched. It’s being delivered to our new place after our move!
It’s going to look great on our dark wooden floors, and what I love about this timeless design is just that. It’s timeless! It goes with the eclectic – bohemian? – airy style we have in mind right now.
Shopping online together was also a good experience. We’re getting to know the details about each other’s design related likes and dislikes. I’m most delighted to find that we’ve found a style we’re both happy with… Awesomesauce!
Tim’s slightly more into heavier pieces, like my street find we dragged into my room a year and a half ago (which I’m planning to revamp for the new place, maybe more later). But his purchase of a five-piece living room cupboard set last year was actually what sparked my love for the mid century modern – lighter stuff! So we’ve been growing towards each other in that sense.
Anyway, that’s where we’re at, very excited, very up for the move – now with extra seating!
Location, location – dislocation
Things were going so smoothly, what with our aligned stars and all, so I was kind of expecting something was going to put a kink in our moving process…
Well, the day before yesterday, something definitely got cracked. My boyfriend’s right elbow to be precise. He made a nasty fall and dislocated it, fracturing his humerus in the process.
I’ve spent all day yesterday at the hospital with him getting scans and x-rays and ultrasounds and nope, he’s not going to be able to be much of a physical help during our move. He’s getting an operation on Friday, so fingers crossed for a swift recovery!
Silver lining – with this imperfection popping up in the process, at least now I know I’m not dreaming anymore. It’s something ^_^ !
Fitting in the furniture
I get the urge to draw detailed plans from my father. When he used to work on the pipes in our house or helped out in one of my siblings’ houses, he always knew exactly what to do thanks to his research and his beautifully drawn plans. I was always curious about his detailed schemes and asking him questions about what all the squiggly lines and symbols meant.
I think the first detailed plan I drew was of my second student flat. I had suddenly had to move out of the previous one because the landlord was selling the entire house, leaving me with only two weeks to find a new place before the beginning of my third Bachelor year. I was nervous about getting everything in there, the room was smaller than my then-current one and it had three doors to boot. When I drew the whole place out and pasted in my cut-out furniture, I retrieved my cool.
Whenever I feel like I have no control, I tend to clean or plan. It eases the mind and occupies the hands. Perfect for someone who sometimes gets just a tad neurotic.
The first night after we visited our future apartment, I couldn’t sleep. I was visualizing Tim’s and my furniture on the hardwood floors, saw my picture frames up on the white walls and my curtains in front of the windows.
After five excited days and an equal amount of sleepless nights I couldn’t control myself anymore and I asked Marek, who currently lives there with his wife and baby, for the exact measurements of the place. I quickly got a response with his estimated measurements. Using those, the pictures used in the advert and a bit of my own memory, I drew out the floor plan of the apartment. At home, we measured all of our furniture and I now have a detailed plan of the apartment and bonus – a little more tranquility in my mind. Enjoy! I know I do ^_^
Within 24 hours stars aligned
– a long introductory read ^_^
The way I’ve been living
Ever since leaving my parents’ house at the age of 19, back in 2007, I’ve been sharing houses with people. Five different houses over the past eight years, all of them different, all of them great in their own way.
Living in a house together not only keeps costs low, it also keeps your surroundings interesting. You never have to feel alone, but can choose to retreat to your own space whenever you feel like it. Plus, having different personalities in one house is a great way to keep you grounded and self aware. It stretches your social skills (there’s been trial and error) and teaches you about how to communicate and compromise. A lot depends on the people you live with, sometimes you clash and things can get tense. But most of the time and with good intentions, sharing a house is the way I thought I wanted to live for practically the rest of my life.
So a couple of months ago when Tim pointed out to me that (ever since I got a cat, a very adorable one) we spent almost no time at his place anymore, I started thinking about him moving in to the house I share with three other people. We could live together without the huge commitment of getting our own place, and he wouldn’t be throwing money away paying rent for a place he stayed at for one, maybe two nights per week.
Without wanting to get too mooshy here, I have to point out that I’d never before even considered sharing my personal space with a boyfriend. So yeah, uhm that was a huge mental step for me, FYI in cursive.
I mentioned the idea of him moving in to my housemates and they had some other points for me to consider. A couple moving in to a shared house could throw off the over all balance of the place. Even if you don’t intend on hogging the couch four yourselves or having romantic dinners in the common dining area, situations occur in which a couple ‘claims’ space without purposely wanting the other occupants to feel like a third wheel.
On my oh-my-god-I-actually-want-to-live-with-this-guy cloud *hearts in the eyes*, I hadn’t considered their concerns yet (bad housemate behavior on my part). But I thought they made a great point and I’m sure that had I still been single, I wouldn’t have wanted a couple moving in like it wasn’t a thing.
So we had a house meeting and eventually decided to give the couple in the house-situation a shot. A two-month trial period as it were, with an honest evaluation planned at the end of January. If it didn’t feel right to everybody, he could still move back out, right?
When that question was asked, I felt a small cringe in my chest.
He could move back out?
With me still living here?
Apart from that being a bad decision financially, I was suddenly so sure that I didn’t want to live anywhere without him anymore *again with the hearts*. I realized on the spot that I was finally at the point where I didn’t mind giving up my personal space anymore, I wanted to share it. I hadn’t considered having to live apart again and the thought of it made me feel icky (for lack of a better descriptive term). So I told my housemates, who were just as surprised about my decisiveness as I was. I wanted to live with Tim, in the house if it worked out, if not, elsewhere.
As I said, sharing a house keeps you grounded, so re-grounded by our meeting I told Tim about the trial period plan.
We were laying in bed staring at the ceiling and I could feel he was frustrated by the idea of moving in and maybe having to move back out after only a short while. On my side, I felt a bit hesitant about telling him about my epiphany earlier, during the meeting. Right off the bat we’ve been kind of careful about ‘claiming’ each other too strongly in our relationship. We were both very happy being single and uncommitted together before things took the crazy turns that lead us to being together.
So telling him that I didn’t want to live without him anymore felt like a bit of a bombardment, since I could only suspect him to feel the way I did. I had just realized my commitment to him a couple of hours before, so I assumed he would have to warm up to any new information.
After a bit more ceiling-staring I finally mentioned the possibility to maybe look for an apartment together… Just to make sure we could keep living together, no matter the turnout of the trial. Like me before, he hadn’t thought about that yet, but it seemed like a good idea to make sure we wouldn’t have to find something at the last minute come February.
The next day, he was just as surprised as I was about how good the idea of an apartment together felt to him. As it was a pretty slow day at work, we sent each other links to a couple of interesting apartment adverts. One of them was actually located on the street I used to live on when we first met. Since I really miss living there and the apartment looked great, I asked Tim whether we should send an e-mail, just in case. The just in case turned into an appointment with the current occupants of the place. They instantly replied to my e-mail, inviting us to come and have a look that same night.
So after work, feeling excited, hesitant and curious at the same time, we rang their bell and got invited into a beautiful, clean apartment. High ceilings, tons of space, huge windows, a fully equipped open kitchen and beautiful hardwood floors, and not too pricey, a perfect fit. We drank a cup of tea and talked about the place, the neighborhood I missed so much, about why they were leaving and whether they would consider us. I looked aside at Tim, at his excited face. My face was also expressing mountains of extreme excitement. They would love to propose us to the landlord.
We left there to go see a dance performance, already glowing with the idea that we might get our own place by the end of December. (BY THE END OF DECEMBER o_o) On the bike ride home, with celebratory french fries in his backpack, we couldn’t stop sneaking peaks at each other and fantasize about how wonderful it would be to live a bit closer to the city center, in a place of our own. We ate on the bed in my room that night, which confused the cat a little, and I loved that moment of pure bliss in which I could feel that we both wanted this more and more each minute. The night before, we had been staring at the ceiling…