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:

veggies

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 РThe 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 РPlant 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 РAnimal-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 РTry 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 Р 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 ‚ô•!)¬†. 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.

#diy supplies!!! + 1 lief dat niet graag op de foto gaat voor instagwam #captainbuzzkill #ilorvehim

A post shared by Slinki (@silke_vh) on

#gezellig zo'n terraske! Bijna klaar #depotgrondisop #sinksen

A post shared by Slinki (@silke_vh) on

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!

Love

DIY magic carpet cat hammock

I made a cosy  magic carpet hammock for our cat Ananas, right under our coffee table!

He was hesitant to crawl in on the first day, but now it’s definitely his go-to cosy place. Even when we have guests over, he loves sitting at the center of the group, yet sheltered underneath the table.

ananas-hammock-result

How to make your own DIY magic carpet cat hammock

ananas-hammock-ingredients

Supplies
  • an old towel you can fold in half or into a third (like I did), make sure you use one that will look ok in your living room if you plan on hanging it in plain sight
  • some zpagetti yarn or other yarn that is strong enough to hold the whole thing (including your cat) up
  • a crochet hook
  • a pair of scissors (a knife is optional)
  • a big comb for making the tassels, but you could just as easily use your hands
  • elastic bands for tieing the tassels
  • a coffee table you can hang the hammock from
  • if you can’t attach the hammock to something underneath the table, you will have to put 4 sufficiently strong hooks into the bottom of your table or into the sides of its legs
Directions

Fold your towel and lay it out underneath your table. Make sure each corner of the folded towel is about 10 cm away from its closest table leg. If necessary, fold your towel differently or consider using a different towel. You could also cut off a strip of towel, but I wouldn’t recommend it, as the cut edge might fray when you wash your hammock or when the loose strings meet your cat’s claws.

ananas-hammock-fold
Once you’ve found the right ‘fold’, put holes through the corners of your folded towel using your knife or your scissors. Make sure to stay at least 3cm away from the edges of your folded towel.

Now, crochet through the holes to strengthen the corners of your hammock. I used this video tutorial to freshen up on my (limited) crocheting skills. I used ten slip stitches on each corner. Make sure they are tight enough not to show the towel through the crochet.
Leave 10cm on each end of the zpagetti to tie together and use to hang the tassels from.

ananas-hammock-tassels
The tassels underneath give the hammock a magic carpet look. You could make the hammock without them if you feel like you don’t need it to be as bohemian.
I used a big toothed-comb and wound the zpagetti around about 5 and a half times at the length I had in mind. Then I tied one side of the wound up yarn to the loose ends of the crocheted corners and cut open the other side. I didn’t use zpaghetti to bind the tassels together and went for yellow rubber bands instead. Using yarn might have looked a bit sleeker, but I figured it wouldn’t be as cat proof or as colorful.

For tieing the hammock to the table, make 4 braids of yarn, each about 60cm long, with knots on the ends.

Wrestle the braids through the stitches of the crocheted corners, on the opposite side of the tassels.

ananas-hammock-braid
If there’s nothing underneath the table to tie your hammock to, attach 4 sturdy hooks to it.

Hang the hammock underneath your coffee table using square knots and you are done!

ananas-hammock-knot
To attract the interest of your cat, you might want to throw some toys or treats into the hammock, but make sure not to force him into it (confession – I tried, did not work). Ananas wasn’t that interested in the hammock on the first day, but we suddenly noticed him balled up in his hammock when we were watching television on the next *aawwws all over.

Enjoy your cat hammock, lots of love!

Pinterest image ^_^

ananas-hammock-pinterest

Moving house with your cat ūüćć

Ananas, our 8 month old cat, was a bit startled by our move from the big house to an apartment.
ananas-boxHe 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
  1. Having more toys for him lying around the apartment
  2. Buying one of those Feliway diffusers that spread soothing cat pheromones
  3. Making sure he had a spot all to himself
  4. Growing some cat grass
  5. Keeping an eye on his bladder infection (when in doubt go to vet)
1. Toys

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:

twist tie

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.

2. Feliway

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!

ananas-hammock-resultAdditional 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.

cat-grass

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 ūüćć
Do you guys have any experience with this or any extra tips? Feel free to leave me a comment.

Love and purrs

Pinterest image :

movingpin

 

Favorite nook

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!

nook

Reasons why this is now my favourite thing to look at
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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!

Love, Slinki

* Get it? Living space? *adjusts glasses*
** Thaha!

My floor plan in 7 steps

As I mentioned previously, I love drawing out plans, whether I’m reorganizing my current living area or, as in this case, when I’m moving into a brand new place.

In this post, I would like to share the way I created the floor plan of our new apartment. The whole ordeal took me three hours or so, spread over two days.

IMG_2431

what I used:

  • measurements of the new apartment (got them from the sweethearts that currently live there)
  • pictures to fill in the blanks (I used the ones in the online ad)
  • gridded paper (mine has a 5mm grid, which came in very handy)
  • a mechanical pencil and an eraser
  • a ballpoint or felt pen and (just to be sure – ) some liquid paper
  • a ruler
  • colored pencils/ markers
  • a tape measure for your furniture
  • scissors (or a cutter knife if you’re up for it)
  • painters tape

 step 1 Рsketching

Before starting on the final plan, I puzzled the apartment together. I kind of remembered the layout of the place, but a detailed drawing tends to take a bit more information. For my first drafts I used the measurements, the pictures in the advert AND a top view of the place (satellite picture) which you can easily find online. That top view helped me figure out how far the bedroom sticks out of the back of the building. Thought to myself that that was a pret-ty clever thing to do…
I included the way the doors opened, the non-movable kitchen- and bathroom furniture and appliances and also made sure to include the heating, because that’s something important to take into account when arranging your furniture.

I kept scaling easy by using the length of two adjoining squares (= 1cm) on the paper as 1m in real size.

I sketched out 3 versions, each one a bit more realistic and complete than the last. When I figured out how every room attached to the next, I moved on to…

step 2 – positioning the plan on the paper

Which is why step 1 was so important before moving on to your final drawing. If you know the dimensions of the entire thing, you can center it on the page and decide on the scale you will use. Do this in pencil, so there’s no permanent mistakes.

I doubled the scale for this one (so 2cm = 1m), so the furniture I put in later wouldn’t turn out too tiny to cut out.

For the kitchen and bathroom, I used some symbols used in architectural floor plans to indicate the location of appliances like my refrigerator, dishwasher etc. and other non-moveable things like sinks and the bathtub. you can easily find them with a quick online search for ‘symbols for floor plans’.

step 3 – ink when ready

When you have the whole thing on there in pencil, go over your distances, pictures and other aids again. Have you included all of the windows? Do you remember which way the doors open? Did you get all the heating in there?

If so, put the whole thing in ink with a ballpoint pen or a felt pen, using your ruler to keep the lines straight. Let dry(!) and carefully erase the pencil lines.

step 4 –¬† add some flavor

I chose to put some color on the floors. This made it easy for myself to visualize the place, and it created a bit more contrast between the floors and the furniture, which I kept black and white. The fact that I used colored pencils turned out to be a good idea since painters tape tends to stick less to paper that’s been colored, so the risk of tearing up your plan when rearranging the furniture is reduced.

step 5 –¬† take measurements of your furniture

Take out your tape measure and start writing the dimensions of the furniture down. Don’t forget your carpets!

step 6 – cut out and customize

This is a pretty delicate task. Some of the furniture, like a couple of side tables, was kind of small, so it took some patience to cut out the pieces and add detail in pen. To be able to recognize each shape, I wrote a description of each piece of furniture on it’s bottom in pencil. When drawing on the detail, I added some plants on some pieces, to easily recognize them.

* I  went cut first, then draw, but in retrospect, maybe I should have reversed that order.

To finish the task, I added¬† masking tape to the bottom of each piece of miniature furniture, so that I could stick them gently onto my floor plan. Make sure not to stick ’em on too enthusiastically though, make sure you’ll be able to try out some different arrangements.

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step 7 –¬† play around with it!

Victory dance for your awesome detailed floor plan! Arrange! Rearrange! Get fantasizing about what the place will look like, imagine what other pieces of furniture would go well with your brand new shared space, think up what kind materials, paints and wallpapers you would love to use! Do you think you need an extra rug to tie the place together? Are there things that you might not want to take and could consider selling for some extra cash in your decorating budget? This is your chance to go wild and visualize baby!

This little project scratched my itch to get crackin’ on the place before we actually move in, I hope making your own might do the same for you!

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