Prettying Up the Porch…Sorta

Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap  —  March 9, 2012 — 6 Comments

I’ve been meaning to blog about this for a few weeks now. Back at the beginning of February when I set up my little veggie garden I took the opportunity to get some green-thumb action in on the porch, as well. These three planters had been sitting neglected since last fall. You can see that I started a little acorn collection in one to amuse myself. We had a TON of acorns fall from our oak tree this year and for some reason I felt inspired to pick a few up every time I went through the front yard. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

By February it was clear that whatever plans I’d had for those acorns were never going to be realized, so I picked up some delightful-looking plants from my local nursery to take their place. From left to right are creeping jenny, corsican mint, and lavender. I think they were about ten dollars total.

I cleared out the old dirt and leaves, emptying each planter down to the layer of pebbles I keep in the bottom for drainage (since none of them have holes in the bottom). You can see from this angle that I keep some pebbles in the bottom of that little silver creamer, as well. I’ve used it as a planter before and it’s precious, but it requires a very tiny plant and I didn’t see any small enough that struck my fancy at the plant store.

Then I filled each up partway with my homemade potting mix (also known as Mel’s Mix: one part each of compost, peat moss, and vermiculite. You can read all about it in the post I linked to above about my vegetable garden).

One by one I popped the plant in and filled up the remaining space with more potting soil, then gave it a gentle watering. Don’t they look beautiful?

This is the reality of gardening with no shed, no garage, etc. All my gardening paraphernalia is stowed behind the porch swing. I tell myself people won’t notice the mess even though it’s clearly visible to the right when you’re standing at the front door (like I was as I snapped this picture). I dream of getting a small shed someday.

And now, in the spirit of keeping it real, here’s the harsh reality of what those beautiful little plants look like after only a month in my care.

Pretty pathetic. I really want to have a lush container garden on the front porch but it seems like the only thing I can keep alive is ferns, so maybe I should just stick to those. I don’t know where I went wrong here. Part of me thinks I didn’t water them enough. I am rather lax about that sort of thing, and I have heard that containers require more watering than plants in the ground. Then another part of me thinks that maybe the layer of pebbles isn’t enough to make up for the lack of drainage holes and maybe my plants are drowning despite my stingy watering habits. Yet another part of me thinks maybe I should just stick to succulents and ferns, since they seem easier. Any container gardening experts out there? What gives?

Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap

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6 responses to Prettying Up the Porch…Sorta

  1. Hi there, I am no expert, but from experience pots with no proper drainage are really tricky…. I ended up having holes drilled into mine and since then have had success! I think your idea to plant succulents is worth a try… or stick to the good old fern!!!

  2. I don’t have a clue. I have a similar situation. I have these miniature cedar trees on my deck. They are supposed to be able to grow anywhere in all weather conditions. They came from Northern Oregon for crying out loud, they should survive Illinois. I followed potting and watering directions exactly, but I still have crispy brown trees. I keep thinking they are in shock and will come out of it, but I am probably fooling myself. It sounds like Erini above me has good advice.

    • Charlotte | livingwellonthecheap March 14, 2012 at 11:02 am

      So frustrating! Gardening is rarely as easy as I think it will be. I don’t know why I keep bothering.

  3. I agree with Erini about the drainage – so important – and suggest skipping the vermiculite (or less – one third is way too much) as well as the vermiculite. Use regular potting soil and/or compost. Water well when the top of the soil dries out a bit. And yes, tried and true plants are best – it takes some experimentation. I can’t grow ferns here in the dry climate.

    • Charlotte | livingwellonthecheap March 14, 2012 at 11:03 am

      Thanks for the watering advice. I never know how to tell if it’s time for water or not.

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