The Windowsill Wants a Container Garden

A container garden with succulents. Photo by Cecilia Kennedy

Between intermittent rounds of fireworks, which add much-needed excitement to the lull between June 30th and July 4th, I can hear the windowsill of my home office complaining. It has just about had it with me because it has not seen anything “interesting” since the cilantro plant incident of August 2017, in which an otherwise leggy and perfectly healthy cilantro plant died under my expert watch. (See the post from this blog: “The Cilantro is Calling! (Or is it Screaming?)”) The conversation goes something like this:

Me: Oh, come on! That’s not true. Of course you get to see something interesting each day. SeaTac the cat comes and sits on you.

Windowsill (WS): Yeah, about that. It needs to stop. The cat’s bottom might be “interesting,” but not in a good way. Also, I’ve seen him step on your computer to get over here and that’s why it’s always crashing.

Me: Really?!!! I’ve been blaming Alex and Nate.

WS: Yeah, it’s the cat, but there’s something you can do—something that would make me happier as well.

Me: What is it?

WS: Could I have some plants?

Me: Now, WS, you know what happened the last time. I planted some cilantro and it grew for a while and then it died.

WS: That’s because you gave it too much sunlight and not enough water, but there’s a solution to that—besides remembering to water your plants: You could plant succulents.

I could plant succulents! Of course! I’ll succulent the heck out of that windowsill. Here’s the problem though—and I can’t stress this enough times in blog: Everything I plant dies. Nate and Alex are so much better at being green thumbs than I am, but if the desert is able to produce fun and interesting stuff besides sand and snakes, then maybe I can take a crack at making things other than mold sprout on the windowsill. So, I’ve drafted my fifteen-year-old son Alex to help me because his windowsill is absolutely thriving with aloe vera plants and other things that grow so beautifully his biggest worry is that he needs larger pots for transplanting them. He probably needs a bigger windowsill.

Together, Alex and I head to Lowe’s for containers, dishes to catch the water/soil once we’re finished planting, and some succulents. (We already have potting soil, thanks to Alex’s various projects.) The plants I choose have cool names like “Ghost Plant,” “California Sunset,” “Key Lime Pie,” and “Pork and Beans.” Of course, they have “real” Latin names, but I prefer the other catchy names because they could double as descriptions for nail polish, lipstick, or gourmet ice cream. (Mmm pork and beans—make mine a double scoop!)

When we get home, Alex takes over:

Alex: Okay, Mom. This is very important: You put handfuls of soil into the pot and figure out where you want the tops of the plants to reach.

Me: How will I know?

Alex: Just fill the pot with dirt until it looks right.

So, I start to fill the container with dirt and ask over and over again, “Are we there yet?” Amazingly, Alex is annoyed.

Next, we put the plants into the soil and Alex gets very stern and serious as he tells me that I can’t mix the potting soil in with the dirt that’s already around the plants when I take them out of their plastic containers from the store.

Alex: They have their own soil. If you put the potting soil over it, the plants think they’re suffocating and they die, but that’s the risk you take when planting things. Some won’t make it.

Me: No, they all have to make it. The windowsill will kill me.

Alex pretends he doesn’t hear me. Maybe that’s why he likes swimming so much. He spends a lot of time under water so he doesn’t have to hear me say things like, “It’s time to do laundry!”

Once the plants are in their container, we soak them well with the garden hose and let the water settle in. Soon, I’ll be able to put the container on the windowsill, right in the spot where the cat usually sits—and if I listen closely—after two, three, or four rounds of pre-Fourth of July fireworks—I can hear the cat complaining about how he can never have “nice things.”

Your Turn: What’s a DIY project you’ve attempted in the past that has not gone well, but that you’re willing to try again? Discuss below!




26 thoughts on “The Windowsill Wants a Container Garden

  1. Love it! Also, if the succulents die, you could always try an orchid. I’ve had one on my windowsill for three years. It doesn’t do anything but sit there, and it won’t flower, but I haven’t killed it yet.

    Liked by 1 person

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