A tight fix

A tight fix

What to do when faced with a deficit of pots, and a surplus of flowers?

Shake a leg, and there’s always a way out of a tight fix.

Laddered tights to the rescue.

With regular watering, these Blue Lobelia are blooming beautifully outside the kitchen door.



Sorry: another crap photo… Night was falling and the sky was drizzling, and I’m too tired to fiddle about trying to take a proper picture and too excited to wait. Because it’s already been a whole two days since I salvaged my new plant pots! Pre-weathered (you can pay a lot for that look you know), and ready to go.

I’ve been sniffing around local skips in search of new containers for weeks now, but West London is near the bottom of the skip league, and facing relegation. Then, across town,  I came across this pirates’ treasure! I now feel under pressure – I don’t feel like I can just stick any old homeless plant in these pots, but instead will have to find a planting plan that does my bounty justice.

In the murky background lurks a recycled plastic delivery container, now holding chickpeas with radish lodgers, and peas growing in toilet roll planters.

"Virtually all of the world's fertile land has passed many times through the gut of earthworms"

"Virtually all of the world's fertile land has passed many times through the gut of earthworms"

Worm Towers is a new-build project offering accommodation across three floors to an initial quarter kilogram of worms, situated in the borders of Kitchen Door and within easy reach of local composting facilities. This eco-friendly development is created entirely from reclaimed materials, and boasts a thriving roof-garden.

Worm Towers offers a significant expansion of local organic waste disposal capacity, with the additional benefit of the rapid generation of a nutritious growing medium.

Project components

(1) Blue delivery tray
Previous work: Supporting the transfer of goods from wholesaler to grocer.
Current position: Facilities support – Raise worm towers above ground level, allowing the operation of (2).

(2) Hummus pot
Previous work: storage of chickpea-based product.
Current position: Distribution executive – collection of nutritious worm fluids and transfer to plant-feeding delivery apparatus.

(3) Cafetiere filter (over drainage hole inside bottom tray)
Previous work: Sifting coffee; made redundant when company disbanded after industrial accident.*
Current position: Security – Facilitating exit of excess fluid while barring descent of stray residents.

(4) Polystyrene food delivery containers
Previous work: transporting mackerel from Cornwall to Frugilegus’ fridge, courtesy of veg-box scheme.**
Current work: Drainage tray, accommodation and catering floors, rooftop garden. It is hoped that the materials selected will help to keep worms cool in summer and stop them freezing to death in summer. Easy to install ventilation and elevator shafts (poke a hole of appropriate size in walls and between floors).

(5) Furnishing
Shredded newspaper presoaked in rain-water, handful of compost to help residents settle in, damp cardboard covering. Residents are then supplied with food-waste and the occasional portion of ground down eggshells as they dislike acidic conditions. For this reason, onions and citrus fruits are also avoided.

(6) Caretaker
Residents start life on the bottom floor, remaining there until they have filled it with poo. They will then continue their work on further floors. The caretaker of Worm Towers provides regular food and fresh bedding at a rate tailored to residents’ appetites and clears up after them, replacing cleaned floors at a higher level in the building for their continued use. Luckily the worm casts provide a fertile growing medium for use in the surrounding garden.

(7) Roof garden
The stark modernist design of Worm Towers may not to be everyone’s taste, but its impact on the landscape is softened by the fragrant flowering plants that adorn its top floor. While the plants require some watering in hot weather, any excess water is not wasted, as it drips through the building maintaining cool and damp conditions on lower floors.

* Yes, it was dropped

** I know, I know, I’m supposed to return them for re-use. But I forgot to put them out, and then stopped ordering after a succession of vegetable disappointments.

Those without glasshouses can throw stones

Those without glasshouses can throw stones

Here’s an in-progress shot of the mini-greenhouse I’m trying to fashion out of repurposed materials.

It’s an old set of shelves (8 yrs of use, working out at approximately £1.25 a year), that I don’t need any more and so has been in pieces for the last three months. And just the right depth for seed trays!

I removed the middle shelf and most of the slats on the top-shelf (the middle one in the picture is removable). I then found some nails of an inappropriate length in the bottom of my tool-box, and bodged a few of the spare pieces together to create a roof-frame. Somehow managed to do this at just the wrong time for my neighbour’s piano practise.

My craftsman brother is not allowed to examine this, or he will have bad dreams.

So far, I’ve tacked some bubble-wrap along the back, which is against a wall. The next step is to reclaim some clear plastic for the other sides, though I might need to expand the skeleton to give whatever I find some more support.

The plan is that this will allow me to propagate a lot more seedlings at one time – and will be a more satisfactory arrangement than taking over the kitchen with pots of mud – a kitchen which really doesn’t get quite enough light anyway. And maybe it will allow me to get away with some rather late sowing too.

That is, assuming I ever get any further with it…  Anyone throwing away clear plastic in West London? I shall ask freecycle.