By Ed Powers
For the past three years, my wife and I do flower boxes which rest on our home deck railing at about 8000 feet. We usually buy mixed flower pots at a local nursery or big box store, and also plant flowers in a fiberglass urn on the deck. Before beginning, we researched in the Garden notes from CSU, which was very helpful as we designed, built, and planted them.
Initially, they were exposed with no cover. The first set of plants were eaten by varmints that lived around our deck, and then what was left was destroyed by hail. So we went back to the drawing board and designed what we thought would be a great cover to protect the flowers from hail and varmints. Wrong! It protected against hail but not varmints.
We finally developed protection that did both. We made a plastic roof that went from one end of the long pots to the other, secured to the railing and pots with screws. Bird netting was run around the lower half of the pots. This accomplished what we wanted. It protects flowers from hail as well as varmints.
To our surprise it also allows some of the flowers to self-seed and grow again the next year. Marigolds, petunias, and allysum have reseeded for the last three years. The plastic cover serves as a simple greenhouse. However we must remember to water every day or every other day because the multi-plant roots require quite a bit of moisture,
This year has been our best year for all our flower pots. We have volunteer plants from previous years, and I grew seeds and we bought more flower pots. We fertilize them and I water them every two days. These pots are overrun with flowers, including purple and white Alyssum, blue and white Labella, Petunias, Marigolds, assorted Snap Dragons, Dusty Miller, Million Bells and Verbena. In our urn, Columbine, Prickly Pear Cactus (dug up from our property), and two colors of petunias are growing strong.
Of course the fact that we were at home a lot, because of COVID-19, helped our gardens. We have learned a lot about our gardens because of this and will apply it in the future. We really enjoy the flowers!