2018 Container Gardening– Week 15

This week my container garden is winding down. Some plants have been removed because they are done for the season while others seem to just be getting started. Lo and behold my pepper plant is beginning to produce fruit/veggies. I have one pepper that will be ready by the end of this week and possibly three more before seasons end. This week one of my patio tomato plants was removed–it’s done producing and my petunias were done as well as one of my new guinea impatiens. It’s a hot and humid week so far so my heirloom pear tomatoes should ripen up well and then that will be the end of that plant too. Still thriving are plants I bought almost four months ago–a new guinea impatien, a fuschia, a prairie grass plant, lavender, rosemary, hen and chicks, and the lime coleus plant. This week I purchased a fall plant that I have never seen before– a purple aster. So, we’ll see how that goes. I have horrible luck with mums on my deck. In my photos, you can see in one week my peppers progression. Also, my pumpkins plants are thriving, but will they do anything before the first frost? The last photo has the last of my homegrown tomatoes on the right and an heirloom–for size comparison– on the left that I purchased at the Farmer’s Market this past weekend.

 

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2018 Container Gardening- Week Ten



Each time as I sit inside listening to the rain or hail pelt against my deck, I feel like my Dad must have felt when his crops took on flood waters, or we had a drought during the growing season. What can you do? I feel helpless to protect my plants, although I have been known to stand on my deck holding on to my containers during high winds and such. There is nothing I can do when it rains really hard or hails. My plants get very wet and have had their leaves and in some cases stems destroyed by hail. Thankfully, my entire family isn’t depending on the income from my crop of tomatoes. That said I never take growing food on my deck for granted. This week my tomatoes are beginning to ripen–so far they have made it through intense heat, high winds, and thankfully at this time remain free of pests. Year after year anticipation of how well my garden may do and harvest time force me to plant again even though the previous season may have been a total loss. I’m guessing that’s a little like the kind of faith my Dad must have had each year to keep on planting his fields of corn and beans.

All in all this spring/summer has really flown by–it’s hard to believe we are already half way through July. As soon as I harvest my tomatoes my husband and I will be going on vacation. By that time most people will be getting ready for the new school year. This year once again we will be traveling to Door County, WI.

I hope everyone following along is having a wonderful summer. Until next time happy gardening!

2018 Container Gardening- Week Nine

So this week things have stayed pretty much the same in my container garden. Missing are both Walmart non-smelling
geraniums. Not only did they not smell like geraniums, they basically bloomed once and died. I have since visited a nursery and purchased a new geranium plant along with a new petunia plant plus more Purple Cow composting soil. My husband and I live in an apartment complex for now. We are hoping by this time next year to be moving. A few years ago maintenance came around and planted shrubs etc. near everyone’s front door. I am assuming they felt that the tenant should thereafter be responsible for all care and maintenance of said shrubs and plants. Well, the soil these plants were planted in was all wrong, not to mention the kinds of plants planted, and the fact they were hastily put in and during one of the hottest days of the year. For over a year I watered an entire courtyard near our door and four plants right next to our front door. I also fertilized all the plants that were around our unit. Unfortunately, most could not be saved–mostly due to the fact of the soil they were planted in, they were planted shallow, they were planted late fall during a heat wave, and then come spring the area was sprayed by them with a toxic weedeater. This spring nearly everything was dead so we decided to go out and buy hostas at our own expense. I thought hostas would do well near our front door and they still might. However, the spot near our front door gets extreme heat in the afternoon and shade in the am. Hostas need warm sun in the am and shade in the afternoon. This information did not deter us, instead, we went ahead and dug holes, filled them with Purple Cow composting soil, and planted the hostas. Today I made a sunshade for both plants and will cover with said sun shade for part of every afternoon. Keeping fingers crossed. My lavender is doing well since being cut back, and so is my rosemary. Our tree is still recovering, the lime coleus continues to flower and is about 2.5 ft tall, and I have a total of 14 green tomatoes waiting to ripen. How’s your garden doing?

2018 Container Gardening- Week Eight

This week I have teeny tiny pepper buds on my plants. It is so neat to see the flowers become fruit! As reported I am down one geranium,soon to be two, so I went out and bought a red geranium and red petunia to replace them. I learned my lesson at long last–no more plants no matter what from big box stores. I cannot believe I bought not one but two geraniums for $11.00 a piece and they didn’t smell like anything. For most of my life I couldn’t stand the smell of geraniums or petunias, but now my garden would not be complete without their unique smells. It sounds weird but it is true, and I can’t describe what they smell like–so next time you’re planting a garden buy some and see for yourself. They grow on you, I promise. Everything has doubled even tripled in size since plant. See for yourself–Happy Gardening All!

Rosemary–growing my own herbs

I’d always wanted to grow my own herbs, but having cats in my home for all my adult life made that impossible. Every year I would walk through the herb section at local nurseries dreaming about harvesting rosemary, sage, and thyme. I was always under the impression, silly me, that herbs had to be grown inside. I’m not sure where I got that ill-informed information. Ten years later I’ve grown many herbs–thyme, rosemary, basil, sage, lemon balm and so many more. Some I’ve had great success with– while others continue to challenge me. This year the only herb I’m growing is rosemary (Blue Spires for culinary use) and to date, this is the healthiest rosemary plant I’ve ever grown. I feel so rewarded for my ten years of learning how to pick the right starter plant, to learning how much or little to water, and finally how much light or how little light to provide it in my container garden. Today was the first harvest, and judging by how beautiful and healthy this plant looks there will be several more. All the rosemary I harvest is put in freezer bags and every week several pieces are used for my Sunday dinner of roast chicken. By spring all of my harvested rosemary is gone. I’ve tried to overwinter rosemary with zero success, but I think this year, with this plant, I may try again. Here’s a great article about choosing the perfect rosemary plant based on your location, weather, and taste.
What’s your favorite herb?

2018 Container Gardening–Week Six

My container garden is chugging along and making good progress. I have several tomatoes on each patio tomato plant, and I’ve already harvested and ate four of the heirloom pear tomatoes (the tall skinny plant in pic 3). My lime coleus is flowering, and surprise, surprise my nasturtiums have the beginnings of flowers forming. Soon, if all goes well I will have grown my first edible flower! My geraniums from Walmart don’t smell like geraniums. In fact, they don’t smell like anything at all. I wasn’t able to find red geraniums at the nursery I bought my other plants at–so the geranium purchases were last minute. I won’t make that $20.00 mistake again. My hens and chicks are doing great and have doubled in size. The hostas were bought late and we intend on planting them in the ground outside our front door. My rosemary is the prettiest green and the healthiest plant I’ve grown yet, as well as the prairie grass (not pictured) I bought just for fun. Here’s the garden this week– week six on the deck, but in all I’ve been gardening since late March and feeding birds again since, well, last fall.

2018 Container Gardening- Week Five

The fifth week of container gardening brought me weather with heat indexes of 100 degrees and three storms with heavy rain and wind. What I end up doing when we have weather like this is move all plants closer to the door, make sure all my plants are staked, and watch how much or little I water. One has to be careful with the water during rainy, humid weather. I check my tomato plants and I remove all suckers from the bottom of each plant. When foliage on any plant gets wet it can rot the stem or in the case of tomatoes cause fungus rot. Fungus rot=blight and blight =plant death, no fruit. I’ve never dealt with blight and count myself extremely lucky. Early on in my gardening, I read about gardeners pinching suckers and removing the leaves from the bottom of the plant. Also, I keep my tomato plants well ventilated and never water over them from the top. I water around the bottom of them only. This year I’ve tried really hard to care for my plants before they look like they’re wilting from the hot sun. Of course, working full-time I’m not always able to throw a sunshade over them. The sun temperature on our deck this year is running between 90-110 degrees. HOT and very hard to grow a lot of things with heat like that. If I didn’t start my container garden with hardy plants from trusted nurseries, soil & fertilizer that I’ve grown to depend on, and attention to the plant once planted, I would never be able to keep my plant’s alive nevermind fruit bearing. I love, love the little solar lights my husband bought at Shopko. I think they were $4.00 each on sale and really compliment our garden this year. Until next time–Happy gardening!

Some purple flowers growing in the lawn–

2018 Container Gardening – Week Four

My fourth week of gardening was filled with clouds, then rain, some humidity, and then cooler weather. All of my plants seemed to benefit from this. There is definitely a rhythm to gardening this year–in that there is an abundance of mosquitos to deal with. We are still feeding the Baltimore Orioles and American Finches, but this week will be one of the last weeks to do so. So, between work and play there is dodging in and out with water (to avoid mosquitos) the constant feeding and watering of many birds (and clean-up), and of course the ever busy business of sourcing fresh locally grown food. This week in our area there is rhubarb and strawberries available. Usually, I buy a lot of both and freeze, but we haven’t been eating either as much as past years. So, I will buy enough to enjoy eating for a few meals and that will be sufficient. Until next time–happy gardening! P.S. Oh ya my nasturtiums still haven’t flowered!










2018 Container Gardening – Week Two

We are slowly pulling the container garden of 2018 together. I am trying to savor every moment of the month of May. Earlier this year I found myself looking forward to May and realized I am always hurrying every spring along to summer. When in fact, I don’t really like summer. Why? Hot weather, bugs, and high a/c bills to name just a few reasons summer can be kind of frustrating. Because of it, I’ve realized that spring has probably been my favorite season for many years. So, back to the container garden. I went a bit over budget buying the lavender topiary, but I could not resist. I tried and tried to find red geraniums and finally had to settle on bigger plants already planted in containers. I really wanted to find some 6″ geranium plants and fill pots with individual ones and place them along the edge of our deck. This past Saturday hubby set my french cart up and I put it to use right away getting some of the sun lovers up off the deck floor. Weather-wise it has been cloudy here for days and days–the lavender, believe it or not, seem to love this. Though I know the lavender to love the sun. I’ve included a picture of an evergreen tree we have had on our deck for a few years. We bought two of these about four years ago. The second winter both turned completely brown and dropped all of their needles. So, I went to work trying to coax them back alive. I shook them until all their dead needles fell, sprayed them with warm water, watered well, even replanted and fertilized them. Needless to say one of them wasn’t coming back. For the last two years, I have completely babied the one that seemed to have survived, even though two winters ago he turned extremely brown again and appeared dead. All of last year I continued trying to help him survive and alas all new growth–he is doing fabulous! I wish I could say the same for my beloved tomatoes–one of my worries again this year are my wilting tomatoes. The sun hits the deck at 3pm and by 5pm, whether I’ve watered them or not, they are extremely wilted. I’m going to need to look into sun shades for them. We are happy again to host our favorite birds on the deck for yet another season. Currently, I am feeding twice a day–male and female finches, male and female Baltimore Orioles, and our much-loved hummingbirds. I’m also setting out peanuts and sunflower seeds for the nuthatches, woodpeckers, and I guess, though I’m not a fan of them, red-winged blackbirds!

Until next time–

2018 Container Gardening– Week One

My budget this year is tight and my container garden will be smaller than years past. There are two reasons for this- 1) the first one is the lack of space/wt. that our deck can hold is limited. Every year there is just too much out there and it takes weeks to clean it all up. 2) we plan on moving from this apartment by next spring so right now we are organizing, and downsizing everything in our life in preparation. I have $80.00 in my budget to buy plants for my container garden. We are in zone 4 and overnight lows are in the 50’s.

So far I have a container filled with Hens and Chicks that I got early for Mother’s Day ($12.96 Walmart), two tomatoes plants (local nursery $8.00 ea), one pepper plant ($2.00) one heirloom tomato ($3.00), one cherry tomato ($2.00), one coleus ($4.99), three ranunculus ($10.00) one lavender plant ($5.99), and one prairie grass perennial ($8.99) –all bought at Home Depot. Soon I will buy some red geraniums and all the money I have budgeted will be spent.

Right now I am taking things I have started inside, that I had seeds, dirt, and containers for, and planting them outside in soil–like my nasturtiums and some sugar snap peas soon. I’m also getting everything cleaned up on the deck and welcoming back the hummingbirds, orioles, and finches to the feeders.  I’m not sure if I’ve shared this before but I am in love with Floret Flower Farm. I asked for Cut Flower Garden by Erin Benzakein last fall for my birthday, and for Christmas, I asked for the Cut Flower Garden Monthly Planner. I ordered both from her website and couldn’t have asked for an easier transaction. My items arrived quickly and well packed(with a free postcard) both times. For Mother’s Day I asked for the gardening notebooks (these are almost full-size notebooks, not the little notebooks one often sees) and they also arrived quickly and in time for Mother’s Day. I love love love all the pretty pictures and information Erin so freely gives. I have attended several of her online gardening tutorials.

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