2018 Container Gardening–Week 16

Well, this week will be almost the final week I will share this year’s garden pictures. I will put up one last photo when our deck gets cleaned and everything is put away for winter. I started feeding the birds last summer and continued through until this summer without any breaks.  We’ve been feeding birds or occasionally squirrels for many, many years. Feeding them from a second-floor apartment with neighbors directly below has been a challenge.  Birds drop seed, feeders leak, and my favorite thing–birds poop. A LOT.   My life of late has been cleaning everything up out on the deck before work, and feeding–then returning home 8,10, sometimes 12 hours later and doing it all over again. Year after year for many years especially since we moved into this apartment. So, I’m taking a break and the birds are just fine with it. We cut off the syrup early for the Orioles and Finches so they were able to find other sources of food very easily before the Orioles migrate. We feed finches all winter long along with many other little birds that stick around these parts during the cold weather.  As far as gardening goes, I started seedlings late last winter/early spring, so I’ve been at it several months now. My container garden has been growing and producing a total of 16 weeks, but my seed starters for several plants started almost seven months ago. Again, busy because I water prior to work, then water and deadhead as soon as I get home. Because of the type of plants I choose to grow, I don’t get to take days off without having plant issues (mostly wilting).  So, it is nice that things are winding down. Fall is coming fast I’m afraid. I picked up a container of Henry Blue Asters and a mum plant the other day when I was out.

Without further ado–

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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.

 

2018 Container Gardening- Week 11

This past week we’ve been dealing with cooler rainy weather. Not necessarily good for what I’m growing. I can’t remember if I updated last week, but I’ve lost most of the blossoms on my pepper plant–so probably no peppers this year, though there are new possibilities. This happens they say (the experts) when temperatures are too warm. The week they dried up it was very hot here with heat indexes of 103 degrees. Last week I picked my first tomato and it had blossom rot– I know what causes this and that’s too little calcium in the soil. So I went out and gave all my plants some Purple Cow Compost tea and a few days later picked my second and third tomato and they are just fine. My peppers had this issue last year and I was too late in catching it.  My lavender is getting leggy, but my rosemary and hens and chicks plant are thriving. We trimmed the lime coleus and now have two healthy branches that are flourishing.  Currently, that geranium and petunia plant I picked up at a local nursery is filled with gnats. This happens a lot with plants and soil that sit outside in the wet for long periods. I’ve bought many a bag of big box dirt(never again) that was filled with fungus gnats. Looks like this geranium and petunia were planted in some of that stuff at the nursery. So, I will probably get rid of that plant this next week before they start flying indoors. That’s it for this week. All total I’ve been planting, watering and caring for my container garden for 5 months now– with almost 3 months of it spent outside gardening.

 

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!

2018 Container Gardening–Week Seven

I’m thrilled to say my nasturtium flowered this week, just as I’d basically given up. One thing that I know I did wrong with it was that I fertilized it, and I’ve now read fertilizing it probably made the plant want to produce more leaves vs. flowers. I had an abundance of leaves so this pearl of wisdom made sense to me.

Temperatures this week were in the mid-eighties and I was able to harvest two more pear tomatoes. One of my non-smelling geraniums bit the dust so I replaced it with a lovely pot of petunias I found on clearance. Next up I am anticipating the ripening of half a dozen tomatoes on my two patio tomato plants.

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!