Hi. Hello there. Long time no see. Nice to see you again. How are you doing? Feeling vaccinated, footloose and fancy-free?
Turns out, trying to start a blog while writing a dissertation, teaching two courses, freelancing and living through a global pandemic is not the best idea.
Whoops. But if I had to drop the ball, now is a pretty good time to pick it back up.
We are knee-deep into summer garden season!
My summer garden plants have been in for three weeks now, and I even had to pull the spinach and lettuce this weekend. We had an unseasonable string of 90+ degree days that the poor babes just couldn’t keep up with.
Three weeks in, things are starting to hit their stride and the garden looks lush and full.
As I am also trying to hit my stride, I don’t have any tutorials or tips today, just a breakdown of everything I’m growing – so far.
That’s right. Despite starting my own seeds, and already starting more than could reasonably fit, I’ve still been buying seedlings each week at the farmer’s market.
I would have said I’m done, but now I might need just one more.
We had an unfortunate tomato pruning incident yesterday.
And the jury’s still out on whether my Dr. Wyche’s will make it. He was looking a little droopy today – but it was also 88°.
If it doesn’t outright die (I was rushing and I nearly cut through the stem), I’m tempted to keep it as an experiment. How stunted will it be? Will it produce fruit?
But then I remember it’s my only orange slicer and I really want that colorful harvest basket, y’all. So we’ll see!
In more positive news. I have my first tomato fruit set as of a couple days ago! Three wee babes have popped out on the Blue Berries tomato plant. The peppers and tomatillos are also covered in blossoms, but no fruit yet.
The big excitement of the week is the first mess of peas!
If you didn’t know this charming tidbit, the first harvest of peas and other legumes is called the first “mess.” I picked a handful for my lunch this weekend, but it looks like they’re really about to come in. And good timing too, as they’ve reached the top of the trellis, and it will soon be too hot for them!
After that preamble about the state of the summer garden, let’s discuss some specifics about what’s actually growing and how.
As a refresher, we have very limited space. Now, compared to my apartment-living days, when I was growing in containers on my balcony, this space feels expansive. But the reality is it’s still a tiny city backyard. The whole lot is less than 5000 sq ft, and the front yard is larger than the back. A good chunk of the backyard is also taken up by a screened in patio that’s needed to divert rainwater away from the foundation. (Coming up this week: A rainwater barrel.)
We also have a 50 lb dog who needs space to run and play. All of which is to say, my garden may be tiny, but she’s fierce. (Tell me you’re doing a PhD in English literature without telling me you’re a doing a PhD in English literature).
We have two 10x3x2 foot raised beds as the main garden, a handful of containers, and a three-tier Greenstalk planter. Let’s take that in reverse order!
In the Greenstalk:
- Moon and Stars Watermelon
- Long Island Cheese Pumpkin
- Parsley and Chives starts from the Farmer’s Market
Now I know it’s probably a bad idea to try to grow large crops like watermelon and pumpkin in a planter. But in my defense, I am actually trying to stunt them a bit. Again, tiny backyard! My hope is that I’ll wind up with shorter vines/smaller fruit. Call it another experiment.
And then Mr. Meaghan Grows decided to wait until planting time to pipe up with his opinions on what he wanted me to grow. Or rather, he started asking if I was growing things that I wasn’t – hence the parsley and chives. Needless to say, I’ve already begun the list of things that need to be worked in next year for his sake. Top of list: habanero and banana peppers.
- 8 Sparkle Strawberry plants
So I’ve never grown strawberries before. When selecting this June-bearing variety, my thought was, “great, I’ll get a harvest all at once and be able to make jam!” I didn’t realize that you were supposed to pull blossoms the first year, and that I might not get any fruit anyway.
Now, this set-up is temporary and my patience is finite. So I’m not pulling blossoms, and it does look like I’ve got fruit growing. Fingers crossed!
No commentary here beyond my incredible excitement to have fresh herbs to cook with all summer!
In the container tea/medicinal herb garden:
- Holy Basil/Tulsi
- Pineapple Mint
- Pink Seashell Cosmos (beauty is medicine for the heart)
Against our back fence, where there’s an unused gate and some pavers, I made a little tea garden out of a variety of planters. It’s also at a spot where our flowering dogwood sort of sweeps downward, creating a very beautiful tableau. If only the squirrels would stop digging in the planters!
There’s also a container of lemongrass up beside the patio door to help discourage mosquitoes.
And then the last of the containers is a line of potatoes and zucchini against the side of the patio. There’s one grow bag with a Black Beauty Zucchini. And then two of Yukon Gold potatoes and two of Magic Molly potatoes, which are purple!
In Summer Garden Bed 1:
- Two Hungarian Heart Tomatoes
- One Yellow Pear Tomato
- Two Armenian White Cucumbers
- Two Chicago Pickling Cucumbers
- Magnolia Blossom and Sugar Magnolia Tendril Peas
- Three Verde Tomatillos
- French breakfast radishes
- Lacinato Kale
- Two Alabama Red Okra
- Muscade Carrots
- Oxheart Carrots
- Black Nebula Carrots
- Blue Lake Bush Beans
- Tongue of Fire Beans
And, then, I recently ripped out the lettuce and spinach. I’ll probably pop some flowers in that space for companion planting purposes but then clear them out again to sow some fall veggies later in the summer.
In Summer Garden Bed 2:
- One Blue Berries Tomato
- One Dr. Wyche’s Tomato
- One Paul Robeson Tomato
- Two Brad’s Atomic Grape Tomato
- Two Blot Peppers
- Two Jalapeno Peppers
- Two Paprika Peppers
- Two Poblano Peppers
- Two Shishito Peppers
- Two Tabasco Peppers
- One Corabci Sweet Pepper (one I sowed never germinated)
- One Antigua Eggplant
Between the row of tomatoes and the row of peppers/eggplant, I have alternating Erfurter Calendula, Alaska Mix Nasturtium, Naughty Marietta Marigolds, and Blue Borage. And then at the end of the bed, a few more flowers, including Candy Cane Mix Zinnia, and a whole mess of basil. My goal is to be able to harvest as much as basil as I want whenever I want all summer. So there’s Genovese Basil, Lettuce Leaf Basil, Purple Opal Basil and Thai Sweet Basil.
If you’ve been keeping up, yes I am growing five varieties of basil. I love it, okay. It’s the taste of summer.
And that’s all she wrote. Hopefully I’ll be back next week with a super simple compost bin tutorial. In the meantime, some parting words of wisdom: Trap crops work, y’all! Look at all those aphids on that borage (and not on my precious tomatoes one foot away!).