My patio garden is winding down–my tomatoes are all hanging from the vine, waiting for the right temperature to ripen, and then as they do I’ll come along and gladly pick them to eat for b’fast, lunch, and dinner. Forty in all which isn’t bad for five plants that are producing. Both of the pepper plants died from being battered around in the wind–so they’ll be none of them. But the wonderful herbs, esp. my rosemary right now, more than make up for it. Our butterfly bush is full of beautiful blooms and we’ve seen many butterflies on it these past few days. Another year of gardening and feeding the birds has almost come to an end. We still have a few orioles and also their young, as well as all colors of finches and their young. We’ve gone through two cases of food feeding them and oh the hummingbirds–they’ve really loved the homemade syrup I’ve made for them all spring/summer. Each year around this time it is almost as if the hummingbirds take a mental picture of our deck, saving it somewhere in their senses, so that they remember who will feed them again all next year. They will have such a long, long journey to travel to get away from here for winter and then such a long, tiresome journey to get back to us. This spring when they first arrived all the birds looked so haggard, but now they look happy, healthy, and restored. It makes my heart very happy to see this year after year.
Our first tomato!
Our butterfly bush–
Farmers Market Hauls–
That’s all for now–Happy August!!
Well, another week of barely any sun. I think we had sun on Saturday and about 30 minutes of it today–Wednesday.
Despite another week of icky weather–cold, dreary, damp, and no sun, I have a small tomato on one of my plants.
So– I have 2 Rutger’s Heirlooms-one has a tomato growing, 2 bush cherry tomato plants, 2 bush beefsteak tomato plants, and 1 purple Cherokee. I have snipped off the bottom foliage on all my plants (to prevent blight) and fed them. I recently purchased another thyme plant, Thai basil, a miniature rose, lemon balm, and a beautiful oregano plant. Tonight I made sure everything was planted in my garden, watered and fertilized. The next two days we are expecting temperatures near 80 and sun. This week I lost the Roma tomato plant and maybe soon the hydrangea? I am trying to keep it going after its blooms died but so far it isn’t doing very well. The juniper we planted this year and the two hostas we planted last year, which are growing by our front door, are doing alright. The browning and needle loss of my evergreen are slowing down–fingers crossed. This is how it all looks this week–
This post is a combo of week 2 and 3 due to delays in planting because of colder than normal weather, no sun, and lots and lots of wind and rain. Week 2 we lost the strawberry starts to lack of sun, I’m guessing? Other than that week 3 everything was planted on the deck and if you click on the link to my YouTube video you can watch me planting my container garden. Week #3’s weather has been just as crappy with 20 mph winds, rain six out of seven days, and temps overnight 40 and during the day 40-55 degrees. There has been one day of sun in ten days. The Roma tomato plant looks pretty rough and the evergreen tree that looked great in April is now three times as brown as it was after 2017-2018 winter which was really cold and windy. You would never know I fertilized and fed and protected it all winter long–it looks terrible. We replanted it this past weekend so I am praying it makes another comeback. Currently, I’ve replanted the evergreen and the new juniper bush. I’ve planted from plant start English thyme, lavender, Roma tomato plant, 2- bush tomato plants, 2- Rutgers Heirloom tomato plants, a cherry tomato plant, and a Purple Cherokee Heirloom tomato plant. I’ve also got a very large geranium that I’m hoping will rebloom, two smaller geraniums, and a large pot of hens and chicks. I’m still going to buy a few more herbs this weekend and set out some decorative items and then week 4 I will show you how it all looks! BTW–all the seeds I started inside were a complete fail even with the grow light. I’m not sure why? But they all got to the leggy stage and then it was several weeks before I could transplant them and they basically withered away and died. Maybe a later start next year or not at all. The plants I planted this past weekend had all been replanted while inside our apartment at least once due to roots growing out the bottoms of containers and wet, soggy, soil in every plant we purchased from our local nursery. Everything was planted in organic soil and our tomatoes were planted with Purple Cow Organics Tomato Gro.
So today is the 6th of May and things around my area are just starting to look and feel like spring. A couple of weeks ago an appointment took us close to one of our favorite plant nurseries so we stopped and yes–we ended up purchasing most of my container garden plants early. I say it every year to myself that I’m going to wait until closer to the end of May but never ever do. Because of this, I am needing to baby them/keep them alive inside quite a bit until weather permits me to have all the plants outside both day and night. Day temps are 50-65 degrees right now with overnight 35-40 degrees. Sun has been rare for the last two weeks–we’ve been having mostly cold, damp, rainy, and windy weather. I would say most years we buy early and I keep them inside for almost a month. This year I have a grow light and that is helping a lot. I have learned at least one thing so far this year and it is this—- be very careful when you buy baskets that have several plants already planted in them. I paid $34.00 for the only red geranium basket left at our favorite nursery and it’s now pretty much DEAD. There are 5 geranium plants packed in this basket and one or all of them are either root bound or have root rot. When I picked it up I looked as closely as I could to make sure the plant was healthy. By day two 25% of the leaves underneath were turning yellow. By day 4 50% of the leaves were yellow and none of the flowers were opening. I’m extremely disappointed but lesson learned. I have cleaned up the plant, removed the dead foliage and flowers, and will be replanting what I can asap.
My budget every year for my container garden is $150.00. Though I have never harvested more than $50.00 worth of food from it since year one, I still look forward to planting and caring for my container garden all winter long. Most years all I want to achieve is to grow my own herbs– which I always do (I have fresh rosemary and thyme for cooking/roasting all winter long), grow flowers for the bees– which is always pretty successful, and grow a few tomatoes. My budget amount includes new containers if I need them, soil, fertilizer, and plants. This year I have purchased—
- two bush tomato starts
two patio tomato starts
one purple Cherokee tomato start
a geranium plant (34.00)
purple cow activated potting mix (32.00)
purple cow tomato grow (16.00)
As you can see the potting mix and tomato gro take up a big chunk of my budget, but it is the only potting mix and compost that works for me–and I trust and love it. Remember –my container garden is really up against all odds as it is north facing with little shade and lots of wind. Temperatures in the summer on my deck can reach 110 degrees and though tomatoes like heat they don’t like dry, windy, scalding heat ALL day. So the soil I start with has got to be good.
Another happy and sure sign of spring around here are our birds have all arrived back. For several years we’ve been feeding finches and hummingbirds. For around three years we’ve also been feeding Baltimore Orioles. Right now we’ve seen one hummingbird and two orioles and many many finches. The finches arrived first! We were getting worried about our orioles and hummingbirds but they are slowly making their way here. All of them bring my husband and I great joy. We have fresh water, syrup, and jelly out on our deck from mid-April until late August –usually until after each bird has brought their babies to the feeders and they begin to fend for themselves. We give everyone a great start and lots of energy for their flight away from us again come late fall. There is a lot of cleaning up I must do every day to keep the area clean and replenished but the bird song we hear as their way of thanks is definitely payment enough.
One last thing before I go–last summer an idea came to me about finding an easy plant to split up and replant giving me plants at the ready for sharing with co-workers and friends. I had never done anything like this before but wanted to try my hand at it. While shopping last fall I discovered some pretty beat up, almost dead, Sansevieria at both Walmart and Home Depot. Having never cared for this plant before I was hesitant but the price was right. I bought 3 huge plants for a total of $22.50. Once home I replanted all of them and ended up with 15 new plants. Now a few months later most already have new stalks and babies growing. Already I’ve given nine plants away–here’s what I have left!
Well, that’s my spring update. I will be back week two to give you a garden update with better pictures. Until then be well. 🌿🌿🌿
Some of my container garden is going to try to overwinter in our apartment again–
My evergreen will be kept on our deck and wrapped in a wool blanket to protect its root ball. This has proved to be a very successful way for me to keep my evergreen tree alive. I’m hoping the ornamental grass, which I think is Variegated Japanese Sedge ( unfortunately I threw away the care instructions/plant ID), will survive too. Most of the birds I’ve been feeding have migrated south for the winter. The last time I saw a hummingbird at the feeder was the first week of October. The Orioles left first and then the finches followed. I set out peanuts and other assorted nuts for about a month and the nuthatches, several chickadees, and some tufted titmouse were able to get their winter stores set up. Now they too are gone and I’ve stopped feeding until sometime early spring when a few early birds will arrive back in this area.
What’s next in gardening?
Well, I planted a packet of tulips and narcissus and those along with my hens and chicks will be overwintering in the garage–insulated with newspaper and burlap. I’ve also got three boxes of paperwhites to start sometime around the holidays.
I lost the battle with my first fiddle leaf fig because it wasn’t properly draining. Truthfully I think it was dead when I bought it as the leaves were quite pale green. This past Saturday I was in a local greenhouse discussing my luck or lack of with a local gardener concerning fiddle leaf figs. She had one that isn’t doing great but isn’t dead yet either and she gave it to me to see what I could do with it. I’m hoping to nurse this one back to full health. I’m learning every day new things about plants and flowers that I will gladly share as time goes by.
The cute blue, orange and green solar lights are something my husband picked up at Shopko when they went on sale for $5.00 and we love them. They definitely brightened up our deck all summer long.
Here is what my container garden looks like today–
Until next spring this post concludes container gardening 2018. Happy fall and winter everyone.
Looking forward to future posts, I will be posting about taking care of fiddle leaf figs, fall food storing, fall/winter food recipes, and at least one post soon on supplements I’ve been using for low-iron, seasonal depression, and also chewable vitamins and are they doing anything for me?
Here’s a recipe for a refreshing salad that my family really enjoyed this past weekend-
Lavender Infused Berry Salad
- 2 tbsp A L Olivier Infused Olive Oil
- 1 tsp Pure Raw Honey ( I use Y.S. Eco Bee)
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar ( I use MiaBella)
- 1 cup fresh strawberries- quartered
- 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
- 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
- 1/2 cup fresh blackberries
- garnish with fresh mint leaves-optional
Add all berries to a large bowl. Add the oil, honey, and vinegar to a small bowl. Whisk together until completely combined. Pour the dressing over the berries and toss to coat. Refrigerate. This salad is best eaten the first day. It can be refrigerated another day or two depending on the ripeness of your berries.
I hope all my readers/followers are enjoying the last weeks of summer like my family is. Even though the season went fast goals my family and I talked about last spring were accomplished. Yes, some maybe not on their deadline, or very close to it, but others in the time we expected. Going into the fall we are ready for whatever it hands us. I know the need for me to volunteer will come a bit more often once school is back in session. Also during the holidays-peak time, when the need is the greatest. I’ve got my plan written down on how I will handle the extra responsibility of it. I cannot say it enough if you love people and love helping people- volunteer. The reward is definitely in the act of giving of yourself and it doesn’t cost you a dime.
My container garden on the deck has dwindled down to cucumbers, two producing tomato plants, and mini pumpkins.
Until the next time we meet -stay well.
I’m growing lavender! This statement makes me so happy. Literally, I grin from ear to ear mainly because I’ve spent so much money buying other people’s lavender. I’ve accomplished growing quite a lot of lavender, from seed, in containers on my deck. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s very rewarding.
The lavender I planted is called Munstead lavender- a perennial herb. I learned all about growing lavender for cooking from Renee. Her website is here and is filled with a lot of important information about growing culinary lavender. Here is another wonderful website that explains the differences between culinary and ornamental lavenders.
The first thing I made with a few of my flowers was lavender ice cream.
Can I tell you that eating lavender ice cream really relaxes you and it’s best eaten shortly before bed.
Summer is sure flying by for me. I sat looking at my lists for things to accomplish this summer, on Monday, and quickly checked off the following things-finished 80% of Christmas shopping by July 31st-check, lost the 30# that’s been hanging on forever- check, vacation-check, remodeling with friends- check, camping in a cabin- check, biking- check (WI and MN), Ikea and MOA-check twice, Lake Harriet picnic-check (besides our bike trip and occasional trips to Ikea we hadn’t been in MN for so long) graduate from university-check, preserve peaches, raspberries and strawberries and so much more- check, edit two chapters of my book-check, submit at least three writing assignments-check, research relocate-check, keep up both blogs weekly-check. Oh and yes- clean clean clean. I did spring cleaning and I currently fall cleaning. So I truly needed something as relaxing and soothing as lavender ice cream at the end of my busy days.
It’s hard to decide what I love more, rosemary or lavender. I grow them both here inside and outside of my home all year round. I buy rosemary in the spring and plant it in containers on my deck and harvest throughout the year. I make lavender sachets with the lavender I grow. For cooking and baking, I buy culinary lavender throughout the year, using it whenever I make lavender ice cream. Every slow roasting chicken we make fills the air with fragrant rosemary. Honestly, I love them both.
When I sat down to plan my Easter menu I decided to try something new for Easter breakfast, Lemon Lavender Scones. I’m pretty excited to make them as I’ve never eaten a scone before. Our Easter Sunday will be a quick and delicious breakfast of scones, hard-boiled eggs, and juice then church and back home to work on the dinner meal which will be served midday. We’ve invited four friends who did not otherwise have plans and I’ll be serving- Ham with a honey and brown sugar glaze, homemade scalloped potatoes, green beans with vinaigrette, roasted carrots (Ina Garten’s recipe), homemade rolls and New York Style Cheesecake. After the meal, there will be cards, crosswords, and board games for all.
I’m so looking forward to spring planting, I’ve got all my seeds started and the tomatoes and carrots are already sprouting. Along with getting our container gardens going my husband and I are looking forward to getting back to biking, something we do all summer long. Until next time, have a great weekend. Happy Easter to those that celebrate the holiday.