Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Fresh Garden!

I planted my summer garden today and I am so excited to be able to employ certain lessons I learned from last season's crop.

Here's my new tomato patch. This year I am utilizing "companion planting". Pests like last year's "Heimlich" (see "Desnudos" in AMLV Archives) do not like the scent of these marigolds, so hopefully they will forage elsewhere. I only planted six tomato plants this year: one cherry tomato, one big vine I found at Walmart which was labelled "heirloom beefsteak" and one little four-pack of "Rutgers" heirloom tomatoes I bought later at Lowe's because "heirloom beefsteak" sounds like some kind of embellishment to me. It'll be a fun experiment to see what kind of tomatoes are produced by the different plants. Last summer I planted way too many tomatoes -- 12 plants! If you will remember, I ate tomatoes at least twice a day for a month and eventually figured out I was suffering from a tomato overdose with stomach pain . . . too much of a good thing. Besides the tummy trouble, the tomatoes were planted so thickly that many were lost in the tomato jungle and wasted. Next to the tomatoes and marigolds are two pepper plants: sweet bell and chili.

This side of the garden may not look like much just yet, but it was fun to plant. There are three eggplants:  one "Ichiban" japanese eggplant, a long, dark thin-skinned fruit I enjoyed in my garden last year, one white eggplant called "Gretel" and another dark eggplant called "Hanzel". Cute! The blank spaces were the most fun for me. Along the back, in front of the trellis, I planted a row of dried beans I saved from last year's crop of Chinese long beans. If you will recall, I really overplanted this crop last year, creating a thicket so dense that many three-foot-long beans were not noticed until they turned brown on the vine. It was these brown beans I wound up and stowed in a brown paper bag for this year. I simply opened the pods and used the little red-brown beans as seeds. I took care to rotate the crops, reversing the beans and tomatoes from their locations last year.

Here is most of my herb garden, Italian parsley, dill, cilantro and Greek oregano. None of these herbs take up very much space, so I thought they could easily share this pot. I've decided not to plant any food crops without dedicated irrigation this year. We will be travelling a bit this summer, and it makes me sad to see perfectly good food wasted because it didn't get watered enough.

Here's my other herb, in its own pot because it is bossy -- mint! Have you ever grown mint? Once my mom planted some in her half-acre garden in the backyard of my childhood home, and it muscled out all the other plants, and was difficult to eradicate. Mint is wonderful, but, like an unruly child, needs firm boundaries. I can almost taste the fresh water with a sprig of mint I will be drinking all summer!

In more irrigated pots I planted arugula, mixed leaf lettuce and zucchini. Zucchini is another bossy plant, but in a viney kind of way, not a spreading way like mint. I put another trellis beside the zucchini pot in case it seems to want to climb. I've also been looking for tarragon, but haven't yet found it. If I do, it can share some space in the zucchini pot since the vine will be wandering elsewhere.

Now that I've got my veggie patch all spiffed up, I am noticing it's just about time to pull out my spring pansies, at least in some locations.

These are not happy. Since it has gotten warm, this windowbox-ful is not enjoying the full sun anymore. But look how happy the pansies in the shade are:

I don't really have the heart to pull out these pretty blossoms just yet. This is all in the same courtyard-like location so it would be nice if it all matched, but I'm going to drag my feet on parts of it that still look nice.

But this one has got to go, and the marigold will really enjoy it's hot, sunny spot.

So ends this early summer garden installment. I'll keep you posted.


  1. I've bought some tall raised beds (no bending) and I will be trying my first garden this year. I've been told tomatoes are hard to grow here because it gets cold at night, even in the summer, and they need lots of warmth. But I am still going to try them with a wall of water to help keep them warm. Wishing you luck with your veggies!

  2. Oh, where are you located? The tomatoes do love the heat. They do fine here in Georgia but really hit their stride in the heat of July. The raised bed sounds like a great idea. Good luck with your garden!