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Posts Tagged ‘herbs’

It’s going to look like this*
Handrawn plans, since it's cold outside.

I am trying to keep my plans for next year reigned in, but it is proving to be almost impossible. I blame a number of things: the fact I have so many pots from last year, The Bountiful Container by Rose Marie Nichols McGee and Maggie Stuckey (review to come), knowing I have a reliable nursery and farmers market at hand for quality supplies, my out of control imagination and predisposition towards daydreaming, my desire to have something happening in my garden in all seasons. What’s a girl to do?

Working from my aforementioned plans, I’ve decided to add carrots (probably Scarlet Nantes) to the snap peas (very likely Sugar Snap VP instead of a snow pea, but maybe both if I get out of control) and greens on my list of cool season crops. I want to expand this list greatly in years to come, but I’m new to extended season growing, so I’ll see how these go this year. As you can see, I also am adding strawberries to my list of summer plants. Fresh strawberries are one of my favorite things and they shouldn’t be a problem to grow, so I have to have at least one for snacking/topping my ice cream or cereal, but I secretly want about 5.

Deciding what to do for flowers has been a pain because there are so many neat ones out there. Like I mentioned before, I really want to grow morning glories because I have always loved them, but they tend to be more like a weed in the garden. I won’t have that problem in containers though and I am going to mix them with moonflowers so I’ll have one vine blooming in the morning and the other in the evening. Because I still need more flowering vines apparently I am very interested in having some purple Cathedral Bells take over the railing leading to my front door. I will probably have one more pot with a flower on it and right now that is looking like it will be a balloon flower, an Astra series one that will be small and compact.

I’m so excited! I know that it might be a bit of a challenge trying so many new things, but I’m ready.

*Obviously even if everything goes perfectly, all the plants will not peak at the same time like in my fanciful drawing. Moonflower and morning glory bloom at opposite times, so getting this kind of overlap would be impossible, not to mention my tomatoes should all be ready at different times.

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I have left my Sweet 100 and my rosemary from the summer, but aside from that all the edibles have been disposed of. I still have my coleus and my snapdragon (which is blooming all hot pink with yellow throats!) from the seeds I had this summer. I let the coleus get a little leggy, but that’s ok. I think I’m going to pinch it back a lot and see if it recovers or not. In the meantime I am bringing them in for the cold nights and returning them outside and will do so until it’s too cold during the day.

My houseplants are in to stay for the winter. I repotted almost everything – my hoya is in a 12″ hanging basket to go in the kitchen and my jade move up to the old hoya’s pot. I’m not too sure what I want to do with my succulant garden because it has a hole where one plant died last winter. Maybe I’ll replace it with a new plant at some point, but that’s low priority.

I went out to buy that hanging pot this weekend and got sucked in to getting this cute little philodendron for $2.99, which I had to get a new cute pot for. I wish I could have more houseplants, but one of my cats is young and very persistent and my apartment is not very sunny, so I have to work carefully to fine places to put them. I wish I had an aerogarden for herbs to compensate for this, but those things are just too darn expensive. Maybe I’ll splurge and get one with my Christmas money. Hmmm…

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I’ve been researching what I want to grow next summer and already have a pretty good idea of what I’m going to plant.

Tomatoes!

They grew so well this year and were so tasty, so I am going to make them the central crop for next year. Though the three varieties from this summer performed well, they were small fruited and less suited to my cooking needs. After lusting for all the fancy varieties at Laurel’s Heirloom Tomato Plants and TomatoFest, I decided on four varieties that I will start from seed next spring.

  • Sophie’s Choice – A very small, bushy plant that produces very early. Fruit are regular red globes, 8-10 oz.
  • San Marzano – Semi-determinate plant that make lots of red, plum-type tomatoes that ripen mid-season. These are good for sauces and tomato paste.
  • Black Sea Man – Satisfying my desire for a unique looking tomato, these are dark burgundy with green shoulders and are 12-16 oz a pop.
  • New Big Dwarf – This was the only beefsteak kind I saw that is a determinate, making is better suited for container growing. As with all tomatoes it’s size it ripens late in the season and gets 1 lb+, but the plant only gets about 2′ tall.

I’m very excited about this variety and I’ll let you know how they perform. If my ambitious seed-starting program doesn’t go very well I will get starters at the farmer’s market again, probably another Sweet 100, a Better Boy and an Early Girl and maybe something else. They aren’t as specially suited for container life, but I think they will be ok.

Peppers

No jalapeno and bells next year. I want poblanos for stuffing and pepperoncini for pickling. The poblanos should be no problem to find starters for, but I’ll have to grow the pepperoncini from seed.

Salad Greens

They grow while it’s still cool, so I’ll buy a long trough and have them both in the spring and fall. I imagine I’ll buy a mescalin seed mix and call it a day, but it is hard to resist the urge to try more interesting things like swiss chard and kale.

Snow Peas

Not sure what kind yet, but I can direct sow these also while it’s cool. I love these raw and in stir fry, but they can be expensive at the store and I hear they freeze well.

Flowers

I’m the most undecided here. I’m pretty sure I want morning glories to trellis up the dividing wall between our deck and our neighbors, maybe poppies, maybe some columbine. I will probably decide on a whim at the last second depending on the selection.

Herbs

Basil again, for sure. And probably catnip for the cats and maybe some spearmint? I’d do more, but space is at a prime.

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Garden Diary

June 8, 2008: I decide to plant vegetables in containers to grow on the sunny deck of my apartment. I do some research and figure out the bare bones of what I need to buy, because being a poor student does not afford me the opportunity to try anything too fancy.

June 9, 2008: I go to the farmers market and buy plants and Wal-Mart and Lowes to buy supplies and end up having enough room/money for:

  • Jalapeno x 2
  • Straightneck Squash x 3
  • Black Beauty Zucchini x 3
  • California Wonder Bell Pepper x 3
  • Patio Tomato
  • Sweet 100 Tomato
  • Yellow Pear Tomato

(I already had rosemary, basil and some houseplants.) I picked these plants because I knew I would eat them (I’m still getting over my childhood vegetable aversion and honestly cooking and gardening have been the best way to do that) and I picked plants that looked the most mature because I was afraid that I was getting a very late start. It turned out that this was not the case, but it didn’t end up mattering.

June 13, 2008: I planted some coleus and snapdragon seeds so I could have some things thriving in the fall, but mostly as practice growing things from seeds. My deck looked like this:

BeforeBefore

And my plants were starting to fruit:
Three tomatoesZucchini buds!
First jalapeno!

July 11, 2008: I watered everyday, sometimes twice in the intense summer heat. This was a bit labor intensive because we don’t have a spigot outside, but I was pretty diligent and attentive.

I fretted a lot about every small thing that might indicate a problem with my plants. After my first jalapeno (pictured above) set within a few days planting I experienced some early blossom drop and fretted about that. I fretted when my earliest tomato blooms didn’t set. I wondered why the green peppers weren’t blooming. I checked my zucchini and squash everyday and wondered if I would be able to tell if I saw a female flower. I worried if I was pinching the basil back correctly and if I was pruning my tomatoes too much or too little. I worried a lot about the Mircale Grow Moisture Control soil I used and if had too much nitrogen.

But everything was growing nicely! It was a jungle out there on the deck and hard to walk around and even though I worried, I was proud with what I have achieved. The deck looked like this:
After!Squaaaaash
Yellow Pear Tomato

August 4, 2008: Most of the things I worried about were totally irrelevant. It turns out I was just impatient, because most plants were producing well. The squash and zucchini were battling with powdery mildew though, probably as a result of overcrowding and wilting on 100+ degree days, stressing them. We got a little to eat out of them, but not as much as I hoped.
Sweet 100And by the way, bell peppersunripe yellow pear tomatoes in summer

August 25, 2008: School started, so I wasn’t giving the plants as much love as I had in the full summer, but while I didn’t kept up with jalapeno canning I got to graze heavily on never ending tomatoes. I knew I was coasting on all my hard work from the summer, but fall was not too far off and these plants were going to be tossed soon anyway. Oh, and my coleus and snapdragon lived.
Fruits of the harvestColeus in summer

Part 2 coming soon with my lessons for the season, followed by a garden update and then with my (current) planting ambitions for next year.

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