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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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Just as I was feeling down about the end of the growing season, my ranunculus began peeking their heads through the soil. I had kind of forgotten about them! I also have a pot with a bunch of pink tulip bulbs. This is my first attempt at each, but hopefully they will both bloom in the spring. I was worried about the quality of the bulbs, but it appears there’s some life in them at least.

I totally forgot about my ranunculus

I got tired of protecting my coleus from the cold so I let it go, but my snapdragon seems fine with the weather. My Sweet 100 soldiers on despite my neglecting it for months. It’s really quite amazing. Imagine if I had been more attentive?

Snapdragons
Would someone please tell my tomatoes it's November?

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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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