I think I’ve settled on the final configurations for my various gardens this summer. It’s getting too late in the season to plant anything new, so I’ve just filled up the pots and spaces I have, bought baskets for the remaining transplants, and put everything in their proper places to grow for the next few months. I’m already starting to plan out next year’s planting schedule, since it involves some fall-planted bulb tubs and starting seeds as early as February. In the meantime, here’s what’s been going on!
My roses bloomed last week! They’re small but numerous, and very pretty. Not as much scent as I’d hoped, though. This one is admittedly an experiment to see if I can successfully overwinter a rose plant and have it alive by this time next year. If all works well, I’ll look into getting a fancier variety next year. In my first garden, I used to get a new rose every year, so that our old house had a lovely little collection going by the time we moved. I hope to be able to start something like that again by the time we move into our own house here.
Updates on the balcony containers, the backyard veggie plot and the hanging herbs, right after the cut.
The sunny side of the balcony, clocking in at a healthy 8+ hours of afternoon sunlight in a nicely sheltered area. I’ve got most of my herbs, food plants and sun-worshipping flowers on this side. That floor could really use a good sweeping, though. Gack.
The shadier side of the balcony, where I’m keeping the shade-loving plants and what we used to call “winter or early spring crops” back in Cali. I can get away with growing those things pretty much all summer here as long as I keep them on this side, where they are bit more sheltered from the sun but still get lots of warmth and indirect light.
My three best basil seedlings from the three varieties I planted this year. I’m keeping them on the balcony for the summer, so they can grow nice and large before I bring them in for the cold season. I’ve got three hooks in front of the kitchen window earmarked for them already. The great thing about basil is that they root readily from cuttings, so I will not have to ever start these from seed again, once these are big enough to propagate from. That’s especially a good thing with the little red basil on the far left, because it’s proven to be the most fickle plant I’ve grown this year. Those darn seedlings would die if you looked at them funny.
Okay, I lied a bit about not starting any more seeds. I did sow a packet of double purple datura in the hopes that they would sprout and get in a couple months of balcony time. They’ll do just fine as houseplants for the winter and would be ready to flower by next spring. I might take a cutting from the brugmansia in the parents’ backyard for the same reason. I used to have a lovely brug back at the old house, but my mother tore it out after the first year because she was afraid that neighboring kids would eat pieces of it and poison themselves. Why she couldn’t have just let me transplant it to the relative privacy of the backyard is beyond me 🙁 There’s also a couple pots of cat grass in that picture, because Coco loves to nibble on that stuff before her evening meal.
Eight cherry tomato seedlings from three varieties, in self-watering containers. When they start vining, I’m planning on using the balcony as a trellis. I’ve also planted about the same number of the same varieties in the backyard garden plot, so it’ll be kind of a test to see how both sets of plants do under different growing conditions. My hope is that the balcony tomatoes will be somewhat comparable in yield. They’ll be getting a lot more care and attention to make up for not being able to spread out in the ground like their backyard counterparts.
My strawberry is going nuts! It’s producing numerous flowers and there are now fruits maturing every day. I know that I should be pinching off some of the smaller flowers so that the remaining berries get bigger, but I rather enjoy having several small berries at more regular intervals to waiting for a few large ones. It’s only one plant — a very hard-working plant, true — so I’ll start being more prudent with the flowers next year, when I’ve got several plants set up in tower formation and can actually grow enough berries for kitchen use.
Oh! And speaking of flowers and berries, I saw a bumblebee visiting my plants this morning! This is exciting and makes me hope I’ll get lots of pollinators next year, if I have enough flowers around to attract them. It’s a bit of a flight to get up here, but I’ll make it worth their while!
I bought some adorable little wicker baskets to transplant my remaining herbs into. The left one is a mixed basil basket and the right one is full of parsley that I potted up from a supermarket purchase. I cut off the floppy bits and used them for cooking as they were intended, then I separated and trimmed the overgrown root mass and spaced them out to grow a bit. Now they’re producing new leaves and will probably give a good crop for the rest of the warm season. Parsley is especially annoying to start from seed, so this is a nice alternative that I’ll probably use every year from now on.
My flowers! Left to right. A little gerbera followed me home last week 🙂 My alstroemeria is enthusiastically blooming. The peony is looking very leafy and will hopefully be storing up lots of energy for next spring’s flowers. The pink rose is also looking pretty content and has opened several bunches of flowers. All of these guys are heat lovers, so they’re enjoying the weather.
Meanwhile, my other set of flowers seems to be entering a lull in the bloom cycle. Several of them are shade plants, so I’m not surprised that they’re feeling a bit overwrought in this heat. The impatiens to the left of this container are still making the occasional bud, but half of them seem to wilt the same day they open due to the heat. The geranium on the right is slowing down, though I think that might partially be from overcrowding. Both flowers will get their own pots once fall transplant season arrives.
The dutch iris are growing rapidly (all those green grassy-looking leaves) and probably making things tight around the roots. I really hope they’ll flower this year, but have yet to see any signs of flower stalks. They typically are planted in the fall and bloom in the spring, but I thought I’d give these bulbs a chance since they were on sale and iris supposedly can be forced (made to bloom outside of its usual time) easily.
The fuchsia to the left is starting to look a bit worn-out as well, but is still putting out a healthy number of buds. The dicentra to the right is probably the most surprising — it has started having a massive growth spurt and has even put out several new flowers (you can kind of see the little white upside-down hearts in the middle of the greenery). From all that I’d read, I’d expected this plant to give a good spring flowering (which it did) then go dormant for the rest of the year. Both of these plants will definitely be needing their own roomy pots this fall.
My little tub of lettuce is starting to look scraggly, after giving us 5 good harvests. It probably could have lasted a bit longer if it hadn’t been for the heat wave. Delicate little leaves just can’t handle this sort of weather. I did a final clipping this morning and pulled out the rest. The salad that I seeded in the backyard garden is already starting to sprout, so the timing is pretty good — we’ll be able to harvest from that plot for the next month. I’ll seed this box with more lettuce later this week and it’ll be ready to go by the time the backyard plants are starting to show some wear and tear.
My kitchen hanging garden! It’s utterly adorable. And to think that my initial incentive for doing this was simple to keep them out of the reach of cats. I love that it saves table space and adds a decorative element to the window, on top of being a practical way way to expose my plants to their full allotment of daily sun. From left to right, we’ve got lemon balm, sweet basil, lavender, chives and Moroccan mint. There will be a bit of swapping around come winter, when I bring in more of the herbs from the balcony to join these guys. Both the kitchen and bedroom windows will be facing daylight then, so I’ll have to divide all my plants between those two spaces. I’m thinking the most fragrant ones will be moved to the bedroom, to make that area smell pretty 🙂
The backyard vegetable plot at the boy’s parents’ house. This was taken half a week ago, so I’m betting they’re even huger now. These guys have really been growing like weeds. Putting them in the ground allows us to water more deeply without having to worry about drainage, which is helping them develop massive root systems. On the downside, they’re subject to whatever bugs, animals, diseases and other agents of destruction nature might throw at them, since I’m not around most of the day to check in and tend them.
Some volunteer violas popped up in the wooden container next to the veggie plot. They’re so cute! I hope I can pick a small posy of them to put on my shelf when we next stop by.
And finally, another shot of peonies and a pretty white flower in the backyard.