Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Glimpse of my Container Garden Space

Lantana - hummingbirds like this.  

I saw a post on Facebook this morning asking if blogging was dying off. My blogging has waned and it can only be attributed to the change in the way I'm gardening this year. Sure, a lot of personal milestones are flying by, I don't have as much time right now. But a year ago I was much busier with a community garden plot than I am with containers at home. 

I was out there every other day to water and I would always see such great plants and gardens. I took so many pictures there, always seeing something I wanted to try next. I have to admit that I prefer being outdoors (this time of year anyway) but my work and personal focus seem to be heading into a digital realm.

So for now, my garden is contained on our upper deck (with only two tomatoes downstairs). I realized I take a lot of close up photos and rarely show the entire deck. This isn't easy because it's so narrow, but I did get two shots that show it all. Our deck faces west and gets afternoon sun. Right now it is a wonderful place to be in the morning when it's cool.

Looking north - the bulk of my containers, all full sun

All the containers sitting on the deck (above) have veggies planted. The railing planters had lettuce and cool weather veggies in the spring. I haven't planted summer veggies there because they are all shallow planters. Might have gone a little crazy with summer annuals...

Looking south - almost all containers are vertical
to keep space for the table and chairs, and for us to get to them

This end of the deck gets some shade, except now during the peak of summer. I was tempted to plant shade loving veggies along the screen, but now it's mostly sun. This photo shows several things we've done to screen the deck for privacy and use the railing to get the umbrella stand off the deck. That idea led  to the tiki lamp and bird feeders being located there as well. I talked about that in previous posts, it's a simple concept that has allowed us to do more in such a small space.

This year my crop is smaller than the ones from the community garden plot. The tomatoes are just starting to ripen, for whatever reason I bought 3 "cherry" tomato plants. There is a zuchinni, 3 cucumber, basil, tomatillo, and melon starts that I will plant downstairs where there's some room. The one thing I miss: potatoes. I loved digging those up in the garden plot. I did read about growing them and corn in containers, but decided to start small.

I've picked my  first squash and cucumber, the tomatoes shown above are next.

My cat helps herself to the cucumber leaves. Truth be told, I bought 3 cucumber plants for her. In the past she ate the leaves like salad, but can no longer handle them. She shows no interest in the cat nip plant.

Gratitude is my word of the year. 
I post about it here to keep it present.

Today I am grateful for:
work, drafting work that keeps coming my way
air conditioning on these hot days on the 3rd floor
a dog who is easily learning to use her new back yard
a cat who figured out she likes to snuggle after 5 years of no contact
a partner who sees what needs to be done and acts

Monday, July 7, 2014

Goodbye garden plot - hello containers

My favorite container - a mix of annual flowers and veggies.

  This year the only vegetable gardening I'm doing is in containers on the deck. For the last two years I've had a plot at the community garden, and blogged quite a bit about it. (See the tabs at the top of the page). This year I decided to try container gardening only.

I enjoyed the community garden, but the soil in my plot contained flea beetle larvae. I spent more time (and money) spraying bugs than anything else. It felt like a losing battle, so I decided to stick with my original plan to grow veggies in containers here at home.

One book that has inspired me to mix flowers and veggies is Edible Landscaping by Rosalind Creasy (you can visit Amazon using the widget on the right - it has links to may favorite books). She popularized the idea of using vegetables as ornamentals rather than only in rows in a vegetable garden. I decided that this year my only goal was to try mixing veggies and flowers in as many containers as possible.

I learned at the community garden to plant veggies I would eat and only a few of them. Last year we had so many green beans that I'm still a little sick of them. My plan for bush beans in hanging baskets this year hasn't happened, because I just don't want to eat them - yet.

 I took my list of good container vegetables to the nursery, then chose some that looked interesting. I tried to only select compact plants, the one exception was the Tomatillo. I'd seen them grown in the garden and wanted one because they are so attractive. But, I may have to move it downstairs if it grows much fuller.

Cucumber (3 plants for my cat)

Cherry tomato & another cucumber

"Magic 8 ball" zucchini

I bought this Lobelia for a railing planter, thinking it was a 
trailing variety. I moved it to this planter and really like the way it has filled out.

The Tomatillo looks a little awkward in the tomato cage.
But the Nasturtium and Lobelia mix look nice.

This container is the biggest, and gets the most sun. It's at an in between stage of spring plants - kale and peas - and newly planted veggies - tomato and cucumber. I've also got a perennial, small shrub, and some vines in there. I'll get a picture after the peas come down (I was about to take them down when they decided to produce more peas). The peas loved it here, but the kale did not. Same for the cucumber which should be spilling over the sides but remain puny.

 I'm trying to experiment with what plants grow well together and in which container. Planting only container veggies has required that I try different plants. I would not have planted Zucchini, but the compact, round "Magic 8 Ball" seemed like it might work.

My word of the year: Gratitude

If you scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page you will come across this quote.

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.Marcel Proust

Monday, June 30, 2014

Transitioning into Summer

Lobelia, Nasturtium, Poppies, and yes,
powdery mildew on my squash

Despite appearances (lack of blogging on my part) there's a lot going on over here. For the last few months other things have taken a priority over my gardening and especially my blogging. My gardening is limited to our upper deck, mostly in railing planters. I'm doing container gardening with a mix of veggies and flowers. Spring was successful, using peas, lettuce, and kale. Right now I'm transitioning to summer plants. But, I'll talk about that in a later post

Remnants of my Spring planting

I did not continue with the community garden this year. I'm glad I made that decision too. I'm content with my choice to try veggies in containers. I have 2 pages about my plot at the community garden,  just click on the tabs at the top of the page. I really loved it there, but my nemesis the flea beetle is what drove me away. 

Personally, this year seems to be the year of BIG life events. One after another. My dad's illness was diagnosed in January. It took us by surprise and has been quite stressful, in ways I never anticipated. Earlier this month Chris' youngest graduated from high school and is preparing to leave for college this fall. A week after the graduation we adopted the 'family' dog. She is now living with us full-time and we are busy with walks, feeding, a vet visit, and coping with fireworks (and the world's most difficult cat). Her full-time residence prompted us to make some changes in our tiny back yard. I will post some before and after photos later.

We are also planning our wedding in November. We've got the venue, the pastor, but I cannot find a dress. Aside from that, I have been looking at flowers, buying vintage glass, going to craft stores, and having a lot of fun visiting our wedding site, McMenamins Edgefield.  I even created a WordPress web site to keep ideas and photos in one place, and to let any of our friends and family keep up with it if they want to.

Since Chris' parents were here for the graduation, we decided to take them to brunch at the Black Rabbit Restaurant at McMenamins.  We had brunch, then we showed them where we would be married. We then got to see the gardens and go shopping at the gift shop. I shared photos of Edgefield back in January here when we were first scoping it out.

I was taken with the garden in the middle of winter and was excited to see it in summer.

Back in  February we had decided that this was where we wanted to have our wedding. I posted about it again here. I showed this wall  covered in vines. Right now it is covered in lush green with Boston Ivy and by fall should be a brilliant red.

I've lived in the Portland Metro area for a long time and had never been to Edgefield before this year. I actually vetoed it at first, thinking it was too big, too much for our wedding. By the second visit I was hooked. I find it hard to describe other than to say it has something for everyone and a lot of character.

So, it's the last day of June and I can see how fast the time can fly. I will post later about the container plantings and the dog's new back yard.

My word for 2014: Gratitude

I'm grateful for a shift in seeing problems more as "life lessons".
Just when we really needed a boost, we have had a lot of new work in the last few months.
When we could have opted for less responsibility, we chose to adopt Asha. She brings a lot of happiness and laughter to our house - and others.