Monday, August 25, 2014

In a pot or a plot - gardening is the same

This is an image I posted on Instagram.
You can search for me there as val_hogan.

   I see that my posts here could be described as the 'blog of the month' variety. I've slowed down, mostly my gardening slowed way down this summer. I tend to blog about my experiences day to day. But, my attempt to try growing veggies in containers just didn't inspire a lot of blog posts. It was my first try and I didn't spend much time last winter or spring planning how I would do it or what I would grow. I guess I proved that just because I wasn't gardening in a plot at the community gardens, I still needed to plan and layout my container garden.

My biggest shortfall was lack of deep containers. I have a lot of railing planters that are great for lettuces, but during the middle of summer I've ended up with more flowering annuals than anything else. Also, my plot at the community garden was in full sun. My back deck used to be in full sun, but the Alder tree I planted a few years ago now casts more shade than I expected. I now have a better idea of where the sunny spots are.

I also thought that by planting containers on the deck at home, that I would not have to deal with pests or other 'garden' problems. I have one (1) zucchini plant and it has had powdery mildew since I planted it. This has stunted the growth and I've only had two squash from this plant. I looked online for an at home solution and sprayed it with a baking soda mixture. Then sprayed it with some soapy water for good measure. This did nothing to help.

If I had been gardening in a plot on the ground, I would have gone to the store and bought a spray when I first saw the mildew. It sounds crazy but I thought growing veggies in containers would be much different (easier) than a garden plot. I also have a dog and a cat who forage around on the deck, so I have to be careful about toxicity, even from organic sprays.

My tomatoes are doing well, but not producing as much as my garden tomatoes did the last couple of years. Then there's my tomatillo. My big splurge, I bought it knowing I didn't really have the room for it, and wanted to try it even though I know nothing about growing it (or eating it). Well, the plant has flowered profusely, but I've only got two (2) tomatillos on the plant so far. Luckily the hummingbirds like it, I get to watch them drink from the yellow flowers.

So, suffice it to say, my container gardening experience this year has not been what I had expected. I actually missed the community garden plot, which is something I didn't think I would say (pests nearly ruined my garden two years in a row). I am actually buying tomatoes and zucchini at the store- in August.

But, this has all helped me to see the direction I want to go in. If you look at my Pinterest boards you'll see a board for just about every topic. But the other day when I found an image I wanted to pin I realized I didn't even have a category for it. So I created my newest board, Edible Landscaping. Up until now I've had a very wide variety of gardening interests. But the last two years of community gardening and this year's attempt at container gardening made me realize how much I enjoy growing food. Not just veggie gardening as I've thought of it before, but incorporating edible plants with others.

I feel excited about learning more about this topic and pursuing how I can create my own edible landscape at home.

Gratitude is my word for the year...
Today I am grateful for:

more sunny weather
the change in lighting to the 'fall' light I love
a handfull of cherry tomatoes 
being busy with work
shopping at craft stores for fall wedding decorations

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Vertical Clay Pot Hangers

Clay pot hung on a screen with a Potlatch clip.  

This year I finally ordered a set of Potlatch plant hangers. I'd seen them on Pinterest a couple of years ago. Later I saw some similar clips at Back Alley Gardens in Gearhart, OR.

They had mounted the clips on old windows, an idea I liked, but didn't want to try to hang on our siding. Well, 2 years ago Chris built a deck screen and installed it next to a low wall that divides our deck from our neighbors. It finally occurred to me that the screen was perfect for mounting the clips and the location would allow for some flowers to be visible through that window. 

I ordered the Potlatch clips by finding the pin I'd saved and got this link. I got a pack of 3 for over $10. Chris installed them and I then potted some annuals and hung them on the screen.

The clip is visible on the center pot.

The clips just screw in and you place the pot under the clip, which holds onto the lip around the top. Various sizes of pots can  be used (if you remember to leave room for them). It was all so easy, too easy it seems.

Shortly after installing the clips, we had a huge rain storm, one our puny townhouse gutters could not contain. The pots were located at the bottom of a large waterfall of rain water, along with 2 flats of new plants that I'd moved there for "protection".

Then after repotting, it actually happened again. That time I stood inside and took a video of my plants getting pummeled. Morale of this story is location. We rarely have such heavy rains here (generally it just rains all the time, rather than all at once). But this has happened before, despite gutter repairs it will probably happen again. So, I need to reconsider where those clips will be placed next year. Maybe on the wood post downstairs, hopefully it should be as easy to move the clips as it was to install.

All in all they look really good from
inside through the window or sitting at the table.

I've had to repot them a few times, one plant died and I changed my mind about the white lobelia (I love blue). Next time I'll look for something more trailing, but the Million Bells were a good start and I love the Black-eyed Susan vine slowly winding it's way around the trellis.

Gratitude is my word for 2014

Today I'm thankful for:
warm, sunny weather - as it usually is this time of year here
continuous work, spending money
my crazy pets 
wedding decorations as an excuse to visit vintage shops
long term friendship that is more special with distance
wedding jitters - means it matters

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