I’m exhausted. That’s all there is about me. I’ve been doing various things to fight it since wintertime, iron supplements, eliminating coffee, sleeping regularly. Still tired. On to the stuff I’m growing at the moment (with lots of pictures):
My neighbor gifted us with an EarthBox and a handful of plants to use with it – zucchini, eggplant, and red bell peppers. The first night I had it all set up, raccoons ransacked it and we lost a zucchini. I’m pretty sure they were going for the water reservoir, so I discreetly left other sources of water open on the deck for the next few days and it worked, they haven’t touched the box since.
Monday, Josh gave me my favourite present, an hour of shopping at the nursery. I picked up one apricot double-blossomed hollyhock, and six dwarf “Queeny Purple” hollyhocks. I see hollyhocks all over town this time of year – there’s a little church near Knapp’s Cutoff that has them growing out of a split in the asphalt. I love them. They are the quintessential cottage flower, and I hope mine live long enough to blossom.
I’ve never really been terribly interested in growing flowers, but my neighbor (yes, the same neighbor who gave us the EarthBox) has the perfect cottage garden – an enormous colorful jumble of pots and bright flowers (every kind of viola and pansies, bleeding heart and columbine, sunflowers and hollyhocks, irises and daylilies) that flourish and come back every year, and she’s inspired me to add more color to the giant bowl of green periwinkle that is our front garden/yard.
Snapshots from Mary’s cottage garden next door. Isn’t it gorgeous?!
I also picked up two tomato plants (one Celebrity, one Early Girl). Neither are heirloom, nor organic*, but at this point, I’ll settle for “alive”. I diligently saved seeds from my hand-grown heirloom varieties last year, and when it became clear that I was not able to do the indoor fussing necessary to start 100+ vegetables like last year (only to end up with about eight at the end of the season) I tried direct sowing the cherry variety in containers. No love so far. So I bought a couple instead. They’re already flowering. I might actually get to make pasta sauce this year (I will add that I DID meet last year’s goal of eating at least one Greek salad made from entirely homegrown vegetables, but it was a close shave- the cucumbers ripened long after the last of our tomatoes, so I was hanging on to two tomatoes for that salad for about two weeks).
*wait, I just read the side of the pot the Celebrity variety came in, and it claims to be both heirloom and organic. Well.
Lastly, I expanded my herb collection with some creeping rosemary, lemon verbena, and chives. All three I’ve tried to start by hand, and met with little success – chives are weirdly difficult for me. I want a lush pot of them, I usually end up with a wilted handful. Rosemary I have successfully started, but they’ve never grown a second set of leaves before dying off, so I’ve been looking for a strong mother plant I could take cuttings from. Josh found it and bought it, I wouldn’t have spent $6 for it if he hadn’t picked it up. 🙂 It’s gorgeous tho, and I’m hoping it’ll help fill in some of the bare spots at the top of the driveway where our lavendar is (doing beautifully, I might add).
So right now on my deck, I have chives, basil, verbena and three varieties of violas growing, plus all my vegetables – the zucchini, eggplant, peppers and tomatoes. I have radishes and carrots coming up in one pot, and mixed lettuces, greens and rhubarb chard coming up in another. And last year’s purple oxalis over-wintered beautifully and is once more flowering in birdcages all over my deck. I worked so hard last year for very little yield that I didn’t want to waste time this year on plants for the gophers and ground squirrels to eat, so in the back of my head I’d been planning to container grow everything on the deck this year for easier watering (and easier water recycling – it’s much simpler to dump leftover dish water, water from the cat’s bowl, etc. on plants on the deck than to walk them out to the back herb bed). All I managed was a few seeds thrown into last year’s flower pots, and a daily misting to keep them moist – if we hadn’t been gifted with vegetables, I don’t think I’d have ended up with the lovely little garden we have going right now – but it’s easier to add a few plants or sow a few seeds here and there when you’re already taking care of some.
The first year we were here, we planted three lavendar plants, and I love them. Beyond measure. I visit them and run my hands along them so that I can go back to my desk smelling of lovely heavy lavendar. We added three more last year that the voles promptly ate, which was really upsetting, so I’m trying to do more “layering” propagation of the strong plants we already have, so I can plant lavendar all along our back hillside in the back garden. Growing perennials is a really novel experience for me- the fact that Mom’s hellebore and bulbs and peonies come back every year is mind-boggling. I see them as an investment in the shape of our land. Now I just need to find a good sunny spot to put last year’s grapevine in – it’s still in the pot, but looks wonderful.