In Food

How does your garden grow?

Posted by: on Jun 6, 2014 | 11 Comments
“Mary, Mary, quite contrary
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockleshells
And pretty maids all in a row.”

My husband and I finally have our garden up and growing! We have been a little behind this year, partially due to cold weather and partially to travel. Nevertheless, in the true spirit of garden experimentation we have lots of exciting things growing in pots, buckets, and even in the ground.

The winter was harsh. As Mufasa-cat so eloquently puts it with magnetic poetry, it was a “bitter sordid winter.”

Mufasa is a magnetic poetry fiend. The cold and snow may have taken a toll.

Mufasa is a magnetic poetry fiend. The cold and snow may have taken a toll.

We lost our rosemary and our lavender to the cold. I believed they would survive as they usually do. I’m slightly consoled by the fact that unless your rosemary was in a green house on the Eastern Shore it died. EVERYBODY’s rosemary went kaput. The sage made it through. Although, the entire middle of the plant seems to have died, leaving two solitary steams shooting up oddly opposite one another (see the upper left corner of the herb garden aerial view). With all these herb deaths (herb-icides…?), I started thinking about planting a small herb garden in the ground as soon as it warmed up. My husband went to work digging up a 3 foot by 4 foot-ish rectangle by the back deck steps. I haphazardly started planting things. In went the split sage and the dead lavender (just in case). I even planted some flowers. The only plant that survived my first planting is the sage. Now I have sage, camomile, marjoram, oregano, lemon basil, thyme, tarragon, stevia, rosemary, parsley, and echinacea.

Aerial view of the herb garden

Aerial view of the herb garden

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Can you spy our garden guardian?

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Mint and lemon balm

Our mint also survived the winter even though it was left forgotten and presumed dead in a pile of soil. My husband one day found fresh, alive and thriving roots. We quickly potted it in the largest pot we could find in the garage. Mint takes over so we kept it out of the herb garden. It has come back entirely. And we’ve already used it for tea and cocktails! I also potted spearmint and lemon balm for the same reason. They are all in the mint family and can run completely a muck if not watched closely. And today, I acquired spicy oregano! I couldn’t find a spot for it in the garden. So, it’s in a pot as well.

My husband has 10 tomato plants growing in buckets, drip irrigated along the front edge of our deck. The tomato plants sit in buckets on a bench about a foot off the ground. My husband has a trellis towering over our deck so the plants can grow for miles or maybe 10 feet. The largest are already several feet tall and we are seeing lots of flowers and even small fruits. We are growing a handful of heirloom varieties, including Cherokee Purple. We also have a few Indigo Rose plants. The peppers are ready to be transplanted to buckets and put on a re-circulating hydroponic system like last year. We will have sweet peppers as well as jalapeños. tomatoes_june

Additionally, we have two cucumber and two squash plants growing in soil in large buckets. Eventually, we will give them something to climb on.

Squash!

Squash!

Cucumbers

Cucumbers!

11 Comments

  1. Chelsea
    June 6, 2014

    Will you come plant a garden for me?!

    Reply
    • Hali
      June 9, 2014

      I’m flying by the seat of my pants and just trying things out!

      Reply
  2. Betsy Rogers
    June 6, 2014

    Hi Hali!
    I Love that picture of Mufasa! And your garden looks lovely! I used to plant old fashioned yellow pear tomatoes…. a small sweet cherry style tomato and grew them tall over the paths of my garden on wire fencing…. ages ago! They make great tomato jelly and or snack in the garden tomatoes!
    I must warn you to beware of the oregano… it is related to mint but likes it drier…. it spreads invasively by root and seed! And once it is in a garden soil it takes a long time to get the seed out…. in other words you are forever yanking up all the oregano seedlings…. which start out tiny and nearly invisible! So best to keep it isolated in a pot….. and be sure to keep it from setting seeds!
    I also lost a lot of plants to the Winter we had…. a rhododendron gave up as well as the buddleias… and most of my roses needed deep pruning. As I recall, sage was always a risky perennial… but it was so easy to start fresh each year so I treated it as an annual. Lavender on the other hand is a mystery to me… I have been growing it in “unfavorable” (too wet, too cold, too shady) conditions for years and years…. and Some of the plants survive while others do not! I think I need to learn to treat it the way the French do…. I think they crop it for seven years and then start over, making the small shrubs a short lived perennial!
    Sorry, I didn’t mean to run on here… I LOVE your little garden! (And you too!)

    Reply
  3. Beth
    June 7, 2014

    Our winter dragged on late here and when I talked to other people yesterday, they told me they hadn’t gotten their gardens in either. in the same boat as you, and last night they had freeze warnings! Today it’s too cold for anything to germinate. Arrgh! Good luck on your planting.

    Reply
    • Hali
      June 9, 2014

      Beth, I hope you will see warmer weather soon!

      Reply
  4. Harriet
    June 7, 2014

    Such beautiful pictures. Not surprised the mint survived – hard to kill. You guys did have a “sordid” winter – clever, literate kitty.

    It’s very beautiful out here in spite of being historically dry – with a little water the flowers around here revel in all this hot sunshine. 90s every day now for 10 or so. But cool at night – 60s. Can’t complain.

    You are going to eat lots of leaves this summer!
    Lots of love & hugs,
    Grandma

    Reply
    • Hali
      June 9, 2014

      We are really starting to enjoy some summer weather. I hope you will see some rain. Love!

      Reply
  5. Lois
    June 9, 2014

    Cherokee Purple is my favorite tomato. The first time I planted it, I tried to judge ripeness by color but that didn’t work as they were rotting on the vine! Eventually I figured out they are ripe when slightly soft. Delicious!

    Reply
    • Hali
      June 9, 2014

      The Cherokee Purple are delicious! I’ll keep that in mind about telling when they are ripe.

      Reply
  6. Betsy Rogers
    June 9, 2014

    Hi Hali,
    I thought I left you a long comment the other day…. wonder where it went?
    Anyway, I wanted to say your garden looks lovely and I’m sure you will be reaping a great harvest! I used to grow yellow pear tomatoes over the arches in my garden… they grew tall and yielded tons of small fruit…. the Ballards made them into yellow tomato jam.
    As for the herbs… beware the oregano! I had it take over my herb garden because it is tough and spreads by root and seeds…. tiny millions of seeds! Once it is in the soil it is very hard to get rid of it… or even stay ahead of it! Isolate it and make sure it does not go to seed! Sage was always iffy for me too, some years it survived, some not. I decided it worked much better as an annual… more leaves and tender stems, rather than a woody plant. And lavender is still a hit or miss… I have it in my current garden and some of the plants are doing fine…. others not so well. I had t growing in adverse (wet, cold and windy) spot in my old garden and it did fairly well most years most of the plants survived! But i was never good at pruning it… I just wanted the blossoms. I look forward to hearing more about your garden as the year unfolds!
    Love, love, love,
    Betsy

    Reply
    • Hali
      June 9, 2014

      Betsy, I think for some reason I had to approve your comment! But I didn’t realize it because I usually don’t have to do that! Your garden is always so beautiful!

      Reply

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