How does my garden grow?

Remember this post way back in February? I’ve been meaning for a while to write an update into how my first foray into container gardening has gone. About three and a half months later, the plants have transformed from little sprouts into this:

Our back patio.

(Is it worth noting that those are her pajama pants and that she requested that specific sock/shoe combo?)

A few of the plants have actually lived their full lifespan and been uprooted, like the peas and the beets. The hot weather — as in, steamy 95 degree days — has been pretty hard on a few things, especially those with broad leaves. I can water every single morning and they still look wilty at midday.

This year's container garden.

Incidentally, I think that the man who mows the lawn is afraid to use the weed-wacker next to my containers (which is quite thoughtful of him), but as a result we always have an overgrown border next to the patio. It lends nicely to the general weedy atmosphere, don’t you think?

As a help to myself when planning out the garden next year, I thought I’d leave a few notes about what did and didn’t do well for me. Perhaps some other southern gardeners can give me tips if you know where I went wrong…?

Bush beans.

Bush beans: okay.
The plants are still thriving, but they really need to be caged (I had to take the cages away when the tomatoes finally got some height) because they like to fall over. They taste good, but I find that I tend to just pick and eat all the ripe ones when I’m out back because there’s never enough to serve the whole family. I’ll probably skip these next time for that reason.

Peas.

Peas: okay.
These had the same problem as the beans (not enough ripe ones at any given time) and I’m pretty sure they would be really wilty by now if I hadn’t already uprooted them. They could not climb the brick wall by themselves and didn’t like the bamboo poles all that well. Also, I had to move the pots at one point and for some reason all the beans got really bitter after I did this. ???

Beets.

Beets: good, but need to be started early.
I lost a bunch of beets when I transplanted them because all the spindly little stems got knocked over with the first watering. Next time I will start the beets earlier, directly in the pots, and plant the seeds deeper (the pellets just weren’t deep enough). They started off slowly but perked up about two months ago. We harvested some greens and the plants did fine afterward — I think we could have gotten a lot more if I had remembered. I pulled these the other day even though some of the roots were small because they wilted badly every single day and I was afraid they’d die while I’m at the hospital having a baby. They were delicious grilled. Mmm.

Zucchini (fail).

Zucchini: fail.
I don’t know if it was the seed packet I got or what, but there have been tons of blooms for months now and absolutely no zucchini. They are also prone to wilting and I’m just kind of fed up with them and ready to pull the plants out.

Tomatoes.

Cherry tomatoes: hopefully a success.
These plants were miniature and sickly looking for ages, until I finally fertilized them. Then they shot up to their current 3+ foot height and started flowering. No red ones yet, but there are some baby greens and I have high hopes for these guys. I’ve noticed that the leaves along the bottom are starting to yellow, so I fertilized them again — any other suggestions?

Basil.

Basil: complete success.
We have eaten a LOT of basil off of these 12 plants. I achieved my goal of reaching a critical mass such that we can harvest some leaves every couple of days and not kill the plants. Next year I think I will try some Thai basil, too. Other than a caterpillar problem, these plants have been very hardy and healthy.

Not shown: some spearmint from the farmer’s market (complete success), some oregano (still small), and a cayenne pepper (growing nicely). As pots are emptied, I want to replace them with more herbs since those have done the best and been the biggest bang for the buck. I am resorting to full-grown plants at this point, though, since it seems too late to start from seed.

My little helper.

Oh, and I can’t finish this post without a few shots of my little helper, now, can I?

Helping by dumping dirt everywhere is soooo much fun!

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4 thoughts on “How does my garden grow?

  1. Beautiful photos. You had more success than we have this year. Pretty much everything was a complete bust. Oh, yeah we did get a handful of beans.
    :)

  2. Wow, go you! We had the EXACT same zucchini problem last year, which was quite disappointing given the thriving crop we consistently achieved in the previous location we lived. As far as basil goes, I think in theory if you keep removing the the top leaves down to where the next new growth buds are located, you keep getting full plants with no bolting. Hope your tomatoes go well!

  3. I’ll offer a little insight I’ve learned attempting to garden here in Mississippi …We had the same problem with our squash last year as your zucchini … I was told that for squash you have to get them started extra early, because they just drop their blooms once the hot, humid heat sets in. So maybe it’s the same issue for your zucchini, too.

  4. Lovely container garden! We lost all our zucchini and yellow squash to the Squash Vine Borer, but another problem squash can have is not enough bees for pollination. Did you see many bees around? If not, you have to hand pollinate, which isn’t too hard. The sudden heat is another problem. Maybe we’ll have more luck next year?

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