July 2015 In The Garden

The garden has been keeping me really busy this year. It’s been good though and I finally feel like things are starting to slow down. Which means I can kind of sit back and enjoy it as it is for a bit. And also maybe think about what I’d like to accomplish in the garden for the remainder of the season.

We recently had a huge heatwave, followed by some big rainfalls, and there is some more heat in the forecast, so things are really starting to get lush. There has already been some heavy duty pruning going on (we may have pruned away some branches from our neighbor’s tree)

Garden July 2015

Looking pretty darn lush. I believe this is going to be the year of the squash in my garden, they are all looking so full and healthy – and I’ve even got a few baby squash forming. Making those squirrel proof seedling cages was a good idea – I didn’t lose any squash this year to those pesky creatures.

Last year I included some to-do lists for the garden, and I thought I might try it again this year. I really enjoy reading other garden blogger’s to-do lists, so maybe readers might find mine interesting as well. And if not, just skip to the pretty pictures.

– Weeding! I’ve been pulling out a few dandelions in the back yard as they pop up, but I really need to dedicate a couple of hours to just weeding, especially in the front yard. I rarely post photos of the front yard on my blog because it is so so sad, but I’m going to try to start. This is a realistic blog where I post the good, the bad, and the ugly, so I should be posting the front for your viewing displeasure (I’m being really hard on myself here, it’s not that bad).
– Figure out some sort of trellis for the back alley raised bed. I’m growing some pumpkins back there, so instead of having them grow down where we park the car, I’d prefer if they grew up. I have no idea what I’m going to do there. I need to think of something quickly though – I noticed that they are now growing out of their little squirrel-resistant cages.
– Clean up the alley. It is in a pretty shabby state right now. It needs to be weed whacked and I need to dispose of the dead corpse that is my former Christmas tree. And there is a lot of garbage. I’d really rather just keep forgetting this area exists, but those pumpkins are planted back there, and I water them almost every day, so I would rather look at something less horrifying and garbage-ridden. Also, our alley is a mud pit when it rains, so we really should get a load of gravel in there to help things. That task has been on the to-do list for awhile now.
– Fertilize the peppers and tomatoes. I am such a delinquent when it comes to fertilizing. I maybe do it like once a season. Must fertilize.
– Figure out what to do with the front yard. I referenced the nightmare of the front yard above, and I’m probably way over exaggerating it, but it really isn’t the way I want it and I kind of just want it to not exist right now. The main problem is the awful state of the lawn. The truth is, I don’t care about my lawn and I really haven’t made an effort to care for it for about 5 years or so. And it really shows. I wouldn’t actually even consider it a lawn anymore – it is mostly weeds and old cigarette butts (lots of pedestrian traffic on my street). The real reason for not caring for it is mainly because I think lawns are useless resource vampires, but also because it will eventually not exist in our yard. My vision for the front yard is for there to be no lawn, to expand the front porch in to something useful and pretty, to replace the front walk, to have some raised beds for edibles, and for the rest of it to be a low maintenance perennial garden with a couple of trees. The plan this year is to remove a little bit of the remaining lawn each week. Originally when I was thinking about what I wanted to do this summer, working on the front yard was not even a thought in my mind. The only real thought I’d had was that I wanted to come up with a rough plan to implement over the next 5 or so years. But then seeing the lawn this spring, and feeling nothing but embarrassment, rage, and contempt every time I saw it, I changed the plan. The good news is that it will cost me nothing but time. And possibly some money on cedar mulch if I get far enough. I’d love to hire it out and just have someone come in and set fire to it in one fell swoop, but I’ve already spent way too much on the garden this year, and I’d like to be able to eat, so I’ll have to do it slowly myself with nothing but my trusty spade.

Garden July 2015

I guess that’s the garden right now in a nutshell. Things are growing and even though my front yard is a bit of a touchy subject right now, I am pretty happy with the back yard this year. All in all, things are decent! How is your garden growing?


One more photo! The honeyberry harvest this year has been great so far! I have three small plants and I’ve never gotten more than a handful of berries in past years. This year the branches were bursting with fruit and it looks like there will be a second harvest! I intended to actually make something out of the first harvest, but they all got eaten raw before I had the chance #gardenerproblems

The Great Planting Extravaganza 2015

I’ve been spending the last week or so mostly doing heavy lifting work around the garden. Not the stuff that gets me very excited about gardening. It was my own fault – totally self-inflicted. I was the one who foolishly decided to grow a million seedlings this winter, and I was the one who realized I was going to need a lot more pots if I wanted to keep all of those seedlings. So I bought a whole new collection of pots for my deck, and a whole lot of soil to fill those pots up.


Excuse the horrible photo – I took it through the screen window. Things are still pretty tame but in about a month this garden will be exploding!

Once all of those pots were moved around and filled, I could begin the fun part of gardening: planting all those seedlings! I must admit that I was feeling a lot of anxiety. First of all, I wasn’t sure if I had enough room, even after buying all those new pots. Second, a lot of the seedlings were getting too big for their small containers and needed to be planted in the ground right away.


I usually plant basil in with my tomato pots. Tomato + basil = true love. I’ve also been making a habit of planting tumbler tomatoes in with determinates in the larger pots – it’s a good way to maximize space in a small garden.

The first order of business was the tomatoes. Out of all the plants I grow, the tomatoes are probably the most important to me. Next was planting all of the peppers in the greenhouse. Then my corn got planted in the big galvanized steel livestock trough (I think the corn will like it in there, it gets nice and toasty!). Luckily after planting all of these, I still had quite a few empty pots.

Squash Seedlings

The next thing to plant will be all of these squash plants in the above photo. There are about 20 seedlings here (pumpkins, summer squash, winter squash, cucumbers, a watermelon) which will be planted in various pots and raised beds. Last night my husband and I sat out on the deck cutting up chicken wire and fashioning them in to some not-so-pretty-but-hopefully-functional squirrel-proof cages. The last thing I want is for the pesky little squirrels to murder my baby squash plants. After I finish planting them in their cages, I’ll need to figure out some sort of trellis for the pumpkins to climb in my back alley raised bed.

I also still have a few trays of marigolds and zinnias to plant around the garden, but I’m less worried about those as they are still fairly small-ish. I’m positive I’ll have everything planted this week. And I have my fingers crossed that I have enough empty pots for all of those squash seedlings.

And once everything is planted I’ll get to some much needed weeding, as well as setting up some of the soaker hoses to make watering a little easier. I’m really excited to be finished the planting – it will be nice to sit back and enjoy things a bit.

June 2014 So Far

It would be an understatement to say that 2014 has been a roller coaster so far. We started the year off with unbelievably low temperatures and mountains of snow. Actually, it started before Halloween and it didn’t let up until sometime in April. These are the joys of gardening in zone 3. May had some decent weather but June has brought constant rain and cooler temperatures. I don’t really expect anything less in June, but it always seems to be a really gloomy month regardless of whether I expect it or not.


Lovage about 3 feet tall at the beginning of June 2014 and my wind chimes

Unfortunately, one of my rain barrels decided to have a hairline crack last night which was causing it to leak. So I hooked up a long hose and drained it in the yard. I hate to lose all of that rain water, but I wasn’t really sure what else to do in the moment I discovered it – I had visions of the barrel exploding and water gushing into my basement. Realistically, that probably wouldn’t have happened, but better safe than sorry, right?

I will give a bit of an explanation on our current garden set up. Our back yard is approximately 40 feet long and 20 feet wide and is south west facing – this is primarily the edible garden. Our front yard is approximately half the size of the back yard and is currently mostly an ornamental perennial garden with a few pots of edibles, but we do have future plans for transforming it into both an ornamental and edible growing space (I’m sure I’ll write about that in future posts). We also have a narrow side yard that is full shade where I grow a few ornamental perennials and keep a few pots of annual flowers. Since we live in a duplex, we only have 3 sides of our house with yard space. We’re also lucky to be involved in our community garden which is conveniently located about a 30 second walk from our house.

June 2014 marks the 9th garden year in our current home. When we moved in, there wasn’t much in the way of a garden. The yard was a typical suburban yard: mostly grass with a few low maintenance perennials in the front yard and I can count on one hand the number of plants that we inherited with the home. The back yard was mostly dead anyway – the previous owner had a big dog. I would say that we actually got lucky with a pretty blank canvas, but I’m not going to. We’ve spent 9 years removing sod, cutting down inappropriately planted trees or digging out old stumps and removing the long spreading roots of raspberry bushes – and pulling out a lot of cement blocks from really weird places. It could have been worse.

Back to the garden this June. I was actually a few weeks late planting my seeds in the ground. In zone 3, the May long weekend usually marks the time it is safe to plant your garden. I actually think this is a lie and I try to hold off longer if I can. I can’t remember the exact date, but I’m pretty sure it was the first week of June before I finally got things planted. This isn’t terrible – I was actually talking to someone recently who said she thinks it is actually smarter to wait until a few weeks later because we seem to get a longer fall than we think we do – and I actually have to agree.

When it comes to planning my vegetable garden I usually aim to try at least one new plant each year. I am now at the point where all of my edibles are started by seed indoors or directly sown into the garden. This year I decided to experiment with some different heirloom zucchinis and growing a butternut squash vertically. I can report right now that only one of my heirloom zucchinis and none of the butternut squash survived the squirrel attacks.



Three Sister’s planting: corn, pole beans, squash

In the back yard I am attempting to grow tomatoes, carrots, beets, radishes, lettuces, kale, swiss chard, garlic, zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, a sugar pumpkin, corn, pole beans, and various herbs. I also have a small greenhouse where I attempt to grow things that require a longer season: hot and sweet peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, and a watermelon. I have a number of edible perennials in this space as well: rhubarb, chives, mint, asparagus, lovage, lavender, and strawberries. The rest of the growing space is taken up with various ornamental perennials that I have planted to attract the pollinators.


Mixed lettuces as of June 23, 2014

As for plans for the back yard this year, there really aren’t a lot. There is a composting area and “Sod Mountain” in the back alley that requires some attention – I’m sure our neighbors love looking at it. I have learned to appreciate the down time in my garden as it is evolving – it is important to stop every now and then and just live in the space to determine what works and what doesn’t and tweak the plan as necessary. I can often get caught up in the “we need to do everything now” mindset, which I think many other gardeners can relate to. So anyway, June obviously isn’t over yet, but I can’t wait until July when everything in the garden has exploded and I can’t stop complaining about the jungle that has taken over my yard.


A little bit about me. I’m a young, urban gardener in a zone 3 climate. I have a full-time job in the non-
profit sector and in my spare time I love to tend to my gardens, knit, cook and care for my husband and three cats. I’m known to a lot of my friends and family as an old lady trapped in a young person’s body. I decided to start this blog as a place to document my gardening progress and share my successes and failures with others who may be living in the same sort of climate as I do. From time to time I will also write about other things that interest me.

I’ve been “gardening” since I was little – I grew up in the country where my Mom kept (and still does keep) a huge vegetable garden. One of my first memories of gardening is when I was given my own garden, which consisted of a little patch my Mom declared was mine to plant whatever I wanted. I remember planting the seeds, but I don’t actually remember anything after that. As I got a bit older, helping in the garden was definitely a chore, as I’m sure it is to many teenagers. Then I moved out on my own and didn’t think much about gardening or keeping plants until I moved into the main floor of a house that already had a space for a garden. That was where I started my first “very own” vegetable garden. Fast forward to a couple of years later to when we purchased our first home, a 1⁄2 duplex with a yard of our own where we’ve been slowly transforming our small urban space into a flourishing and productive garden.

I am by no means an expert but I don’t think that you need to be an expert to garden. You do not need to have a lot of space, money or time to garden – you can literally make it into whatever works for your space, budget and lifestyle.

Thank you for reading and I look forward to sharing my experiences with you!