It is time for the next chapter in my gardening saga. You may remember my excitement of ordering seeds and seed starting, and my disappointing seed failing (or massacre). I have somewhat redeemed myself with some seeds, continued to fail in other areas, and have had mediocre results, at best, with some of the plant starts I purchased. One big issue we have encountered is the soil quality in the garden beds. Poor soil quality is pretty typical unless someone has made an effort to maintain and upkeep the soil quality over time. This does not seem to be as big of an issue with some perennials (those established and suited to the climate), but is a huge issue when growing veggies and, I would assume, other annuals. Unfortunately Sportsglutton and I are renters and are not in a spot financially where we could remediate the in-ground soil for our duplex. So, what to do? Planters. Planters of all different shapes and styles.
Let’s take a tour!
First off, tools – a strong cup of coffee (a must for morning gardening), gloves, gardening tools, and a spray bottle full of an organic insect repellent “tea” for plants (steap chopped onions, garlic, dish soap, and cayenne pepper over night – strain in the morning and spray on affected plants).
Kohlrabi that is almost ready for picking… better late than never.
Lettuce that has been feasted on by garden critters. Most likely slugs have been chowing down on my lettuce at night – time to catch them with some beer.
This Juliet tomato plant (little oblong cherry type tomatoes) shares a bed with the kohlrabi and lettuce seen above, as well as some chervil and lemon balm (I think – it just sprouted and I can’t remember if I threw lemon balm or sorrel seeds in there). I thought this bed would have the worst soil since it juts out into driveway from under our deck, but it actually seems to be doing alright.
Speaking of tomatoes, isn’t the Heirloom Beefsteak plant above the saddest thing you’ve ever seen? These tomatoes are all in our other backyard bed up against a fence. This soil is making the Heirloom Beefsteak plant miserable. Oddly, it is the first plant to sprout an actual tomato. Maybe the plant thought it needed to leave some offspring behind to carry on its line before it pooped out in the poor soil? Never fear though, I saved it from certain death after I took this photo. Oh – If you think the leaves look a little funny on the Beefsteak for a tomato plant, it is because this is a “potato leaf” tomato variety.
The Kellogg’s Breakfast is supposed to produce huge yellow tomatoes. I’m not sure how it felt about this soil – it seemed to be struggling a little to me. I transplanted this plant and the remaining two tomato plants (Principe Borghese and Large Red Slicer Hybrid (which seems only marginally better than the Heirloom Beefsteak)) in this bed to a planter after the success of moving that sad heirloom beefsteak. After spending a night in their new makeshift home (I will post about that later this week with pictures of their new home), it seems I made the right move. The Large Red Slicer is still not looking great in the new planter, but hopefully it will perk up since I am looking forward to some tomato slices. The Principe Borghese is a drying tomato and is supposed to be a very prolific plant – only time will tell.
In this fun (and happy growing) wine barrel, we have a crazy tomatillo plant and a marigold that I purchased as starts. I also seeded the planter with basil, thyme, savory, dill, oregano, parsley, lemon balm, and sorrel. I can actually state that these seeds are all doing really well and growing fast. This is one of my definite successes.
The next few pictures capture a few of my original seed starts that survived – peppers. Santaka, cayenne, and a mystery pepper plant survived my murderous attempts at hardening them off. While I am happy they are still hanging on, they are not growing all that well, though I think they have started to pick up the pace in the last few days. I’m not sure they will produce anything.
When I moved that terrible looking tomato plant, I displaced what I think is a parsley seedling. I moved that plant in with the peppers. Why am I not so sure about the parsley plant? Because it came from this planter:
This is my planter of surprise (aside from the purchased eggplant start that towers in the corner). When I originally started my seeds back in April I stuck seeds that were left in my hand after sowing each small starting container into this pot. I figured “hey, it can’t hurt.” Well it hasn’t. A bunch of mysterious cotyledons (the first leaves of a plant) appeared two weeks ago. When the first “true leaves” (the leaves that actually express the type of plant it is) appeared on some of the sprouts, it seemed a few of them were parsley. I moved a more established parsley plant to make room for the sad tomato plant.
This is a neighboring pot that was seeded with plants that do not transplant well, so I had never started them in the first place. The plant in the middle is a Contender Bean plant, the large, darker green leafed plants on the outside are Borage, and the small outside plants are Cilantro. This pot is also doing pretty well. Eventually, as the bean plant grows, I will train it up the poles.
Excuse the weird coloring in this photo – it is a potato plant that is just sprouting in a green bucket. The sprout is hard to see because it is a purple potato plant and the leaves are almost the same color as the dirt. It is growing fast, and has probably grown about 2 inches since this photo was taken two days ago. I have four plants in two buckets and will add more soil as the vines grow to hopefully encourage the plant to increase its yield.
This cucumber plant is also growing a little slow in the same bed as the tomatoes. I may have to transplant him too.
Mint on the other hand can grow anywhere (it is a perennial though) and is happily spreading like wildfire in that bed. I believe this is its second year inhabiting that bed.
My Sage plant is hanging in there too. This plant is new this year, but since Sage is a perennial I am hoping it shows up again next year.
Rosemary apparently grows slowly, so the best way to get a new plant is to take a cutting from an existing plant. I actually bought a pack of rosemary sprigs from the store one day and they were very fresh, so I thought I would try starting one to see if it would root. It did. I removed the bottom 3″ of leaves and stuck the sprig in water. After a few days, a small nub of a root appeared. A few weeks more and an entire root system developed. Very delicately, I transferred it to a small cow poop pot. After it settled into the pot and I properly hardened it off, I was able to transfer it outside to a bigger planter. The cow poop pots can be planted directly into the ground and they will breakdown naturally in the soil overtime. I just trimmed off a few inches of the sprig to encourage the plant to bush out and produce more sprigs.
Now for the revived tomato plant reveal!
The plant looked a little better almost immediately after being moved, and looked like a whole new plant the next day.