Update on Vegetables and Questions about Perrenial Planting

Update on Vegetables and Questions about Perrenial Planting

This is going to be pretty long, as it covers several things, so I'll be making use of a couple "cuts" for manageability. I have a lot of questions. :-D

First, an update on The Container Farm happening on my back deck. This is where I'm growing all my vegetables and herbs.

My garden is suffering with all this heat – I’ve lost two of my three heirloom tomatoes (it seems) to stem-rot and blight, though the third still looks good. Next year I’ll get some more disease-resistant varieties to build my confidence and then I’ll try heirlooms again. I think I will still get some nice juicy tomatoes from the store and still freeze sauce for the year made with the rest of my vegetables in it too. No need for it to be a total loss.
My massively-producing eggplant has serious ants, I discovered last night, so I waged assault on them like Israel on Lebanon – hopefully that will take care of that. The fairy tale eggplant that I’ve grown from seed has its first flowers, so I will soon have more eggplant of one variety or another than I know what to do with. I’ve already given quite a bit away – must start freezing it too.
The carrots are coming in nicely – another two weeks, they will be good sized. My kale seems to be coming back from oblivion! Cauliflower looks questionable, but it’s a slow grower. I just made another big harvest of basil because it was starting to flower, so am madly trying to find 4 oz. Ball canning jars for pesto-as-gifts. No luck yet. If I don’t find any in the next few days I’ll just freeze a second batch of pesto for myself until I do find them. Have also hung the first batches of mint and lemon balm to dry for tea. Chamomile is looking strong – growing well. It’s about 3.5 inches tall now and starting to get woody. I planted that from seed, as well as stevia which is looking pretty good! Yummy teas-to-come. Looking to get some more herbs to grow for teas and soaps for Christmas gifts – will get those as small plants at this point.
My squashes are producing still – slowly – as they are suffering from some disease also. Probably because I trimmed off branches with dead leaves before I knew how dangerous that was for squash. They’re still producing though – I’m just losing more baby squash than I should at pollination time.
Trying to plan when is best to sow the fall crops – I’m a bit lost there. Best to wait until this heat wave passes, I’m sure. The planters have all been cleaned and sterilized and are just waiting to be filled up, and the seed packets are waiting to be opened. I do need to figure out where I’ll get the money for the next bags of potting soil that I’ll need though – I’ve been told not to keep the soil from the diseased plants for re-use. BLERGH. I had great soil to start everything with this spring, but it wasn’t cheap, so I’m going to have to go for some lesser quality this time to stay within budget. Hopefully some good compost will help. My home compost is going crazy – HURRAH! But the volume of it is not big yet – my bin was stuffed to the brim for a good long time and I keep on adding to it, but it’s all very small after it’s broken down. I probably have about 2 cubic feet of compost from all that stuff, so I’ll have to get at least one more bag of manure for this second planting.

Here are the most recent pictures of The Container Farm - it's been about 3 weeks since I've taken pictures of it.


So goes Season 1 on The Container Farm
– live and learn! Some of it is learning from my mistakes, and some of it is because the weather affects every growing season for experts as well as newbies. It’s sure been interesting, I can tell you that!


The front yard is the area where I have the most questions, being a total newbie. I planted some of it this spring, but now with bulb season coming I am overwhelmed by the catalogues.

PLANNING THE FALL BULB AND PERRENIAL ORDER FOR THE FRONT YARD

I'm going through the bulb and perrenial catalogues right now. I have the challenges of very tiny space, total shade, and requiring heat and drought-tolerant plants. Also hardy ones that would take a lot for me to screw it up - I'm still new and I'm also busy a lot. But of course I love gardens that look lush and like controlled chaos. :-D I haven't worked everything out completely yet - I need to draw the plan to work out locations, quantities, etc., as well as "planting plans" (schedule, requirements, etc.) Because of my space and other limitations I have to plan it very judiciously. I am also ordering certain varieties over others based on more economical price, but it's still adding up. :-(

I've been "growing the soil" already - it's pretty acidic, so if I need to add more lime again (second time) before next year I am unsure if I should do this at the same time as I'm planting bulbs this fall or what. I don't wnat to hurt the new plants right as I put them in. Also should I add compost, manure, or peat at the same time as planting the bulbs? And the perrenials they'll ship as plants only after August 15th (so says the catalogue) - just go ahead and plant them and they'll be fine until next year? I'm in Zone 7 and our first frost won't hit until late October. I've never planted this stuff before, so I have 8,000 questions.
Right now I'm looking at "easy-to-grow" ferns and drought-tolerant varieties of bright red astilbe for the big bed, maybe a pink one or two thrown in. Around the big tree, possibly a circle of elephant ears surrounding the immediate base with a circle of white lily of the valley in front of and surrounding those. Then I have two Japanese Skimmia that I planted in two small beds in the corners, in front of which I need to plant borders. (One of the skimmia is really not happy with this heat wave we've been having. It looks so bad. I've been keeping it good and watered - I really hope it bounces back. The other one looks just fine. One is male and one is female but I forget which is which.) Anyway, each of those borders is about 4' X 1' and shouldn't be taller than about a foot so they don't hide the baby shrubs. But I want COLOR. I wish tulips grew in shade. Any suggestions for there would be seriously appreciated.
All 4 of these beds are enclosed by borders and I have a rock ground cover in between everything - my entire yard is about 10' X 10' and it is enclosed. I also have a boxwood shrub in a pot on the porch and a hanging basket, both of which need some new annuals planted in with them for color. But annuals don't need to be planned as much as these perrenial beds do. Actually, around the boxwood I might want some kind of perrenial too so I don't keep disturbing the soil around the shrub all the time. Hmm.
Here are a couple pictures of my front yard so you can see the scale. It was evening when I took them - so they look darker than they do in the day time. It's still full shade though. I moved most of the herbs out back when they were'nt happy on that stand there. And that's a Jackmani Clematis climbing up the red lattice - it's tolerating life there but it's not really happy. If I should put something else to vine up in that spot which would like shade better, please make suggestions. THANK YOU!!!



The "big" bed - which is about 5' X 6'. :-D


Any and all advice would be appreciated. In return I will send you cookies with my mind.
back yard bats

back yard bats

Pond help!

Pond help!

My new place in decent enough shape to share

My new place in decent enough shape to share

Some kind of lily.

Some kind of lily.

Yet another plant ID.

Yet another plant ID.

For those of you in more wintry realms missing the vibrant colors of summer

For those of you in more wintry realms missing the vibrant colors of summer