Wednesday, April 2, 2014

How Does the Garden Grow

by Deb Baker/Hannah Reed

Downsizing to an apartment doesn’t mean I have to give up gardening. The local university extension rents out plots every year, and I moved from the waiting list to a guaranteed 20x20 foot garden. They will even till the soil for me! 20x20 was the smallest they rented. It’s pretty big if you ask me, especially for a singleton, although I have enough friends and family for gifting.

So…what to plant? The for-sure list – tomatoes, kale, beets, cukes, arugula.

But this year, I’d like to plant cutting flowers, too. The family home I left behind to start my new life had lots of perennial beds. This is going to be different. Rows of annual flowers specifically for filling vases with bouquets. I’m not sure how it will work out, but I’m looking forward to trying.

I’ve read online articles that suggest choosing a color palette and going from there. Apparently timing them so they are ready at the same time can be tricky. I really like dahlias, but just discovered they are tubers. Still might be worth the effort though. Also on the consideration list: pincushion flowers, bachelor buttons, zinnias, snapdragons, sweet peas (the dwarf version), the possibilities are endless.

Any suggestions? What are you growing this year? Isn't it fun to plan?


Aurian said...

I do have a teeny tiny garden, so I grew mostly climbers, to cover up the ugly wall, and it works beautifully. As I am allergic to flowers (amongst lots of other things) I can admire them outside but not inside the house.

Susan L. @ Full Happy Muffin and Mama said...

We actually used one of our in-home date nights to plan the garden. We are going to plant three types of tomatoes: Roma, slicer (unsure of variety), and either cherry, grape, or teardrop tomatoes. My son is obsessed with carrots, so we are going to try to plant those, as well. We are going to plant pickling and English cucumbers. In the pepper category, we are going to plant bell and jalapenos. For the first time, we are also going to attempt onion and turnip (both for the turnip itself and the greens). And then the herbs: basil, parsley, and mint. I would love to be able to have cilantro and rosemary, but we've tried (and failed) several times growing those.

Deb said...

I saw some of the most beautiful tiny gardens in England! And I know from my own longtime ago experience that teeny sometimes is enough work:) That allergy must be a nuisance.

Deb said...

What a fun date! I tried Amish Paste tomatoes one season and really liked them. I never thought of trying English cucumbers, so I've added to my 'growing' list. Cilantro goes to seed so fast that I've given up. Sounds like root veggies are a new adventure for you. Enjoy.

Dr. Mary Kennedy said...

Great blog, Deb! Our entire back yard is something of a forest, we had 15 trees cut down and there is still no sunlight to be had. I've read up on "shade plants"--some successes and a lot of failures. I'd love to have a sunny spot to grow something colorful. In a spirit of defiance, I tried to grow cherry tomatoes one year (everyone told me it would be impossible, and they were right--the entire "crop" consisted of three!) So I'm settling for hosta, lily of the valley, etc. Some splashes of bright color would be nice!

Deb said...

I feel your pain! My old garden was near the woods and got shadier and shadier. Maybe you can grow your tomatoes in pots:)

Mary Jane Maffini said...

Great post, Deb. I love community gardens. We are trying to reconstruct a garden in our new/old place. Our soil is terrible but we will persevere. We are sticking to perennials and annuals in pots. Tomatoes in pots too.

Thank you for the summery thoughts today.



Deb said...

Enjoy, Mary Jane!

Vicki said...

Sunflowers! Those are fairly easy. We grow them at the community garden I have a spot in and they range in size from 4 to 6 ft tall depending on the variety. I only pick sunflowers that have lots of flowers.

Then there are cleome, Black eyed Susan's, Gloriosa daisy, geraniums, etc, etc. Don't get locked into what is a traditional cut flower. Just grow what you like and cut and take home. The thrown together vases of flowers turn out prettier I think. Don't forget to grow some "filler" like Sweet Annie. Herbs work well as "filler" too.

Wow...a 20 x 20 plot! My community garden, all the plots are 4 ft by 8 ft and we have a waiting list of 45!!

Love carrots! My favorite varieties so far are Danvers half long and Danvers 126. Lettuce. Yum yum - oak leaf and black seeded simpson. Oh and romaine. Those are my best of the bunch choices.

Bush beans. Definitely cucumbers. 6 plants on a trellis (for easy picking) in full sun produce MORE than 2 people can eat much less one. I give away cucs left and right.

Sungold cherry tomato (to die for) and Juliette (a grape/roma cross) are excellent choices.

Actually it all boils down to what do YOU like to eat. Growing something you don't like doesn't work so well. I don't like radishes and I've tried growing them to give them away and funnily enough, I usually have trouble with them.

Deb said...

I love your enthusiasm, Vicki, it rubbed off and I'm writing down some of your suggestions. Thanks:) I AM a bit concerned over the size of this plot, but looking forward to the challenge.