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Summer garden update

I wrote this part of the post in late July.

Right before we left for Oregon I noticed aphids on one of the calibrochoa plants and funny little black bugs on the nasturtiums. I didn’t have time to do a soapy water spray and rinse, so I just blasted both plants with the hose and moved them away from the other plants. This tactic worked on the calibrochoa, which continues to bloom happily on the front porch, and less well on the nasturtiums, which still have some bugs.

Orange and yellow nasturtiums

Other than that, everything is going pretty well! The herbs, as always, are growing healthily: the rosemary is glossy green, the mint is spilling out of its pots, and the chives, sage, thyme, parsley, and basil are all robust.

Parsley, mint, thyme, basil, more thyme

Rectangular planter with sage, rosemary, and chives

Most exciting of all, the tomatoes I started from seed are finally beginning to come in.

Tiny green tomato

I wrote this part of the post just now, in late September.

Fall is finally here, according to the calendar and the weather. I just harvested all of my basil plants and made a big batch of pesto using the America’s Test Kitchen recipe (basil, walnuts, olive oil, garlic, salt). Last year I did keep one basil plant alive indoors all winter, but it was pretty anemic by spring.

This year, once the nighttime temperature starts dropping into the 30s, I’ll bring in some of the mint, rosemary (one of which is large enough to serve as a small Hanukkah bush, if we did that sort of thing, and if we wanted to look at a bright orange Home Depot bucket all the time), roses, and thyme. This is the first year I’ve grown thyme – does anyone know how well it’s likely to do indoors?

Bunny tail grass

The bunny tails lived up to their name!

The herbs, calibrochoa, and nasturtiums all did well this summer (the nasturtiums recovered from the little black bugs in July). The sweet peas in the container did well, greenery-wise – the flowers never bloomed – until one of the heat waves fried them. I would try these again next year and give them a better lattice or frame to climb. The sweet peas in the ground mostly emerged, grew to about 3-5 inches, then stalled, probably due to the terrible soil. Containers are the way to go, it seems.

One yellow and one green cherry tomato

A cluster of cherry tomatoes ripening on the vine

The tomatoes were a bit of a disappointment. The chipmunks that live under the porch definitely stole some, but I think the main problem was not enough sun. Next year, I’m planning to try moving them to the front of the house instead, so they’ll be west-facing instead of east-facing. We probably only got two handfuls altogether; they were delicious, but everyone else I know who grew tomatoes here this year had much bigger yields.

Another flower I’d like to try next year is cosmos – I’ve been admiring their wild, tangly, airy look in other people’s gardens all summer. I’m assuming the plants in the pots by the front stairs won’t come back on their own next spring, so maybe I’ll try a wildflower mix there. I really liked the dusty miller with the little orange and white flowers, though – they did very well.

So that’s the fall wrap-up for the garden. Did you garden this summer? What grew well, and what didn’t take?

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Perennials

A red rose, partly open

This is the same little rose I got for Ben for Valentine’s Day a couple of years ago. Despite my doubts, it comes back every time I prune it, and I prune it after each time it blooms. Here are its most recent flowers.

Two red roses, one open, one opening

I didn’t think the perennials I planted in the front yard last summer would come back, either, not after the winter we had, but – o me of little faith – at least one of them is proving me wrong.

Green plant with one purple flower open and one about to open

Also, we had the soil around the house tested, and the amount of lead is off the charts (well, technically a chart could accommodate it, but it is 5x+ the maximum recommended levels, so it’s a good thing we’re only looking at these flowers and not eating them). It’s kind of amazing anything is growing at all.

Close up of purple flower on green plant

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