I’ve been meaning to post about our garden for some time now but as I talked about on instagram last week the new gardeners learning curve has left us on some occasions with nothing to share. Our fall garden however is plenty filled out and full of color just in time for the season. YAY for finally having something to share! Disclaimer–these are not the best photos I’ve ever taken. We kept getting cloudy and rainy weather and I couldn’t seem to catch a break.We have an urban garden of sorts. It is located in the middle of a major metropolitan area and we live in an apartment, but we are not New Yorkers growing plants on a roof top or a small three foot balcony–thought it can totally be done! We live in an attached townhome on a corner lot so we have a bit more space than your usual city renters, but nothing like having our own front and backyard. As a matter of fact, we can grow very little on our back patio space so it all has to grow in the front.This year we were able to build two six foot raised beds in front of the shrubs of our house and we excavated the “front patio area” that had nothing but horribly uneven pavers and white filler rock. Two years ago Sam pulled up some of the pavers and planted an almost dead little rosemary that he revived and is now humongous. This year he pulled up enough pavers to plant sunflowers next to the rosemary. He left some pavers and bought two fruit trees–a Meyer lemon and a Harvester Peach–and planted them in planters next to the sunflowers. Beside the raised beds and the rosemary the rest of our garden is in planters.Our fall garden is mostly in our raised beds where we planted pumpkin pie pumpkins, white Lumina pumpkins, and Jarrahdale pumpkins. We also have purple bell peppers, marigolds, and the purple flowers. In the planters we have celosia, vinca and purslane, orange moss flower, and sunflowers which keep getting eaten by some unidentifiable bug–see first time gardeners learning curve. There’s also Russian sage, “Texas sage”, and potato vine.We hope to have a nice pumpkin harvest come November. We almost waited too long to plant the pumpkins–the Jarrahdales and Luminas were planted first–and then a week later we plated the pumpkin pie pumpkins. The pumpkin pie variety aren’t as big or growing as fast because we planted them a week later.Sam just started pansy seeds for the first time(currently incubating under the grow light in the garage) and we hope to plant them by December for the winter. The Meyer Lemons should also be ready come November or December and we are extremely excited about them. We had a very bad storm that nocked most of them off so our crop will be small but I plan on making either lemon pound cake or lemon cookies with them. I haven’t decided yet, but it will be yummy!I thought gardening in raised beds would be the easiest thing ever. Was I ever wrong. Growing in raised beds came with its own set of challenges. You see, the raised beds face west and they receive full sun all day long, all year long. That meant that they got very warm and stayed very warm. Plants such as onions, lettuce, carrots, and radishes got too warm in the raised beds and bolted before we could harvest them. We tried Roma, Cherry, San Marzano, and Cherokee Purple tomatoes in the raised beds during early to late summer thinking they would produce despite the hot temperatures but once again it’s just too hot here in Texas for summer tomatoes of any kind. Bell peppers during the summer months did not do well either strangely enough despite the fact they usually need very warm weather to germinate and grow. More than half of the produce we thought would do amazing was a total bust.We did have great luck with spring peas, rosemary, lavender, thyme, and sage in the raised beds. Basil did amazing but we had to stay after it to keep the bolting at bay. Flowers such as the marigolds and the violas as well as the pumpkins are blooming and growing wonderfully.Looking to next spring we will probably focus more on vegetables that have blooms that require pollination–such as squash, zucchini, and okra–rather than root vegetables. We will plant tomatoes and bell peppers again but only as a fall crop. We also plan to start the pumpkins in June so that their harvest time falls in September. As far as what we grew in the planters, cut flowers like zinnias did wonderful as well as green onion and herbs like lavender and thyme. I’ve already been planning out what we will plant early winter/spring 2020. I think next year we will have a much better harvest.Resources
I know many people are not confident about growing an urban or container garden but I say go for it! To get the best start possible visit your local gardening center(not a box store) and get recommendations on what grows best in your area and join a local gardening club. The AG extension in your state is the best resource for telling you what plants grow best in your zone and exactly when to start them for the entire year. Reddit is a great resource for asking plant questions when your unsure and need advice such as “are my seedlings too legy?(include a photo)” or “Have my female pumpkin seeds been fertilized?(include a picture)”.
Another tip–which is something Sam and I did get right this year–is to get some grid paper and draw out to scale best you can the entire gardening space you have marking out exactly which plant will go where and how many you can accommodate. Some plants do better in different light than others, some grow better next to certain plants and away from others, etc. This will keep you from feeling overwhelmed about what to buy, buying plants and seeds at the nursery that won’t grown in your region, or buying too many plants for your space.
Another great tip is to buy a grow light and start some of your plants from seed indoors. We had so much success with growing plant from seed. Actually, most of the plants we grew come from seed. Sam did all the research(do your research) figuring out the hardware and then how to properly implement it.
I also suggest investing in your local nursery. The people over at our local nursery know us by name now and are enthusiastic to answer our questions. They know how serious we are about gardening and they are really excited to see our progress and help us in any way they can. Investing in people’s livelihoods makes them more prone to help you. Sam and I have been frequent enough shoppers at our local nursery that if I have a quick question I don’t hesitate to drive by and ask even if I’m not buying something that day. It’s a real benefit to have a good relationship with your local nursery and those relationships broaden your community which feels amazing.I hope you enjoyed the tour and found this post helpful. If you have any gardening questions please ask because I would love to answer them! Well, Sam will probably be the one answering them but I will be the one writing the response. We love answering them none the less. And if you have any suggestions or thoughts or just general garden knowledge I would love to hear about everything! I hope you guys have a great week! Thanks for investing and supporting in me and my blog! It means so much to me!