I would call my seventh year of gardening a success. I tried growing new flowers as well as a few new herbs–lemon balm and flat parsley– and a new vegetable–banana peppers. While I didn’t grow the volume of flowers I wanted (I was fantasizing about weekly bouquets of flowers cut from my garden. That didn’t happen), what I planted for the most part grew. I can’t ask for more than that.
What I grew in the garden:
(Don’t you think grew is a weird word? To me, grew sounds like something a woman in the middle ages would ask her husband. “Eh, you want a bowl of grew?”)
- Nasturtiums (Always grow near tomatoes. This year, they were gorgeous and really took off in cool weather)
- Gladiolas (not all of the bulbs I planted grew but a couple did and were glorious!)
- Texas Bluebells (show stopper, must grow again. vase-life of at least two weeks)
- Bachelor’s Buttons (eh, okay.)
- Purple Salvia (not growing this again, didn’t care for the appearance, which reminded me of a dirty Brillo pad)
- Sweet Peas (I grew a couple of pots of sweet peas and they were beautiful and delicate. Will do again)
- Miniature Dahlias (Yes! They last until November)
- Miniature Gerber daisies (Ditto, long life)
- Parsley (flat leaf)
- Lemon Balm
- Mint (Dare I take credit since mint comes back on its own year after year?)
Notes: I’ve enjoyed the flat parsley immensely, more than I thought I would. Parsley is not my first choice of herb. But, parsley has stayed hearty through the cooler fall months and was a good addition to the salad bowl when the lettuce supply grew small.
I bought several basil plants, including one from a new to me place in Holden, a town maybe 20 miles away. I can’t remember the name of the garden center now but it’s on the way to my hairdresser’s and I was blown away by the quality of the plants. I also bought the sage there and maybe one or two other plants. I’m definitely hitting the shop again in the spring.
I had better luck this year with cilantro than I usually do. I think I bought the cilantro from the aforementioned shop and then once I planted it, I ignored it, except to harvest on taco nights.
The lemon balm was a bit of a lark. I went to an herb workshop in the spring and the wise woman leading the talk suggested everyone should grow lemon balm. I cut lemon balm for salads. I was going to make an lemon balm infusion to drink but time got away from me. Like mint, lemon balm will take over, if you let it.
- Sunset Pink Runner Beans (I usually grow scarlett, I grew pink this year and loved it. Will grow both next. Red brings more hummingbirds to the garden.)
- Arugula, Rocket (three plantings, love the Rocket variety, nice and spicy)
- Green lettuce (three plantings, I must, must, must try to record the varieties)
- Rainbow chard (two plantings)
- Sungold tomatoes
- A handful of large tomatoes, can’t remember name
- Jalapeno peppers (they really like the cooler temperatures, will grow again)
- Banana peppers (also, they grew wildly in September when the temperatures dropped, grow again for sure. So good and crisp on a sandwich.)
What I Learned:
Don’t place all your tomato orders with one farm (or catalog).
I bought four Sungold plants from one farm and four more from another farm. Guess what? Four that I bought from one of my favorite farmers turned out to be a large variety tomato. So I was really glad that I didn’t buy all the plants from the same place.
We only grow Sungold tomatoes, those tiny, round yellow-reddish tomatoes for a reason. Most Maine summers, especially here on the coast, don’t enjoy a prolonged enough heat for the larger varieties of tomatoes to ripen. Plums will do okay but Sungold is best and that’s what we like to eat. So, I was pretty disappointed to discover that we’d been given the wrong type of plants.
Probably some of the frugal gardeners in you are asking me what I’m doing buying plants to begin with instead of starting tomatoes from seed. Tomato seedlings are what works for us in this stage of life (and gardening). Husband and I are discussing construction of a greenhouse. If that happens, I will try to grow tomatoes from seed.
Mulch is My Friend, Especially in Drought
I don’t like the look of wood mulch. In fact, I’d rather not have any mulch around plants at all. I like the way they look in the dirt. But, wood chips really keep the weeds down and the water in the soil, which was a huge help this summer during the drought.
Japanese Beetles Are Not My Friend
They didn’t seem as bad this year as last but they were still invading my sunset pink runner beans and my rosebush. I’m not sure what to do about them. Do you have any suggestions other than get up at dawn while the beetles are still slumbering and push them off your plants into a can of soapy water?
Garden Club Sales Are My Friend
I had a list of plants I was searching for when all the area garden clubs hosted their plant sales last spring. Where that list is now I couldn’t tell you, which is one reason I’m starting the Dirt section on my website. To capture all of my garden notes before they evaporate from the cloudy mist of my brain.
I didn’t find much of what was on my list except for a few herbs and a beautiful boxwood shrub, which I bought for half the cost of what I’d found at area nurseries.
I have visions of a boxwood-lined path leading from our backyard into the woods. I don’t have the funds in my gardening budget yet to plant dozens of boxwoods but I will continue to plant at least one a year until I’ve formed the path. As I understand from the blogger at A Garden for the House, boxwood clippings can be planted to form their own shrubs.
What about you, what new plants did you grow during 2016? What are you anxious to try in 2017? Leave a comment.