As I work in my own garden, I watch some plants thrive while others struggle for survival. So I love to see the gardens other people put together.
In the past, I’ve written about my daughter’s small historic home in Boise, Idaho. I’ve shown her garden as it makes the seasonal transitions through snow and spring. Each time I see her newest pictures I get ideas and inspiration.
When she visited me here in Hawai`i this past spring, she installed the beginnings of a new drip system, which I was able to expand over the following months. Now, even though it might be a lost cause here on my lava field, I’m trying to figure out how I can put in a brick patio!
People talk about edible gardens, but my daughter has taken it to a new level. Without a lot of front yard space, she utilizes the space between her downtown sidewalk and the street to great advantage. How in the world does she keep anyone from helping themselves?
I have a couple of blueberry bushes in my garden that were designed for subtropical climates, but they don’t look nearly as healthy as these.
Every spare inch of space is used for flowers, veggies and herbs.
Looks like she has an eager helper.
Even fruit trees have found their home in her tiny garden!
I really do envy her little lean-to greenhouse.
She recently added a roof overhang for her patio so she can sit in the shade and sip tea while her drip system does the watering for her. I don’t have pictures of that yet, but I’m sure you will see those soon. In the meantime, enjoy this stroll through a small garden in Boise.
It’s always time to plant here, but I haven’t had the chance to really concentrate on it lately. With the springs semester finished and graduation over, I’ve been enjoying my time with soil and seed.
The plastic containers that had contained Costco cherries, tomatoes, blueberries, and other berries had small holes to allow the water to seep through. I put a coffee filter in the bottom of each one, then filled them with potting soil.
Saved fudgesicle sticks made good markers. The lids of the containers protect the seeds and future seedlings from birds and other critters, while letting the sun get through. It’s easy to sprinkle them with water.
I’ll keep you posted on their growth (or non-growth)! I’m trying to keep an optimistic attitude.
My list: zucchini, yellow squash, patty pan squash, acorn squash, kabocha, tomatillos, fennel, thai peppers, cauliflower, artichokes, roma tomatoes, eggplant, kale
Before you go scrambling for your dictionary, I’ll save you the trouble. The word “gallimaufry” originally came from the French and it was a hash made out of meat scraps. So that’s what today’s post is going to be – sort of a hash of miscellaneous items that I find interesting.
After my post on watermelons and blueberries, I got a note from my Cuz’n Don, telling me about his own watermelon crop. On a visit to their daughter in Atlanta, they went to a new nature center that had just opened up. I think you’ll enjoy his comment on that.
It was was a pretty nice setup. As we were coming out there was a large number of plants that gardeners had planted. I came up on a plant that I had not seen in years. A group of people and one of the volunteers were trying to figure it out what it was. It was the size of lemons and green and growing on a vine. I heard their conversation and told them it was a wild MAYPOP and we used to pick it from fence rows in Mississippi and pop them open and eat the seeds. This is the same fruit as your PURPLE PASSION [Passion Fruit or Lilikoi] or a variety of it. Anyway, I followed the volunteer back to her office and she wanted to find it on the Internet and sure enough there it was. Now I hear I have a cousin in Hawaii that makes jelly out of it. OUTSTANDING!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (from Cuzn Don’s email)
I’ve been thinking about what grows well in my yard, and what doesn’t – and about what is worth the effort and what isn’t. I put out some gladiola bulbs that grew quite well and had beautiful blossoms. The problem? It took a lot of precious soil to get just a few blooms that didn’t last but a few days. If they do something on their own, that will be fine, but I don’t think I’m going to waste a lot of water, soil or energy on them. I’d rather put that into growing something I can eat.
My latest project, after pulling out the last of my summer garden, was to sweeten the soil in my raised beds and add some fresh soil. So far, I’ve put out seeds for red leaf mustard, thyme, sweet basil, broadleaf sage, cilantro, string beans, and beets.
I never knew there were so many kinds of basil! I’m going to plant Cinnamon Basil, Lime Basil, and Purple Dark Opal Basil, in addition to the Thai Basil and Holy Basil I’ve planted before.
Is there such a thing as seed addiction? If so, I’m an addict! I always buy way more seeds than I’ll ever get around to planting, but I think that’s the hazard of gardening. Can you tell what I want to plant next? Pattypan squash, leaf lettuce, collards, and tomatillos. The little clear package in front will be an experiment – ceratonia siliqua, what most of us know as carob. The tomatillos and carob I’ll start in little pots for replanting later.
My small lime tree in a big pot is full of deep green limes that look like I could start picking right away. Container gardening seems to be the answer for many things here.
Orchids don’t seem to have much trouble growing here, but what did you expect? This is Hawai`i, after all! My plants are full of tall spikes covered with buds. Here are the first two to pop out!
My few sprigs of donkey tail are starting to take over my front steps. I need to make some hangers for them so they can gracefully hang over my deck.
Here are a couple more plants that should be hanging up instead of sitting on my steps. One of these days I’ll get around to making some macramé hangers.
One of my favorite growing things right now is the Thai hot pepper. I carefully pick off a few to toss into slow cooker chili or pulled pork, or anything that needs a bit of heat. They are such a brilliant color in my garden!
“There are never enough hours in the day.” How many gardeners have said that? At this time of year when the days are getting shorter I especially wish I had more daylight hours after I get home from teaching. Fortunately, I can grow veggies all winter long here without worrying about snow or frost.
While I wait for my seeds to grow (they’ve already sprouted), I have arugula, spicy mesclun and red leaf lettuce still available for a fresh salad, and plenty of red chard for stir-frying in extra virgin olive oil with lots of garlic.
The opening photo above is my daughter Inga’s two kitties. They are always so cute as kittens, and two make good company for each other. I’ll show you her summer garden in another post. She does so much in such a tiny space! But she has real earth!
Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil into a skillet over medium-high heat.
When the oil is hot, toss in lots of sliced garlic, fresh string beans cut into 2” slices, thickly sliced okra, whole sugar snap peas, maybe a few greens like kale, chard, mustards, or even arugula, plus any other veggie you happen to pick from your garden.
If you have carrots or little beets, add a few of those for color, flavor, and nutrition. Add whatever herbs and spices you enjoy – or none at all.
I like my veggies slightly underdone, but when they are the way you like them, an optional finale is to shake in a tad of balsamic vinegar or some red pepper flakes for a bit of extra flavor.
I literally went out and picked a few string beans as the oil was heating up when I made this dish for lunch last week! Now that’s fresh!
Except for the garlic (plus the olive oil and balsamic vinegar), everything comes out of my own garden. I plan to put out garlic this winter, however. There is an old saying that you plant garlic on the shortest day of the year, then harvest it on the longest day. No one knows exactly where that saying comes from, but it’s a good guide.
Also, I don’t mince garlic – I slice it, or quarter it! Can you tell I like my garlic? It’s good for you, too.
When this is all ready for eating, dump into a bowl and eat with chopsticks so you don’t gobble it down too fast. Take time to enjoy the flavors. This is definitely a heart-healthy meal.
When I returned from my trip to California mid-June, I saw how much some of my plants had grown. Of course, a few things had run their course and were regrouping for the next growth spurt.
For instance, a few little snippets of ivy geranium that I’d broken from a friend’s plant had actually grown and was covered with brilliant magenta blossoms. What richness! Above is a single bloom. Here is a view of several together.
The brugmansia that had given its first bloom a month before, now had eight trumpets hanging! After waiting several years for a blossom, I can now count on it giving me flowers regularly. Those eight have died now, and six more are waiting to open. I think I was too excited to hold the camera still, or maybe it was the wind blowing the blooms, but you can the difference between my one lonely first bloom and now.
I had planted one small piece of orchid cactus given to me by a friend. I started looking up “orchid cactus” with Google and found many sites that said it is neither a member of the orchid family, nor is it a true epiphyllum. So far I haven’t found a site that tells me exactly what it is, other than it is related to a desert cactus. I’ll keep looking. Whatever it may be (or not be), the bloom was beautiful. I found it when I went out to water mid-day on July 3.
At the beginning of May, I planted some heritage canna bulbs from Old House Gardens. One was a Florence Vaughn Canna (1893), and the other was a Canna Indica (1596). Until they bloom toward the end of summer or in the fall, the leaves are flamboyant and perky. There is something rather wholesome about having plants from bulbs that come from a line that is over 400 years old!
I want to put in a plug here for Old House Gardens. I ordered a sampler package from them online, then got a phone call from a woman there who wanted to know my elevation, what kind of soil I had, typical range of temperature, and the like. Before she put together my sampler, she wanted to know what might grow best here. Everything they sent me has grown beautifully! I can’t say the same thing for another company that sent me bare root plants. After a year, not one of them has done anything! Very disappointing!
These gladiolus bulbs were also from Old House Gardens. This picture was taken on June 27, and they were about half the size they are now. Everything is growing amazingly fast! You can see the cannas growing in several spots behind the glads.
This pikake plant was a gift at our Garden Club Christmas party. I have since planted it in the ground in one of my “lasagna” patches and it’s about twice this size. I took this picture because of the blooms, which are incredibly sweet smelling.
By the time I take pictures and get them into this blog, the plants have at least doubled in size, but I keep trying to let you know how things are growing. This small potted lime tree was covered with little limes that are now about three times as big. I picked off some of the smaller ones to allow the others to grow to a decent size.
There is a fresh crop of veggies coming up, too. Everything here is two or three times this big, also, just since I took these photos two weeks ago!
Only a few kale plants came up, but even those few were looking hearty.
Then I went out one morning and this is what I saw! Something had completely stripped the leaves. Feeling a bit like I was closing the barn door after the horses were out, I cut the bottom out of yogurt containers and stuck them around each plant. At least it will keep whatever was eating them from getting any new growth. And there are already new leaves cropping up in the middle of this disaster.
I did the same thing with the Thai hot peppers that I’d recently planted. I didn’t want the “flesh-eating” bugs to get them, too!
I should probably pick off the beautiful flowers from the Siam Basil, but the bees seem to love it, so I just leave them alone. It’s such a treat to see the bees actually working. I may even decide to keep a hive of my own.
This photo gives you a better idea of how some of these plants are laid out. At the far end you’ll see the Siam Basil, Holy Basil, and regular Sweet Mammoth Basil. You can see my three Thai hot peppers, and the pathetic stripped kale. At this end is a luxurious patch of Greek oregano. You can probably see the pieces of gutter guard I’ve placed over new seedlings of spicy mesclun and a blend of loose leaf lettuce seedlings. It’s not just bugs I need to watch for, but birds – and Kaimana (my cat) who loves to dig in what he considers his private litter box! In the bottom left-hand corner, you see the source of the squash vine.
Here is a closer view of how I’ve put the gutter guard material over the freshly planted seeds. Since I took this picture, the seeds are up about ½ inch. I also placed the same material over okra and arugula seeds.
Another good use for gutter guard is shown here. I was sent some heritage Moon ‘n’ Stars watermelon seeds from my Cuz’n Don in Mississippi. I made a circle around each hill with three seeds in each one. Several of them already have sprouts about an inch high. I may even get a watermelon out of this.
Several people have asked to see my front garden patch from a couple angles.
It doesn’t take a lot of space to provide good food. From these little beds in front, bigger beds in the back, and even the beets growing among the daylilies in my patio, I can keep myself with a healthy supply of food. Here is a bunch of arugula, lettuce, other mixed greens, herbs, and the onion-tasting flowers from the chives – all ready for a big salad. I ate the whole thing, with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and crumbled feta cheese!
Writing this has made me hungry! Must be time to go pick a few leaves and eat lunch!
A hui hou!
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