Coming home to the garden after a few days away feels like seeing nieces and nephews after a break. Except when you say, “My, how you’ve grown!” plants are a bit harder to embarrass.
Want to see what’s growing in a small, shady, city garden – maybe a bit like yours? Certainly, I’d like to recall what worked and what didn’t in the Microgarden in the hot, dry summer of 2016.
First, my veggie garden – which has lived in our driveway since we went carless five years ago. It’s a cluster of containers, including two livestock water trough planters we made in 2013.
Bush beans are fairly productive in our part-shade container garden. They’re so cheap in farmers’ markets once they get going, but we love being able to run out to grab a fresh-fresh bunch for dinner. This year, we’re trying ‘Prevail’, said to be long producers so we don’t have to re-crop.
The pot of mixed lettuce from East Lynn Farmer’s Market was a great $10 investment. We harvested lettuce from it for six weeks. It was low in bitterness, even after bolting. I have no idea of the cultivars in the mix of red and green leaf, red Romaine and green oakleaf lettuce.
Also in our troughs is a two-tone heritage runner bean from Renee’s Garden called ‘Painted Lady’ seed I bought from the Toronto Botanical Garden Shop. Hoping the hummers find it.
It’s my second year using the sample 15-gal. Smart Pot I received at a Garden Writers Association meeting – last year was a tomato, this year it’s two ‘Cube of Butter’ summer squash, aka zucchini, from Botanical Interests. (I keep asking Botanical Interests when they’ll start selling their seeds in Canda, and their response is always, “We’re working on it.”)
The cascading ‘Red Robin’ tomato above is one of three varieties I picked up for $2 each at our Toronto Master Gardener plant exchange. It’s a determinate tomato compact enough to use in a windowbox – not what I’m using, as you can see. Hoping I get to the goods before the squirrels do.
The other two are semi-determinate ‘Indigo Rose’, which I’ve grown before as a grafted tomato, and ‘German Lunchbox’, a small salad type. (I have no idea where the TMG growers got their seed, but I’m linking to Canadian sources I’ve found through Google.)
Also growing is one Sarah started using sample seed from All-America Selections. ‘Candyland Red’ is a 2016 award-winning currant-style tomato, smaller than cherry or grape styles. Small tomatoes tend to do well in my part-shade garden, though won’t fruit as heavily as they might in sun. Nearby are containers designed to lure pollinators to our micro-veggie-garden.
Just look at this fantastic foliage geranium in Janet Davis’ photo of a wow container at the Toronto Botanical Garden. It’s a favourite of TBG director of horticulture (and King of Containers) Paul Zammit who loves the leaves so much he cuts off the flowers! A fellow Master Gardener passed this plant along to me many years ago, and I’ve kept it going annually from cuttings. A keeper.
The pink is Supertunia ‘Vista Bubblegum’ and ‘Pretty Much Picasso’ is purple with a green edge. The first is doing splendidly for me. The latter, right beside it, not so much. Both are overdue for a mid-season haircut to keep them compact for the rest of the summer. I’ll be gentle.
Now a micro-look at what’s happening in other parts of the Microgarden.
I’m pleased with this combo of two of my favourite Pelargonium varieties making pretty in an underused spot by the rain barrel, with ‘Iron Cross’ and purple Oxalis and purple Tradescantia.
The Microgarden shows a decent amount of mid-season colour. Not bad, given its size. At right, the sometimes-double daylily Hemerocallis ‘Two to Tango’ is in its “leap” year.
The flower is actually coloured bracts. For the first few years, I thought they looked dreadful (like these on the Dave’s Garden site), but now they seem to be opening up and look more attractive.
‘June’ isn’t the only plant with sunburned leaves this super-heated, droughty summer. Blue-leaf hostas had their frosty wax coating melted off. Any Heuchera exposed to more than a half-day of sun also suffered, even the almost indestructible ‘Palace Purple.’ Don’t worry. It isn’t just you.
Here, it’s growing with Hosta ‘Janet’ and old-fashioned polkadot Pulmonaria ‘Mrs. Moon’
The front, under two huge Norway maples, is the driest part of this sandy garden. But judicious spot-watering of new plants, a soaker hose dousing when things wilt, and the last few days of rain have kept it lush. Mind you, this garden has been trained over many years not to be too thirsty.
Note to self: I should have bought the large, terracotta ‘Campfire’ coleus for my container, not the chartreuse ‘Wasabi’ which seems bent on planetary takeover. Too much green in this picture.
A much longer post than I’d intended to write. As my excuse, consider this my Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day for most of the summer – two weeks (and, technically, one month) too late. If you’re curious what other bloggers grew in July 2016, zip over to May Dreams Gardens and have a look.