How does my garden grow? Hollyhocks Again!
As I started last year with some pics from my garden I thought I should head out there again. First off you can see from my pic above that my hollyhocks are back– I can’t remember if the doubles bloomed last year or not, but the singles are back too! They bloomed again with no help from me! Other than that (new) constant I’ve changed the set up slightly based on some things I learned last year.
Here are the top three things I learned:
1. Just because they are beautiful and interesting doesn’t mean your children will want to the eat blue pumpkins you grow.
2. Before you plant every variety of tomato you love, think about how many tomatoes you will be harvesting off 2 cherry and 2 yellow pear tomato plants + 2 other plants– note to self, that would be way too many for one family to eat or even give away– Hello compost!
3. Don’t let your garden over take your walking areas.
So based on these starting points I was sure to do a few things differently this year. First off I’m growing a pumpkin the kids want– jack o’lantern pumpkins. I still did plant one winter squash (amish pumpkin) to try but hopefully they’ll be less prolific and smaller than the queensland blue’s of last summer. I”ve spotted small pumpkins on the amish plant, but not the jack o’ lanterns….yet.
Secondly, I restricted my tomato craziness. I did not start them from seed this year (no time! I had to germinate paper topics instead) and limited myself to 3 tomato plants and only one small tomato, the other two are medium sized tomatoes. We opted for yellow pear this year although we really did enjoy the currant cherry tomatoes from last year. They seem to be coming along, some have green fruit on them, but August will really tell us if this is still too much for our family of 4 to give away and/or eat.
Thirdly, I am being sure to trim the rose bush, the hollyhocks and tomato plants to maintain a reasonable walking area…so far. August will be the true test!
Based on some companion planting research I did I also tried some interspersing of flowers with vegetables this year, tucking in marigolds and nastursiums where I could fit them, as well as some herbs here and there. Most serendiptiously some sunflowers just grew right were I wanted them. I had been planning on planting a few sunflower seeds along the back of one box, but didn’t get to it. Strangely four have grown right there. My friend guesses that some bird dropped the seeds, but I’m not sure. No matter their source (could I have planted them and forgotten?) I am happy with how that worked out.
A couple new additions to my garden are 1) a sunshine blueberry bush (I wanted two but only had room for one) that is already producing fruit and is a great treat for my kids, 2) more strawberry plants in one box (that produced a disappointing amount of strawberries) and 3) a lipstick pepper (last year I grew only the chocolate bells, but this year I am growing one of those and one of this other kind of pepper).
I haven’t been able to really give it much time this year, but it seems to be humming along. I am curious to maximize my boxes more next year and have been inspired by this blog (randomly found one evening) to look more at square foot gardening as a way to do this. Of course right when I get it all figured out my tree will get bigger, block all my sun, and force me to rethink it all.
But that’s the great thing about gardening… it can (and should) be different each year.