Patio gardening for the weary

The dog days of summer have arrived in the Tri-Cities. We just survived a week with temperatures lingering past 100 F. While the garden has indeed exploded with lush greens and harvests, the intense heat has made it difficult to work outside. Additionally, my garden plot has become conquered by weeds despite my (and the stirrup hoe’s) best efforts to keep them at bay. So to continue enjoying a garden, I succumbed and purchased some planters, dug up several plants, and started a mini garden on my patio. Funny that the planters were more costly than an entire 15′ x 15′ plot at the community garden. Yet, I do find having the plants right outside my doorstep immensely more enjoyable. This also gives me a chance to grow the plants that got attacked by rabbits and voles.

South-facing patio garden: 2 chili pepper plants flanked by 2 brown planters containing Casper eggplants (front), Bountiful Beans in the rectangular planter, Dragon carrots (back).
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Chili pepper (my seed starts didn’t fare well, so I inherited these)
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Casper eggplant, transplanted from the garden plot
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Bountiful green beans (direct seeded in the planter)
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Dragon carrots (direct seeded in the planter with sowing markers)
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North-facing patio garden: fall seed starts and herbs (front), cilantro, lettuce, trellised peas (middle), worm compost bin (back)
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Fall seed starts (plus a late second attempt at watermelons)
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Thai basil (left), Sage (middle), Lemongrass (right), Thyme (not visible), transplanted from the garden plot
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Cilantro (front left), Speckled lettuce (front right), Golden Sweet peas (back), all direct seeded
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Spring evaluation

When the lettuce is bolting and the cucumbers start appearing, that means summer is officially here. Pictured below is the latest harvest consisting of Mammoth Red Rock Cabbage, Dragon Carrots, and a Boothby’s Blonde Cucumber:

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The spring has provided a good bounty so far. Listed here are the total yields from each set of plants and recommended adjustments for next spring:

  • Beets (Detroit Dark Red) – Devoured by mice before I could harvest them. Gopher baskets offered no protection. Will try planting in containers.
  • Bok Choy – 11.90 lb from 9 plants, seeds started in February, last harvest in mid June. 9 plants provided a continuous harvest, will try staggering plantings to 3 at a time. Wire mesh box provided good protection from pests. Great steamed and in stir fry.
  • Cabbage (Mammoth Red Rock) – 2.13 lb from 1 plant, seeds started in February, harvested late June, 1 plant left to harvest. 2 plants that were transplanted later were destroyed by rabbits since the cabbage plants were out in the open. 4 plants may be a good number, will keep the plants protected by wire boxes.
  • Carrots (Dragon) – 0.94 lb from 5 plants, seeds started in March, harvested late June. Leaves were partially eaten by pests, gopher baskets provided OK protection, except for the few carrots that had portions of the root nibbled on. Will try planting in containers.
  • Cauliflower (Early Snowball) – Devoured by mice before the cauliflower heads had a chance to form. Wire mesh box provided no protection. May need to try container planting.
  • Kale (Red Russian) – 15.75 lb from 6 plants, seeds started in February, still heavily producing. Wire mesh box provided good protection from rabbits, but leaves started being inhabited by aphids near the beginning of June. Suggestions for next season: reduce number of plants to 4, use row cover for additional pest protection. Kale chips from this variety were OK.
  • Lettuce (Speckled) – 2.1 lb from 6 plants, seeds started in February, last harvest in mid June. 6 plants at once provided a continuous but short harvest due to bolting. Will keep lettuce north or east of taller plants to give them shade. Wire mesh box provided good protection from pests. Great in sandwiches and for lettuce wraps.

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  • Peas (Golden Sweet) – Devoured before they could grow taller than ~6 in regardless of what protective devices I used. Currently attempting to grow peas in a container at home.
  • Radish – Harvested too late and ended up growing too big and tough for eating. Next time harvest after just a month.
  • Spinach (America) – Encountered difficulties raising the seedlings. Some seedlings already started bolting, even with just a couple sets of true leaves, and got infested with some small insects. Next time will grow seedlings in shade and protected by row cover.

Spring transplants and summer seed starts (part 2)

Some of the spring starts have begun to look a bit claustrophobic within their cloches. An unveiling was in order.

Bok choy:
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Speckled lettuce:
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Golden Sweet peas:
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Progress of the Music and Samarkand Persian Star garlic:
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A week of spring warmth, sunshine, and compost tea served them well so far. I started the second batch of summer starts (beans, corn, cucumber, melons, and squash) since the weather has stayed quite warm lately. The eggplant, hot peppers, and big tomatoes haven’t germinated yet, so I started another set of these seeds.