This is a food blog, so I’ll be mostly discussing in this post what I’m growing to eat this year, but not exclusively. A few of my garden plants you really don’t want to eat, including the plant in the first photo in this post. You see, I’ll be moving next year, and so growing veggies here is changing — I’m not going to be growing as many, and most will be in container pots. Most of these photos were taken about ten days ago, and I’d intended this to be a May posting, but life got in the way. All the photos were indeed taken this May. Mostly ten days ago.
I have a ton of shade here — very few places are sunny. Right down by the road presumably gets a lot of sun, but I don’t really care to consume auto-exhaust laden zucchini. There’s a place in the front yard where I and my old housemate set up a vegetable patch many years ago. Unfortunately, a veggie patch in the front yard doesn’t really inspire “curb appeal”, especially since it was working less and less efficiently over the years (more shade as other things grew taller — this is a really atypical yard; I’m on a hillside and due-southwest the land drops off drastically, so down there it is trees, which do provide privacy, and erosion control).
Another perennial not for (human) consumption, but deer like it — if it is put in easy-access. This particular coleus has survived for years, because it is out-of-the-way on the driveway! (Mind you, it this were a tulip, there’d be no holding them deer back!)
So, this year I ripped out the veggie patch, moved the rich topsoil — it was a three-inch “raised bed” — to fill in holes in the yard, and to fertilize up my container pots. I’m waiting for the grass I’ve sown there to take off. Next rain, perhaps. (Note: it has!)
Anyhow, where the veggie patch was, along the edges, some mustard green seeds from the previous year have re-seeded themselves. A few have also ended up growing in places where I tossed the topsoil! They are all being harvested this week and next week (June) for salads.
I also have a rock garden, which has long been a home for herbs. This remains. More, below.
Brussels sprouts share a container pot. (Who’da thunk? Me, who loathed those things for years and decades — I now love ’em if properly cooked; plus anything that grows on stalks like those guys grow have simply got to be cool just to look at!)
Collard greens have their own special place on my front door stoop, three pots.
A friend recently gave me some lemon grass to root — since this is a perennial, this moves with me. At the other end of the planter, I put in some grape hibiscus, because it is also perennial, and except when it is flowering, looks kinda ugly with regards to “curb appeal”. Looks like grass growing where it is not welcome. Much of the rest has been ripped up. I might as well keep what I like, right? It multiplies. (I didn’t photograph the remains of the grape hibiscus.) But yes, some guest petunias are along for the ride this summer.
My newest veggie acquisition is red Russian kale. The three that I planted in this planter were so thankful that they outpaced the other three within 24 hours. (I planted the other three 24 hours later in the Rock Garden. They’ll catch up.)
I’ve also a planter which I’ve seeded with microgreens (using fresh organic soil, so I’d know what things came up are actually things I want to eat). Most people do these plantings indoors in a south-facing window, but I really didn’t want the south-facing window to be mistaken for a litter box by any errant felines who live here! These are just about ready for harvest, and I can keep this going all summer long since I have enough seeds.
The rock garden is also something my old housemate and I created years ago. Most of it is semi-shaded but the front parts are good for strawberries, cucumbers, and lots of herbs. I have irises in there, which do their thing before too much shade hits the area up. Unfortunately Pachysandra is attempting to overrun the space, and that’s one of my duties for later today (written back in May, and partial extraction has been completed). Returning from previous years are the strawberries (which I never get to eat more than one or two from), the oregano (yum) and the woodruff. Also, feverfew, which is an herb indicated for migraines. Annual herbs that went in so far include parsley, sage, rosemary, and …. uh, I haven’t gotten the thyme yet! I do hope to add basil, as per usual.
Below, in order: Sage, oregano (coming back from last year, and from many earlier years), and rosemary.
Other than edibles, the only annuals I am planting this year are bellflower (I just couldn’t resist its cheer) and some petunias (ditto). I need color to flesh out my life.
Petunias in a planter with wooden ducklings my parents gave me at least 20 years ago. Mama duck long ago rotted away.
On to the Rhododendron of Large Standing:
I am certain if I took the time, I could find you a photo of this rhodo doing what rhodos do best. It would be a photo taken 4 or 5 years ago. However, it was beginning to weaken over the last two or three years, and this last really harsh winter truly did it in. I took the above photo after I cut out the most obviously bad/dead parts. I should have taken a truly “before” shot. At any rate, this thing looked straggly, spindly, and a few other uncomplimentary words even here. For some reason, the parts of it that spent most of the winter under snow cover turned out to survive the best.
I thought about ripping the thing out entirely, but between not having the upper body strength to rip out a 40-year-old planting (it was well-established when I moved here 23 years ago), nor having a back hoe available for cheap, I opted to let the bottom parts survive. This was a good idea. Although this year it only produced one flower, it is also producing LOTS of new green. I’m going to do the same thing, shortly, to a neighboring azaela which has overgrown its welcome, but I did let it bloom to see where I should best provide the crew cut.
I put in a couple of perennials this year, one is McKay’s White Potentilla, which provides white flowers through much of the summer, and grows to 3 feet tall, 2 feet wide. It should fill in some of the empty space by the original footprint of the truncated rhododendron. Care is supposed to be easy. It only cost $15.
PS: my favorite wild-growing weeds that can be used as edibles: onion grass; garlic mustard (this one an invasive so don’t encourage it, but if you have it, eat it); young dandelion leaves. There is also plantain and burdock root here in droves, but I have less skill with them.
And, at the very end of this post: Lady’s mantle is considered an herb, but I don’t know if it is edible, or just pretty, or just something which upon when rain happens, water just beads up. It is a perennial, low-lying, and can deal with a mild amount of shade.