Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Container Garden on the Deck and Herbs in the Kitchen Window (2013 Garden Update #1)

Container garden
Tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, and basil are growing on the deck!   Here's the very first tomato planted.

If you've been reading this blog for any time at all, you probably know that I'm passionate about gardening!  I've been sharing Garden Updates every year since 2006, and the garden at the old house got better every year.  And then just when I had the garden of my dreams, I moved!  I do love my new house, but there's an abundance of deer, squirrels, and rabbits running around on the hill, so while I build a real garden and figure out how to keep the critters out of it, I'm growing things in containers on the deck and in the kitchen window this year.  

Gardening Updates are partly for me to create a record of what's happening in my garden, but I also hope they might encourage people who haven't tried growing their own food.  There's nothing that can compare with a fresh-picked tomato or cucumber, and as long as you have the basics (sun, soil, water, and fertilizer), gardening is not all that difficult.  I've been growing a garden for *many* years now, but it's my first time ever for window gardening or container gardening, so if any readers are experienced with those, I'd love to get your advice in the comments. 

We bought soil at the garden center and then mixed it with this organic mixture to make the soil lighter and help it retain water better.

My brother-in-law Kelly is a licensed contractor, so I relied on him for advice about handling the weight on the deck.  (Thanks Kelly!)  He advised clustering the pots near the support beams, so I have two plants on each side of the beams.  I bought pots that were small enough that the heavy-duty tomato cages I already had would fit over the pots, and I'm thinking this will work out well.  This is the west end of the deck.

On the far west I have my beloved Green Zebra Tomatoes (only one plant, sigh.)  Sorry about the photographer fail of not getting the plant tag in focus!

Next is Black Krim, an heirloom tomato I always wanted to try that was recommended by a friend on Facebook.  (All links to seed purveyors are merely to give information about that plant, and should not be considered an endorsement of that site.)

Next to that is Celebrity, a tomato I've grown for years that consistently does well in Utah.

For eggplants, I chose this Pot Black Eggplant, a variety which is supposed to be compact and good to grow in containers.  It produces mini eggplants that are about 3 oz. in size, which I think sound perfect for stir-fried eggplant.

This is the east end of the deck.  The back of my house faces south, so I think both ends of the deck get equal sun, just at different times of the day.  So far I am watering these with a hose, but I'm having my sprinkler guy come over to see about putting in a mini-drip system because these pots on the south-facing deck are going to need water every day.

I put far too many basil plants in this pot, but I hope they still grow well so I can make Basil Pesto with Lemon and Basil Vinaigrette.  (I'm glad I have two pots of basil in the kitchen window as well!)

I don't think I could go a year without garden cucumbers, and these are my favorite Sweet Slice cucumbers.  I'm going to use twist-ties to encourage the cucumber vines to grow up the tomato cage!

My favorite yellow tomato is this Lemon Boy, which I've grown for a few years now.

Finally, these Sun Gold Yellow Cherry Tomatoes were highly recommended on Facebook and online, and I'm growing them for the first time this year.

And how are the herbs doing in the kitchen window?  Here's the photo from a month ago when I shared the photos of my new kitchen.

Now a month later, you can see that some herbs are well-snipped and others are much bigger than they were originally.  And I absolutely love having herbs growing right in the kitchen so they're handy whenever I need some!

Are you growing a garden at your house?  If so, let us know in the comments about what you have planted this year.
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32 comments:

Apu said...

They sure look good. I used to do the same in my apartment. This year the winter has been long and I have not got started yet!!

Kalyn Denny said...

Apu, I am excited. Good to hear from others that it looks like it will work.

Jacqueline Meldrum said...

I need to get some herbs growing soon. My chives and mint are there as ever. I love how they pop their heads out of the soil after every bad winter. I have given up on tomatoes after 2 bad years. Our weather is so dire, they just don't get enough sun.

Kalyn Denny said...

Oh Jacqueline, that is sad about the tomatoes. But yaay for fresh herbs!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Fantastic! What a great solution to keep your garden going while you learn the lay of the new landscape. Herbs growing right in your kitchen will be such a treat.

Kalyn Denny said...

Lydia, I'm quite infatuated with the herbs!

Wandering Chopsticks said...

I always like reading your garden updates. The raised beds in your old house were so nice. It must be hard to give them up.

I've seen people erect fences to keep out rabbits, but not sure about deer. The ones in my parents neighborhood keep eating all my mom's rosebuds so the roses rarely get a chance to bloom.

The new house had a fig tree when I moved in. Planted papaya, Texas orange, and guava trees. Just bought a Malaysian rose apple tree I need to plant, along with a longan tree.

There's lemongrass and wild betel leaf. And I bought a new to me plant, gynura procumbens, that's supposed to help lower cholesterol and blood sugar for diabetes. I have three blueberry bushes, but only two are fruiting. And Tonkin jasmine, to stir-fry the flowers with beef.

Haven't started on herbs or anything else yet since I'm still planning the layout. I'm excited to be gardening again! And it'll be fun to see what you do at the new place.

Gwen said...

Living in Phoenix, Az. it's been a huge struggle for me to get much of anything other than herbs to grow :( The house we are in now is absolutely horrid for planting int the ground so container pots are it for now.

Kalyn Denny said...

WC, your garden sounds wonderful. So many interesting things growing.

Gwen, I can imagine because even here it is horribly hot in late summer. I'm guessing I'll have to water my pots twice a day then.

Tracy Cook said...

I assume you have very green fingers now.
My garden has been neglected for two years now .
Awful

Bruno said...

Hi Kalyn,

I was wondering if you were going to start a garden at your new house. So far, it's looking good!
You may need to build an enclosure for your permanent garden to keep the critters out. Otherwise you may get very frustrated w/ them eating everything!

Bruno

Penny said...

We have the same problem with critters. Your kitchen garden looks fabulous. I also took a look at your new kitchen. Beautiful!

Janet said...

I wish you good luck with this. I was defeated by squirels on my patio in NC. They even dig up the freshly planted small plants, don't even wait for the fruit. I put cayenne pepper, bought by the bag full, on the soil of freshly planted flower pots. That helps some.

katrina hall said...

Your plants look wonderful - I love your idea of placing the tomato cages over the pots! But it must be hard to give up your raised beds. I have deer and chipmunk problems, though the deer seem to avoid the tomatoes, they do love the mini cabbages I tried to grow last year. This year I'm trying a small garden in the one sunny spot I have - the rest are in pots on the terrace. Sugar snaps seem to be ignored, so I'm planting those again this year. Haven't had a lot of luck with pots, but this year found a wonderful compost mixture from Coast of Maine that I hope will encourage the potted vegetables and herbs to actually grow. Wishing you the best of luck!

Caryn said...

Kaylin, It looks like things are coming along nicely! The garden looks great! I have been doing only container gardening for the pat 20 years. I live in a Condo in Central NJ. I also plant veggies and herbs only in containers. Because anything in the ground is food for deer and other critters. I grow my tomatoes up strings training them to only one stalk. It works great, gives them the support they need and they put the energy into fruiting! I have so many garden goodies I have plenty to share. A great book for learning to grow in small spaces is Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew.

Kalyn Denny said...

Tracy, after so many years I do think all my fingers and thumbs are pretty green, but I still have my failures.

Bruno, I'm still debating on just what to do. The current owners had a very small garden but it's far away from the kitchen and I have my eye on a small spot on the west, next to the garage. My sister-in-law recommended some solar sonic pest repellers that I might try.

Thanks Penny!

Janet, that is just sad. I don't think squirrels can get to my deck, straight sided beams would be too hard to climb.

Katrina, it *was* hard to give up the raised beds, but I love the new house so much that it makes it ok. And I'll work on getting a good garden here. Thanks for the tip on sugar snap peas; will try those for sure when I get beds built.

Caryn, thanks for the recommendation, just ordered the book. Your garden sounds great!

Michelle Levine said...

Looks like you have a lot of great stuff! I have a container type garden as well. I am doing sage, basil, thyme, oregano, red peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, and then a few pots of flowers too! I live in the city and have them all on my fire escape and in my window sills. the only thing that is doing really well is my strawberries which i ate one and loved and my herbs. i also had an idea to grow green grass in a pot outside to bring inside eventually as a centerpiece! happy gardening!

Kalyn Denny said...

Michelle, I love the idea of growing strawberries on the deck! Will have to think about that for future expansions!

SixtyIsForty said...

I was delightfully surprised when the parsley from last year peeked through all that snow we had in winter and is now growing profusely. My container garden of strawberries last year is growing beautifully after I happened to place it outside in the window well.
Thanks for all your tips on container gardening. That's my focus this year. Just herbs and tomatoes...enough for my small patio.

Kalyn Denny said...

Wanda, I love seeing the herbs pop up each year. And I must plant some parsley outside, the window plants are not going to be enough!

Casey Bland said...

I do the same with plants in many many pots like all my annual herbs.
Looking at your tomatoes I wonder what size of pot you are useing. I find a large big planter pot 18 inches or so for a tomatoe plant and have great success with herbs at the bottom around the edge of planter.
My experience in Utah is if you are planting tomatoe you need a very bigh pot or planter for just one plant.
I have been known to line my driveway on one sid so they get a lot of sun but realize after musch experienc you must use a large pot.
12 inches will not work 18 and bigger will work at least in Utah and that with a lot of depth.
This year I am starting raised beds after having 3 trees cut down that were about 25 years old and helping me now with more sunshine.
Follow your Blog for at least 3 years.
Thanks you for all that great information and recipes and my Wife thanks you also.
Brad Bland

Kalyn Denny said...

Hi Brad,

I bet you're going to love having raised beds! I just measured my pots with the tomatoes and they are 17" so hopefully that will be big enough. I was trying to keep them as light as possible without going too small! Love the idea of growing herbs on the edges. Glad you guys have been enjoying the blog!

mountain mama cooks said...

The herbs in the window are gorgeous. I can't wait to see how the tomatoes on the deck do. I'm bound and determined to grow some... I'm thinking of trying EarthBoxes. Have you tried them?

Kalyn Denny said...

Kelley, sorry but I don't know anything about earth boxes. I'm hoping for the best for my tomatoes (so far they seem to be thriving, despite a few very windy days!) I bet at your house having them on a deck would increase the growing season a bit; worth a try!

Susan Broughton said...

We have trouble with the little critters ourselves. This year we are trying a fence around the small garden we put out. I don't know how that will work but yes I am putting a lot of items on our porch and I don't have enough windows to grow that much inside so I don't know what to do. If you figure out someway to stop the little angels from eating all the plants we plant PLEASE share this with us because I live in a small rural town and will always I think have this problem thanks good luck!

Kalyn Denny said...

Susan I don't think I'm going to get any garden beds built until the fall, but when I do have them next year I'm going to try this solar-powered, motion-activated pest controller which was recommended by my sister-in-law. If I do try it and it works, I will definitely post about it!

Megan said...

I'm growing tomatoes for the first time in Utah this year, also in containers/small planter boxes. I'm growing some green zebras (per your earlier posts about them), some black krim, some moonglow, ananas noir, romas, a couple of cherry tomatoes, and a hillbilly. Hopefully they survive! (My containers are smaller than I'd like, so we'll see.) I love the idea of the cages over the top of the planters, I wish I'd thought of that!

Kalyn Denny said...

Megan good luck; that sounds like a lot of tomato goodness. We'll see how well the cages work, since they're not anchored into the ground. But I hope they will help!

Michael Cook said...

Sprinkle some Miracle Gro veggie fertilizer with calcium that feeds up to 3 months on top of the soil around your tomato plants and the once a week sprinkle 2 tablespoons of Miracle Gro organic bone meal around the top before watering! Your tomatoes and the rest of your veggies will shoot up and start producing in no time! My container garden is a jungle of tomatoes! Good Luck!

Kalyn Denny said...

Michael, thanks for the tip, but I like a product called Mater Magic which is an organic fertilizer for tomatoes.

kateolynch said...

This is the first year I've tried my hand at gardening and I'm ridiculously obsessed with it. I could stand outside and stare at it for hours :)

I'm attempting to grow in my TX garden: strawberries, cucumbers, bell peppers, jalapenos, tomatoes, chives, basil, cilantro, thyme, rosemary, sage and mint. I also have lime & peach trees. And...I planted a few seeds for down the road, cauliflower, carrots and parsnip.

Fingers crossed I have a green thumb!

Kalyn Denny said...

Kate, have fun with it! I'm about to do another update on my garden, soon!

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