i think it’s my 4th season with my little terraced garden that i built into our back wall & fence. in past years, i’d cram as much as i could into this space, hoping for the best, but i’ve had to learn [through repeated broken delusions] that this spot gets only 3-4 hours of full sun as it passes overhead to shine between our building and back fence. this means that, no matter what i do, i’ll only get about 5 tomatoes in this space, and if i plant zucchini, it will shade everything in the same terrace. the lower containers often have dappled shade from a nearby avocado tree, and are best for greens. i think i’ve finally accepted this and chosen a realistic selection of veggies for the space i have.
for one thing, this probably means that any fall gardens i plant are for winter greens only. some of the lettuces come up, but many don’t until early spring, which was the case with this arugula i forgot about. time to harvest that for salad and start over. the lemon balm i planted to confuse pests was not only easy to grow, it spreads easily too! i left babies in each location, but harvested the bulk and made a large quantity of tea.
leaving the compost to really break down all winter worked well. i turned it over and dug out the black gold to incorporate into each garden bed and container. i also let some of the garden stay wild. tomatoes from last year are flowering early this year and even have a few fruits, so i’m leaving them to see how they do. there’s also some spreading greek oregano that’s so soft and succulent, i left it as another pest deterrent even though it’s more than i’ll ever need. last thing i did is add potted mint to move around as needed. since pests are looking for their preferred plant’s attributes, scented herbs and bulbs [like onions & garlic] tend to confuse them, protecting the plants organically. this year i might try some bird feeders as well, see if i can get birds to eat some of the unwanted bugs.
what i planted this spring:
apache peppers – i hadn’t heard of these before, but since they came in a 6-pack and do well in containers, i bought them. they can get up to 80,000 scoville units in heat.
basil – there’s never enough basil, which is why i started with 2 plants, italian basil and lemon basil, and figured on planting seeds for a subsequent crop later in the summer.
bush beans – i’ve never really tried these and don’t exactly have high hopes based on my pea-failures, but i have the seeds and the trellises…
chamomile – i have never been successful with chamomile from seed, so i bought a plant. it likes full or partial sun, so it’s going in the partial container.
chives – if you think you can’t keep any plant alive, please try chives. i put them in a sunny container, ignore them, and they reseed themselves every year. i think my current batch has finally exhausted itself, so i decided to start over.
lacinato kale – if you like kale, you can’t really go wrong with a 6-pack of tuscan kale. they grow all year in southern california, and if you pick it fresh, it’s so tender you can enjoy it raw in a way you can’t with even farm-fresh kale that’s traveled.
leaf lettuce – i’m going to see how many crops of leaf lettuce varieties i can go through in the partial-sun containers.
lemon thyme – just as it sounds, lemon thyme has a lemony flavor and scent. i can’t think of a time that i’d object to this, so i skipped regular thyme and went straight for lemon [i’ll plant thyme seeds instead].
mexican zucchini – the description of these is that the skins are a variegated lighter green, which i’ve seen at the farmer’s market. i think they’ll be pretty, so i got 2 for good pollination.
micro-greens – though you don’t have to buy a pack of seeds called “micro greens” to do this, i did, and i think they’ll work out perfectly in my partial sun containers.
pea greens – my sunlight doesn’t do so well with full peas, but i’ve since learned that they’re fine to grow in containers just for the shoots & tendrils, so i’m aiming for those this year.
purslane – i harvested seeds all last summer & fall from the wild purslane that sprung up around my property, so this year i’m planting up the hanging full-sun containers on the front porch to take advantage of this amazing superfood.
scallions – what i wrote about chives goes the same for scallions. it’s so nice to grab some green onions from the front porch.