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What’s in my garden: 2012 edition

31 May

Our weather has been all over the place in eastern Ontario this spring. In March, we had the type of heat and humidity that we usually don’t see until July, then there was a cold snap, then it became super-hot again. Now we are finally smack-dab in the seasonal range.

My gardening skills have improved so much since college. Back then, I even killed succulents on a regular basis. Now I only kill them on a semi-regular basis. It’s a good thing my dog was able to let me know when he was hungry or thirsty, otherwise he wouldn’t have stood a chance.

This is the fourth consecutive year I’ve had a garden, and I can’t imagine not having one ever again. Even if I have to move to an apartment where there are only windowsills, you’ll find plants there. There’s nothing better than being able to pick a salad you grew yourself, provided you don’t discover the local chipmunk has taken a bite out of each of your cherry tomatoes. (That little bastard is lucky he’s so cute.)

I started off the growing season really eager to share my progress by taking pictures of all my seeds and the packages they came in, but, unfortunately, not many seeds came up, and the ones that did were really pathetic. I think most of the seeds must have been too old to germinate—some were from 2009—but even the seeds I bought this spring didn’t do very well for some reason.

My mom is trying to salvage some of the seedlings that are still alive—hopefully I will be able to get some nice juicy tomatoes and some special “dammit-why-didn’t-I-take-out-my-contacts-before-I-started-slicing-these” hot peppers before the frost hits. (If I ever have the chance to name a variety of hot pepper, that’s what they’ll be called, if only because I don’t know how to spell the shrieking noise that I make when I get capsaicin in my eyes.)

My plants

In order to compensate for my seedy failures, I made a trip to my local nursery (Hubert’s Springhill, a.k.a., heaven on earth) to buy some starter plants, which brings my garden to the total of:

  • Six tomato plants
  • Six sweet pepper plants
  • Nine Capucjiners blue podded pea plants (Every pea I planted came up. If only all of my efforts were this successful.)
  • Spinach
  • Mizuna
And one each of:
  • Lavender
  • Thai basil
  • Sweet basil
  • Cilantro
  • Peppermint
  • Orange mint
And my favourites:
  • Lemon balm
  • Lemon verbena

If you caught the name of my blog, it should come as no surprise that I love lemon. Usually I buy my verbena a month before it gets planted outside, just so I can jam my nose into the middle of it and inhale. I still do it from time to time now that it’s outside, but the neighbours give me funny looks.

How does your garden grow?

Tomatoes usually go gangbusters in my yard, since my gardens are raised beds right along the south wall of the house. In my first year of gardening, a cherry tomato plant grew about 15 feet tall! It would have hit the soffit if it had been better supported. Peppers do well, too, but we’re really hindered by the short growing season here in Zone 4a. Even just a couple extra warm weeks would really make a difference in yield. I get quite a few peppers, but some are awfully puny at the end of the season.

Herbs, however, are a completely different story. Even when I keep them properly watered, I end up having to buy at least a couple of starter plants each growing season.

Does anyone else have trouble growing herbs? Other than basil and herbs from the mint family, they seem to be a lost cause for me. My sage? Dead. Both rosemary plants I bought this year? Dead. Cilantro? Surprisingly, it’s still going stro— oh, nope, it just died.

Maybe you have success growing herbs, and would like to share your growing tips? Please let me know your secret!

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