July in my Simple Urban Garden

July is when the garden is in its prime. Though this is also the time when the heat of the summer soars, my lawn turns brown and I lose my patience with constantly watering the garden. PNW goes through a dry spell during the summer just when we need the rain the most.

I get most excited about the vegetables I harvest this time of the year. This year, I harvested garlic, peas, beans, lettuce, Swiss Chards and potatoes so far. I am definitely going to focus on growing more garlic. So satisfying and easy to grow them. The new (second) Plum tree bore a couple of perfect shaped yellow juicy plums this year which I harvested in July. The other plum tree which bears dark purple plums has lots of fruits which are yet to ripen. The birds have been enjoying these plums – hoping they leave a few for us to taste. I look forward to a day when the tree bears enough fruits for the birds and us to share.

I am also starting to think ahead and plan for what I want to plant for Fall. I know that this year, I will be sowing carrots and peas for some fall crop.

I captured the highlights of my July garden in the video. The audio quality is not what I expected. I hope to do better the next time. Let me know what you think. Happy Gardening!

Winter? “Sow” be it..

Winter sowing is the technique of growing plants from seeds sown in winter to give them a head start in spring. As any gardener who has ever struggled with a self-seeding plant knows, some seeds do very well when left outdoors in the cold all winter. The seeds that does well in this technique are the ones that need to experience cold, damp conditions either because they have hard shells that are softened by the freezing and thawing or because they are triggered by the change in temperature to sprout. This is called stratification. 

So, how is “winter sowing” different than “self sowing? Winter sowing essentially provides a mini greenhouse environment to control the germination of seeds within the boundaries of the container it is sowed in. A quick internet search told me that the phrase “winter sowing” is attributed to Trudi Davidoff, a resourceful gardener who had more seeds than indoor space. Ms. Davidoff sows seeds in covered containers (she uses take-out containers with foil bottoms and plastic tops) and then moves the containers outdoors. The containers act as mini greenhouses, allowing the seeds to experience the chill of winter in a controlled environment. When the temperature warms enough, the seeds germinate and start to grow. I learnt about this technique in the last few months and wanted to give it a try. I sowed Tiger Paw Asters, Monarda (Bee Balm), and Lupine seeds. I am eagerly waiting to see if I am successful in this process. I won’t write about the step by step process I followed, instead I am linking the video here:

My first experience with winter sowing

I will provide an update on this experiment in spring. So make sure to follow me here or in my social media accounts.

A year that was : highlights of the garden 2020

2020 was a year like no other. Stepping into the new year, I don’t think anyone anticipated the lifestyle changes that we all needed to make this year. With the surge of COVID-19 cases globally, there was an impact on almost every aspect of our lives, including how much time we spend at home. Even with the worry for the safety of all, I was happy that I now had some extra time I could spend in the garden. So when the “work from home” directive came, I went into “do as much in the garden as you can while you can stay at home” mode. Little did I know that I will be spending the rest of the year working from home.

The primroses were beautiful. I only have the perennial kind – this is one “thrifty” gardening tip I have. I only buy hardy plants. They come back stronger and better each year and after a few years I can divide them and get free plants or share with my gardening friends.

Perennial primroses

I am very unimpressed by my hellebores. They look sparse. I added one more to the bed. Hopefully it will look better. I also have to remember to fertilize this bed.

Hellebores

The star of the spring show as always is my beautiful Camellia. Covered with pink blooms, she is a sight to behold for weeks.

Camellia

The spring bulbs provided the colors they promised! However, I need some daffodils/narcissus in my life. The ones I had finally gave up this year.

Hyacinths
Tulips

I am so glad that I put Candytuft (Iberis sempervirens) in so many parts of the yard. The flowers brightens up the spring garden. But more importantly, the evergreen nature of this plant makes it so attractive year round.

Evergreen Candytuft

How stunning are the Plum blooms in spring? Sadly, I got very few fruits this year, but the flowers makes me so happy! And I added one more plum tree in the backyard. More to look forward to.

Japanese Plum

The Azaleas and Rhododendrons did their thing!

Rhododendron and Azaleas

The purple Erysimum Bowles Mauve is one of the first flowers to bloom in the backyard and continues to bloom till the temperature goes above 70F. The red and yellow variety of Euphorbia were beautiful.

Left : Red Euphorbia, Top right : Erysimum Bowles Mauve, Bottom right : Yellow Euphorbia

I love clematis. The ones I have, have been in my yard for a very long time. Except the clematis Montana, I think I need to replace the others as the blooms are getting less profuse.

Clematis

The ever reliable peonies were gorgeous! The white one is Mr.Ed which was a Mothers Day gift from Rishi in 2019. The pink with double shade is a new addition in 2019 and came from a plant exchange. I added a Shirley Temple peony this year but it didn’t bloom. Hopefully it will in the next season.

Peonies

I have always said that roses are not my favorite flowers. Not because they are not gorgeous – they sure are – but because of the fuss it takes to ensure disease free, prolonged blooms. The dark red (almost maroon) rose is a new addition to my garden. Planted in 2019, it was given to me by a gardening friend and it was a huge success. Huge dark red flowers bloomed continuously for the longest time. My six year old knock out rose also survived the bunny attacks this year and bloomed profusely all season. I moved an orange rose from our old house to the backyard. Fingers crossed, I will get the gorgeous blooms next season. This rose is particularly special for its intensely sweet fragrance.

Roses

My hydrangea collection did not disappoint. I added a new mop head variety earlier in spring and it surprised me by giving a gorgeous pink bloom. Hydrangea Paniculata “Fire and Ice” which I added last year, bloomed beautifully.

Hydrangeas

The surprise performers of the season this year were the dahlias! I did not buy a single new dahlia and grew them from the tubers I had saved from previous years. And what a performance they put on! It was the best year of dahlia blooms I had so far.

Dahlias

The pansies, lilies, petunias, begonia, salvia, hollyhocks, daisies, crocosmia, coreopsis, nasturtiums, asters, phlox, Japanese anemones (one of which I grew in a pot this year), gladioli, rudbekia, perennial sunflowers, and zinnias all put on their show. Special mention to the Jasmine I bought this year and also to my first experience growing mimulus and astrantia!

this and that…
…and a lot more blooms!

This blog is running embarrassingly long, so I won’t mention the usual foliage attraction that I grew which brought so much joy to me!

I am often asked if I don’t grow food. Of course I do! And I do wish to grow a lot more. Due to the pandemic this year, I did not venture out to buy seeds/plants early in the season. I did buy 2 blueberry plants and was surprised to get a reasonable yield of fruits from them. As mentioned earlier in the blog, I added one more Italian Plum tree too. I also got a good harvest of strawberries from the crop I already had. I got 8 tomato plants (Green Zebra variety) growing from my compost pile which were a very welcome surprise. The best crop that I grow each year are the scarlet runner beans. I got awesome harvest of these beans this year as well. I grew Swiss Chard as always. And tried growing radishes and beets both of which I will mark as “failures” since I got a minuscule amount of crop from them! Got only a few potatoes from the seed potatoes that remained in the ground after last year. We really enjoyed fried pumpkin blossoms from the plants I grew this year from seeds.

The food I grew

I hope to blog more and add more details of my gardening journey in the new year.

If you read this far, you are amazingly patient! And I thank you sincerely for following me along. Please leave your thoughts in comments or contact me via email. Until next time then….adios!