Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The good, the bad and the ugly Part Two

Yesterday I showed you some of our summer failures and successes in tomatoes, sunflowers, and a couple other warm crops. Today I'll show you some in flowers, peppers, squash, and volunteers.

I don't grow flowers well. I like them well enough but I tend to neglect them in favor of the vegetables. In the height of veggie growing, my flowers are the very last to get any attention and often they don't get attended to at all, so I need flowers that are easy.

Lavender qualifies as easy in our garden
Some people have a hard time getting lavender to grow but this one has been a huge success. After it got established last March it has required almost no care at all. This one could certainly use some attention right now in the way of pruning but other than that it is care free and smells lovely.

Iceberg tea rose
Roses are one of the exceptions I make when it comes to allotting time for flowers. I love roses even though they can be a little finicky. In our garden this iceberg rose has been the most trouble free. You may be noticing the gorgeous zinnias in the background of the photo, they belong to my neighbor who is a much more talented flower grower than I am.   

I've been trying to pay enough attention to grow some flowers in these pots but clearly I failed
I am going to replace these poor souls with herbs because I will make more time to take care of them if they are something that will enhance my dinner plate. There are some really beneficial flowers for a vegetable garden and I do try to keep some of them intertwined within my garden beds. Marigolds are a good example.

We have a large ornamental container garden
We could potentially have an amazing flower garden in the potted plants around our avocado tree but I like low maintenance, low water, and care free things instead. The exception here is of course the jasmine that I adore.

Peppers are another plant that we may have started a little early, especially in the front garden where we get about 8 hours of sun each day versus the rooftop where we get up to 14 hours of sunlight each day. Peppers like heat and lots of sunlight.

Poblano pepper sprawled out in EarthBOX
On left; Rio Grande pepper plant is about an 8th of the size of the Poblano above.
Generally peppers need about a foot of space in between plants but there will be some exceptions such as the Poblano pepper that may need closer to 2 feet of space.

This is a lavender pepper planted in July
This is a black beauty pepper planted in July
The pepper plants that we put in later in the season started producing much faster than the ones we put in earlier.

Big Bertha bell peppers in EarthBOX
Most peppers should not need to be supported but these ones grew tall quickly and started falling over so we had to try and cage them to keep them standing up. As you can see in the bottom right, we lost one. 

More peppers that are doing well
I added a trellis behind and on the side of this patch of peppers so the plants can be supported on it if needed, these ones also got tall fast. Other than heat and sunshine, peppers like lots of water and calcium rich organic fertilizer.

Most bananas in the store are imported from Ecuador, Costa Rica, or Columbia and while I love bananas, I do not like buying food that is shipped from so far away. When I learned bananas can be grown in San Diego, I was all over it. We got a small variety called an Ice Cream banana.

Banana leaf that shows sign of not enough water
I quickly realized the drawback to growing bananas in San Diego is that they require an enormous amount of water to thrive. With water being scarce in San Diego, this may not be the most responsible plant to have in your garden but we don't have a lawn and we try to conserve water as much as possible in other ways so I feel okay about giving our banana the water it needs. Bananas also require a lot of fertilizer.

Our plant is doing much better now that we are giving it enough water
This is our second batch of zucchini squash for the year. We started the first ones back in late February and ate well off of them for months. Zucchini is a great plant for the home garden because it produces a large quantity of yummy food without too much fuss.

A golden zucchini and black beauty zucchini 
They are a little prone to mildew though and do require enough water, especially in the heat of summer. We spray a 1 part milk to 9 part water solution to try and prevent the mildew from spreading to the rest of the plant. The white powdery looking stuff you see on some of the leaves is powdery mildew. Your vegetables will still produce and be just fine.

Diseased Kabocha squash
This squash popped up on its own where our compost bin used to be. When it first volunteered I had no idea what it would grow up to be. Had I known it was going to get this massive and have this much trouble with fungal disease, I would have just pulled it right out. With that said, I did not spray it right away when I first started seeing powdery mildew on it. It may have fared better if I had given it more time and attention. It has been here since early March and now it's done. I will be taking it out and picking the 2 small squashes this afternoon.  

Volunteers are both a blessing and a curse as far as I am concerned. It's so much fun to simply watch the earth give you food plants and to try and guess what they will grow up to be, but in a small garden like ours, we have to be careful about giving too much space to something that may or may not give a lot of good food.

Cherry Tomato Volunteer
This cherry tomato is probably the most successful of the plants that volunteered for us this year. One of the reason for this is probably because I transplanted it from the inconvenient place it popped up in to a large pot.

Gidget is already doing her job this morning and thinks I am slacking so I better get out there. 

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