Saturday, June 19, 2010

garden 'tour'

The garden is starting to look like summer. We have been getting a few pounds of strawberries a day from our small front bed. Our golden raspberries are starting to ripen and are eaten directly from the cane, rarely making it into the house. Greens are growing like mad with all the rain, and peppers, squash, tomatoes and other late summer veggies are flowering (and today we found our first little green tomato!). I am starting to get that cozy secret garden feeling I love as all of the external foliage is getting thick and green.

I have had a lot of emails asking for a 'tour' of the garden ... I am exactly the same way - while I love the close-up shots of peoples gardens I want to see how it is laid out, what it looks like as a whole. So, here is a bit of a 'tour' of where we are mid-June with some close-ups, and some bigger views.

I have had lots of questions about fruit in a small/urban garden. We are growing currants, strawberries, raspberries, and garden huckleberries this year. We have two areas where we have raspberries. We have a small spot right up by our front porch where we have golden raspberries (we get a lot from a small space). It is probably a 4 foot deep by 6 feet long. We can reach raspberries from the front porch or yard, so we could make it dense since we can access from two sides. I like the early golden raspberries because while they do spread and cane out a bit, it isn't out of control, and we have been able to keep it mostly in the one spot. They also start fruiting in June, and continue for most of the summer! Yum.

We have a second raspberry plot in a small strip of space out back right next to our driveway and alley (below) which contains late season bearing red raspberries. It started out as a few gifted canes last year and this type of raspberry is much more invasive, um, I mean aggressive and has taken over an entire bed, and escaped all around the (lined) bed (must be all the coffee grounds I've been putting on them since last summer). We are letting it go this year and will be thrilled with the massive amount of raspberries we will have, and will pull and pass along canes next spring to all who want some.

We have two large white currant bushes along the outer wall of the garden and it looks like we will be getting a lot of currants this year (yay!). The huckleberries are spread within the inter planted beds, wherever we had some space. Our strawberries are in a 4'x8' bed that we put right up in front next to the sidewalk. Once the strawberries are done, there are some of the brightly colored hot peppers that will take over for the rest of the summer!

While we don't get full sun all day in our garden due to the two houses side by side, we do get decent radiant light from the light colored buildings. We are careful to use a dark mulch, fertilize with kelp and fish emulsions often, and use what we know of where the sun is during the day to keep things like tomatoes in the 'hot spots'. We get great fruiting and growth in less than ideal light.

Our beds have been widened a little bit every year, and we have about a 6'-8' wide strip of grass left - just big enough for a little pool, soccer game, picnic table or water blasting match. ;)

I love walking out into the garden each morning and weeding, watering pots, filling the birdbath, seeing what is ready to harvest, and saying good morning to our resident chipmunk. It has been so nice bringing in bowl fulls of goodness from the garden again - I love that.

Everything is still pretty small right now, but in a month or so it will be very filled out, many feet taller overall, and pretty much jungle-like on the sides - as the taller plants shade ground plants, and everything is mixed in closely with flowers, fruit, vegetables and herbs.

Our deck in back is a very used spot - Ms. Hunka has her outside hutch there, we sit and read and hang out at the table/chairs in the shade, and there are tons of herbs and veggies in pots tucked into every available spot (the front porch is full of pots too!).

To make it feel more like a room, we grow clematis, peas and beans up the deck rails and by mid-July we are almost completely enclosed and shaded. Just in time for the hottest part of the summer.

We also have a lot of lemon balm and other herbs planted around the deck to discourage mosquitoes and to smell lovely on those hot summer nights. This year our lemon balm bushes are massive, and I'm excited to dry a lot for tea and make some infusions and oils.

It is small, but it is ours, and we love it. :)

So there is a tour of most of the garden - I'll do some more next week. I think I'm going to go outside and sit on my deck with Ms. Hunka and have a glass of wine while the boys play in the alley! Have a great weekend!


Lise said...

Ooh...thanks for the tour! I do love to see how people arrange things, and an edible landscape is my favorite kind! I'm going to be studying the sun on my front porch tomorrow to see if I could plant peas from a window box up to the ceiling to give us some privacy. There might be just enough sun, and that would look great! Thanks for the ideas.

Maiz Connolly said...

Wow! Your garden looks great. I'm reading this with my two big boys, and we're having strawberry envy! Our garden is hot and dry here in LA, but it is full of chard and the tomatoes are just starting to ripen. We tried a few new herbs this year like lemongrass, shiso, and epazote and they're doing great.

se7en said...

Your garden is simply amazing!!! You do so much in such a small space - I just love it!!!

Ann Flowers said...

You have got a nice garden out there. I think a connection with plants means a connection with the nature itself.

Tara said...

Your garden space is lovely and you can see clearly how all of your hard work has paid off with lush, vibrant plants!

The clematis is beautiful. I'm going to use your tip about lemon balm on the deck - I've got basil, rosemary and the like now but anything to keep some of the bugs away is welcome!!

Lisa said...

what a lovely garden tour! i hope you enjoy your weekend!

Michelle said...

Okay Denise, I need your strawberry growing advice. I have had strawberries for several years now and I only harvest about 10 berries each year. Help!!

Francesca said...

This is one of the greenest and lush urban gardens I've seen! I grow no berries (apart from a few strawberries) because I'm convinced that my climate in the summer is (should be ...) too hot and humid for them, isn't your climate hot and humid too? Have I been wrong all along?

denise said...

Michelle - We were told to cut all the runners and/or pinch all flowers the first year to encourage fruiting the second year and for the plant to continue fruiting for many years. It seems to have worked! :) We were also told to cut the plants down to 2-3 inches after final harvest too...I believe that should help the plants grow for about 5 years!

Francesca - We do get hot and humid summers. We do have cool/wet springs (although not this year), though. There are many farms with U-Pick berries around here including currants, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries (and several types of berries grow wild here). I just keep trying different types to see what has the highest yield in a small space and have loved having fresh berries to pick! :)

Andrea said...

Great tour, thank you so much. I, too, love the clematis, I need to get some of that. And didn't know my lemonbalm, which has taken over my herb garden, was keeping the mosquitos away, maybe I will make peace with the stuff now. Very lovely.

denise said...

I love having lemon balm around the yard. It does get huge and spread, but it is pretty, pollinators like it, it is a good bug repellent, and makes a good tea and infused oil...

I have it around the deck where we sit out, and then if we are in the yard I will rub my hands along some of the stalks to release more of the oils. You can also pull off a hand full of leaves and rub them on your skin if it is buggy out! :)

I also like it because it shades the ground and root area of plants that don't like to get too much sun/heat - like most of the vining flowers and veggies, so I plant climbers behind it to go up the deck...they grow much better that way.

Karen said...

Beautiful pictures! Do you know about how many strawberry plants you started with in your 4x8 bed? I'm guessing they're June bearers? And after the first year you let the runners go and fill in? Thanks!

denise said...

Karen - Yep, June bearing. I think I planted 12 crowns in the 4x8 space, and I could have done fewer in retrospect. We let the runners go a bit - since it is a raised bed they try to all zoom out over the side into the yard, so those we trim, the ones in the bed we keep! :)