The way Lisa in Green Acres just adored a penthouse view, I just adore gardening. I love playing in the dirt and getting my hands dirty (though I do wear gloves). My friends call me one of the original Earth Mothers as I have long been a subscriber to Mother Earth News and do things like compost, recycle, and try to decrease my carbon footprint. (See my Earth Day post.) Growing a kitchen garden is a wonderful way to contribute to the latter. Plus, it makes me feel productive to see the fruits of my labour - the herbs ready to snip, the peppers ready to be picked and the greens and tomatoes just waiting to be made into salads.
Here in town we have no yard. We live in the woods. The only open space is the driveway down to the three-car garage. The third bay is actually the Guy's workshop and that garage door does not get opened. I have set up my container garden, a bird bath, a fountain and a couple of lawn chairs there. The amount of sun is just perfect for the herbs, fruit and veggies I am growing and there is easy access to the hose for watering. The plants in containers do need more watering than plants growing directly in the ground.
Most of my plants went into the containers in April (thanks to my sister and nephew) after our Botanical Gardens' plant sale, but a few went in later as I ordered them online and had to wait until they were ready to ship. The plants all looked so tiny then. Now I am harvesting basil, dill, and other herbs. Nasturtium flowers are begging to be stuffed and borage blossoms have floated in lemonade. Mara des bois strawberries are blooming and have little green strawberries. Peppers are blooming and producing. Several of those are ready to pick. And I have a number of green tomatoes on the vine. The eggplant plants are growing up a storm and will hopefully start blooming soon. I am so thrilled with how well the kitchen container garden is doing this year. Butterfiles and hummingbirds have been stopping by to visit the birdbath and the various flowers. And I think it is quite nice to have broken up the visual of that wide expanse of unavoidable concrete.
Just yesterday I made another jar of pickles with cucumbers from the CSA veggie box and dill I was growing. There was so much dill that I packed a quart jar full of it and covered it with a vinegar mixture to use in pickles later. It was beginning to bloom and I didn't want it to go to seed and stop producing. Tomorrow I will likely make some pesto for the freezer as I also seem to have mass quantities of fresh basil.
The bird bath is just to the left of the side of the garage.
More to the right:
The tall tree by the right side of the garage door is the cinnamon tree my BIL gave me for Christmas. It is very happy to be outside and has put out a lot of new growth since I pruned and repotted it. The bay tree is just to the left of the garage door. It is also happy to be back outside and has grown another 4-5 inches already with lots of new growth on lower branches. I love having fresh bay leaves to use all year.
First cluster of Sweet 100 tomatoes. The one on the front left is just beginning to show a little colour. And there are quite a few more clusters on the plant. The yellow pear tomato is also blooming and has some tiny green tomatoes.
All of the nasturtiums are blooming wonderfully.
Nasturtium leaves and flowers are all edible and great to use in salads. I also like to make a mixture of cream cheese and pecan meal to stuff the flowers. Lay them out on a plate lined with nasturtium leaves for a lovely presentation.
There are so many jalapeños that I had to stake the plant to keep it from falling over. These peppers are actualy ready to pick anytime.
Sweet banana pepper:
This one is not as prolific as the jalapeño, but it is doing respectably. Still waiting on the gypsy pepper to bloom, but the Thai pepper is blooming nicely.
The citrus trees are all blooming:
I have kumquat, calamondin and either a Meyer lemon or limequat. I had both of the latter two and one bit the dust. Not sure which one, though, so when I get fruit this year I will know. Then I will get a replacement for the other.
Lavender blue dilly dilly....
The lavender is in a big pot in front of opal basil, so there is a big pop of purple in that spot. I want to make some lavender wands in the next day or two. I also have a Lavender Almond Cake near the top of my stack of recipes to try.
Rose geranium flowers:
Scented geraniums come in many flavours. I particularly like rose. Every year I make rose geranium sugar by placing leaves in a jar with plain granulated sugar and letting it sit for several weeks. The sugar takes on a lovely rose taste and fragrance. I also use the rose geranium leaves in the bottom of a pan before pouring in the batter for a pound cake. With the leaves baked in and using the rose geranium sugar, you get a lovely new take on a classic cake. The flowers are edible and can go in salads, drinks, etc. They also attract hummingbirds, butterflies and bees. I've been very pleased to see honeybees here in town as I know they are having a hard time in many areas.
Baby green strawberries:
I have two strawberry pots full of Mara des Bois plants. Just counted about 3 dozen green strawberries and lots more buds on the plants. I'm excited!
Not really in the kitchen garden area, but my sister and nephew helped me get this new fountain set up outside the family room window the other day. The hummingbirds are loving dashing through the water and eating at the feeders. A couple of large crepe myrtles are nearby, so they have good places to rest.
Also not in the kitchen garden, but looking lovely on the balcony off our bedroom:
This is a lace cap hydrangea. My great-aunt had one of these when I was growing up and my Mom layered it to get a start for our house in Louisiana. It didn't get moved when Mom moved to Alabama, so I was happy to find this one. For the time being it will live in the pot, but eventually I will get it planted out at the farm.
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