I’ve never been a person that can actually relax by doing nothing; doing nothing makes me incredibly anxious and and I immediately start stressing out about all the things I might be forgetting to do or could be doing. Wasn’t I supposed to reply to that email from so and so? Could I get started drafting next week’s blog post? Do I need to give the dogs their monthly flea prevention medication? Actually meditating or laying around adds more stress than it reduces for me, because at the end of it all I’m left thinking about all the stuff I could have been doing while I was just sitting around wasting time. I’ve got a slightly manic brain thought-process-wise and there are very few things that actually quiet my mind—but the things that do I’ve made a part of my daily life, and they are cooking and the garden. There’s something about working with my hands, whether it be whisking egg yolks or digging in the dirt, that turns all that noise down way waaaaay low and lets me chill the f*** out for a couple hours.
Throughout most of my blog posts in the summer, I tend to ramble on about how the garden is temporarily taking over my life and how I have lots of things I’ll catch up on once the summer is over and I’ll get to that once I have free time again and the garden winds down. While this may sound like something work-related or stress-inducing, I think my garden is actually the most relaxing place in my home. Being out there is definitely physical work, but it is most certainly *not* mental work. I’m out there working in it all the time because I love it. I love that I’m doing something that creates noticeable visible progress. I love that I can throw an itty bitty seed in the dirt, give it water and love, and receive a sh*itton of food and flowers in return. I love that I can reduce my landfill contributions by composting plant-based waste, throwing it back in the garden, and end up eating it again in the form of a juicy tomato or tart berry. And I love that in this fast-paced world of instant gratification and likes and “live-engagement updates” BS, my garden makes me patient. Nature doesn’t throw out rewards willy nilly, and having to wait 8 months to eat a ripe juicy tomato makes you enjoy it sooooooooo muuuuuuuch more than if you were able to have that same flavor-bomb any day of the year. Simply put, my garden makes me be a better and more sane human being.
Also, huge thanks to Orvis for their awesome garden gear. I’ve been loving working out in the yard in their women’s tech chambray top (it literally keeps the sweat off your body and never wrinkles. MAGIC.) I know that I promised another garden post back in the spring of 2016, and while this is definitely late, it’s better late than never, right? And who knows, maybe I’ll be able to put together an autumn garden post this year, too! (Let’s be real though, it’ll probably be fall 2018). So here’s a little peek at my garden this summer; I hope you enjoy all the pictures and please feel free to comment if you have any questions about the garden that I don’t go over here. I’m happy to help troubleshoot any growing issues you’ve encountered or offer any varietal tips if you’re curious about what to grow in your climate.
What I’m Growing in the Summer Garden
This is what is alive in my yard right now:
- SOOOOOOOO many tomatoes
- purple-podded pole beans
- chriss cross watermelons
- Greek melons
- winter squash
- patty pan summer squash
- endive frisee
- buttercrunch bibb lettuce
- anaheim peppers
- pepperoncini peppers
- dahlias (my favorite new addition this year is ‘Rosemary Webb’ which has a fork on the end of each petal tip!)
- David Austin roses
- blueberry grapes
- champagne grapes
- olympian fig
- dwarf peaches
- passion fruit vines
- hop vines
- mystery cherries (here when I bought the house)
- mystery apples (here when I bought the house)
- mystery pears (here when I bought the house)
- Lilies (these ‘Flore-Pleno’ double tiger lilies are my favorite garden addition this year)
- kalibos cabbage
Watering System in the Garden
I used a drip-watering irrigation system similar to this one that is connected to an outdoor faucet. I have the outdoor faucet on a timer that I’ve programmed to run for 15 minutes twice a day in the summer, once in the morning and once at night. You always want to water either early in the morning or late at night, ideally with a drip system, and the reasons for this are multi-fold. One, if you water when it’s the middle of the day when it’s hot and the sun is out, you will lose *so* much water to evaporation. Doing it at dawn and dusk lets more of the water be absorbed by the plant. Two, using drip irrigation allows the water to slowly seep deep into the earth, encouraging the plant to grow deep roots to each that water deep down in the soil, making the plant stronger and hardier since it’s roots are deep in the cooler areas of the soil. If you only water with a watering can on the top of the soil, the plants’ roots tend to stay closer to the surface because that’s where the water always is and they don’t need to grow any deeper. This is bad because the plant’s support isn’t as strong, so a strong wind is much more likely to blow it over, and on a hot day where the first few inches of soil might dry out completely, the watering-can plant’s roots have a much higher chance of being scalded and damaged since they’re right near the surface, than a drip-watered plant with deep strong roots in the damp cool area of the soil. Also, watering with a watering can can splash water onto the leaves of the plants, and this can create fungus issues with the plants (most commonly powdery grey/white mildew on the leaves of tomatoes and roses). Yes, setting up the drip system is a bit of work the very first year, but it saves you *hours* of manual watering all summer, and you can go out of town and not have to worry about your plants being alive when you get back.
Grow things that excite and interest you, if you’re growing food you don’t like chances are gardening isn’t going to be super enjoyable for you. While it is a lot of physical work, at the end of the day it should be something fun that makes you feel good when you do it. If you like flowers, grow flowers. If you like squash and not much else, fill up those beds with lots and lots of squash varieties. If you’re like me and like a lil’ bit of everything, grow a crazy all-over-the-place garden with flowers, veggies, and fruits all mixed together. You do you, my friend.