Tuesday, June 10, 2014

What's growing in the Suburban Hippie's garden this year?

One of the six large raised beds in the garden (2013)

The growing season is well under way after a late spring.  I get lots of questions about the particulars of our garden so I thought I'd share some of the details.  We have about 350 square feet of raised and regular beds available for planting in our suburban garden just outside Washington, DC.  We are in the USDA Hardiness Zone 6b (-5F to 0F or -21C--17C) and can grow a fairly wide range of fruits and vegetables.  I plant mostly heirloom varieties that I purchase from seed catalogs and I also do a little seed saving myself as well as exchange seeds with fellow gardeners.  My favorite seed catalogs are at the end of this post.  We practice organic gardening and use no commercial pesticides, fertilizers or GMO seeds.  We compost our yard and garden waste as well as all our and a coworker's kitchen scraps and supplement by purchasing locally made leaf compost to make up the difference.

We don't have any problem with deer, but the squirrels cause lots of frustration as they like to eat the corn right from the cob while it's still attached to the stalk, pop the heads off of sunflowers and take a bite or two out of a tomato and leave the rest on the porch railing or steps to taunt me when I come outside.

Not returning after this past winter:  sage, a beautiful dahlia and the baby fig tree

Last year's harsh winter was too much for a few of the perennials, and a few plants must be replaced:

Gone completely:  sage, fig tree (on my wish list for replacement), one rose bush and a few of the dahlias have not come back.
Some signs of growth, but were pretty hard hit:  rosemary bush (a few stems remain), thyme (a few stems remain) , lavender - one stem remaining of each of two kinds, dahlias - about half made it, strawberries - about 1/5 of the plants didn't make it, roses - 2 bushes lost half their branches, asparagus - struggled, hydrangeas - 3 bushes struggled to come back this year and have not flowered.

For the annual garden, I planted a wide variety of vegetables, herbs and flowers.  I put in plenty of staples in the garden for making sauces and salads, plus each year I like to try "new" heirloom varieties. This year the spring and summer garden is filled with:

Photo:  herbs and flowers

Herbs:  Cilantro, mint (spearmint, peppermint, pineapple mint, chocolate mint); tarragon, sage, pineapple sage, oregano, basil (sweet Italian and spicy Thai), savory, stevia, bee balm and rosemary

Photo:  blackberries, blueberries and strawberries

Fruits:  strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, rhubarb, cantaloupe and watermelon

Photo:  Swiss chard, curly kale, purple cabbage, bok choy

Salad garden:  mesclun, butter lettuce, leave lettuce, kale, collards, spinach, head cabbage, bok choy

Photo:  cucumbers, bell peppers, Italian eggplant, patty pan squash

Vegetables:  tomatoes (cherry, plum and slicing varieties), peppers (sweet and hot), eggplant (Italian and Asian varieties), green beans (green, yellow and purple), peas, lima beans, squash, cucumbers and some Chinese beans that I am growing to harvest seed for a fellow gardener.

Photo:   Cantaloupe, carrots, watermelon, zucchini

Root vegetables:  red, yellow and white potatoes, carrots, beets, radishes

Photo:  Asian long beans, eggplant, peas, Italian sweet peppers

Miscellaneous:  garlic, onions (spring, bunching and bulb types), leeks and lemongrass

Photo:  sunflower, rose, zinnia, dahlia

Flowers:  roses (for flowers and hips for tea), peonies, dahlias, sunflowers, lilacs, hydrangeas, gladiola, marigolds, tulips, daffodils and a variety of random flowers from gifted seeds

I've got my fingers crossed that the weather stays favorable this year for a bountiful harvest.  Keep an eye out for harvest and garden update photos here, on Instagram and Facebook.

Do you have a garden or a few pots on the window sill that you plant?  Share what you grow in the comments below.

Seed catalog favorites:
Baker Creek Seeds - my favorite and the most beautiful catalog ever
Annie's Heirloom Seeds
Seed Savers Exchange
Southern Exposure

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If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:
Ted Talk on guerrilla gardening
Garden tour 2013 - part 1 - edibles
Garden podcast

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