July is my favorite summer month here in California … the mornings are foggy and cool (perfect for waking up early to groggily watch the Tour de France live), the daytime temperatures are comfortable (perfect for being in the garden) and evenings are pure bliss (perfect for relaxing in our courtyard).
More bliss to come: my tomato plants are just loaded!
I purchased my Paul Robeson (far left) and Caspian Pink (far right) tomato plants from Love Apple Farms (in little 2″ pots) at the San Francisco Garden Show on March 21, 2013. I immediately repotted them into one gallon pots and brought them indoors each night for the first couple of weeks, before planting on the side of our house, in soil amended with composted chicken manure, crushed egg shells and worm castings. The black tube on the ground is part of my drip irrigation system. The little Sweet 100 tomato plant in the middle was purchased and planted much later.
Once the plants outgrew their three foot tall cages, we had to add some 8′ stakes.
This was the mess we came home to after being gone for a few days – branches all over the ground, but thankfully not too much damage.
And this is how it looked once we added more stakes and did some trimming. I’m pretty happy with how they’ve grown, but all credit for their health goes to the soil amendments, sunshine and drip irrigation. All I did was plant them, stake them and tie them up. And spray a bit of Neem Oil on some aphids.
My backyard vegetable garden is a different story. Except for the parsley, basil and out-of-control sweet alyssum, this garden looks terrible. And compared to last year, it’s downright embarrassing. Honestly, it’s not all my fault. Some blame has to go to the pair of cute tiny bunnies that ate almost everything I planted. And my artichoke plants went dormant so I had to cut them back (they’re the two sad looking stalks sticking up on either side of the potted basil, in the middle of the image). Anyhow, I finally got my act together on Sunday and bought some more plants – three kinds of peppers, some more herbs and two more tomatoes (another Sweet 100 and an Early Girl) – and now, things are looking better. Hopefully the marigolds will keep the bunnies away. Sadly, no sweet corn, cucumbers or pumpkins this year – that truly breaks my heart.
But there’s always a bright side.
This is the third summer in a row that our resident Juncos have made a nest in our backyard. This time, mama Junco decided that the ugly white and orange plastic bag sitting on the ground (full of dead ferns that I had intended to return to OSH for an exchange) was the perfect spot for her nest. And yes, this is the dirty little secret of my yard – the area that is always a mess and that I prefer no one see. My old potting bench – littered with tool, pots and a scrap of redwood with a stain sample – looks just awful. Don’t you just love my trashy looking blue IKEA bag? It’s stuffed with drift wood. I also hide my garden hoses, five gallon buckets, shovels and wheel barrow back here. What a mess! Thankfully this area isn’t visible from inside the house or from other parts of the garden. Regardless, I’m thrilled that we’ll get to watch yet another generation of Dark-eyed Junco babies grow up.
So what’s happening in your garden? Better yet, show me the worst corner of your garden. C’mon!