Saturday, June 22, 2013

Garden Days

The weather is starting to warm up, and there's green things everywhere. For the past few years, I've been trying my hand at growing potted plants. Mostly herbs, and a few flowers. We've always grown tomatoes, and occasionally pumpkins, cucumbers, or sugar-snap peas. I can't remember a time when we weren't growing a bunch of things.

Two summers ago I told my father I wanted to grow mint. He just shook his head and said no. We argued about for a while. I told him I'd put it in a pot and set it on my step, off the ground so it wouldn't go wild. He said no. So I moped that I couldn't have mint, kept asking him anyway, and started thinking about other plants. One day he came home with a small chocolate mint plant. Then we picked up another one. And another one. Suddenly I had two versions of chocolate mint, one regular peppermint, and an apple mint.

After a few weeks or so, what had started as just a few mint plants and some small herbs, turned into a mass of green. This picture is from the first summer with mint. You can see how it took over. I had to pot several runners to keep them from fighting their way into other plants. And the basil and thyme (if you can see them all the way to the right, and in the bottom left corner respectively) had to be moved out of the mints' reach. Because I'd all ready found them in each other's pots, and the stivia pot. It tried climbing up the screen door, under the siding of the house, slipping into the water plates of other pots, it snuck down the back of the step, and in at least one instance it managed to go from resting on top of the step to touching the ground in a matter of 10 hours.

Last summer the mosquitoes had started to get truly out of control. They've always been bad where I live, but they reached epic annoyance levels last summer. I have a feeling they'll be even worse this summer. So with that in mind, plus the memory of how the mints tried to take over the world....I mean my little stoop, I started talking about moving them closer to the door and the water supply. I'm hoping that it'll result in less bug bites and their skin crawling effects. This summer we built a stepped plant rack.


This is from when we built it.

The tomato plants have also proved problematic in the past few years for the same reasons the plants on my step had. Especially since they were even farther into mosquito territory. A sprinkler system was set up to water them with minimal time outside. And they rarely got picked because of the bugs. Well, the bugs and the [censored] ground hogs. Those [censored]. Sorry. I have issues with them. They eat everything.



We found big pots at Sam's, and placed them next to the plant rack. Each of the big side pots has a tomato plant, a hot pepper plant, two basil plants that we bought from a nursery, a bunch of basil plants we started from seed, and some dill that we also started from seed.

The plant rack seems to be holding up pretty well. We need to take it apart and put cross supports underneath so the boards can be picked up as whole pieces for each layer. They need to be painted also, but it's going to wait till the wood dries out from the rain. It's much easier to water the plants, and I've wandered out for fresh herbs while cooking several times.

A few plants have been added since the rack was put together, but I found room for them. And the mint seems to have taken off. I'm going to have to start watching that it doesn't wander into other pots. There's mint sun tea in our future I think. Lots and lots of mint tea. Maybe I can start putting a bit in with my breakfast tea when I remember. Or I might try making mint sugar again. Oh the possibilities.  There's a few tomatoes on one of the plants, and some hot peppers are starting to grow. It's always satisfying to grow things with your own two hands.

Taken one week after it was put together. You can see the difference in the size and number of the plants.
Are you growing anything this summer? Has mint taken over your plants? What is your favorite thing to do with fresh herbs?

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