Tuesday, July 3, 2012


In addition to doing a front garden update, I want to show some plants in the back garden! I'm so excited the vegetables are actually growing!

One of the "problems" (I use the term lightly) with the newly installed back garden is that it's rather... empty. A lot of the plants are still small, and they'll fill in eventually, but not yet. Combine this with my laziness re: mulching so far, and the beds look sad:

This was still during construction - that stick in the middle is a Vitex agnus-castus
So the question became - what do I use for "filler" while the rest of the plants grow? Besides the whole mulch thing, which I will get done before the end of the summer.

The answer (for this year) was vegetables! I've always liked growing them, but have never really had the room for them. I grew tomatoes and herbs in containers, which was dangerous because I would forget to water, but never vine crops like melons. But now I have plently of room, and late may/early June is the right time to plant those heat-loving crops. So I went and got:
All the plants were planted over Memorial Day Weekend, which might be a little late...
Some tomatoes: ('Black Krim', 'Green Zebra' and 'Black Cherry')
Some melons: Honeydew, Cantelope and 2 types of watermelon: yellow and 'Sugar Baby'
Lemon Cucumber
Sweet peppers: red and orange
And peas (it's technically too late for peas, so we'll see how that goes...)

The 'Green Zebra', Honeydew and Orange peppers went in the bed with the buddleja :
This bed in particular was very empty
The Black Cherry tomato, Canteloupe and 2nd pepper went on one side of the patio:

This bed (like the rest) basically gets full sun (all day).
and the other side got the lemon cucumber and 'Black Krim':

The two beds are sort-of symmetrical - I like the combo of order & disorder...
While the long bed, with the Optunia, Vitex and Yucca got both watermelons and the peas.

I didn't crop out my sprinkler valves (ugly!) because this picture shows what the Optunia looked like when the vegetables were planted...

Of the four pea plants, only 1 was still alive by the end of the week... So that didn't work too well.

Now I'm excited to see how they'll grow! I also have to figure out cages vs. stakes for the tomatoes... But before I buy (or build) anything, I want to see if they'll live! I did build little watering basins around each plant, so I can water them deeply a few times a week (in addition to the sprinkers) as needed. I also sprinkled some Sluggo around them to make sure the snails don't get all of them.

So an update about a month later - it worked!/ is working! Everything is still alive, although one of the pepper plants is a little sad. And they're filling in the blank spaces between the plants like I hoped.
Here's the bed with the butterfly bush:
Honeydew, buddleja and tomato. This tomato has grown the biggest so far...
The buddleja actually has buds, which I was not expecting this year. I'm not entirely sure which color/cultivar it is, so figuring out the color will help!

And the cantaloupe with the red yucca and blooming Coreopsis verticillata 'Route 66'. You can also see the 2nd tomato in the background.

The canteloupe seems happy, and yuccas seem unbothered (as they are by just about anything)
I ended up getting colored cages for them (red and yellow) and they add a nice vertical accent to the garden. Here is the other bed, with the lemon cucumber:

The yellow in the background is Coreopsis pubescens 'Moonshine'.
The color scheme of red and yellow is starting to take shape with the flowers, tomato cages and other accents.
The biggest surprise has been the Sugar Baby watermelon. It really likes its spot next to the Optunia:

Maybe its all the extra heat from the walls? But its been in the 90's/100's most of the month.
That little plant in the back is a Feathery Cassia (Senna artemisloides). It's supposed to get bigger and hide the sprinkler valves. The Optunia has also been putting a bunch of new pads, maybe it's inspired by the watermelon:

This compared to the Optunia just a month ago (see picture above) is crazy! It's made 10 new pads!
The yellow watermelon and peas still have some growing to do, but are also filling in:

That's the last remaining pea bush in the back. I'm not sure how happy it is.
Canteloupe on top, watermelon on bottom. We're going to have a lot of watermelon this year!
Melons! I'm excited... I've not been very successful actually growing edible things before, so it's so cool that this is (or appears to be) working! And the rambling vines are filling out the beds nicely!

I'm sure there will be more updates later in the summer. I'm so excited, and the plant are growing so quickly! Next year I might do this again, any maybe try planning and getting started a bit earlier....


  1. Growing your own food is so rewarding! I'm so jealous of your cantaloupe and watermelon, they have a hard time growing in the PNW.

    1. Isn't that funny? Because I look at pictures of PNW gardens (including yours!) and wish mine could be half as lush! I think we all have zone envy in some way... Thanks for your comment!


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