“The best place to find God is in a garden; You can dig for him there!”
George Bernard Shaw
“I love God, dirty hands and garden clogs! I loathe the devil, scouring toilets and wearing heels!”
Welcome to the first annual garden tour of “This One Tree”!
First of all I’ve enjoyed getting to know so many of you by way of a blog site garden tour, and truly, I have learned much already from many garden bloggers out on the landscape. I also depend on some family members who also grew up on a farm and know a thing or two about edible gardening. They have shared some really good tips and tricks too! A shout out of thanks to all of you!
For the past 6 years, hubby and I have been busy, busy, busy restoring his childhood home. Giving new life to an old memory has been quite the challenge and I may cover just that in other posts. Keeping a picture diary of the transformation of this 1/2 acre suburban abode has made me realize that my initial plans to live a slower retired life after owning and managing a business in the fast paced professional world wasn’t in the cards. This new chapter in my life has actually spring boarded into a very busy outdoor garden life! So far!
I chose the height of this summer season as a good time to introduce you to my plot-of-a-lot here in sunny So Cal! There is always a big “to do”list and transitioning from spring harvest to summer planting in my north garden is usually on the “to do” list as soon as the celebrations of July 4th have fizzled into the night skies.
To begin, I would like to introduce you to the matriarch ….”This One Tree”!
There she is! And just behind her is the space that became my North Garden! Not so grand looking is she? Well….let me tell you…. this little unassuming Valencia orange tree was the only healthy tree left in this backyard after tearing out and leveling the entire lot (front and back) of weeds, sick and infested trees and old over gown misplaced shrubs. This sweet princess of a tree became my inspiration and compelled me to build a garden, add a micro orchard, and later get me cookin’ and cannin’ some jams, jellies and butters as a “Cottage Food” operator. You will get to know her more in “part 2” of the tour of “This One Tree”. There are also plans for editing out a huge span of grass in the back yard so I can build more beds for root veggies….asparagus…. and year round succession plantings. I’ll be asking for suggestions for this undertaking in “part 3” of the tour.
You see, I thought I was going to spend a quiet retired life enjoying my grandchildren surrounded by a beautifully restored home and a large citified outdoor landscape that hollered “let the party begin”! But that is another story! It is now our little Valencia tree that stands sentry to my North Garden and it is the star of the show. This little Valencia is now a big producer and remains a constant reminder of how something seemingly insignificant can change one’s perspective on life! Who me? A gardener? That’s what I said 6 years ago, but this is what I’m doing today!
So grab a sip and nibble of something and settle in for a bit. Today I hope you enjoy the first part of the tour in my garden located on the north perimeter of the house! It is simply and appropriately called “North Garden”.
I have 5 raised veggie beds behind this picket fence. Four measure 4 ft. X 8 ft., and the one with the grape arbor is a long 22 ft. and narrower at 2 1/2 ft.. A compost corral lines the west end wall and stretching along the north side of the house on the left is my camellia bed and my vermi-composter. The picket fence is to keep out the chickens!
My “Nuccios” white camellias are one of my favorite flowers in the whole wide world! They are pristine white and perfectly shaped like a Dahlia and are the first to bloom after Christmas. I love to cut and float the flowers in a crystal bowl!
I yanked most all the corn from this bed on the 4th of July. I left a few stalks to act as decorative supports along with my bamboo stakes for my pole beans. It was my first time planting corn. 14 out 18 planted matured to edible size. Hubby and I ate two each at dinner and I froze the rest. They were surprisingly good! Next spring I’ll plant at least 25 or 30 to really fill up a bed.
I also put in my second planting of bush beans. My home-made tomato cages are on their sides to act as supports for the bush beans, keeps them off the ground a bit better but still allows me to reach into the plants for picking. The empty end of the bed by the chives is waiting for my Lima bean seedlings to emerge. We usually have long summers so I’m experimenting with the Lima seeds plus the bed will be all beans which I’ll cultivate into the soil late fall. Fingers crossed of course!
“There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments”.
Janet Kilburn Phillips
The empty space in this bed is reserved for lettuce. I decided to pull the few beets that managed to pop up from my spring planting. Their tops were short and light colored….never really got their grow on. These were the 3 that grew (poorly I might add). Each was about the size of a strawberry, I settled for calling them baby beets! I roasted them and they did taste good !
I tried the seedling approach but I think I’ll plant direct into the bed in September with “Early Wonder”, a “Chioggia” and a “Golden”. Both hubby and I love beets! To ride out the rest of summer, I put a new “Roma” tomato right next to the Big Beef tomato. I’ll be pulling out the beans as well so I can fertilize the tomatoes and make room for the lettuce. Beans and Tomatoes are not a companion planting but they each did fine this time. You can also see the tops of the corn stalk tee pee’s in the background which I left for the pole beans to climb.
At the far end is a “Burpless “cucumber….. the weather has been so hot then cold then hot ……. it has been a challenge to keep these guys watered properly. They are growing very long and curvy indeed! I also usually plant a pickling variety but they really kept me busy last year trying to keep up with canning them. I’m working on a better plan of attack for next season.
Bed #3 has been dug up twice already since spring! I planted my favorite and always a winner….snow peas! The rest of the bed became this years trial bed. The bunnies are my trial bed icons. This season I have planted basil, carrots and fennel from seed! And in June I had to replant zucchini because the one I planted with the corn never had male flowers….. hard to believe I know!
As you see here the snow peas are pitiful…..they should be as tall as the top of the trellis and bushy too! I have been snipping yellow scraggly tendrils with each few peas I’d harvest. I already yanked the peas that were at the right of the trellis, they were dying and even more yellow than these ones. I thought it was a watering or fertilizer issue because I had also lost two tomato plants from this bed earlier this spring. And then I finally found a looper caterpiller on these peas yesterday! I’m just going to yank them too…..the harvest isn’t worth the water. And with such pitiful peas how is it possible to grow amazing fennel right next door?
Look at the fennel….it’s beautiful! The bulbs are starting to plump too! Plus I transplanted a sickly Yellow Pear tomato seedling in the same part of the bed as the spring tomatoes that wilted earlier just to see if it would die too…..but nope….it has taken off and is fruiting nicely! ???????? is what I say!.
I’ve been pinching and pinching this basil Genovese for a month now making pesto and freezing for later. First time I’ve had such beautiful basil…….and from seed no less! The carrots came up too. With big pretty tops ….sorry no pic’s….I picked them ( a whole handful) and ate them right there in the garden. They were Nantes half-longs. A finger long and as big around but straight. Should I call them baby carrots too? They might have grown nicely but I was just too impatient. I always heard that carrots are more likely to be crooked and split so I couldn’t wait, I had to peek. Anyway, next year I will have a higher root veggie bed to plant the rest of my packet and try again….for real, I promise!
In this picture you can see that there is more vegetation outside the bed. Flanked in front is my potted thyme and parsley. Against the wall are my mini roses and Meyer lemon. These are all here to invite the bees to the garden. Beyond the picket fence are some expiring sunflowers and the Brown Turkey fig tree just loaded with fruit this year!
” If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth; man would only have four years left to live”
The aged iron window planters in the foreground get used in the fall as props for potted Chrysanthemums and look great mixed with my ceramic pumpkins you see in the background. And now I have corn stalks to add to the vignette!
Autumn is my favorite season……the fall colors and big bold leafy greens in the garden…..I can’t wait!
“A good gardener always plants 3 seeds – one for the bugs, one for the weather and one for himself “
Growing really nicely in the bed right now are peppers and a late planted Big Cherry tomato. Gosh…the tomatoes have been such a problem as a whole but the peppers have all been fruiting so early! There’s a jalapeno, a green bell and the most productive yellow banana pepper I’ve grown so far! It’s billowing over the jalapeno and I’ve been pickling these beauties for a month already!
Just on the other side of the peppers I had planted tomato plants in the spring….Brandywine, Green Zebra, and a cherry. The leaf curl got to each one of them. The poor tomatoes got so stressed with our hot -then -cool -then -hot weather we’ve had this spring. Even though I harvested a few great tomatoes from the Brandywine, I decided to yank them all because they just weren’t going to make it through the summer.
Gardening is not a rational act!
My grape arbor bed has a few tenants this summer! On the right are my Red Bell peppers, Sun Sugar and Cherokee Purple Heirloom tomatoes mixed in with basil and cilantro (which I’m letting go to seed). Under the grape is a Crenshaw melon…….just one so far.
I have been teaching myself the how to’s of grape growing for some 5 yrs now! I started with a Flame seedless, a Thompson seedless and an e-book I purchased from The Grape Guy in South Africa.
The book is very informative and I have been trying to follow it to the letter yet I have struggled with the pruning on few occasions. Anyway, I tore out the Thompson seedless because I thought I pruned it wrong as it never fruited like the Flame. I believe now I may have jumped the gun……check out my blog “Finally Grapes!” for the whole story! At least I’m still challenged by the persistent desire to grow really nice edible grapes! The renters in this bed are residing where my Thompson seedless should be…….but take a look at these Flame seedless!
It’s been 4 long years and a few struggles and I may still not know exactly what shoots and spurs to prune but I will conquer grape growing! After another season of renters are done producing this winter I will prepare the arbor bed for a new Thompson seedless and practice my patience in the garden!
“A garden is always a series of losses set against a few triumphs, like life itself.”
So…. how nice it was to tour the North Garden sitting down! The only things missing from this picture tour are the sounds and smells of a garden. Would you believe I’m working on that! Anyway, if you enjoyed the North Garden and wish to see more, I’ll be sharing the harvest and the “putting up” of my figs and introducing you to “The Orchard”.
But before I go here’s a quick look at some of the North Gardens harvest so far this summer!