My forays into edibles. What’s yours?

It took me 50 years to grow edibles finally. Since I had been gardening in 1971, I never ventured into planting vegetables except for a couple of tomatoes. I have grown roses, shrubs, bulbs, perennials, and a few trees. I managed to buy a grapevine three years ago, but that was about it for edibles.

With the onslaught of the pandemic last year, I decided to plant some more vegetables and herbs. It was a small step toward edibles.

I tried some herbs: sweet basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano, parsley, and cilantro. Every herb did well except for sweet basils, of which only two survived this year. I had better luck last year. Maybe I overwatered the sweet basil. Cilantro got choked by parsley that grows so huge in the same Grow Box. Thyme, rosemary, and oregano are doing great. I also grow scallions, but they are not green. They are purple. They taste a lot better than green onions.

Last year, I grew red cayenne pepper and sweet corn, besides tomatoes. I bought a couple of Grow Box and planted the corn in them. The result was fabulous. The corn grew very tall, and we saw some ears of corn. Unfortunately, we did not get any harvest. Some animals, either squirrels or rats, beat us to them.

This year, I bought another grow box and planted two batches of corn. Right now, they are doing great. I thought of keeping them inside my gate but then decided I have more room outside the fence. I might move it back inside the fenced area later.

I also planted Purple Majesty potatoes. Maybe I should keep it longer, but even then, I lost two spuds. When I dug them up, two spuds were mushed. So I’m still on the learning curve for that. I like the purple potatoes. I made an Ube Jam which is a Pilipino dessert, and it was delicious. I might plant more next year.

In back is my lime tree and underneath the vine are two tomato plants.

Last year, I was so excited to see little bunches of grapes, but one day, they all disappeared. Maybe the squirrel or the birds ate them before I got hold of them. This year, I put a netting early on, but somehow I stunted the growth, so I took it out, and now the grapes are growing wide. There are few grapes, so we’ll see what happens next month. I have the Razz Matazz, which supposedly should bear fruit all season long and does not need spraying, which I like.

This is my lemon tree.
This is a close up. I have 14 fruits this year.

I also have citrus fruit. My son, Alex, gave me a Meyer Lemon for Mother’s Day last year, and I bought a lime tree and an Avocado tree from Lowes last summer. I had them on my terrace next to my bedroom. I read that they don’t like cold weather, so I moved them indoors when it got too cold in February. I put them in my bathtub since I don’t use the bathtub at all (a waste of space), but I saw ants crawling all over the bathroom the next day. I got an exterminator, and he sprayed the bathroom, and we put bait inside the pot. It killed the ants, and this Spring, I moved them all in the back in a protected area. They will now stay outside, and if the weather goes to the 30s next winter, I will cover it with a protective cloth or move them to the garage. It is exciting this year. My lemon tree has 14 fruits, so I’m waiting for them to get yellow. They are about the size of a golf ball right now. The lime tree did not flower, so I guess I’m not getting any lime this year. The avocado was getting tall, so I moved it outside the fence with more room for it. I read it needs another avocado to pollinate it, so I guess no avocado fruit for me this year. I’ll get another avocado tree sometime soon.

My avocado tree outside my fenced-in area.

I bought a cucumber plant, but I noticed it did not look like cucumber as it grows. My neighbor gave me two cukes from his garden, so I showed him my plant. He said it was not a cucumber. It looked more like a squash. It was spreading wide, so I put a trellis for it to climb but then one day, it got wilted and died, and the flowers were gone. The squirrel must have gotten to it.

One of my cayenne peppers.

I have three tomato plants and four peppers. They are doing great. Last year, we had so much cayenne pepper, I froze them, and my son, a good chef, used them during the winter. I have two cayenne, a serrano, and a banana this year. I should have enough to freeze for the winter months.

I almost forgot. Last year, I bought a blueberry plant and a couple of raspberries. But like my corn, my unwanted visitors in the garden beat me to its fruit. I believe in this case that it was the bird who was the culprit. Maybe I should plant more so I can have enough for us both.

Well, that’s my forays into edibles. I’m still on a learning curve. If I can grow roses that some people think are hard to grow, I know I can learn to grow edibles. Grocery store produce cannot compete with home-grown varieties, so I’ll keep trying to grow them.

Happy Gardening, everyone!


My “Never Forget Garden” in Tribute to our Men of the Armed Forces

May is a great month for gardeners. Spring is in full force, and everything is blooming. Here in the South, it was such glorious days.

I have never seen my garden so beautiful. Last year was a bummer. Early in the season, my husband was so sick I had no time for gardening. After he passed on, I was so depressed and could not get going. So this season, I made up for what I lost last year, and it shows.

I packed the front bed with plants, just what I did in my garden in New York. I have orchestrated the planting so that I have color in the garden continuously. I usually forget to take photos of my garden, but this year I took some to plan where to put more spring bulbs for next season.

The season started with spring bulbs and violas. Pansy loves the cold weather. I tried tulips years ago, but they don’t do too well in the South, and the squirrels had a field day that only a few were left in the ground by springtime.

So I skipped planting tulips last fall. For next year, I’ll try tulip again. I ordered different red tulips for next year already. We’ll see if I can get the squirrels off my flower bed. But I planted Royal Navy hyacinth along the edge of the beds. I had pink hyacinth last year, but they were not as impressive as the blues. The Royal Navy hyacinth was fantastic the year before last, so I switched back to blue, and they did terrific again this year. I also have patches of daffodils this year, both in front and in the back of the house. I also had Siberian irises, showing their blue color.

After all the spring flowers faded, I let the leaves turned yellow and started trimming them. I have Kalmia (mountain laurel) I planted between my two Bow Bells roses. It was at the boundary of my property, but somehow, it was not doing well there, so I moved it to where it is now. It sent a gorgeous white flower this Spring. I am constantly moving plants if they didn’t do well in the original spot I planted them in. After I find the right site for them, I leave them alone.

Next came the next show.

The roses and perennials started showing their color. I planted five new roses in front in addition to what was there already. Cramoisi Superieur (left photo), which is an old garden rose, started the rose season. It is a no-maintenance rose and much, much better than Knock Out roses and fragrant too. It bloomed profusely every year throughout the season. After it finished blooming, I had the HOA landscaper trimmed it with their hedge clipper, ready for the next bloom cycle – every five weeks. I don’t prune this rose like my other roses. It is just too much work. I asked the landscaper last year to trim it, and it made no difference, so now, I let them do it. After Cramoisi Superieur, there is Dublin Bay, a climber on the post.

Then the other roses started blooming. I have Sedona (top left photo), Opening Night (top right photo), Rosarium Uetersen (bottom left photo), Moonstone (bottom right photo). I also have Full Sail, Scentimental, Othello, Bow Bells (photo above- pink roses behind the big pagoda), and some minis that I planted from some flowers I received after my husband died. Bow Bells and Cramoisi Superieur were planted almost ten years ago and have performed very well every year. I’m surprised the minis came back. Usually, these minis from the florist don’t do well in the garden, but I just put them in the ground and hoped for the best. I also have a few roses in pots that I rotate: Caldwell Pink, Alfred Sisley, Miracle on the Hudson, Firefighter, Veterans Honor, Benjamin Britten, Rock & Roll, and a lot more.

I also have some annuals, but mostly perennials on my front bed trying to vie for attention. The daylily, echinacea, echinops, gaillardia, gaura, phlox, pineapple sage, salvia, scabiosa, and shasta daisy are all starting to put on their color parade. I edged the bed with variegated liriope, which will soon give me purple flowers. Their yellow and green leaves are such a delight in the garden for year-round color.

I had a small plot, but I squeezed too many plants there to fend off weeds. I also have arborvitae, a Norfolk Island Pine, a dogwood tree, and a couple of camellia plants in pots. This is just the front bed. Wait till you see what is in the back. Just bear in mind, I live in a townhouse where ground space is minimal, but it did not stop me from putting all the plants that I love in that tiny space.

Please note that most new plantings are red, white, and blue because I want this to be my “Never Forget Garden” in commemoration of the centennial of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in 2021 and also a tribute to my late husband, who served in the U.S. Navy. Bless our men and women who sacrificed their lives to give us the freedom we have today!

Happy Gardening!