This is the third installment of our season-long adventure in elevated gardening. Our friends at Gronomics have provided the Western Red Cedar planters we are using. In our first installment, we received the planters and documented putting them together. Both of us were quite pleased with how easily they went together without using a single tool. In our second installment we filled them with our growing medium and planted them with seeds and transplants. Both of us chose a combination of edibles and ornamentals and in this installment, readers will see how things are growing.
Melody: The cool, wet beginning of my growing season quickly turned into the 'Dog Days of Spring.' Since the last report, 90 degree days saturated with oppressive humidity have been the norm. There was one stretch where the temperatures reached the mid-90s for 15 consecutive days. My beds are on my south wall and the heat has been tremendous. The spinach was a casualty, as it bolted before I clipped the first leaf. I replaced the spinach with a sweet potato slip. Bunch Porto Rican is not a vining variety and is supposed to be a compact plant. Hopefully, it will behave itself and not run rampant over the other plants. I've been dilligent about watering deeply and everything is growing great. We eat a lot of salad and I am enjoying making salad dressing with fresh herbs. I've always wanted a convenient herb garden and these are so handy right at my back door.
Terry: Like Melody, we went from cool and waterlogged to hot and dry, with highs in the upper 90s and heat index into the triple digits during the past month. This week has finally seen us catch a break with some rain showers, and our temperatures have settled into more typical June highs and lows. The heat has made it difficult to keep the beds sufficiently watered (in hindsight, I probably should have used a bag of moisture-retention soil, especially in the smaller and shallower bed). But my peppers love the heat and I have an Anaheim almost ready to pick while the others are busy putting out a lot of blooms and little baby peppers. The herbs, especially the lemon basil, is growing at breakneck speed! Even the fennel is settling in and growing. In the smaller bed, my arugula suffered the same fate as Melody's spinach, but my Romaine and deer's tongue lettuces are holding on. The bush cucumber is struggling (again, a combination of heat and difficulty in keeping them wet enough), but I'm pretty sure the slightly cooler temperatures we're supposed to get for a few weeks will see them perking up and the other bed will be worthy of showing off by next month!
Melody's beds are lush and healthy, despite the heat. They are as attractive as her containers planted with ornamentals and she's constantly getting compliments on them.
A casualty of the early heat wave, Melody's spinach bolted shortly after germinating. She replaced it with a sweet potato slip, since it loves the heat.
Another heat lover, the eggplants are full of fruits and Melody should start harvesting these shortly.
Terry's Romaine is holding its own, despite the heat and dry conditions. But the rest of it will soon go into a dinner salad, to be replaced by something else in the bed.
Terry has a dark cherry tomato almost ready to pluck. Here's hoping for many more to follow!
Terry's 'HealthKick' tomatoes are taking off. These make GREAT salsa - very meaty and dark red (and full of lycopene.)
Melody planted 'Gold Rush' wax bean seed as an experiment and they are doing great. The plants are full of blooms and even tiny beans. She's guessing that they'll be ready about the same time as the eggplant.
The 'Chocolate Cherry' tomato is healthy and full of little tomatoes. It definitely likes the elevated beds. Melody placed cages on it and the 'Ichiban' eggplant, which has finally started to thrive, recovering from the aphids and resulting soapy bath.
The herbs and marigolds are brimming over the edge. They were both excellent choices and are looking fantastic.
Terry's pepper plants are starting to bush out and vie for room in this bed. In the foreground is some feathery fennel, with Cubanelle peppers.
Here's the first Anaheim pepper, almost ready! These are great roasted and frozen for chilis rellenos, chile verde stew and other cool season dishes.
A final shot of Terry's larger bed. The lemon basil is growing great, despite the Japanese beetles that attack it daily. The flat Italian parsley and Mexican coriander are coming along nicely too.
Melody's 'Gypsy' peppers are growing rapidly, as are the 'Big Berthas' and the 'Cayennes'. Peppers are a natural choice for these elevated beds.
Melody is even using the planters as propagation beds. These are from a couple of succulents that lost a few leaves. She popped them in a spare corner and they are now showing new growth.
Melody's zinnias are getting ready to bloom, her carrots are looking healthy and the butterflies and hummingbirds are enjoying the pentas.This winds up our third installment of our Gronomics elevated bed adventure. Everything seems to be growing nicely and the planters are still like new. Despite the weather, neither planter is showing any signs of stress or weathering. Both of us are pretty confident these beds will be part of our families for many years. We welcome your comments and suggestions. If you have any questions, please let us know. Melody is already planning for some cool season crops and can't wait to experiment with some brassicas and autumn salad fixings! See you next month!