This is the sixth 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 the third installment, readers were shown how things were growing. In the fourth installment, their planters were brimming full of ornamentals and edibles and their harvest was beginning in ernest. In the fifth installment, Terry and Melody made plans for their cool-season gardens. In this sixth installment, temperatures have moderated and their plants are thriving.
Melody: Temperatures are finally cooler and the plants are breathing a sigh of relief! Most days are in the mid 80s and drop into the upper 50s at night. A little bit of rain hasn't hurt anything either. I've been harvesting herbs and planting fall greens. The pentas is full of blooms, which attracts migrating hummingbirds and monarchs. I've finally removed all of the marigolds and the tomato, although both were still doing fine. It is simply time for something new and I'm anxious to move on to other plants. I've planted green onions, mustard greens, pac-choi and lettuce in the larger bed. The smaller bed is where the herbs are, so I've planted radishes, a couple of cucumbers and some zucchini. Everything is growing and doing great.
Terry: This has been a "Goldilocks" summer: it was too cold, then too hot, too rainy and too dry throughout the growing seathe weather extremes, the elevated beds have removed some of the frustrations of gardening, most notably the lack of stooping over and weeding. Even though our temperatures are starting to drop, the tomatoes and peppers are pushing for one last hurrah before the season ends, so I've left the still-producing plants in place. All the melons, squash and cucumbers are gone for the season. In their place, I've added some bright colored swiss chard, along with some cabbage and cauliflower plants, and a few orange pansies to add some fall flair to the planters. If I can find spinach seeds in what remains in my seedbox, I'll hope for some spinach to rise up in the holes eventually left by the peppers and tomatoes sometime next month.
Melody's smaller bed is brimming full of herbs, flowers and veggies. The pentas is a plesant surprise and Melody plans on having more of these next year. It's bloomed non-stop all summer and is showing no signs of slowing down.
The zucchini is blooming, although these are male flowers that do not produce squash. Squash have both male and female flowers and the male flowers are generally the first to start blooming.
Here are the female flowers that will bloom in a few days. Note the tiny squash at the base of the bud. It looks like Melody will soon have plenty of zucchini!
Melody's resident tree frog is still around. There are plenty of insects and the remaining zinnia is a nice place to rest between meals.
Terry's 'Yum Yum' Peppers are still fairly prolific, putting out orange, sweet little thin-walled bell peppers. The fennel plants are nearing maturity (one is bolting) and they're still playing host to late summer caterpillars. New plants have been introduced into spots vacated by spent peppers and herbs.
Cheerful orange pansies are interspersed among cauliflower starts. In the backround is one of the 'Bright Lights' chard plants.
Melody is letting her chives bloom. They have a delicate flavor and are quite nice in salads or dips. Since she is growing organically, there is no concern over pesticides. Just a quick rinse to dislodge any little critters and they're ready to eat.
Melody's cucumbers are starting to produce as well. Like the squash, they produce both male and female flowers. The fruits are insect pollinated, so the cucumbers will only produce as long as it is warm enough for them to fly.
Melody succeeded in germinating two pac-choi plants. The hot weather returned with a vengance the week she planted the seeds and the first plants succumbed. She'll probably plant more in a few weeks.
Despite the poor showing earlier in the summer, the tomatoes have finally found their stride and are bearing a steady crop of tomatoes as fall begins. Tucked into the spots once covered with watermelon vines is a second planting of bright-stemmed chard.
More orange pansies are growing amid cabbage transplants, with the chard in the background. A heavy downfall the night before these photos were taken had everything leaning just a bit.
The tomato cages have held their own despite not having deep soil to sink down into.
Mmmmm, turnip greens! Melody loves this fall brassica and it appears that she'll have plenty. Since the weather cooled last week, she planted her first sowing.
The pretty lettuce was planted at the same time the turnip greens were. It should be big enough in about two weeks for Melody to start adding it to salads.
Melody is exicted about the prospect of fresh greens through the autumn and winter. It was difficult keeping the vegetables watered this summer because she situated the beds on her south-facing wall. She's hoping that the choice will prove wise this winter since this is the warmest area on her property.
Terry and Melody generally experience their first frost between the middle to the end of October. Join us next month as we put our traditional gardens to bed. Our Gronomics planters should really shine during this time and we're excited to see how they do.