Jump to content

Home Gardens - Tips, Tricks, Methods, and the Bounty


Recommended Posts

I'm trying to plan my garden for this year, and make a list of the culinary herbs I want to include.

I'm talking about a tiny town-house front yard that faces south. I already have a sage plant that will celebrate 14 years there in May, and is due for a major pruning shortly.

I'm thinking about basil, oregano, parsley, chives, thyme, tarragon, and lavender.

I love rosemary, but it is so sensitive that I usually can't persuade it to stick around.

What do you cook with and love to grow?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Don't give up on the rosemary. A truly wonderful local source for plants, DeBaggio Herb Farm and Nursery (www.debaggioherbs.com), specializes in varieties that show some hardiness in this area. DeBaggio, located in Chantilly, reopens for the season in a few weeks. They take their herbs seriously, and you can find an incredible variety of almost any herb, tomato, or pepper you could want. (The story of the founder, Tom DeBaggio, is heartwarming, too.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I grow everything in containers out of necessity. I threw out a tarragon plant I had for years because the weeds just took it over. Ever since, I haven't been able to grow it successfully. Rosemary is another matter. It's considered a tender perennial, but mine has been happily growing outdoors for three years now. Thyme is very hardy, as is oregano. Basil likes some shade and is an annual (unless you have a greenhouse). Lavender likes to be dry, so don't let it get overwatered.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've had really good luck with rosemary on my back deck.

I also tend to have luck with thyme, oregano, and basil.

I want to experiment with tomatoes in a few locations this year to see where (or more appropriately IF) they thrive.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We grow all of our herbs and tomato plants in containers on the back deck, and they thrive there. Our rosemary easily survived the winter, and we'll do Greek oregano, garlic chives, Genoa basil, Thai basil, tarragon and thyme this year in addition to Santa F1 and yellow plum tomatoes. We've also had good results with laurel, sorrel and cilantro.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a very shady yard, so my herb gardens have never done that well here. But I would suggest you grow some mint, if you have a spot that stays moist and somewhat shaded. Mint does tend to take over in places it is happy, so it might be a good idea to separate it from your other herbs, if possible, or grow it in a container.

The other herb that I like fresh, that you haven't listed, is marjoram. It's rarely available fresh, and is totally different than dried marjoram--perfume-y and sweet, more delicate than oregano or sage. I like it a lot.

I had a huge perennial herb garden when I lived in Santa Monica, and the herb I miss the most is European bay (different than bay laurel). I had a plant that started in a 5" pot, and when we had to move out of that house 12 years later, it was a veritable hedge, about 6 feet tall. I use to make holiday wreaths from it. I'm not sure whether it would survive the winters in this climate, but it is a wonderful herb that I use all the time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We'll go with our usual complement of tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers - we'll start them from seed this week and throw some sugar snap peas into the ground as well. For herbs, we stick mainly to basil, although we'll probably have some rosemary and thyme lying around as well.

July and August are happy days in the Brennan household as we feast on all the fruits of the garden - we even harvest the leaves of the pepper plants and use them in stews.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have several pots of mint (peppermint, Spearmint, Black) that come up every year. I add most of the herbs listed here. My Taragon always does well and generally comes back on its own. I also have a bay tree that comes in over the winter. This year I am adding several fig trees to the garden.

If anyone is intrested I have some extra mint to share and or trade. I am in Vienna and just PM me if you are intrested.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Does anyone have recommendations for starting a small herb garden on the balcony of an apartment building?  It will likely only get a few hours of direct sunlight per day.  Thanks!

Don't. Sorry to be a wet blanket, but very few if any culinary herbs will grow in just a few hours of sunlight. You may be able to get away with it if by "just a few" you mean four and those hours center on noon. Otherwise you're looking at scraggly plants that will stretch and give a poor harvest and die early. Unless you want to sprout the seed and harvest them as microgreens. Which is actually a fun thing to do if you accidentally sow too many.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm going to have to disagree with Porcupine here. Last year, for the first time ever, I attempted to grow herbs on my balcony and was successful. I picked up a container with organic herbs already started for me. The flower vender at Dupont on the north end sells them. I grew two types of basil, parsley and oregano. The purple basil didn't last very long but the rest of the plants flurished into the fall.

My trick was to put it in the corner where the last of the sunlight will linger. I have a brown thumb and usually kill everything I try to grow. Even with the lack of attention, forgetting to water, and anything else I could have done wrong those things did their damndest to grow <_<

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm going to have to disagree with Porcupine here.  Last year, for the first time ever, I attempted to grow herbs on my balcony and was successful.

Happy to be proven wrong. One of the joys of gardening is doing something that "can't be done" - like when the younger DiBaggio told me "it will never work" to grow roses and lavender in the same bed. <_<

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Does anyone have recommendations for starting a small herb garden on the balcony of an apartment building?

Another possibility, which I saw in the SoHo Sur La Table last weekend, is an indoor hydroponic setup complete with its own mini grow lamp. Of course, it seems rather pricey...you could probably kludge up something just as effective for less moolah.

Also, I believe DeBaggio's site says they're opening for the season this Saturday. The rosemary plant I bought from them in '04 continues to expand like a trooper in my north-facing backyard garden...go figure.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Does anyone have recommendations for starting a small herb garden on the balcony of an apartment building?  It will likely only get a few hours of direct sunlight per day.  Thanks!

Try it and see how they grow. If things look rough you can always buy a growlight.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Try it and see how they grow.  If things look rough you can always buy a growlight.

Even the best growlight provides about 10% of the wattage of the sun (at noon in the summer, on a clear day).

happy owner of a 1000 watt, full spectrum/metal halide grow light,

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm going to have to disagree with Porcupine here.  Last year, for the first time ever, I attempted to grow herbs on my balcony and was successful.  I picked up a container with organic herbs already started for me.  The flower vender at Dupont on the north end sells them.  I grew two types of basil, parsley and oregano.  The purple basil didn't last very long but the rest of the plants flurished into the fall. 

My trick was to put it in the corner where the last of the sunlight will linger.  I have a brown thumb and usually kill everything  I try to grow.  Even with the lack of attention, forgetting to water, and anything else I could have done wrong those things did their damndest to grow <_<

Thanks! I have the brown thumb disease as well, but think I will follow your advice and stop by that flower vendor and copy you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another suggestion to keep in mind is to visit your local coffee store (Starbucks, Murky Coffee, etc...) and ask for their used coffee grounds. I know that the former puts their used grounds in large bags for customers to take for free. Mixing the coffee grounds in your gardening soil is food porn for plants.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am an uber plant killer, but I usually manage to keep a couple of Thai basil plants alive as well as a regular basil plant. This year I will probably plant a small vegetable garden so that I can tend it with the munchkin.

My mom grows a great assortment of herbs and some veggies. She usually digs the herbs up and pots them for winter so that she can keep them alive inside. She usually has lemongrass (I might try this one this year), culantro, Thai basil, several different kinds of hot peppers, shiso, mint, water spinach, and some other things that I don't know the names for.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

the continuing cool spriong has been a boon for my arugula crop.....growing like a weed and delicious peppery goodness in every bite - harvesting bagfuls of the stuff from only 3 5 foot long rows

peas are starting to climb up the vines - I was a little late in planting this year so will take what I get

seedlings are getting big and strong and waiting for life outdoors

Link to comment
Share on other sites

the continuing cool spriong has been a boon for my arugula crop.....growing like a weed and delicious peppery goodness in every bite - harvesting bagfuls of the stuff from only 3 5 foot long rows

Where did you get the arugula from? Was it seeds, or...? I've heard even a brown thumb like myself can grow it.

I've got a bumper crop of herbs already, which seem to be thriving on neglect:

tarragon (couldn't get it to grow last year, but it's going crazy now)

chervil (good stuff-- got the plant at the Dupont Farmer's market)

mint (grows like a weed)

chives (with blossoms)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Where did you get the arugula from?  Was it seeds, or...?  I've heard even a brown thumb like myself can grow it.

I've got a bumper crop of herbs already, which seem to be thriving on neglect: 

tarragon (couldn't get it to grow last year, but it's going crazy now)

chervil (good stuff-- got the plant at the Dupont Farmer's market)

mint (grows like a weed)

chives (with blossoms)

Not only does mint grow like a weed, it spreads like crazy and will invade any garden space you have. Best to have it grow in a pot or half barrel.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Where did you get the arugula from? Was it seeds, or...? I've heard even a brown thumb like myself can grow it.

yeah, seeds....its extremely easy, create a shallow furrow, drop the seeds in (they're very small so just scatter), water and wait.....in a few weeks the seedlings pop up and from there on in just thin out the seedlings (it'll give you a tasty preview of whats to come) until theres an inch or two around each plant, wait another few weeks and start snipping the larger leaves and letting more grow in their place

had never really thought of growing arugula. How much sun does it need?

My ploy gets good sun from about 9 or 10 in the morning until about 3 in the afternoon - its good enough for tomatoes and eggplants later in the summer and the arugula seems to like it - I don't know for sure how much they need

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, brr. I just planted arugula for the first time, from seed, and hope it takes off.

I have Swiss chard this year, from plants not seeds. It sort of withers in the hottest part of the summer but rebounds in the fall.

This year I put my peppers in flower pots, 3 plants per pot. They seem to be doing well. Cayenne, sweet banana, and jalapeno.

I put in some okra plants I got at the Lone Cedar farm on Adelphi Road, but they are not doing well. Maybe I planted them too early? Anybody here successfully growing okra?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, brr. I just planted arugula for the first time, from seed, and hope it takes off.

I have Swiss chard this year, from plants not seeds. It sort of withers in the hottest part of the summer but rebounds in the fall.

This year I put my peppers in flower pots, 3 plants per pot. They seem to be doing well. Cayenne, sweet banana, and jalapeno.

I put in some okra plants I got at the Lone Cedar farm on Adelphi Road, but they are not doing well. Maybe I planted them too early? Anybody here successfully growing okra?

how long ago did you sow your arugula seeds? Most lettuce generally prefers cool weather so if we have a rapid warm up in the next few weeks you might not get the greatest results.......I planted mine in April but you could probably even get away with March

If it doesn't work out, try again in Sept when things start to cool down a little

Never tried okra....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I put in some okra plants I got at the Lone Cedar farm on Adelphi Road, but they are not doing well. Maybe I planted them too early? Anybody here successfully growing okra?

I have in the past. My guess is that you planted them too early. They like hot weather and a long growing season. IIRC, I started the seeds waaay early - like February - and grew them on heat pads under a lamp until planting them in June. The harvest was late. The flowers are beautiful (okra is in the hibiscus family as you'll see when they flower).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks. Yes, I think I was too early with the okra.

You're right about the plant. Very nice! I grew them once before but didn't harvest them before they were too tough. Kept waiting for them to grow longer than 2-3 inches but should have picked them at that size.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

how long ago did you sow your arugula seeds? Most lettuce generally prefers cool weather so if we have a rapid warm up in the next few weeks you might not get the greatest results.......I planted mine in April but you could probably even get away with March./If it doesn't work out, try again in Sept when things start to cool down a little

Arugula does get tough and assertive in extremely hot weather. However, it grows like a weed in very warm regions throughout Italy where you can see little old ladies in black dresses and sensible shoes (Nikes, etc.) bent down along the highway picking the leaves.

I was given a packet of seeds in late May in a muggy part of the midwest and they did fine.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So what are you growing this year???

Me?

tomatoes -- roma, slicing and cherry/grape types (various kinds)

peppers -- usually some yellow bell or red bell, plus a sweet wax (Hungarian usually) and a couple of hot varieties

various greens, usually some mesculun, arugula and other mixed greens and bitter greens

radishes

peas

carrots

garlic

various squash (butternut and acorn usually)

cucumbers (mainly slicing)

basil

rosemary

watercress

thyme

oregano

parsely

figs (more bush-like here as it is a variety that is more cold tolerant)

blueberries

raspberries

We have done other things in other years (just not this year) including various heirloom tomato varieties, pole beans, dill weed, mint and catnip).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I hope your sweet and hot peppers are far enough away from each other that they don't cross-pollinate. This is the voice of experience speaking. It can be more than a bit confounding when your bell peppers are as spicy as the jalapeí±os are. They're not nearly as useful.

Also, I can't imagine going to all the effort you have done to prepare the soil and plant seeds without growing some beans. I always considered them one of the tastiest treats in the garden--and pole beans taste better than the bush varieties IMO. And then limas and shell beans, like Cranberry or Jacob's Cattle are fun to grow, and good eating.

In the days before the proliferation of farmers' markets, growing your own was the only way to get really good stuff. It's totally different now. So that's my excuse for not having a vegetable garden anymore, plus I don't have enough sun in my yard, plus I have a bad back. Excuses, excuses. But I really used to love vegetable and herb gardening. Now all I do is have a few herbs growing--thyme, lavender, chervil, tarragon, marjoram and oregano, stuff that's not so easy to find at the market.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's a pretty impressive list. I'm doing it for the first time this year (aside from some herbs and failed tomatoes in a planter last year). I've got five types of heirloom tomatoes, red peppers, jalapenos, vietnamese peppers and cucumbers in the ground and basil, parsley, oregano and thyme in planters on the deck.

They're growing at what seems like a slow pace, but I don't really know what to expect. Right now I have them in a sunny little corner of my yard, but next year I have a perfect spot that I had to de-weed of the hundreds of mint plants the previous owners used as ground cover.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

They're growing at what seems like a slow pace, but I don't really know what to expect.

Most of your plants will take off once the weather gets truly hot. These cool nights will slow the growth of most of them (tomatoes, peppers, cukes, and basil).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I hope your sweet and hot peppers are far enough away from each other that they don't cross-pollinate. This is the voice of experience speaking. It can be more than a bit confounding when your bell peppers are as spicy as the jalapeí±os are. They're not nearly as useful.
How far is far enough to avoid the cross-pollinating? And does this mean my bells will just be hot, and my hots be sweet?
Link to comment
Share on other sites

How far is far enough to avoid the cross-pollinating? And does this mean my bells will just be hot, and my hots be sweet?

Depends on which way the pollen flows.

For distance it really depends on what is between them so that the wind does not blow pollen from one plant into another. Of course it is hard to keep the bees under control. :unsure:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

tomatoes -- roma, slicing and cherry/grape types (various kinds)

peppers -- usually some yellow bell or red bell, plus a sweet wax (Hungarian usually) and a couple of hot varieties

various greens, usually some mesculun, arugula and other mixed greens and bitter greens

various squash (butternut and acorn usually)

Pole Beans

Garlic Chives

cucumbers

basil

Sage

Mint (spearmint, peppermint, apple mint)

rosemary

thyme

Taragon

oregano

parsely

figs

raspberries

Blackberries

Pumpkins

FYI

I have mint and garlic chives if anyone wants to divide them or trade. I also have daylillies and ferns

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No, it isn't. :unsure:
I would assume that the plants would not dig the idea of being moved once they have taken root pretty well. No? I do have the room because one section of the garden is empty (whatever seds I put there never took, I think it might have been spring onions)...
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would assume that the plants would not dig the idea of being moved once they have taken root pretty well. No? I do have the room because one section of the garden is empty (whatever seds I put there never took, I think it might have been spring onions)...

How long have they been in the ground? You should be able to transplant them without much harm. Maybe move half of the plants and see if there is any difference in the fruit. :unsure:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would assume that the plants would not dig the idea of being moved once they have taken root pretty well. No? I do have the room because one section of the garden is empty (whatever seds I put there never took, I think it might have been spring onions)...
If the new space is properly prepared and your plants have well-developed root systems you can move them by digging around the plant and moving the entire root ball and gently replant. If all goes well, they may show a bit of wilting owing to transplant shock, but should otherwise recover quite nicely. If you are going to do this, do it NOW, before the real heat hits. Don't forget to water them in well.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the tips. The plants were planted from started plants from Behnke's Nurseries in Beltsville, MD. Started them in brand new prepared *raised* beds, so maybe it should be easy. I'll see if I can swing it. Thanks for the tips

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Swiss chard planted late, last day of April, first harvest today. Delicious! I wonder how much longer before the hot summer scorches it? Will it survive until autumn?

Cayenne, jalapeno, ancho. Put these 3 to a flower pot next to the house, where heat will bounce off the brick wall.

Arugula from seed. How tall should this get before harvest?

Tomatoes: tried a variety named Peron this year among others. Not familiar with it. A very early growing, sturdy variety.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

figs (more bush-like here as it is a variety that is more cold tolerant)

We grow our figs against a brick south-facing wall and they don't die back in the winter. (Don't die down to the roots, the branches remain but are naked.) (Got the idea from Thomas Jefferson's fig trees at Monticello.)

Hardy Chicago and Celeste.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm just back from a rather long vacation and am now transitioning the garden (which was watered by my roommate) from spring to summer.

I have a very sunny back yard - no shade anywhere - which is great in the spring, but is a tad limiting in the summer.

The thyme and flat parsely are going great.

The basil seems unhappy - maybe too much sun?

Various lettuces are about to be harvested. I can tell they are itching to go to seed. The arugula started to flower while I was away, but after cutting it back seems to be hanging in there.

Raspberries (I bought a dormant little plant from Lowe's two years ago) have taken off and I'm getting a couple of cups every third day or so.

Going to harvest my first slicing cucumbers tonight. Did these from seed and I'm thrilled they are doing so well.

Spring beets are ready to harvest. Will do another round in late summer for the fall.

Carrots need a few more days.

Soy beans are blossoming.

I have one yellow bell pepper plant with a lot of blossoms and one pepper about half size.

Tomatoes: for the second year I bought a Better Boy from Home Depot early in the spring and kept very close tabs on it. Even had to wrap it up when we had that cold-snap in late March. It's now filled its cage and has about a dozen small, green fruits. One branch has nearly golf-ball size fruits. Before I left I added two Creoles that are just starting to blossom and a Black Krim which looks ok, but is just starting to really get going. Also added a small Hillbilly (orange with pink) heirloom after the rain last night. Will hopefully have a long tomato-picking season ahead!

Perhaps a little late, but eggplant, okra and sunflower seeds went into the ground over the weekend. Bought some summer squash and cantelope plants. I also have some butternut squash seeds and mini pumpkins that should go in the ground once the lettuce comes up.

Bush beans basically died out while I was gone. I really don't care for them anyway, though the sprouts

were great in salads. Anyone think that if I plant new seeds they will sprout enough to chomp? Or is it too hot? Eating the sprouts is a recent discovery for me.

Although I personally don't care for this hot weather, it definitely is speeding the garden up!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The basil seems unhappy - maybe too much sun?

Doubtful. Basil is notoriously slow to get started if subjected to cool nights - and this has been a very mild spring by mid-atlantic standards. If you set it out a month ago it's sulking, but should recover and go haywire within a week, now that the weather's hot.

Don't pinch it back until it starts growing quickly. You do know about pinching basil...?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...