In my dreams I am a master gardener. I float among my flowing green plants clipping gorgeous flowers and vegetables, unbothered as lazy bees drift past in the sunshine.
The reality looks completely different. Not only do I have no clue what I’m doing, I am sweating like crazy, cursing at myself for dried up plants and freaking out at every little passing bug. Is it a snake? It’s definitely a snake! No it’s a ladybug. Wait maybe it’s a black widow. Damn I better just go inside and pour a glass of wine.
But I really want to get the hang of this whole thing so I decided to start smaller this year and have had more success than ever before. Also, we have herds of deer that eat the heck outta everything so starting smaller in containers on the pool deck meant that I could protect them from getting chomped at before I could blink.
To start small, I planted a tomato plant in one container and basil in the other. Jake fell in love with the marigolds so those went into the basil’s pot as well. I figured they were so cheap (99 cents!) that they would die but they survived all summer and looked charming nestled in with the basil. Way to go kid!
The tomato plant grew faster than I was expecting. I ended up staking it with two stakes, but then it really has grown a little oddly. It’s still producing great tomatoes, but just harder to keep upright with the weight of those red, juicy guys. And the basil, wow! It has done wonderfully all summer long and continues to thrive. I plan on making a big batch of pesto soon and freezing some for winter blahs. So, just how did I have success this year? Well, here are my very simple summer gardening tips on how to ease into gardening and get that green thumb (albeit very light shade of green thumb) of your dreams!
1. Start small. Last year I tried to plant too many things. I knew nothing and ended up losing most everything. This year two containers were manageable and I learned a ton about each plant. This means next year I will do these two again even better and add a third item that’s new to the mix. It’s all my brain can manage at once, really.
2. Full sun and water. My fenced area gets heat and sun full blast. No shade here! So I made sure to pick plants that can handle and thrive in that. And then I watered them almost daily. I know, I’m shocked too! Water and sun. Who knew?!
3. Organic plant food. I added some organic plant food about once a month to the soil. This really seemed to help both get that added boost to produce great food!
4. Staking. This is important and I managed, but next year my tomatoes will get the full monty cage around them. I didn’t realize just how many would ripen at once and get heavy.
That’s what I’ve learned this year. Do you have any additional tips for me? What should we add that fits in a container next summer?!