My Garden Efforts

My yard doesn’t look like the garden of my dreams, but I have fun trying. We don’t have the time or resources to create a beautiful outdoor space, but most of our yard is wooded and shady, so it’s pretty without trying. But it’s hard to grow new things in. Take a look at this….>

This is what our soil looks like! Hard, packed clay. Yeah. Not that clay doesn’t have any benefits, but the plants I want to grow need something else. And do you know how much it costs to buy good dirt and lots of fertilizer? Or create raised beds? Whoa. But like I said, I have fun trying.

I have embraced pots. I find it much easier to grow things in pots because the little soil we do buy doesn’t get washed away so quickly, and I can also put them in the sunniest place we have — our driveway. This year, I even managed to grow a sunflower. Just one. Though it was tall, it wasn’t big. I was thrilled. And you can see my son’s carnivorous plants are still going strong after all these years.

I do have a small garden area that’s fenced in, but it looks pitiful, so I didn’t take any photos of it. You can kind of see it in this photo behind the no-longer blooming hibiscus. (I think there is something pretty about flowers at each stage of their life.)

I’m attempting to keep a small area in there reserved for herbs. I have rosemary, thyme, parsley, basil, and this year I tried adding dill, which I started in a pot, of course. It’s a biennial, but I hope it will self seed and grow back year after year.

Every year I plant a couple of tomato plants, but this year they didn’t do well. This is unusual. I also planted cucumber, and we got a few of those. My eight-year-old also planted pinto beans just for fun. He used the bean seeds that we harvested last year, which his older brother planted. We don’t get enough to make it worth cooking them, so I think we’ll just replant them every year and see if we can slowly get a bigger harvest. This year we planted them along the fence, and they loved that because it was sunny and gave the vines something to cling to.

the bean harvest

It’s also worth noting that we have a pretty cool lemon tree. Believe it or not, a few years ago my eldest son wanted to try planting seeds from a lemon that we bought at the grocery store. This was when he was still obsessed with planting every seed he came across. We planted a few of the lemons seeds, and they sprouted! One of them grew strong and sturdy, so I kept it. It took a very long time for it to grow into something, but look at it now! ….>

We have to keep it in a pot because it would not survive the winters here. I have to pull it into the garage when we get frost. (I really appreciate my husband for helping with this effort.) I also have to trim it a lot. It wants to get big! I’m not sure how long we’ll be able to keep it happy, but we’ll keep trying. It hasn’t given us a lemon yet, but we’re hoping one day it will!

Did you know that lemon trees have spiky needles on them?! We have to be very careful with it!

My main goal this year was to propagate and grow more flowers, and I was super pleased that I managed to grow these for the first time (one I already told you about.):

Purple coneflower or echinacea. I’ve tried growing these flowers before, and I finally succeeded this year using a pot.

The coneflower and sunflower seeds came from my in-laws garden, and in the photo above, I think this flower came from some seeds I took from a plant at my friend’s house. It’s some kind of hibiscus.

I was also happy that this red hibiscus came back. I don’t remember what kind of hibiscus it is. I bought it at the botanical garden a year or two ago.

There were other flowers in my yard that didn’t come back, or either they had a weaker showing. Sigh. It’s so hard to keep everything going, but as the boys get older and more independent, I think I’ll have more time to devote to my gardening efforts.

We had a great showing of butterflies this year. They loved the purple coneflower, and everyday I could see two or more butterflies on it!

Fritillary
Tiger Swallowtail (male)
Fritillary and a male and female Tiger Swallowtail
Fritillary and Tiger Swallowtail (female)
A new-to-us butterfly! The Giant Swallowtail. We saw this one for only 2 or 3 days.

Snakes are also welcome additions to our garden!

We found this red-bellied snake under our tomato plants. These are tiny snakes with a bright red belly, and we usually find them dead in the road, so it was nice to find a live one in the yard.
Black rat snakes are the most common snake found around here. They are harmless and keep the rodent population down. We didn’t notice this one until he was leaving our yard, but we hope he will come back!

Last but not least, this was the year I attempted to grow milkweed. My plan was to grow a good amount of milkweed, and then we’d order monarch larvae and raise monarchs just like we did with Painted Ladies.

First, I was disappointed that after planting 150 seeds, I got less than 10 plants, but it’s a start!

You can imagine my surprise when I found baby monarch caterpillars on them!

And they grew!

And grew!

And grew!

And it became pretty clear that we probably wouldn’t have enough milkweed for them. Plus, we had Tropical Storm Irma swing through here. But I’ll tell you what we did in future post that’s all about the caterpillars and butterflies.

As you can probably tell, I’m happy with my gardening efforts this year. Any effort to garden is good for children too. The boys don’t want to help me quite as much as they used to, but they’re still interested in the plants, will help with the planting, and the eight-year-old likes to water. My eleven-year-old is pretty good about taking care of his carnivorous plants too. (At least when I remind him.) I never make gardening a requirement for them because I want them to have fond memories of our garden. Hopefully they’ll have gardens of their own someday.

Did your gardening efforts pay off this year?

7 thoughts on “My Garden Efforts

  1. Your garden is awesome! I love the sunflower and lemon tree. You have a right to be proud! We don’t have much of a garden. We have a jungle of weeds and overgrown shrubs that we plan to dig out and start anew. I did have a fairy garden this year. That was fun to plant some flowers and place the figurines and houses. I’ll have to clean the fairies up before they get covered in snow. But we are planning to plant lots of tulip bulbs in the next week or so.

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    1. Most of our yard needs to be dug out and started anew, too, Camie! But I do what I can. You reminded me that I planted a bunch of bulbs last spring that my dad gave me. I hope they will come up in the spring. I’ve found many of them dug out by the little critters we have living in our yard, though! Your fairy garden sounds like a little treasure! Have a Happy Autumn!

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