This is the first time (since I lived with my parents) that I’ve lived anywhere with outdoor space, for more than a year. It’s super exciting for me because now I know the year-round conditions fairly well and I can actually think about what grew well, what didn’t and which plants I got the most value from. Also, without the imminent threat of moving on, I can plant new things without having to worry too much about having to transport them or let them die off for more easy moving.
That’s not to say I’m planting anything directly in the ground. We know we can only live here for another year so I’m not ready to invest time and money into installing beds. However, there are a lot of options for pot-growing and I’m excited to be able to start exploring a few more of them!
If you’re curious about what I grew last year and how well everything did, check out the gardening tag.
First up, a quick update on the plants I already had. I’ve moved the chives to a shorter pot after reading that they can deal with shallow soil. So far they seem to be doing ok, although they have gone purple at the base. The strawberries are both doing well. The one that wasn’t doing so well in January lost all its leaves and I very nearly chucked it out but I did catch a glimmer of green shoots and decided to repot it and give it a 2nd chance. That’s it in the picture above. I also aggressively cut back the parsley and it seems much happier now as well.
The lemon and greek basils I started from seed back in January have been outside for a couple of months now. They’re growing a little slowly but they both look healthy so far. In the background you can see my sage which is finally starting to thrive. I read that sage needs to be watered little and often and kept moist at all times, whereas my usual technique is to let the soil dry out in between long soaks (it works for most of my plants). In the foreground that’s one of my mint plants. It’s still alive but something found them both very tasty and there aren’t many leaves left. It’s mint, I’m sure it’ll recover!
My oregano has spent the last year and a half doing a good impression of ground cover. I was pretty confused given I’d grown several from the same seed packet in the past and never had that problem. Still, it was alive and healthy so I ignored it. A few weeks ago it finally started to show some vertical growth so I decided to give it its best chance and find it a bigger pot. Since then it’s gone crazy so I’m hoping it’ll grow into a bushy shape now and stop pretending to be a trailing variety!
It’s always nice to see new shoots, buds, flowers, and slowly forming lemons on my tree. I’m not sure you’re supposed to get them all together, especially not with the mature leaves and nearly-ripe lemon you can see in the background, but that’s San Francisco for you! I’m happy to say this tree is looking a lot less eaten so far this year but I guess it’s early days yet. I did discover a few small snails on the leaves which I gently re-homed.
I’m not having much luck with lavender. This is supposed to be the ideal climate for it so I’m hoping 3rd time lucky! The one that got drowned in the December rain unfortunately recovered only briefly before we got more rain and it finally died. I planted a few more seeds but only one sprouted. Still, one is enough if I can keep it alive. A couple of weeks ago I gave it its own pot and I’m keeping it indoors until it outgrows it!
Now onto the new stuff! I mentioned my plan to try a cherry variety of tomato and I planted some seeds in early February indoors. I figured since there is no risk of frost here, I’d get the plants started as soon as possible so I could start harvesting early. They grew like crazy so I was able to put the strongest outside a few weeks ago. Its growth has definitely slowed since I moved it outside but it’s still looking healthy and growing well. I’m a little concerned about that purple tint to the veins so I’m going to fertilize it and hope that helps.
After discovering that you can grow spring onions from cooking leftovers, I decided to try. These 2 had been languishing in my fridge for about a week so I soaked them in water for a few days before transplanting them outside, where they seem to be doing well. You can also grow them just in a glass of water and keep chopping off what you need to cook with. In the background you can see my solution for cat-proofing my seedlings, which also doubles as a handy basket for taking things in and out of the garden.
A few weeks ago I suddenly got it into my head to make a simple cake and decorate it with real flowers. To that end I decided to add some edible flowers to my otherwise quite serious garden. I started some viola seeds straight outside and I’m planning to pick up some camomile when I find some. I did want to make the cake for Easter but, as you can see, the violas weren’t quite on schedule so I ended up using blossoms from my lemon tree, which have a delicious lemony taste all of their own.
My most exciting new plant is this blackcurrant bush! Unfortunately the seeds I had stratified didn’t sprout and I didn’t fancy waiting 3 months to stratify a new set only to find they didn’t sprout either. Nowhere round here sells blackcurrants because they’re not very popular and California is too hot for them really so I resigned myself to never eating them again. Then I suddenly had an impulse to check if you could mail order one and, sure enough, you can! They supposedly ship in their dormant state but the picture on the left is as it looked when it arrived. This poor little tree was in the mail for a week but, if anything, that just made it more eager to grow. The picture on the right was taken just 5 days later. I really hope I can keep it alive, I’m relying on the fog to help me. It won’t produce any fruit for at least 2 years but hopefully the wait will be worth it. I’m looking forward to making blackcurrant jam and blackcurrant crumble like my mum used to make when I was a kid.