Well, I'm getting ready to say goodbye to my SoCal garden.
As I reflect on leaving these plants and this space, some goodbyes are easier than others. The lettuces, for example, were intended for one season only. Grow them, harvest them, get new plants next season. Peace out. On the other hand, my lime tree has been a part of the patio for over 2 years now! It even has a name! We'll miss you, Limey, but you're going to a good home.
This week, aside from sharing my feelings, I wanted to summarize my winter growing experience and share my insights on the journey from complete newbie to intermediate gardener.
What I grew this season:
- Lettuces (2 kinds)
- Snap peas
And the outcomes:
- Parsley - Easy to grow, easy to harvest a little bit at a time. I grew this in a medium-sized pot and it worked great.
- Mint - I know it's not some people's cup of tea, but I seriously love mint! The leaves are delicious and the plant is hardy and easy to grow. My plant is growing in a medium pot and I think it'll be around for a while; not much seems to affect it.
- Lettuce - A great winter crop here in CA because I can pull off a few leaves at a time or, when I'm ready, just hack the whole thing off and make a massive salad. I picked two varieties and they grew well without needing much space. Once they start to grow straight upwards, they're pretty much done.
- Snap peas - This was my second time growing snap peas and I picked a variety labeled 'hardy' because the first time around I didn't have much luck. Well....this time they started out great, I did harvest some pea pods, but I couldn't keep them going. It was as if the plants got too ambitious, grew too big, and then couldn't support themselves and withered. So for me, not a winner.
- Broccolini - I read that broccolini puts roots pretty far down, so I planted them in my biggest pot. The first month, I noticed little bugs on the underside of the leaves, so every couple days, I picked them off. After a while, the bugs didn't come back - victory. The broccolini really thrived! I was quite pleased as I have been snacking on the heads whenever I spot new ones ready to eat. They are delicious!
Beyond these specific outcomes, here are some general notes on my gardening experience I want to share:
1. I found a great resource online about growing plants in the LA area that actually included information about gardening in pots. Reading about which plants need which depths of soil was REALLY helpful. This winter, I planned out which seedlings would go in which pots BEFORE I bought them. Brilliant. I didn't overcrowd and I didn't overbuy.
2. In reading about gardening in pots, I discovered one reason my summer garden may have been sub-par in productivity. I think the soil and the roots got too hot. In dark-colored pots with full sun, the soil absorbed a lot of heat and that probably cause the roots to overheat and rot.
3. In winter, without the intense summer sun and heat, my soil didn't dry out quickly. I kept an eye on the garden for the first month and watered when dry, but as the calendar clicked into November and then December, I didn't need to water. This season, LA got rain. Enough rain that I was able to forgo watering pretty much all together. That made for pretty darn easy gardening.
Gardening on my patio has been quite a learning experience. Some plants did great, some did...badly. But overall, I can't emphasize enough how much my spirits were lifted upon looking out the window every morning and seeing green.
After we land in a new city this summer, I'll get to work identifying what to grow next.
On to new gardening adventures!