One Bed Down and 99 To Go

The garden is slowly winding down and I’m getting into clean-up mode.  This has been a so-so year in terms of productivity, both in terms of the gardens yield and how much I got done.   I’ve tried a few strategies in the past in the hopes of getting ahead of the game and none have been as successful as I would have liked.  One of my goals this winter is to spend some time thinking about the basics of what I want to accomplish and how to go about doing that.  More importantly, I need to be (more) realistic when it comes to time restraints, which I realize has been my major downfall up until now.

But I’ll get into all that once I figure out my plan.  For now, I’ll share some pics that I took this morning.  I’m harvesting a bit of surprise kale recently:

Red Russian and Red Ursa Kale

The brassica bed became infested with what looked like white fly (but much larger) this summer & I decided to cut everything back and remove the netting – as far as I was concerned the bed was done for the season.  A week or so ago, however, I noticed the kale had grown back and looked pretty darn awesome, even without the netting.  So what’s to be learned?  Don’t pull out your brassicas if things go wrong - simply cut them back to the ground.  You may just end up with a bonus harvest or two.

The tomatoes are still going, which is another surprise.

Juliet with Gold Rush Currant in the background

At this point, only the smaller cherry tomatoes are hanging on (Mexico Midget, Gold Rush Currant, Juliet and Chocolate Cherry).  And just to illustrate the magic of photo cropping, this is what the tomato bed actually looks like at the moment:


Yup, the tomatoes are on their way out and fast.  We had a very wet start to the season which practically guaranteed that blight would show up in the beds sooner rather than later.  At this point, the plants are just barely outrunning the blight.  I’ll slowly start pulling the plants out this week, starting with the worst affected and just go from there.  With any luck, though, I may end up harvesting until the first frost.

I grew some beautiful apricot nasturtiums in one of the raised beds and they are still going strong…I’m in love!  As they are open-pollinated, I’ll be saving some seed from these.

Nasturtiums 'Tip Top Apricot'

The Orange Flame marigolds also did very well, considering the rough start many of the transplants had this year (that’s a whole other story best left for a future post).  I’ll definitely be growing these again.

Orange Flame marigolds with
Ageratum 'Blue Planet' photo bombing in the back

As I’ve written about MANY times before, this year I planted up a portion of the west border with trees, shrubs and perennials.  But as with any new planting, it takes a year or two for perennials and shrubs to start bulking up.  Also, since I only planted up a portion of the border, there were still some areas that needed to be filled.  So what to do with the unplanted space and the gaps?  Plant annuals of course!

I grew practically all of my annuals from seed this year (including the marigolds and Ageratum in the photo above) and simply plopped them into the ground in bare sections of the border.  I was mindful of how tall they would grow (according to the packets) but otherwise, they were planted willy-nilly.

Cosmos and Zinnias behind a sea of Ageratum

Some of these annuals were experimental as I had never grown them from seed before and wasn’t sure how they would look or behave.  I’m taking notes so that I can be a bit more effective, aesthetically, in the future, but hey – so long as the pollinators & I enjoy the garden (and that’s a big YES on both those counts) – I’m happy.

One annual that I had grown before was lemon bee balm.  While I knew how tall it would get, I still planted it in the completely wrong spot and the spacing was too wide as well.  But the bees….my oh my, they are in heaven.

The bee balm was a bit too tall for this area, with includes the much shorter asters,
blue grass and catmint, but at least the bees are happy....

At the base of the bee balm you can see the Woods Pink Aster, one of the perennials I planted this spring.

Wood's Pink Aster
(transplanted in early summer)

The flowers are a lot smaller than I was expecting, but it’s just starting to bloom, so we’ll see how it goes.  I’m enjoying it nonetheless.

I also grew this amazing Gaillardia from seed:

Gaillardia (aka Blanket Flower) grown from seed this spring

SO wonderful!  Last year I also grew some but placed them in an unprotected area of the backyard and the rabbits ate them to the ground.  Now that I see how lovely it is and how well it does, I think I need more of them…

One area that I planted up this year and am absolutely LOVING is right beside our front steps.

While the yellowing bleeding heart leaves are not particularly photogenic,
I prefer to leave them to die back a bit more (to feed those roots) before cutting them back.

This spot features shade tolerant plants as it faces north & only receives an hour or so of sunlight each day.

It’s a bit hard to see in the photo, but there is a jewel that has just started to bloom beside the white Echinacea – an amazing Toad Lily.

Tricyrtis 'Empress'

Everyone that sees this guy is smitten - and no wonder!

So far, I'm super happy with how things are filling in, although the Pulmonaria has gotten a bit larger than I anticipated and is actually covering a small hosta that will have to be moved, but I'll leave that to next spring.  The goal is to have something blooming all season long & I'm looking forward to seeing if I've achieved that in this spot next year.

That's one bed down and 99 to go (figuratively speaking, of course!) 😊


  1. You did really well growing annuals from seed! I can only wish that I had as much success with Monarda. Your tomatoes remind me of my dahlias - the plants are still producing flowers but the foliage gets uglier with every passing day. I was hoping to limp through another month with them but I may not be able to stand looking at that foliage that long.

    1. I know what you mean - I wait as long as I can to cut things back as I think I'll get "just a few more tomatoes" from them, but it really is such a great feeling when all of the scraggly plants are pulled out and I'm back to a nice, clean bed...full of promise for next year.

  2. I love the garden at this time of year as we don't really expect much so anything that's still doing well is a bonus. Your ornamentals are looking fabulous, I used to grow so many from seed but just don't seem to have the time these days so I end up buying them, not remotely as satisfying. I love the area by your steps, so pretty.

    1. Thanks Jo! I love this time of year too, especially when it's been a tough season as you get to clean things up and start dreaming about what you will do differently next year. Growing from seed is quite a bit more work but, as you say, immensely satisfying.

  3. You are super at growing from seed. I guess I don't have much patience (or room) and want flowers right away! I am not good at being realistic either! Your gardens looks wonderful. Nancy

    1. Thanks Nancy :) Growing from seeds is sort of addictive, especially when you're browsing the hundreds of choices in seed catalogues!

  4. I like yo grow annuals as fillers and for pollinators too. Blight struck our tomatoes so we stripped off the fruit which I hope will continue to ripen. I can see why the small bed by he step is a favourite as well as flowers the leaves are really attractive.

    1. I'm an equal opportunity plant lover - it's not just all about perennials around here! And yes - foliage is often underrated. The Pulmonaria right next to the steps has lovely bluish pink flowers in the spring, but it's foliage is the real star and that shines all season long.

  5. That planting area near the porch is delightful! I'm also impressed that you grew most of your annuals from seed. I grew quite a few from seed, and you're right--there is a special sense of accomplishment in doing so. :)

    1. Thanks Beth :) Growing from seed is also so much more cost effective and the choice of varieties is practically limitless!

  6. Always nice to get a surprise bonus - though I'd have preferred a surprise in the form of cake or pie rather than kale. Love how you filled in the border with annuals.

    1. Thank you Jason :) If cakes grew in the garden, I wouldn't have a shortage of garden helpers, that's for sure!

  7. Your annuals were super successful and I love your fall garden. It's amazing how we start thinking about the next gardening season before the current one is over. I'm planning for next year too. P. x

    1. Thank you Pam! As things wind down, it's always fun to think about what we will change/do differently (or try to repeat!) next year. P.S. I really enjoyed meeting up in Utah - hopefully there will be other opportunities like that in the future :)

  8. Sometimes it does feel like one bed down and 99 to go !

    I love the area by your steps, it looks great.
    Happy October to you :)

    All the best Jan

    1. Thank you Jan :) Yes, that is definitely how I feel...hopefully that number goes down next year! Have a very happy October as well :)

  9. I grow lemon bee balm every year after seeing it on your blog! Woohoo! It's such a great plant. You've grown your own grocery store. Impressive!

    1. Oh, Tammy - that makes me SO happy! It really is a great plant in both the eye candy and bee department...I wouldn't be without it :)


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