Backyard Garden Update

It’s been a minute since I’ve shared an update on how our tiny backyard garden is doing…between chasing bulldogs and holding babies, life has been pretty hectic! My one consolation throughout all of the chaos has been walking outback and seeing all of the life and growth happening in our own backyard, so I wanted to take a chance to share how things are growing, and well as some lessons I’ve learned.

In-Ground Bed

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Our In-Ground bed, using native AZ soil with added nutrients.

I am SO PROUD of how our native soil bed is doing. There’s something about growing plants using the soil God gave us that just makes me so happy. Granted, we did a lot of digging, sifting, and amending to get to this point, but as you can see, it was well worth it!

The only regret I have is not making this bed wider. I had no idea that the sunflowers would take up SO MUCH ROOM, which meant I had to really crowd the raised bed, and let go of some of the other plans that I had for this space until next growing season. It will all be worth it once we get to harvest those seeds though! Here’s a brief recap of everything we have growing in this space:

Peas

Originally, I figured that supporting my pea plants on an upside-down tomato cage would give them more than enough height and space to grow on. Well, I was wrong. These babies have exceeded my expectations and are now about four and a half feet tall. I’m kind of at a loss with how to support them, so I’ve been encouraging the little tendrils to attach to other branches, hoping that they’ll all support each other.

We now have about 15-20 blossoms on our pea plant, which have a faint, sweet smell. I now know that “sweet pea” is a legitimate scent from nature, and not just a fragrance sold in stores. It’s amazing what you learn!

I’m eagerly watching my little peas grow, and I cannot wait to try one!

Sunflowers

Excuse me, while I spam you with some pictures of these beauties.

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I promised myself that this would be the year that we grew sunflowers successfully. Daniel has always loved sunflowers, and I’ve tried (and failed) to grow them for him at least three times. But this year’s crop made it all worth it! Rushing out every morning to inspect their progress and watch their petals unfold was better than Christmas morning. The bees also LOVED the pollen. Our record so far for number of bees per flower is five, and they all had a pretty large pollen load on their legs, so I’m so glad we were able to help a few bees in addition to enjoying these beautiful blooms.

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It was NOT all smooth sailing to get these sunflowers established, however. We had a few torrential downpours of rain, accompanied by some heavy wind, which I was convinced would be the death of them. I did end up staking them with some 4 ft. dowel rods, which kind of felt like cheating, but I think I just didn’t plant them deep enough for them to grow tall without support. You live and you learn!

All in all, we are looking forward to a successful seed harvest in a few weeks, and many years of planting sunflowers in the future!

*Firecracker Sunflower*

Only one of my firecracker sunflowers ended up surviving. I think they were partially choked out by the Mammoth Grey’s, and the other three that I moved to the side didn’t survive the transplant shock, but the one plant that did survive is THRIVING! It’s definitely more of a short, squat variety of sunflower, but a little diversity is a good thing, I think. I was surprised to find out that the Firecracker variety actually produces multiple blooms, which gave us even more to look forward to. So far, we haven’t had a bloom head open up yet, but all in good time.

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Firecracker bloom heads

Raised Bed

I didn’t really have a specific plan for what I wanted to grow in this raised bed, and I still don’t. It’s kind of become the dumping ground for things I really want to grow, but don’t have space for anywhere else. Still, we are seeing some great things happening, and I love the aesthetic of this little space!

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Yes, that is our Christmas tree just chilling in the compost heap. Whoops!

Nasturtium

This was far and away my favorite plant from last year, so I am so happy that these babies are doing so well! I thought that I had purchased a variegated (spotted) variety, but so far I’ve only got one plant with spots on it. Maybe it’ll kick in later? Either way, they’re growing tall on the trellis and I can’t wait to see them bloom!

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Tomatoes

Remember that little volunteer tomato plant that popped up out of nowhere? He’s growing like a champ! I’m following trying a new way of pruning tomato plants that supposedly will keep him healthier and more contained, so we’ll see! The other tomato seedlings are doing well, but to be honest, I don’t know if I’ll have room for them all to grow happily side by side. We may have to do some moving around!

 

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Our volunteer tomato!

Eggplant

Confession time…I’ve never actually tasted eggplant before, and I know absolutely nothing about growing eggplant (Advice would be appreciated!!), so I’m not sure exactly what to say about these guys. Most of them have stayed about the same size as when I planted them, so maybe they’re too crowded? We’ll have to wait and see!

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Eggplant babies!

LESSONS LEARNED

Although I’m anxious for this harvest, I keep finding myself looking forward to our next planting season. “Imagine all of the summer crops we can grow! How can we get more production out of our tiny space? I wish we could grow [insert plant name] right now!” I have to continually remind myself that not too long ago, I was eager to have the full, beautiful garden that I have right now. This needs to be enough for me during this season, and I need to take time to enjoy our garden for what it is, instead of wishing it could do more for us. The time will come for great, exciting change, but right now, it’s time to love things exactly how they are.

How is your garden growing? I would love to hear all about it!

2 thoughts on “Backyard Garden Update

    1. I’m glad to know it’s worth the grow!! I’ve always meant to try it, but I figure if I get a successful harvest, I’ll try it every way I can. I’ll definitely save this recipe! Thank you!!

      Like

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