Christine is the first in a series of summer garden tours here on Sprout Dispatch! Please comment, share, and enjoy!
+Where do you garden and what is your climate like?
I moved to southwestern Pennsylvania about a year ago. Coming from South Florida, the weather here has been a big change! It does get very hot here, but the intensity of the sun and the humidity is nothing like Florida. The evenings cool off, usually getting into the 60’s in the summer. The winter…well, lots and lots of snow!
+When did you first start gardening? How long have you been gardening at your current residence?
I’ve always liked growing things. Growing up, my grandma had a large vegetable garden and I remember picking fresh pole beans and tomatoes. The first vegetable I remember growing on my on is radishes. I never liked to eat them, but they were a perfect thing for a little kid to start from seed as they grew fast and I could easily tell when they were ready to be picked. This Spring marks my first real venture into gardening up here.
+Which plants have been your favorite to grow? Most difficult? Any major plant losses that have bummed you out?
I have an abhorrence for annual plants. I like having things in the yard that will last a long time, if not forever. I love hydrangeas and have planted a couple in the yard. Sadly, the deer like them even more than I do! I love plants that give something back – either flowers or fruit. I planted 2 apple trees and a peach tree. The deer have thanked me for them. Grrrr….I love the deer, but wish they would stop eating my plants! I try to spray Liquid Fence each night, but a lot of times I forget. I highly recommend it, though. It seems to work well…as long as you remember to use it. So, as far as the most difficult things to grow, I’d say so far, it’s been anything that doesn’t have “hairy” leaves or that the deer have no taste for.
+What plants would you like to have in your garden if you could?
I miss the beautiful variety of tropical plants that I had at my old house in Miami. I see crotons, areca palms and bromeliads for sale here, but have been told that they are “annuals”. LOL… I had crotons in my yard that were over 30 years old! But, alas, things are different up here. If I had a huge greenhouse, I would definitely try to have some palms here. And orchids. Lignum Vitae and a rainbow eucalyptus would be nice, too. I tried to keep my Voodoo Lilies alive here by keeping them indoors over the winter, but I think they are goners. Mangoes, avocados, guavas…I could go on and on about what I miss and wish I could have here.
+Anything new and exciting growing this season?
My husband, being a landscape architect, has planted a large variety of pines and firs in the yard. I’m still trying to remember all of their names. My favorite though, is a huge Bald Cypress simply because it reminds me of “home”. There are shasta daisies, tall phlox and wild sweetpeas that grow along our driveway…very pretty! And we have a couple big verbena bushes that smell so intoxicating for a couple weeks in the spring.
+Have you grown any edibles and if so what has been your favorite?
So what’s doing well in my yard right now? Vegetables. I started everything from seed: Roma green beans, Crookneck Early Golden squash, Summer squash, Golden Russian watermelon, broccoli, different varieties of lettuce, onions, carrots and lots of tomatoes – Tomatilla Verdes, Cherokee Purples, Paul Robesons and Ingegnoli Gigantes. We had an extended winter which made it harder to start all my seeds, but everything is popping now. In fact, I just checked and have a few beans ready to be picked already, as well as the lettuce which we go out and pick before dinner every night.
Trying to understand gardening up north has been challenging for this southern girl, but I’m having fun and enjoying every day of it!
Thanks Christine! You can find more about her garden and other writings at her blog. Also, don’t forget to stop by throughout the coming weeks to see the rest of the Summer Garden Tour.