Midsummer Porch

The herb/tomato/eggplant/potato/pepper/lettuce/chard corner of my back porch

The plants on my Southwest-facing back porch are doing well for the most part. We had plenty of rain lately and last week we had a couple of really hot days so those tiny chard and kale seedlings are finally catching up. I am very impressed with the potatoes and the lettuce.

Potatoes
Leaf lettuce
Baby kale planted after head lettuce harvest
Eggplant
Swiss Chard
Astilbe (on our Northeast-facing front porch)

Spring Planting

Garden plot May 24
left side (from front): peas, spinach, onion, tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, butternut squash, pepper, flowers
right side: radishes, Swiss Chard, head lettuce, cauliflower, beets, leeks, garlic, potatoes, onions, asparagus, rhubarb, flowers

Here are my actual spring planting dates for this season.

Indoors:

  • March 16: started eggplant (Fairy Tale) and hot Thai pepper from seed indoors
  • March 23: started eggplant (Ping Tung), tomatoes (Break O’Day, Paul Robeson, Dr. Wychee Yellow, Green Zebra, Baker Family Heirloom), curly kale (seeds from 2017) and head lettuce (Kagran Summer) from seed
  • March 30: basil (sweet Italian) – six compartments in egg carton from seed
  • April 8: shipment of seed potatoes arrived. I put them out to sprout.
  • April 20: repotted tomatoes and some of the lettuce
  • April 21: I lost most of my seedlings tonight. I still have some tomatoes (one each Break O’Day, Dr. Wychee, Green Zebra) and the basil. I re-sowed one pot each of pickling cucumber, and slicer cucumber as well as one Paul Robeson tomato. No home-grown eggplant or peppers this year. It is too late to reseed. I also still have some head lettuce and kale.
“Hot Thai” pepper and “Fairy Tale” eggplant seedlings, 2 weeks old (March 30)

Outdoors

  • March 19: started mâche in a big flat on our back porch
  • March 31: sowed two rows of sugar snap peas, one row of spinach in between in plot; also two rows of carrots (Bolero) and one row of radishes in between (French breakfast)
  • April 6: the mâche did not germinate. I sowed arugula and spring greens in the same big flat
  • April 28: resowed carrots (rainbow) and sowed lettuce (Kagran Summer and Bronze Beauty) and some more peas in plot
  • April 28: sowed Swiss chard and leaf lettuce “Great Salad Bowl” in two separate pots on the back porch
  • May 7: trip to Allendale Farm. I purchased herbs for the plot and the back porch (basil, parsley, sage, thyme), cauliflower, head lettuce, lavender, dahlias and Osteospermum plus fertilizer and other supplies. I potted up the flowers, sage, thyme, 2 lettuce plants, 1 parsley and two basil cells for the back porch. The rest will go in the plot in the next couple of days.
  • May 11: planted fingerling potatoes and sowed more carrots, Swiss chard and peas as well as sunflowers, zinnias and cosmos in plot. Also planted dahlia tubers (only 3, they were supposed to be two each, but one bag only had one bit tuber in it). Transplanted the 6 cauliflower plants, 4 lettuce plants and the parsley I bought a few days ago.
  • May 18: planted eggplant (Fairy Tale), one tomato (Paul Robeson) and hot pepper (Jedi Jalapeno) in pots on the back porch
  • May 23: planted potatoes in grow bags on the back porch
  • May 24: transplanted seedlings into the plot: 6 tomatoes, 1 pepper, 2 cucumbers (1 pickling, 1 slicer), 1 butternut squash and a six-pack each of golden beets and leeks
  • June 15: transplanted two cucumber plants (Marketmore, a slicer and Little Lemon, a pickling cucumber) into the plot
Tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, basil seedlings on April 20

Porch Update

The plants on my back porch are doing well. I am growing tomatoes (Paul Robeson), eggplant (Fairy Tale), hot pepper (Jedi Jalapeño), cut lettuce, butter lettuce, potatoes, Swiss Chard and herbs (mint, sage, thyme, rosemary, basil and parsley). Also on the porch are our grapefruit “tree”, our palm – both are indoor plants during the colder months – and several potted perennials: lavender, Osteospermum and Dianthus.

herbs
butter lettuce
tomato
mint
thyme
sage

Peas

Sugar snap peas

I used the perfect planting weather today (63F and sunny in the morning and showers in the forecast for the afternoon) to plant peas. I planted two rows (Sugar Snaps) and sowed spinach in between (Giant Noble). I also planted two rows of carrots (Bolero, pelleted) and spring radishes in between (French Breakfast). These are the first crops I sowed in the plot this spring! This evening, we will have our annual gardeners meeting. Spring is officially here.

This year’s pea bed.

Salad

I spent some time in the garden today weeding and planting. The cucumbers I had direct-sowed a few weeks ago have not made an appearance (it worked last year) so I planted some seedlings in their spot, a cucumber “Gateway” and an eggplant “Calliope”. I also planted a hot Thai pepper next to the pole beans, which are starting to poke through the soil. I got those three plants from Whole Foods, a new (last minute) source of seedlings for me. Three of the four overwintered dahlias came in nicely. I also sowed more cosmos (with the dahlias) and kale (next to the Swiss Chard) and walked over to Agricultural Hall and got some hay from Bill. I plan to add a heavy layer of hay to suppress the weeds in my plot – yellow nutsedge and bindweed seem to be out of control.

Our community garden is right along the Southwest Corridor Park and tomorrow morning, hundreds of bike riders will be starting (and finishing) their annual Bike-A-Thon rides right across from our garden. Our family has been supporting Bikes Not Bombs for years, both by fundraising and riding the Bike-A-Thon and by volunteering. My husband and 12 year-old son volunteered last night. They prepped food for the riders and got to take some of it home. So tonight for dinner, we will have Bike-A-Thon pasta and a side salad with lettuce (Butterhead “Kagraner Sommer” from Renee’s Garden) and breakfast radishes from the garden.

Seedlings

I have been volunteering at the greenhouse at City Natives on Tuesday mornings. I had done that years ago and started again this spring. What a magical place to be, especially during our cold and wet spring here in Boston. Those tomato seedlings in the picture above smell so lovely – the smell of summer! I love helping to take care of the seedlings in the greenhouse and hoop house and the vegetable beds outside. Especially, since I did not start seedlings myself this year and my garden is just waking up after a very long winter. So good to get gardening again!

City Natives is an educational urban farm, run by The Trustees of Reservations. The farm runs classes on-site and throughout the city, teaching urban gardeners anything from garden planning over pest control to foraging and bee-keeping. Most of the seedlings will be sold at two plant sales, at City Natives on May 12 and on May 19 in the South End.