My four tomato plants, four basil plants and two cucumber plants are (relatively) safely stowed in their permanent homes.
The new self-watering containers freed up more space for planting in my original containers – four wine barrels. The past winter I had lots of success with root veggies, particularly carrots and radishes. Yes, they did grow a little slower than I would have liked, but that was mostly due to by uneven watering. (Can you see now why I want to plant in self-watering containers?)
For this summer I wanted to keep what worked and try something new. I planted two barrels with carrots and one with radishes. The final barrel I filled with beets. I was eager to plant beets because the greens are edible. It’s like planting lettuce, but having something extra to harvest.
I’ve learned a lot about container soil composition as I’ve worked on my garden. Instead of adding more soil to containers, I added a combination of peat moss and perlite. The peat moss will retain water while the perlite will help the soil from compacting too much. I added about 1 cubic foot of moss and more than a half-foot of perlite to each container. That should keep the soil less dense, which will help my plants grow faster.
I was especially eager to plant my new beet seeds. These seeds are actually small dried fruits, with a few seeds in each fruit. That’s why it is important to trim and not pull up the unwanted seedlings when thinning the beets – you might also pull up the seedlings you want to keep.
I misted my recently planted seeds, then turned to my first casualty of the young vegetable season – a dead basil plant. There were originally four plants in the container, but the recent rain completely crushed one of them. One plant did fine; another got by OK. The third plant is barely hanging on. I headed back to the nursery to get some more basil plants.
I originally planted four Italian basil plants. I know that’s a ton of basil, but I wanted to have enough to make pesto. With the opportunity for a substitution I decided to make a change, and buy a mint basil plant instead (top photo). I’ve never cooked with mint basil before, but it tastes 25 percent like mint and 75 percent like basil. I figured it would be the perfect complement to a variety of summer salads, whether fruit or savory.
I bought one more Italian basil plant. I have that waiting on the bench, in case one of the weaker basil plants eventually kicks it.
The weather is supposed to be beautiful this week in Southern California – 75 degrees and sunny. I was happy to finish my planting so all my plants can take advantage of the sunshine.