Asphalt Garden: Finishing my Spring Planting and Replacing the First Casualty

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.

First I had to clean out my containers and tend to the soil. The bottom of the barrel that held the kale was completely┬ácovered in thin roots – it was like a carpet down there.

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.

  • Jen

    Love these gardening reports.

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