Garden Blogging: Progress Report

After my sad post a few weeks ago, my friend Miss Wild Thing gave me some great advice. Give your grief to the earth, she said. Make a garden that will honor the memory of your brother. So — I’ve been working on that, and it has been quite therapeutic.

While cleaning out a long-neglected flower bed in the back yard, I found an iron garden stake/wind chime in the shape of a butterfly buried in the debris and decided to build a butterfly garden. I thinned out the existing irises and daylilies and dug up enough chives for every baked potato in Jefferson County (the chives are a remnant of the herb garden I started probably 13 years ago). On the newly cleared back rows and in an area beside the bed I planted lantana, purple coneflowers, and yarrow that will, I hope, grow up the back fence and draw lots of these creatures.

The tomatoes are doing quite well. We had our first bloom on Saturday; I was a bit surprised to find it on the Celebrity rather than the Early Girl. Pictures after the jump.

April 9, a couple of days after planting:

This blurry shot shows a couple of tomatoes and our garden snail.

Here are the jalapeño peppers (yes, that’s the compost pile behind them).

What a difference a couple of weeks can make — here are pics taken on April 24:

Box Car Willie


Cherokee Purple

Early Girl

Jalapeño Peppers (the one on the left got smacked by a hail storm)

I’m trying some other peppers, a hot banana, a cayenne, and a white bell. They’re looking kind of puny, but I hope some sunshine and good dirt will make the difference. We’re also waiting on sweet bell pepper and baby carrot seeds to sprout.

The other peppers, with a yarrow in the background

20 Responses to “Garden Blogging: Progress Report”

  1. This morning’s cold made me regret that I did not plant peas this year. Every time I plant them it turns from spring to July 4 overnight and they always croak. This would have been a good year for them.

    I bought some heirloom tomatoes at the BBG sale. One broke when I planted it but I re-rooted it in some water. That’s the only thing I have besides oregano and some garlic that I planted when it got too nasty to use in cooking.

    I love lantana – it doesn’t require a lot of water, it’s gorgeous and smells good. And the butterflies love it. Hummingbirds like it too.

    Happy plantings!

  2. Dianne says:

    Your garden looks great! It really is quite therapeutic.

  3. Nancy says:

    I am impressed. That is such a good idea, Kathy! I am sure your Ken garden will flourish! Jon’s ‘maters are starting to sprout up — we’ll see how long it takes him to plant them somewhere besides their little starter boxes. :) I am a true soccer mom on the weekends for the next 3 more weekends and I want so badly to get my hands in some dirt!

  4. Don says:

    Kathy, might I suggest an addition to your memorial garden might be a butterfly bush? They come in several varieties and aren’t difficult to maintain. Just Google “butterfly bush” and you’ll see what I mean. Also, Rosemary is a great herb/shrub you might want to add if you ever use it in cooking — or just to admire in the garden. Bruise a bit of it and enjoy the aroma.

    After last summer’s drought when I had to rely on soaker hoses to keep my veggie garden alive, this Spring rains came with such frequency that I couldn’t work the soil until just recently, so I missed planting English Peas in February and finally decided to set out my tomato plants in large pots filled with “Mater Dirt”……yes, Mater Dirt, developed by Auburn University.

  5. Kathy says:

    Thanks, all! Lisa, it sounds like you have the makings of some excellent spaghetti sauce. Don, I’d forgotten about butterfly bushes — that’s a great idea. I do have some rosemary in a pot on the deck, along with a few other herbs. I planted some Penta in porch pots this weekend, and it’s also supposed to attract butterflies. So, if you’re driving through Birmingham and see a big cloud of butterflies clustered over one house, it’s probably mine. :)

  6. Tricia says:

    I’m a bit jealous — although I should be happy as a clam this time next year. I’m in the process of buying a house (yeah, I KNOW!), so I haven’t planted anything at my apartment and I probably won’t get to move in time to start anything for this summer.

    But next spring…I’m gonna have a yard!!! :::rubs hands together in anticipation::: 8-)

  7. Kathy says:

    Yay, Tricia — congratulations!

  8. Tricia says:

    Thanks. I’m simultaneously having a nervous breakdown and doing the Snoopy dance around my office… I hear this is actually normal behavior for “house-buying psychosis syndrome.” :-)

  9. See if you can grow a passionflower for the butterflies. Those suckers take off and bloom for a day in such a rainbow of colors it is a gift every morning to see which ones have bloomed. Look in the Loggee’s catalog for passionflowers and hibiscus to bring the flutterbyes.

  10. KathyF says:

    One of the advantages of living in a home for a long time, I thought of when you mentioned your herb garden “13 years ago”. I’ve never lived anywhere that long! I’d love to start a garden from scratch and know I’d reap the benefits years later.

  11. Del says:

    Misswildthing, I bought a passionvine 2 years ago for the butterflies and they responded so enthusiastically that I think they killed it. Both years they ate every leaf right to the nub before the first bud could even think about forming. I didn’t mind because we had the reward of a yard teeming with fritillaries, and I’d deliberately planted it in an out-of-the way spot…but this spring the poor vine just didn’t come up. The scrap of root seems to still be living, but ain’t nothing happening. I finally broke down and mail-ordered two more, got them in the ground last week (, nice site for natives if you’re interested) and we’ll see. I’m not interested in passionfruit jelly or even in seeing the beautiful flowers, but I would at least like it to live from year to year. :)

  12. Kathy says:

    KathyF, I had to think hard to remember when I planted those herbs, and it’s hard to believe we’re coming up on 14 years in this house. It’s gone so quickly.

    MWT, my one hibiscus didn’t make it through the winter, so it’s time to replace it. Hmmm, passionflowers/vines…

    *goes off to check out catalogs and websites*

  13. Loretta Nall says:

    We bought a tiller this year and have set to work on a serious garden like the ones from my childhood. Right now I have tomatoes of the following variety; Brandywine (my favorite), cherry, BHN 444, Parks Whopper and Beefsteak. We also have corn (white and sweet varieties) pole and bush green beans, lima beans, purple hull peas, eggplant, lettuce, squash, collards, onions, turnip greens, okra, cucumbers, zucchini and peppers in the following varieties, green bell, jalapeño, Anaheim, Giant Marconi, cayenne and red chili. I am sprouting watermelon, cantaloupe and sweet banana peppers in cups. We also have some blackberries and a grape vine.

    So far we have harvested lettuce, one mess of turnip greens (they were divine) and one little jalapeño pepper.

    Me personally….I’m ready for some maters.

  14. Kathy says:

    I’m coming to your house for dinner, Loretta. :)

    What kind of lettuce do you grow? I want to try it, but my mother says all the lettuce they ever planted turned out bitter.

    We now have two blooms on one of our tomatoes. I can’t wait!

  15. Loretta Nall says:

    Hey Kathy,

    You’re welcome at my house for dinner anytime!

    I tried growing Romaine lettuce this year. I doesn’t make a head ….just leaves. The first harvest was sweet and delicious. I try and pick the leaves when they are young. The older they get the more bitter they tend to be.

    I always hated gardening when I was a kid and swore that when I was a grown up I would never of my own accord work in a garden again. I remember shelling so many purple hull peas that my thumbnails were stained and so sore I thought they would fall off.

    Now, however, I cannot wait to shell my first mess of peas and eat them til I get sick.

    We decided to go back to our agrarian roots because of the rising cost of food and because we are sick to death of cardboard flavored and textured tomatoes.

  16. Jennifer says:

    Hey Earth Girl!! Why don’t you come and do something with my garden!!! I have a Black Thumb!

  17. Since I am in a different part of the country, I can’t tell you how much I enjoy get a taste of the south through this blog. My family used to pick a lot of the stuff that used to be grown here so my mom doesn’t like to get her hands dirty. so I just got a chance to landscape her yard. She has always loved tulips and this is the first time since she has lived there, 51 years, that she had tulips in her yard.

    Thank you all for sharing all of your southern charm with me and Kathy, I look forward to seeing the pictures of your tomatoes.

    I didn;t know butterflies were so hungry down there!

  18. Don says:

    For misswildthing:

    Your location is interesting because I have relatives south of you in Bakersfield.

    Your family may or may not have heard of Poke, which is a wild native bush that thrives in the south. It is actually poisonous, but many southerners eat it, which may account for our disagreeable attitude. Some eat what is called Poke Salat (or salad). I recently canned a pint of “Pickled Poke”.

    Would you like to take a bite??

  19. Kathy says:

    misswildthing, that is so cool! I bet your mother loves her tulips. And we’re glad you’ve found us here in the south.

    I hope the tomatoes aren’t too far in the future. Lots of blooms on the plants now. The butterfly bush goes in the ground as soon as it dries a bit after the weekend thunderstorm.

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