I no longer purchase any annuals for our garden. I remember the days, I would go to the store and purchase trays of annuals to put in my garden. I grow all mine from seed since I learned how simple it is to grow your annuals at home. I can’t imagine doing it any other way, but for those of you with small children at home or busy schedules, it may not be possible to grow everything. In the early years of our garden back in 2000, I did not have time with a house filled with activity to do all that I am doing now. I spent more time in my car than I did in my garden!
I don’t have a greenhouse since there is not enough room on my lot for one to permanently stay year round. I do have, a wonderful south-facing office that is perfect to transition my potager annuals to the garden. I practice “succession planting” that is part of the Biointensive growing method (read more). I have been thinking about what is it that I do; I don’t follow one system. I take from them all what I need to achieve my goals, in my space. I enjoy reading about Biointensive French Methods, Permaculture/ Food Forests systems, Native plants, edible landscapes, year-round food growing on city lots, etc. I read it ALL + I take what is useful for my space.
There are few books about growing in a 4 season climate, with winters as cold as ours in the Midwest. I don’t have a huge lot so what space, I do have has to be well thought out and planned. I don’t have space to waste. I grow a lot in containers, vertically and each season is an adventure. I am always exploring new plants to grow, and the list is endless and takes a bit of time to sort through.
I am adding a lot more perennial vegetables again this year. When I trial a new perennial vegetable they have to fit my Urban Potager criteria, for example, taste good, look good + not have the potential to escape and be invasive.
This past season, I found Leaf Celery(cultivar) Parcel was the perfect plant to grow in our zone 5 climate. I wrote about it in a previous post this past fall (read my post here on Leaf celery). It is difficult to grow celery in our climate, and I am tired of paying $6.00 for a bunch of “organic” celery in the local store. Last spring(2014) I started my Parcel from seed and placed it in the garden in April. We enjoyed this celery from April till early December. It kept green until our temps dipped below freezing.
It has survived, under cover in below zero weather + wind in the -30’s. I found the cover has to be one without holes. If it has holes the plant will die.
I see pale green growth which means it is surviving under my plastic containers. The parcel will now stay in this bed permanently which is right next to my purple passion asparagus that went in last spring. On Monday, I left the lid off a bit to get some light on the Parcel since it was sunny + 29 degrees. I covered it later in the afternoon. I feel it is behaving as a perennial plant with protection. I will dedicate this area under my Stella Cherry for Leaf Celery + asparagus. We shall see what it does in 2015.It ALL is an adventure
I talk a lot about growing natives and biodiversity, but I have to share that I enjoy my FUN plants. I am not a purist and include two plants every year; I have been saving seed from for my enjoyment. The first one is Antirrhinum majus ‘Black Prince.‘ (read my post here about Black Prince)
I have been trying to establish permanent beds over the years, but working this out has meant sometimes having to replant some of my heirloom flowers, I started from seed. I love this blood-red heirloom snapdragon. I had this growing near my blueberries one year.
It is such a lovely plant, and it is hard to find a “single” Purple annual aster. Once you get over the fear of starting from seed, you will never want to “not” grow your annual vegetable, flowers and herbs from seed. It is addictive!