Container Gardening – Squash?


A friend suggested that I try growing squash in a large planter. She told me to look for a “bush” variety. I wasn’t able to find that type of seeds anywhere here, so she mailed a few seeds to me from her own plants from last summer.

I planted three seeds. They all germinated and the plants seem to have plenty of room. Per my friend’s advice, I mixed used coffee grounds and crushed eggshells into the potting soil before planting the seeds. I added more coffee grounds to all my plants a couple of days ago when the plant looked like this:


Today, I have actual squash blossoms!


Used coffee grounds are a WONDERFUL fertilizer. But look up the plant before you add coffee grounds to the soil, because they aren’t appropriate fertilizer for all plants.

I don’t know the name of this squash variety, just that it’s a variety that grows up into a bush instead of running in vines on the ground. It won’t reach its full height in this container, but if you have to container garden and you really want squash, you can have it!

Late summer gardening


It’s not really “late” summer in North Carolina. As the saying goes, we have four seasons: Almost summer, summer, still summer, and Christmas. Which means that, where I live, I can safely keep herbs and vegetables on the sunny side of the porch until mid-October.

My basil is fabulous as always, and I planted enough this year that I think the dried and crushed leaves will last until next “almost summer.” I bought two large tomato plants from Walmart months ago (NEVER AGAIN) and they looked healthy and had flowers and small green tomatoes on them . . . but once I got them home and the tomatoes started turning red, the leaves turned yellow, got brown spots, and dried up. A friend of mine identified the problem as leaf spot disease. I cut off all the dead  and dying foliage and set them around the side of the house to deal with later. A few weeks later I looked at them and they were putting out new growth and flowers! I pruned them again and watered them. Now they seem to have gone dormant. Go figure.

I bought tomato and basil “grow kits” from Family Dollar and they really took off. I had so many tomato seedlings in one little pot that I split them between three planters and gave the other pot to my neighbor. The seedlings have tripled in size in the two weeks since I planted them in big planters.

The friend who identified the tomato disease mailed a few bush-variety squash seeds to me. I planted three. They all germinated and look sturdy and healthy.

I’ve never planted squash in containers before. I decided to try more herbs and vegetables than flowers this year, so I chose something that looked fairly easy: pole beans. One pot looks to be on the verge of doing something. The plants in the other pot are a pallid yellow and are struggled. I ran a screwdriver up all the drainage holes in the pot, put the pot on a plant stand, mixed up a big bowl of potting soil, coffee grounds, and crushed eggshells (per my friend who has 12 foot sunflowers) and added the mixture to the pot. The soil was too low in that pot and most of my other vegetable pots. What I did today was add the potting soil/coffee grounds/eggshells to pots that were low on dirt, rearrange vegetable containers to maximize their sun exposure, and then snip yellow leaves and deadhead wildflowers. Container gardening won’t save you from weeds and grass. I did quite a bit of weeding today.

It rained hard two days ago, and it’s been “cool” (under 90F) since, so I watered some plants and gave the rest of them a splash of water on the leaves after the sun set.

My next gardening project is moving irises, very, very old irises that aren’t getting sun and rain because of a massive old maple and overgrown hedges. I’m not looking forward to it, but it has to be done. The soil in that flowerbed is exhausted. The worst outcome is what’s inevitable if we don’t try to move them.

Otherwise, my moonflowers are blooming, and the forget-me-nots and marigolds are starting to. I’ve learned a lot about gardening this year, plants for containers other than tomatoes, treating plant diseases, and what to do with the shady side of your yard.


Photography Around the Yard


2016 september tomato

Porch vegetable and herb garden. I planted a very mushy tomato in the spring and got several seedlings. When they were several inches tall, I gave half of them to my neighbor and separated the other half into two big planters, each planter big enough to hold an entire large bag of potting soil. I ended up with two adult plants. It took until August for them to reach their full height of over three feet and start putting out flowers. Now, in September, I have my first tomato. Luckily, North Carolina “enjoys” warm weather until the end of October.

2016 september moonflower

Another moonflower bloomed late this afternoon. This one is growing from a planter on the porch, on a yarn “trellis.” You can see the wrinkles in the petals from the folds of the bud.

2016 september mushrooms 2

2016 september mushrooms 3

Scientific name polypores, common name shelf fungi. Sometimes referred to as “seashell fungi.” They grow on tree trunks and branches. This is a fallen branch from a dead dogwood tree. Eventually, if left untouched, the fungi may petrify. I have a petrified shelf fungus from a birch tree stump on Long Island. However, the extreme differences in temperature and humidity between Long Island and North Carolina may result in these fungi dying and rotting. I’m going to try removing one intact to see if it will dry out in the house.

More bird and garden pics


This juvenile cardinal is in the most embarrassing phase of moulting! I thought it was a female, but the new feathers are so bright red that it seems to be a male. If you look closely, you can see the black starting to fade from his beak.

2016 august young card2016 august young card 22016 august young card 3

At last, a healthy sunflower.

2016 august sunflower

This moonflower opened in just 30 minutes. I actually saw it start to unfold.

2016 august moonflower 22016 august moonflower 32016 august moonflower 4