POPYC garden: closing down 2012

September 27, 2012Permalink Leave a comment

September 27 and the POPYC garden is in wind-up phase for the season. Not everything, of course. The herb garden is still going strong, the impatiens in the doorway planters continue to flower, and the giant sunflowers by the gate are finally in bloom. But in the vegetable garden most of the plants are either done producing or close to it. Last week I replaced the back-eyed susan in the planters with mums, an acknowledgment of autumn’s arrival.

So now perhaps is a good time to capture how different plants and varieties fared in the garden…


The herb garden had a pretty successful year. The plants thrived and the need for weeding and watering was minimal.

  • Basil: Basil did well in the garden. The plants did seem somewhat compact and stunted, not sure why. But I’d give them a  Grade: B.
  • Chives: The chives I transplanted from my home garden did fine. They looked a little ragged as the result of the transplant, but I expect them to be happy and acclimated next year. Grade: B
  • Mint: One of the few herbs that did not do well. I tried planting mint in containers. Mint, it seems, does not like life in containers. The plants hung on, but never looked especially happy or leafy. Grade: D
  • Oregano: The oregano I transplanted from my home garden adapted OK but was already too close to flowering to produce leafy plants. So the verdict on it as POPYC-suitable is still out. Grade: C
  • Parsley: The parsley I planted did fine…I’d give it a B minus. It might have appreciated a little more shade and moisture. Grade: B-
  • Rosemary: The two rosemary plants planted on either side of the front doors did well. They grew slowly until mid-summer, after which they picked up. Both now are healthy and happy. Grade: A
  • Sage: No other way to put it…the sage I transplanted from my home garden LOVED to POPYC plot. The plants are healthy and robust. Grade: A

Herbs I did not plant but would like to try next year: cilantro and thyme.


  • Black-eyed susan: The black-eyed susan in the planters did phenominally until a period of drought in mid-late August knocked them out. Will definitely use them again next year. the bloom if properly cared for should last from mid-summer into September. Grade: B+.
  • Hostas: The hostas in the planters did well and should come back again next year. The ones I transplanted by the parking lot entrance (as an afterthought and with no expectations), surprising have hung on, even if they didn’t exactly thrive. Interesting to see if they come back next year.. Grade: A-
  • Impatiens: The impatiens in the planters loved their location and thrived.  Grade: A
  • Marigold: Like the black-eyed susans, the marigolds in the planters did well until a period of drought in mid-late August (or possibly drinks were poured into the planter). The marigolds in the beds did less well…they were root bound at purchase and put in too late. Grade: B-
  • Sunflowers: The giant sunflowers I planted in the box by the gate grew well but did not flower until mid-September. Would like to get an earlier start on them next year. Grade: B

Other: The potted plants on the deck tables (geraniums, marigolds, and ?) hung on all season but could have been more robust. Fertilize next year?


  • Cucumbers: The Marketmore cukes by the entrance did well in the late spring but slowed down noticeably by mid-summer. Those planted near the dumpster grew poorly.  Overall Grade: C+.
  • Peppers-Hot: The Cayene (B) and Hot Cherry (B) peppers produced well starting in late July. The Serano (F) plants, despite doing well in my home garden, grew poorly and did not produce It may be an issue tied to the soil quality at that end of the bed.  Overall Grade: B.
  • Peppers-Sweet: The Yellow Frying peppers in the left side bed did not produce at all (F). The Sweet Banana (C+), Cubanelle (C) and Grren Frying (D) peppers in the right bed did better but still not all that well.  Overall Grade: C-.
  • Squash/Zucchini: The squash and zucchini got off to a great start and were producing in early July. But by August mildew had taken firm hold and they died quickly. Need to stay on top of that if we plant these next year . Grade: B-
  • Tomatoes-Cherry: The Sweet 100 Cherry tomatoes started producing in early August and through late September are still going. The yield was amazing.  Grade: A
  • Tomatoes-Slicing: The slicing tomato plants never achieved good size and their yield was disappointing. Early Girl (C), Beefstake (C-), and Better Boy (D). They began producing in early August.  Overall Grade: C-
  • Tomatillo: The tomatillo plants did well although did not produce a lot of quantity. Fruits appeared in late August. Grade: C
  • Sunflowers: The giant sunflowers I planted in the box by the gate grew well but did not flower until mid-September. Would like to get an earlier start on them next year. Grade: B

Some general notes…the mulching worked well…lack of soil depth I believe contributed to a stunting of the plants and lower yield…things planted near the dumpster faired poorly–there may be soil issues there…may want to try adding things other than vegetables next year to the beds against the building.

POPYC garden: August 25

Wow, almost two months since the last post. So much happening in the garden since that time, so here it is in no particular order…

  • Heavy mulching plus decent rainfall through most of July and August kept the need for mid-summer watering to a minimum. Watered today for the first time in at least a month.
  • In early August the first signs of mildew showed up in the garden, on the cukes, squash, and the accidental pumpkin plant. The cukes are trying to hang on but the squash are dead. I treated the plants today with a combination of milk and baking powder but I think they’re past hope.
  • Tomatoes are doing OK although the plants are not nearly as big as I’d hoped…may have to do with the fact that the roots can only go as deep as the depth of the raised bed. On the other hand, the cherry tomatoes are coming in like crazy starting about a week ago. First ripe full-sized tomato was the first week in August.
  • The herb garden is going great…basil, rosemary, parsley, chives, oregano, and especially the sage. Need to encourage the club members to pick some as no one is taking it.
  • Peppers are doing OK if not spectacular. Two of the hots–cayenne and hot cheery –are producing especially well.
  • The planters were doing well until (I suspect) people started pouring drinks into the planters with the black-eyed susans. I nursed them back to health after the first time but it happened again last week. The planters closer to the doors with the hostas and impatiens are happy.
  • Trying to grow mint in a container was a failure. Scratch mint from the list of herbs for next year..
  • Word is people from the neighborhood strolling by have been picking from the gardening. Pretty lame but not unexpected. Still getting enough from the garden to make it worth it. Next year maybe we can think about some anti-theft steps but don’t want to go overboard. People from the club picking is no problem…that’s what it’s there for. And it’s nice that they’re able to do that.
  • The giant sunflowers planted by the deck gate are big but still haven’t bloomed. Need to get them in the ground earlier next year.

A few lessons learned for next year:

  • Need to get the tomatoes staked earlier. By the time I tried to stake them this year some were already out of control.
  • May want to stretch some gardening cloth across the fence to prevent things from growing through.
  • Everything needs to get in a little earlier than it did this year.
  • Need to be more pro-active about mildew. Know when to start watching for it and how to fight it. Funny thing is, my squash plants in Nahant are mostly happy, only showing a few spots.
  • May need small sign on planters asking people not to pour drinks or mash or cigarette butts.

Weather and garden report: July 1

July 12, 2012Permalink 1 Comment

With the second half of June summer arrived with several heat waves bringing days in the 90s. Lots of sun two although two big storms each brought about an inch of rain. To date I’ve had to do very little watering this year.

Blooms as of 7/1


  • Some day lily varieties, tiger lily
  • Daisies
  • Primrose
  • Clematis
  • Marigold

Home garden update

Finally in the past couple weeks I found time to get some things into the house garden. Way behind this year, and not expecting a great crop as a result, but you never know. The poor seed germination in April really hurt, and then all the other duties that kept me from the home garden throughout May made it worse. Anyway, here are some planting dates (reconstructed from memory):

June 17: tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, squash, cauliflower, tomatillo
June 26: cukes, parsley

Still to put in: beans, basil, chard, more lettuce/greens, perhaps some Thai peppers, giant sunflowers, marigolds

POPYC Garden: Finito!

Well kind of. With the completed planting and mulching of the vegetable bed on the right side of the gate, the main planting work is done. What remains are a few small things yet to put in (some additional herbs and marigolds). Other than that, though, it’s just weedin’ and feedin’, and staking plants as they get big. I might also put a few planters with flowers out on the deck, just to brighten it up a little.

The bed on the right side of the gate. The hostas that had been there I moved to outside the gate.
The vegetable bed on the left side of the gate is growing nicely.

Regarding the hostas outside the gate, I’m not sure how well they’ll do there. There’s no soil really, only sand. I may need to either move them or bring in buckets of compost to replant them in.

Weather and Garden Report: June 14

June 14, 2012Permalink 1 Comment

Almost two and a half inches of rain in the first half of June, with daytime highs in the 60s and 70s..

I finally, finally found some time to work in my own vegetable and flower gardens. Still nothing in the ground but I did at least get the vegetable beds weeded and prepped and hope to get some of it in this weekend. The winter-over chard had grown to four feet high and gone to seed so I pulled it all out. Weeded the flower beds in the back of the house and cut the forsythia to the ground. I also planted lettuce seedlings in the wiskey barrel out front. And I got the grass mowed and the right side of the hedges trimmed. But so much more to do. The vegetables need to go in, of course. The bushes and hedges all need pruning. Day lilies and irises need separating. And the weeds have completely inundated the front and side garden. Will need to do some serious digging.

Blooms as of 6/14

  • Azaelia (done in front garden; winding down in side garden)
  • Some day lily varieties
  • Daisies
  • Chives
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Primrose (starting)
  • Clematis (starting)

POPYC garden…getting close

Making good progress towards finishing the planting in the POPYC garden. This week I rebuilt the flower box to the left of the gate onto the deck (the original had been busted apart by a large root). I’ll plant it next week with sunflowers and maybe some low flowers too. Also today I planted  the raised bed on the right side of the front gate with cherry tomatoes and four kinds of peppers.

Still a few things to put in but hopefully in a week, or at most two, everything will planted. Then it’s just water and weed til things are ready to eat.

Still to do in the next couple of weeks:

  • Box by deck gate: plant sunflowers
  • Herb gardens: Plant thyme, dill
  • Raised bed front gate, right: Remove hostas. Plant Better Boy tomatoes, tomatillo, and basil. Mulch with salt marsh hay.
  • Add trellis netting for the cukes.
  • Set up a plan for how the garden will stay weeded and watered.

Some pics:

Just planted, the bed on the right side of the front gate.
The map for that bed.

Weather and garden report: June 1

The second half of May was dry (only a half inch of rain) with average temps in the mid 60s..

Blooms as of 6/1

  • Rhododendron (winding down)
  • Azaelia (some winding down-front garden; some starting-side garden)
  • Irises
  • Some day lily varieties
  • Daisies
  • Chives
  • Sage
  • Thyme

Last Year’s Winter Over Veggies/Herbs

  • Sage, chives, and thyme in bloom budding and about to bloom
  • Chard has gone mutant
  • Reseeded cilantro everywhere, about eight inches high and close to going to seed
  • Oregano healthy but going to seed

I’ve finally got all my seedlings outside although nothing in the ground yet. I’ve been so busy with the POPYC garden, prepping the boat, filling jg.com orders, posting to blogs, Ben’s baseball, etc. that my own garden has gone completely unattended. The grass and weeds have taken over. The second half of June and July I’ll spend trying to reclaim the beds from the weeds.

POPYC garden: gate left-side bed planted

This weekend we got the bed on the left side (looking out)  of the entrance gate planted. All veggies, some raised from seed, some purchased from what used to be Salt Marsh Nursery in Saugus (and which has now re-opened under new ownership as Little Brook Garden Center). BTW, regarding Little Brook Garden Center, if you’ve never been there, it’s a great place to get your vegetable and flower seedlings, with better prices and greater variety than you’ll get at Home Depot or (shudder) Walmart. Plus  you’ll be supporting a local business and It’s just five minutes up the road  from Tim Horgan’s place.

Friday evening was interesting, prepping  the bed’s soil while upstairs in the club and in the parking lot a sweet sixteen party was going on. (Note to self: when Sarah turns 16, IF her mother and I allow her to have a party, she will go dressed as a normal kid, not as an aspiring courtesan.) On Saturday afternoon I did the actual planting and it was to have  club members on their way to or from their cars stop by to ask about the garden and share some of their own experiences and ideas.

Here’s a map of what was planted. Next weekend (hopefully) we’ll get the bed on the right side of the gate planted. After that happens everything is just about done and maybe I can finally get my boat in the water and do some fishing (which just might get Marco off my back).  🙂

POPYC garden: 5/15

An update:

The Herb Garden

Planted so far: Oregano, Chives, Sage, Parsley, Mint (in planter)

Still to come: Thyme (June 15), Rosemary (June 1), Dill (mid-summer), more Mint

The Planters

Planted so far (and hopefully all we need):

  • Near the doors: hostas + impatiens
  • Walkway entrance: violets + black eyed susan + marigolds

Raised Bed Next to Deck Gate

There used to be this really cool kind of vining/flowering thing there that had these enormous seed pods that looked like something out of a science fiction movie. I loved it but I guess some didn’t and the club cut it down this year. My thought is to put in giant sunflowers with maybe mums + marigolds–make it really colorful.

  • Giant Sunflowers (June 1)
  • Marigolds (June 1)

First, though, the box for the bed needs to be completely rebuilt and some big roots chain-sawed out of it. Would like to do that this weekend.

Vegetable Beds

These are the beds on either side of the entrance gate. Their primary residents will be warm weather veggies and herbs (tomatoes/peppers/basil, maybe some cukes)–things that normally don’t go in the ground until at least Memorial Day around these parts. Nothing permanent planted in either so far although the bed on the right looking out has some tulips and hostas planted in previous years.