Thoughts and Reads from this week, who doesn’t like free plants!?

Gardening should be something you enjoy, not dread. If it has become something you no longer look forward to, perhaps you need to reassess what you are doing.

One of the benefits of living in Zone 7 is the ability to have a second, or Fall, garden. In other words I get a second chance to “do right by my garden” and try again. Growing up my mom grew determinate tomatoes only in her country garden, using the typical conical cages to support them. As I have never had that much room I have only really grown indeterminate tomatoes on trellises. This past spring I added 5 determinate tomatoes to the assortment in my garden. What I did not do was add tomato cages. Care to take a guess as to how the unsupported tomato plants look after a few months?

Why no support? I wanted a sturdier, able to be reused for several years solution than the traditionally sold tomato cages. Our storms here can get intense. Then other things in life happened and making the cages was put on the back burner. Seeing as it is time to transplant in more tomatoes for the fall garden (if I can find them) I decided to have a re-do and tackle this job. While out today I stopped by a hardware store to find the metal panels I would need. Unfortunately they did not have any in stock. Tomorrow I will resume my search and see if I can find them at one of the larger stores.

Last fall I picked up some marked down Coreopsis from a local store. It did not exactly look ideal, hence being marked down. I decided to take a chance on it and was rewarded this year with lovely flowers. It has grown well on full sun and poor soil. This is how it made this list of flowers for the new bed I am putting in around our utility boxes. It is native to my area, bees and butterflies like it, it is drought tolerant, and can grow in a variety of soils. Imagine my excitement when I saw it growing in an empty lot around the corner from my house! Free plants! Guess where I am going to be one morning this coming week.

Yes, free plants, most gardeners love them though we do not always get them. Last fall I gathered up pumpkins set out by the curb for trash after Halloween had passed. These were placed in my garden beds to break down and provide organic matter. They have also resulted in 6+ free plants growing in various places. I do not hold out a lot of optimism for production but am enjoying the free weed control and breaking up of the compact soil underneath. Actual pumpkins growing would be a nice benefit but not a necessity.