Naming my new garden box

I like to name my gardens. Next to the driveway, I have a bed that I call the Garden of Perpetual Responsibility, where I grow artichokes and weeds. LOTS of weeds. There is a never-ending parade of weeds. But there is also a butterfly garden in that narrow strip of soil, with lantana, yarrow, bloodflower milkweed, irises, and pots of zinnias and other plants for pollinators. I have pots of green onions growing there, planter boxes of strawberries, and two fruit trees–a new Fuyu Persimmon and a semi-dwarf Gala apple that is producing fruit for the first time this year.

Here is an overview of the Garden of Perpetual Responsibility, as it looked in late April.

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Here is one of the many, many Monarch caterpillars that we have raised. Well, actually, they raise themselves.

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In a raised bed by the front sidewalk, I have the Garden of Infinite Neglect. As usual, it is neglected. All that is growing there at present is a bedraggled patch of Bergarten sage. I never got around to planting it this spring. It will be time for fall planting in coastal southern California in a couple of weeks, and I intend to plant onions, garlic, kale, chard and carrots there. It is too ugly to show you, trust me.

I have three garden beds in the backyard, beautiful 3 ft x 6 ft raised beds from Gardener’s Supply Company. I call them Beds #1, 2, and 3. I know, not very imaginative. I got two of the beds planted before my cancer surgery on May 4, but after a productive summer, they are shot. Everything in them is dead except for collard greens, a couple of non-producing bell peppers, and mint that is at the end of the season. Those beds are  beyond ready for fall clean-up.

This is what one of the back beds looked like in late April, after I had just planted them. I got a lot of tomatoes and green beans out of this bed.

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This is my newest bed, an elevated planter box in the driveway.

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At present, my vegetable gardening hopes and dreams grow in this elevated planter box from Gardeners Supply Company. It has been nearly 5 weeks since I planted it, and the growth has been amazing. The pumpkins that volunteered themselves from the added compost are beginning to cascade over the edge.

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The first female pumpkin flower opened yesterday. Too soon to tell if it got fertilized or not. I will know in a couple of days. But there were no male pumpkin flowers open, so unless it got pollinated by a bee that visited a male yellow summer squash flower in the box, or that found a male pumpkin flower elsewhere in the neighborhood (unlikely), who knows what will happen. I await further growth of this nascent pumpkin with great anticipation. So should I name this garden box the Garden of Joyous Anticipation?

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I have plenty of male summer squash blossoms. Can their pollen fertilize a butternut or pumpkin?

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Check out these female butternut squash flowers. The first one opened a couple of days ago and appears to have been fertilized. The second one is open today. Come on, bees! Do your job. I am letting this butternut vine sprawl over the hedge. There is also a second butternut vine that is beginning to ramble out of the box. I had no idea that one could grow butternuts in a garden box, but so far, so good.dsc_2951

I transplanted one pot of yellow crookneck summer squash and one pot of yellow straight neck summer squash into the box on August 4. There were two plants in each pot, so in reality, I have four summer squash plants growing in this 2 ft x 8 ft planter box, as well as two butternuts and two pumpkins. For the first time in many years, we are getting summer squash from the garden again. My other veggie beds just don’t get enough sunlight, but this box in the driveway sure does.dsc_2939

The Contender bush green beans began blooming a few days ago, and now they have “set fruit.” I am anticipating a bumper crop of green beans. Check out the two tiny beanlets. They are only a centimeter long at this point, but should be ready to pick in another week.

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The basil at one end of the planter box has already given us several pestos. The squash, pumpkins and green beans have taken over the box and have pretty much submerged the chard, bell pepper, beets, radishes, green onions and mesclun. But those things are down there somewhere under the jungle of squash and bean foliage, surviving and growing. Maybe I should call my box the Garden of Bountiful Productivity and Plentitude.

One of the things I really like about this box is that I don’t have to bend and stoop. At my age, that is important. It has made it really easy to get up close and personal with the seedlings. I enjoy watching seeds sprout and photographing them. Here are some pics that I took earlier in August as the box was getting going.

Green beans, with radishes to the left.

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The first flower buds on the bell pepper. I hope there are some peppers maturing somewhere under the mounds of squash leaves.

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Arugula seedlings in the mesclun mix.

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Beet seedlings with the tips of the first true leaves showing between the cotyledon leaves.

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This is one of the volunteer pumpkin or butternut squash seedlings next to a beet seedling.

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The box lets me get up close and personal with the insects that come visit too. Even though this is an invasive cabbage moth, it’s pretty.

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Maybe I will call this the Box of Endless Fascination.

About Lou Murray, Ph.D.

I'm a professional writer/photographer, avid gardener, and active environmentalist living in southern California. I am retired from writing a weekly newspaper column on environmental topics in the Huntington Beach Independent, but I am still teaching at the Orange County Conservation Corps. This blog chronicles my efforts to live a green life growing as much food as possible for my husband and myself on a 4,500 sq ft yard that is covered mainly by house, garage, driveway, and sidewalks.
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10 Responses to Naming my new garden box

  1. Mary Mueller says:

    “the Garden of Eatin'” oh, that’s bad.

  2. Yep, that is pretty bad, Mary. Another garden blogger calls her garden that. Or maybe it is the name of her blog, not sure.

  3. Scott says:

    I like the name of your gardens. Funny!

  4. Hey, Lou. The box is officially called the “Elevated Cedar Planter Box,” (no bending!) http://www.gardeners.com/search?q=Elevated%20Planters … but I really love “Garden of Joyous Anticipation.” Maybe we should rename the product?

  5. Norma Chang says:

    Giving your gardens names, that’s so cool and creative. Hope your gardens continue to produce well for you. Love your photos especially the one of the Monarch caterpillars.

  6. Though the season’s winding down here, you have me thinking of possible spots to place raised garden boxes — thanks for the wonderful inspiration!

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