The Spring Garden That Wasn’t: A May Photo Tour

This is a very strange spring. I have foot high corn and foot-across squash but hardly any of the typical spring crops. There’s a few heads of lettuce, and peas of course, but for the most part when I should have been most focused on putting in more complete spring garden I was instead mucking out and threatening to torch layers of acquired crap from inside my home.

I can tell things have suffered because my attention was elsewhere for those critical several weeks in March and early April. I look out at the spring garden and see runty cabbages, weedy beds and not particularly inspiring pockets of fresh greens. There are no beets, no turnips and no radishes. Three chard seedlings finally decided to pop up and maggots are eating my broccoli.

But you know what? It’ll be just fine. The herbs are still going crazy, the trees are still making fruit, the beans are climbing the trellis. New beds I built and filled with half-rotted compost are bursting forth with kale and broccoli raab I never planted.

I stuck three squash seeds into that same half-finished compost and an entire army of mystery squashes showed up. I should thin, but since I have no idea what is growing I’m holding off – half paralyzed with indecision and half fascinated to wait and see what strange squash throwbacks I might be unwittingly growing. My neighbor once let a volunteer squash go and got a winter squash that tasted like cucumber! What fun. Gardening: life laughing, in slow motion.

Herbs Exploding

The side path is lined in chives, lavender, rosemary, oreganos, sages and other perennial herbs

A bed of mint and lemon balm: the most thuggish of herbs battle it out amongst themselves.

The stone step to the back patio is surrounded by various self-sown herbs.

Chives in blossom, angelica behind. Note sneaky kitty, above right.

Calendula has free reign - I let it go wherever it finds itself a home.

 Fruit & Veg


Definitely time to thin and panty-hose the apples.

Artichokes are here!

Tomatoes hidden among garlic and the winter arugula gone-to-seed.

Letting my chard go to seed - hoping to save seed and see what happens.

Broccoli - they look healthy, but I've lost two to root maggots and now I'm doing triage on all my cole crops just in case. It's always freakin' something.

Cavolo Nero kale undersown with arugula. Consider edible undersowing and intercropping - a great way to squeeze more salad greens into a space.

Tomatoes growing outside in self watering pots. They still require watering. It's false advertising, I tell you!

Cucumber seedlings waiting patiently for a nice gardener to transplant them to their permanent home.

Peas, potatoes and fennel: if it goes together it grows together, right? That's the theory at least.

I'm a bit obsessed with potatoes this year. They are growing everywhere.

"Anything goes" seed sowing in the hugelkultur bed. An experiment in garden randomness.

Snap pea sowing #1 - has been producing for a few weeks.

And yet somehow no peas have made it inside....

Snap pea sowing #2.

Squash - but what kind? That is the mystery...

Corn growing well in the hugelkultur bed. This is the corn patch the chickens didn't get to...

Romano beans climbing rebar mesh trellis.

 Just For Pretty


I adore the few weeks a year when the wisteria is in bloom.

Never enough wisteria.

Wine and Roses weigela - nice little ornamental shrub in front of a columnar apple.

How does your garden grow?


  1. says

    Beautiful. It sure looks like there is a lot going on for someone who feels they haven’t planted. I love the idea of the tubs for potatoes! I have one more bag of starts that I need to get in the ground, but I am going to bust out a tub. I also have a fondness for wisteria, but I have not planted yet. Afraid of the woody beast it could become. Every Tuesday I post a garden update, join me! Lots of radishes this week.

  2. Melanie says

    Your garden is super beautiful! I especially love what you have done on your side herb path! It looks like following it will most certainly lead you to a magical place. Question: In your mint and lemon balm area, have you contained it in any way to keep it in that spot? My mint is in pots but it has been hot and dry here in southwest ohio and I keep almost killing it. I would love to put it in the ground without it taking over.

    • Lady Banksia says

      Melanie –

      I also wanted to put my ‘invasives’ in the ground, so I got a bigger pot and dug a hole deep enough to hold it, keeping the rim of the pot about an inch or so above the level of the dirt. Set the pot in the ground and the root systems will be contained for the most part. Just encourage good drainage out the bottom and make sure it gets watered regularly. You’ll have plenty of chances to control any strays right away. We have to do that with bamboo here in the Southwestern US. Just a thought…

  3. says

    What a great post! I had to go back and read the de-cluttering post. It brought back memories of piles of shit with books on organization and simplicity lying near or on top of the heaps, no wait, there’s a pile next to my chair just like that, even as I write. Crap! Will it ever end?
    Anyway, your garden looks incredible and why do you have beans up that high when they are supposed to be planted in June? Aarrgh! I am pea green with envy!

  4. says

    Oh my “things to write about for the blog next week” Sunday I jotted down “spring gardening slump/laziness”. Looks like I’m not the only one experiencing something similar.

    I’ve planted almost nothing. I have some tomato seedlings that I need to plant soon, blueberry and raspberries I put in earlier, kale overwintered, and garlic that I plated in October. I have some peas and carrots (also weirdly overwintered), and beets growing. And some cilantro that has bolted, but that’s about it.

    I have weeding on my to do list this weekend, and I hope it happens.

  5. Arrianne says

    I have a few bags of seeds I have saved from local squashes and I’m really curious to see what comes up. My grand experiment this year is I’m trying to grow some leafy green vegis in dappled shade under a maple tree. I have this theory the lettuce will do better there in the height of summer’s dry heat there. We shall see!

  6. says

    If this is what your garden looks like neglected, I wonder how awesome it would look if you were “on top of it.” :-) I haven’t planted a darn thing at home. The market garden, well, that’s planted alright. Now for 12 weeks of weeding.

  7. says

    My peas are already done, dried up, and the vines are dead. We’re already through strawberry season and into blueberry season. There are tomatoes and cucumbers everywhere. Yet somehow I’m burning envious of those apples, the one thing I cannot grow. *laughing*

  8. Mary W. says

    I once had a late zucchini plant cross-pollinate with a pumpkin volunteer from the compost pile AFTER Halloween. It looked like a zucc outside and a pumpkin inside. It freaked us out until we found the rogue pumpkin plant!

  9. says

    We’ve had a lot coming in the past few weeks but we had an early heat wave which decimated the lettuces, chard and spinach. My biggest hurtle are the gophers in our yard. Chowed down on all six of my parsleys and now they’re working their way through my ten beautiful 2′ tall tomato plants. We inherited the raised beds which weren’t gopher protected, grrr. My fantasies of harvesting gallons of tomatoes are fading fast. I plan to dig up a spare bed this weekend, cage it, and replant quickly with more tomatoes.

  10. says

    well that looks like a permaculture garden at its best. Lots of lovely surprises popping up – I love that gravel path with the herbs alongside. I also have a squash plant that appeared and am hoping to let it ramble up a fence as I have no ground room for it to spread. Enjoyed the tour!

  11. says

    I think you underestimate the beauty of your wonderful garden. My garden is still at it’s infant stage…I can’t wait for it to grow into a gorgeous bountiful garden like yours!!

  12. says

    Gorgeous!!!! Your garden is seriously inspiring. My spring garden was completely devastated by some crafty goats (I’m still mad, and therefore not claiming ownership of them until they clean up their act). They ate EVERYTHING, including my lovely herbs. But the artichokes, chayote, and a few other plants have made it back from the dead pretty quickly. I recently replanted with summer/fall crop starts (my friend always says “there’s no shame in starts. better to have something than nothing at the end of the season.”) and filled up the herb spiral with larger pots of plants than i would normally buy. i’m feeling ok about it. but dang, i wish i had some peas right now!

  13. says

    My garden is very full now too. I’m trying to only visit it once every other day (community garden) because otherwise I could find something to do daily and spend my time there consistently.

    Looks like you have a very full summer!

  14. says

    Dang, girl! I may have to pin some pics for inspiration! You want to see a hot mess of a garden, come down south a few miles! Although I did fertilize before the rain hit!

  15. says

    You’ave accomplished more than I, by far, this spring! my poor seedlings are all still awaiting transplant.
    How are your fruit trees coming along? Will there be an update on how the Backyard Orchard Culture is working for you? If we weren’t in a rental, I’d be investing in some fruit trees for our little parcel of land, too. As it is we’ll make do with the neighbor’s cherry tree hanging over our fence. ;)

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