A green space for urban gardeners

Nature cuts garden down to size

The weather. It can definitely do damage to a fledgling garden.

But, before we talk about that, let me take you back a couple weeks… When I looked out at the overabundance of seedlings (in my zeal I used about 150 peat pellets) I’d planted for this season’s garden I thought I may have gone a little overboard.

Nature, however, has a way of leveling things out. Torrential rains hit Chicago a few days later, which had me flashing on a scene from the old movie, “Tammy and the Bachelor,” in which the Debbie Reynolds character scurries about in a downpour, desperately trying to help save the seedlings and the dream of the would-be farmer who’d won her heart. (She wasn’t able to salvage any of them.)

I lost a portion of my flower seedlings to those two days of storm. And the extreme heat that’s blanketed Chicago and much of the nation this  past week has fried some others, reducing my collection down to — framing the situation optimistically — a more manageable size.

I began setting out the survivors in their respective planters this weekend, alongside the already in-bloom flowers that spontaneously sprouted this year. I did do a bit of rearranging of those gifts from last season in an effort to create a bit of balance in color and display.

I was in the dark to a large extent when setting out the survivors, because some had been blown about by the winds that came with the rain and separated from their labels. It’ll be fun watching things bloom and being surprised by what survived.

The edible plants are much further along. My amazing flowering chives with splashy lilac-colored blooms, which returned on their own, have been centered in two side planters that were seeded with herbs and dotted with seedlings for other edibles: nasturtiums, pansies and marigolds.

Meanwhile, my tomato plants are doing nicely, and this year I’ve dedicated a planter to lettuce, which has performed beautifully. I can’t wait till I’m able to make a salad using heirloom tomatoes and mesclun from the garden.

My pepper and Thai eggplant are leafy and healthy and on track to provide some lovely produce before too long.

And I’m closely following the progress of my lemon cucumber. Last year I purchased a small plant and set it out in my balcony garden. It withered and died after about a week. I purchased a second one and got the same results.

So I was a little doubtful if I’d have better luck this season with seeds, but the plant has survived the tumultuous weather and looks pretty good I think. It has some huge leaves and thin, vine-like reeds that have curled up around the support hoop I placed in the pot. And, there are flowers at the base, so fruit can’t be far behind, right?

If this one doesn’t work out, I’m likely to develop a complex where the fruit-shaped veggie is concerned. I’ve never tasted a lemon cucumber before, so if you have any good recipes, I’d love to hear them.

And let me know how last week’s crazy heat impacted your garden.

[Photos: Chive flowers (from top), lettuce and lemon cucumber.]


  mimi wrote @

We’ve had sweltering 90+ degree weahter in our neck of the woods. It has scorched a lot of our plants, especially the squash and rhubarb. (sigh)

  Stephanie wrote @

Avis, it’s normal here – the scorching sun! I just cut my sweet potato vine for the second time yesterday! The super hot sun damaged the leaves. Anyway, I will let the vine regrow again to see if this round, any flowers will appear (haven’t dig to check if there are sweet potatoes in the soil yet ha ha…). Oh you can catch a glimpse of the vine in my latest post. It is the plant behind my amaranthus. After I took that pic, the next day, I chopped the vine as many leaves yellowed. Btw, I am also trying to root sweet potato the way you did – dip the it into a bottle of water 😀

150 peat pellet… I can’t imagine how many plants you are taking care of right now! Good luck yeah.

  Gatsbys Gardens wrote @

I have been overrun by insects and rabbits. I can’t believe they are stil eating my perennials and have not touched the veggie garden.


  Pam’s English Garden wrote @

Avis, Sorry I haven’t visited for a while. I’ve been so busy watering, A lot of my garden fried, but at last we had rain.
I never heard of lemon cucumber and am anxious to see yours when it fruits. Pam x

  City Diggity wrote @

We got rain, too, but now it’s crazy hot again! I got home today and my tomato plants were droopy! I just finished watering and giving everything a good feeding. I guess the heat is nice from the standpoint that my plants are way behind and all this sun/heat may help them catch up. Butt boy, it’s hard when you’re carrying the (watering) can 😉

  linda wrote @

So sorry about the seedling losses Avis. I admire your determination with the lemon cucumbers – I would probably have given up after the second try. I’m glad your seedling is doing well, and hope it rewards your tenacity!!

  Liz wrote @

We’ve had some really heavy rain here in the UK as well. It’s caused no end of damage to the little seedlings that I had planted out 😦

  Wendy wrote @

Sorry about all the losses! I always anxiously wait to see how nature will level things out for me too. I also never have luck with cukes. I did see those lemon cukes in a catalog – they looked fabulous. Sounds like you still have some great things going though…

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