The good. The bad. The struggling. My urban gardening adventures.

Special thanks to Skatie Designs (@skatiedesigns) four our custom sign

I like working in the garden. I like thinking about working in the garden. And it may come as no surprise that I even like grading my gardening efforts. I analyze both the triumphs and the opportunities for improvement.

As the spring transitions into summer, here are a few of my gardening yeas and nays.


Monster radishes grown from seeds planted directly in a raised bed.

Sowing some seeds directly into the raised beds.

Seeds are cheap. And when we go to our local nonprofit, Gateway Greening, we can pick a packet up for a quarter. Of course, that means I end up buying a lot.

In late March, we planted cool weather crop seeds directly into the soil. To help guide us, we followed Gateway Greening’s exceptional planting calendar.

It wasn’t long before peas, radishes, broccoli, mustard, swiss chard, cabbage, lettuce, carrots, and parsley appeared.

Success with last year’s rocket seeds.

Harvesting seeds from last year’s crop to start new this year.

I’m particularly proud of this achievement. I grew a cucumber seedling out of seeds that were harvested from last year’s bumper crop.

Pictured above is the new crop of arugula, also known as rocket, culled from seeds that I saved and dried. I’m hoping to repeat the process this year.

We’re growing four varieties of tomatoes this year.

Starting tomatoes early under grow lights in the basement

We sowed the seeds of four different types of tomatoes in pots in the basement under our grow lights. They sprouted quickly, and the pots got crowded. I divided the tomatoes into new pots. By the time the threat of frost had passed, I had sizeable plants for our garden.

Happy geraniums.

Bringing houseplants, a hibiscus and a Mandevilla inside for the winter

Last fall, I brought my geraniums inside. I placed six pots in three sunny windows. They loved the space. Five made it back out this spring. One went with my daughter back to her college room.

My Mandevilla spent the winter in the basement. The hibiscus tree limped through the winter.


Could this be a weed? I’m still trying to find out.

Planting flower seeds directly into the ground.

My neighbor let me take a few zinnia heads last year to dry and extract the seeds. Inspired by my raised bed success, I sowed the flower seeds directly into the ground.

Big mistake.

I didn’t mulch the area because I didn’t want to stop the seeds from sprouting. Now, I have no idea if the plants I’m seeing are flowers or weeds. Next time, I’ll start them in the basement along with the tomatoes.

Maybe it’s the extreme weather. Maybe it’s the drainage. But this geranium isn’t happy.

Ignoring the happy geraniums wintering inside, then stressing them once outside.

I should have kept the geraniums trimmed. Instead, I just watered them once a week and happily watched them bloom. But they also grew and grew and grew. Now they’re difficult to manage outside. Instead of a bush, they’re vinelike.

And many are stressed, judging from the reddish rings on their green leaves. (Some would say I just have that effect on plants and people.) The pots may be holding too much water. Maybe they didn’t like the transition. I tried to expose them for longer periods each day before finally leaving them outside.

We shall see.

What did I miss? If you have any advice, please don’t hesitate to share your wisdom. What challenges and successes are you facing this year?

erasing-the-past-book-shadowIn other news, the audiobook of Erasing the Past is almost ready. Stay tuned for more details.

In the meantime, you can find it on paperback or as an eBook on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, and many other outlets.

If you’ve already read the book, please let me know what you think.

12 thoughts on “The good. The bad. The struggling. My urban gardening adventures.”

  1. Zinnias! I am trying to grow those for my first time. I planted three seeds in a pot, experimentally, in my greenhouse, not wanting to do too many as I had read they don’t transplant well. Only one came up and it is tiny. I plan to try a bunch today in other individual sized pots in case they come up and I can put the whole chunk of dirt and root into the ground before the plant gets big.

    My dad used to grow zinnias prolifically, making so much colour amidst green vegetables. I wish I’d paid more attention to his gardening practices and asked questions. I have a lot to learn, but books and the internet help, as do blog posts by others doing gardening, such as yours here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My neighbor grows amazing zinnias. The monarch butterflies seem to love them. Keep me posted on your progress with the zinnias.

      I feel about my grandmother’s green thumb the way you do about your dad’s gardening abilities. My grandmother was a farmer. After she left the farm and moved to a small town, she still had a wonderful garden and amazing flowers. She composted before composting was cool. And I never paid attention. Lately, I’ve wondered if her roses still exist at the house she lived in for many, many years. The home is about seven hours away. But, if they still exist, I’d love to take a few cuttings and start them in my own garden.


      1. Haha, composting before it was cool! I do indeed like the way you write! 🙂 Certain people have a knack for saying things in a flowingly readable way that gives a deeper feel for who and what they are sharing, exposing their own character in the process. (I so look forward to reading that moveable feast of a Hemingway book you recommended.)

        I hope to have some good updates for you with my zinnia attempts.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The zinnias I bought from the nursery are doing about the same – only an inch or two. But I found one surprise: A zinnia plant that I managed to grow from seed using my neighbor’s flowers has taken off. I give my neighbor credit for that one because I did nothing special except dry the flower and giving a “weed” a chance. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I can relate on the sowing seeds direct in a garden bed. I had the same issue with my California Poppies which I kinda broadcast seeded. I never grew them so I didn’t know what to expect so I let everything grow (unless I knew for sure it was a weed) just in case which led to a lot of weeds mixed in with them. Unless it’s going in a bed dedicated to the a certain species I start them all indoors now short of a few veggies like beans and lettuce. Sounds like you have some good successes. In my garden some things grow great, some things ok, and some things not so great, if not then I try a different plant in it’s place. It’s funny how the same species can do well in one person’s garden and not another. My lace leaf Japanese maple thrives but my neighbor has planted 3 and none of them made it, same sun everything, it’s quite puzzling!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m with you, Brad. From now on, I’m starting the flower seeds indoors. I created a bit of a mess this year in my flower bed. The wonderful thing about gardening is that there is always next year. 🙂


      1. So true. I kinda don’t like getting everything perfect at once anyway else there’d be nothing to do and I really do enjoy messing around in the garden at least for a little while every day. What zone are you in? I’m in 6a. Things are just starting to take off here.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you: Even the struggles can be enjoyable. My gardening hiccups are puzzles that need to be solved. On the flip side, some of my wins turn out to be mess-ups if I wait a week. My Italian squash is a perfect example of a good thing run amok. I planted it in a spot that was too tight. Niw it is like Godzilla stomping all over everything else in my raised bed.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Geri! You, I find that in my area in upstate NY , I have to change the soil and pot of my houseplants before they come back inside for the winter. I do not want to bring in any of those annoying tiny gnats or ants. I had researched and found that some bugs nest in the soil. Even if my understanding is not correct, I feel better changing the pot and soil. Slugs and snails love to rest on my outside pots too. I love your article, and it was helpful for me too. Have a blessed day!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s