Garden Update

A crab spider peeks out from an African marigold in my garden

I mentioned in a recent post that I was converting my vegetable garden into a pollinator garden. It was my intention to do the bulk of that work next year.

Well, I’m ahead of schedule. I realized rather quickly that it was a huge mistake to grow crookneck squash. I had THREE plants (because I’m ridiculous), and even one was insanely prolific. I pulled two of the plants out, chopped them up, and composted them. I thought I would just stick with one, but even that was producing more than I could handle. I got sick of eating squash, and I don’t have time to chop, blanch, and freeze every single time I picked it. I was leaving bags full of squash in the park behind our house for people to take.

It was more trouble than it was worth.

So I pulled up the remaining squash. Kroger is selling late summer perennials for a great deal: 5 for $10. So I bought coneflowers and coreopsis to plant where the squash was growing. I was at Kroger again a couple days ago and got more coneflowers and some Shasta daisies. (Not native, of course, but I love them.)

I already have sweet alyssum growing (from a 25 cent seed packet I bought at Dollar Tree), which is an annual but often reseeds. Same with the giant African marigolds I planted from seed next to my tomatoes. I hope those come back next year.

I am leaving room for these plants to spread out, as they will inevitably do. Since we’re going to have a mild weekend, I can do some serious weeding and mulching out there.

I am still growing vegetables, by the way. My Better Boy tomatoes (I know, a fruit) are prolific and starting to ripen. I just ate the first one yesterday and I have another ripe one on my kitchen counter. The bell peppers have been coming in. All the onions have been harvested. And the carrots are progressing.

I will miss tomatoes. I can do container tomatoes going forward, I suppose, though I like the bigger, slicing tomatoes. But otherwise, I am happy to do my part to help out our pollinator friends, and it means significantly less work for me once the plants are established.

Garden Transformation

A honeybee on a wild sunflower
Late summer 2020 at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

I decided to convert my vegetable patch into a pollinator garden next year. I wish I had thought to do it sooner.

In a household of two, I’m the only one who eats fresh vegetables. So everything I grow, I either have to eat or give away (especially if I plant something prolific, which the crookneck squash looks to be this year).

Additionally, the weeds are a massive problem despite all my attempts to control them. Planting native perennials will help control the weeds, and they’re low maintenance.

I have a few spots already where I can start planting ahead of next year. The lettuce and spinach are done for the season. I have an entire section where bush beans have refused to grow. I could start with Bee Balm and Black-Eyed Susan. Milkweed is definitely on the list for next year.

I’m actually pretty excited for this project. I already have a lot of plants in my flower gardens that attract pollinators — though they are not all natives. And I get a lot of pleasure watching the bumblebees and honeybees at work.