Happy fall, y’all! It’s Brie the Plant Lady with a report card from my summer gardening experiments. It was a long, hot, sometimes dry season but my home foodscape thrived thanks to a few creative approaches to growing.
My biggest success stories from this summer have one thing in common: Soil3 organic compost. From the living wall to containers and in-ground plantings, Soil3 fueled my plants. The beautiful, bountiful displays provide habitat for pollinators, especially butterflies, while keeping me entertained and fed!
LiveScreen® – A Living Wall on Wheels
I purchased a LiveScreen three years ago after visiting a great nursery in Western Michigan. The creative vertical displays were amazing and I quickly decided I couldn’t “live a happy life” without one to grow in myself. The screen was shipped to my home and arrived fully assembled, ready to be rolled into place — talk about instant gratification!
The LiveScreen is set up like a series of window boxes on a metal frame. Irrigation lines run through the middle, and you just hook up the system to a hose attached to timer. It runs for one minute at a time, twice a day and has looked perfect since the day we planted it. This is LITERALLY the only “no maintenance” approach to gardening that I have experienced.
You can grow anything in a living wall like the LiveScreen, from hardy perennials to annuals or edibles. This year we opted for a bright display of coleus. Using a custom mix of Soil3 and potting soil, the plants thrived all season and continue to look amazing! Here's my video where I demonstrate planting my LiveScreen with Soil3.
Crescent Garden Containers
I am a long-time fan of gardening in containers because the possibilities are endless. You can be creative with your plant selections and it is a fun way to add interest to patios and porches or spice up a boring spot in your landscape. Container gardening is for EVERYONE, especially when you use Soil3 compost in your containers!You may remember my May blog post all about container growing. This was my first year using Soil3 as my exclusive growing media in pots. The results have been astounding! This has been BY FAR the best year for container combinations at my house.
I have also invested in a few new high-quality planters from Crescent Garden. I have become a huge fan of this brand because they are stylish and extremely durable. The color does not fade after YEARS in full sun and the plastic does not split in cold temperatures. I also like the water storage capacity these containers offer as it reduces the need for daily irrigation. The Nest Planter is my most recent acquisition and I love the versatility of this raised planter.
Summer Foodscape Combinations
This summer I was determined to plant BIG and BOLD displays using dynamic ornamentals and delicious edible crops, especially grains. Yes, I was in full #CrazyGrainLady mode finishing my second book, Gardening with Grains. From creative displays of heirloom corn to a poolside planting of ‘Carolina Gold’ rice, grains played a big part in making this season more interesting than ever.
- Gardening with Grains is now taking pre-orders on Amazon.
- The Foodscape Revolution, my first book, is available on my website.
My successful plantings are all because of Soil3. I have been top dressing my garden beds with it for years now, and it shows! Seed germinates easily and, over the course of a few short months, develops into towering, fruitful specimens. Of course, Foodscaping is all about combining edibles and ornamentals to make the most of your existing landscape beds. I had several combinations that really stood out through the heat of the summer.
‘Flamethrower’ redbud, dark seeded sesame and white star zinnia
This combination was accidental — the sesame actually reseeded from last year! I won the Flamethrower at the annual JCRA Garden Party and Rare Plant Auction. It is a new variety from Dr Dennis Werner of NCSU and it is magnificent!
I planted it in a sunny bed that wraps around my garage. It is a great spot because I can see it from my kitchen window. Following a spring display of carrots, cilantro, larkspur and poppies it was time to sow a few summer crops. ‘White Star’ zinnia is a beautiful plant to grow along the edge, defining the bed with bright white flowers. To my happy surprise, sesame plants started to appear, filling in open areas in the middle of the border. This combination of soft pink flowers on the long arching stalks of sesame was a perfect complement to the brilliant new growth of the redbud with a white ground cover of zinnias.
Asclepias, ‘Alabama Sunset’ coleus, ‘Carolina Gold’ rice, peanuts and okra
This is my third season planting the “pool bed”, aka feed tank. We see this bed from our back patio and it is always designed to create a “wow” reaction from visitors. It was better than ever this year! Thanks to the butterfly weed, Asclepias tuberosa, pollinators were abundant. The red and yellow foliage of the coleus was a brilliant contrast to the dense ground cover of peanuts. With a backdrop of lush rice this bed stopped everyone in their tracks! The corner plantings of okra provided seemingly endless harvests all season.
‘Micrette’ basil, buckwheat, celosias, coleus and heirloom corn
This combination blew me away! I planted it on June 17 and could not believe how fast everything grew. To deter browsing mammals, especially deer, groundhogs and rabbits, I planted the bed edge with a dense line of ‘Micrette’ basil. This “globe” form has very strongly scented foliage and a tight growing habit. As a mid-border accent the ‘Tapestry’ coleus and white flowering buckwheat thrived while the heirloom corn grew at least a foot a week! Of course, harvesting corn on the cob really made this foodscape combination extra delicious.
Enjoy the Fall Planting Season
Every season is an opportunity to experiment with new plants and ways to grow. I hope you enjoyed my three summer success stories. Need some inspiration for fall planting? Check out my blog from last year.
I hope you will be inspired to be creative in your home landscape, with the help of Soil3 compost!