I’ve been working on our patio for a few months now trying to make it more functional and enjoyable. It’s a narrow area that wraps along two sides of our house and much different than the half-acre of hillside we tended at our former house. At first, the idea of having so much less to manage outside was attractive because we were busy with our jobs and moving closer to the ocean and a beautiful seaside community that would inspire us to get out more and enjoy weekends full of sun and fun. But I’m a gardener — I always have been. And as much as the weather is often quite gorgeous here, I’m content to spend time outside digging in the dirt. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been very easy for the past few years.
A former owner had planters installed on the patio and made less than smart choices about what was planted in them, so now, several are completely root bound. Old flagstone capping has loosened from the planter walls, much of it cracked or broken completely. The fence, although beloved by my cats for its great scratching post qualities, was more a termite high rise. Tearing it down took little thought.
I’ve always kept pots of annuals and herbs, and for the first time two years ago, began growing tomatoes in pots. About a year ago, I put together a small herb box as well. This year, one of the tomato pots has become a salad greens pot. It may not seem like much, but I can tell you the snails would be quite upset if I ever got rid of the little herb box. And this year, they’ve truly enjoyed picking out all but one variety of salad green from the new pot. Who knew snails had such discriminating palates — erm — radula?
Even though my patio is small by suburban yard standards here, I could squeeze the few things I enjoy harvesting in an even smaller space such as a balcony if I had to. In other words, it doesn’t take much to grow a few of your own veggies and or herbs. I’d enjoy planting even more among the roses and succulents I’m currently planting in the newly filled, capped, and painted planters, but until those plants are established, adding anything edible to them isn’t advisable and may never be. Hence, the pots I have are a great idea because I can move them around according to the seasons and sunlight.
My tomato plants are sporting grape-sized fruit, but the idea frying tiny green tomatoes isn’t as appealing to me as plucking some of the salad greens, a few leaves of the perennial bloody sorrel that continues to thrive, some wild arugula, and purple basil.
Perfect for a wrap with a bit of left over chicken and, if the patio was finished, a nice lunch outside with a good book. All in due time.
Are you a gardener? Do you have an outside space to relax in when the weather is pleasant?