Our 2020 Summer Garden

While I’m not surprised in the least, our summer garden has been one of the brightest spots of 2020. I am entirely grateful I decided to make this a priority in our home life this year and already am eager to dive into next year’s adventure. As a floral designer and cultivator of home, I’ve always understood the attraction of gardening but now I get the satisfaction and wonder the process brings.

Earlier this year I shared more about starting our cutting garden here. That’s a nice place to start!

But now that it’s nearly September and we’ve been tending to our garden for the last five months I wanted to give an update, share more on how our adventure unfolded, make note of both wins and lessons learned, while of course sharing the most magical of photos from my friend Sam. This project was a little for me as a personal challenge but also a lot for my boys as I led them this year on a pursuit of becoming comfortable and delighted in nature. I feel we’ve done just that and more in part to the our little garden.

We have a pretty heavily landscaped yard, most of which I covered in this post here two years ago when I was pregnant with Ev. I knew a cutting garden or something more traditional like a raised bed for seasonal goodies was a future goal but it took until this year to actually go for it. I’m the kind of person that typically strays away from something if I know it’s not going to be grand or perfect (haha that makes me sound like such a joy, huh?) but I’ve been working to redirect that, with a little help from a global pandemic.

I outlined the things we bought for our cutting garden in this post but the plan was to stick to our usual tomatoes pots, transfer our Floret seedlings to the raised garden bed which we nestled nicely between our home and our neighbors in an area that’s lightly wooded and mulched, and maybe tackle a wild card veggie like pepper, cucumber, or wax beans. I wanted to start small and learn about the process but also make sure things were simple enough for the boys to ‘follow’ what was happening (in as casual of a way as possible).

Here are some parts that went exceptionally well and things we loved about our garden:

1. Those Salmon Zinnias! Goodness. I doubted any of our seeds actually amounting to anything because the sowing process was tedious for an instant-results kinda gal like me. But they are magically delicious and wonderful! Lachlan went from squealing over the first orange-colored bud he found in early summer, to snapping off the blooms for me, to cutting an entire bouquet of flowers he gifted to Jenni our neighbor. The zinnias keep on blooming at the time of writing and they will forever be a must have in the Bosse garden.

2. Our golden tomato plant exploded with about 8 to 10 big beautiful tomatoes this year. The boys don’t like tomatoes (just gnawing on the cages apparently) but they sure loved watching the fruits turn color, calling them ‘apples’ over and over again until they realized they’re tomatoes, and then pulling the heavy masses off the vines when I said they were ready. And then Andrew and I greatly enjoyed eating them in various capacities like on BLT’s with fresh bread from the market. I know cherry tomatoes are usually fail-proof growers for every gardener but we were pleasantly surprised by these golden beauties and would consider them again next year.

3. Tending to the garden – watering it, pulling off dead leaves, pulling weeds, deadheading the marigolds I planted to help the tomatoes flourish, pinching the zinnias, harvesting anything that was ready, and generally just seeing what was newly blooming and growing – has been an exciting part of our daily routine. We typically run over to the garden barefoot either in the morning in our jammies or at night at golden hour, walk around the raised bed to check things out, and then have conversations about what’s happening. It’s such a simple and sweet way to be with the boys and perhaps even more rewarding than the actual growth we’ve cultivated with the plants.

As a sub-note: when I think about the garden, it’s smallness and simplicity considered, these photos are exactly how I envisioned this in my head. While these photos are obviously taken by a professional and the composition was considered in her work, most are not staged and captured as organically as possible. And as a girl who styles things professionally, I love that so much! This is really just a beautiful part of our summer adventure, the photos being the delicious cherry on top.

4. The Cupcake Cosmos and Nasturtiums! Those also did exceptionally well in the garden bed, considering they were grown from seed. The cosmos literally have a cupcake-esque aesthetic to their petals and are so dainty and feminine. While I’m not sure I’d grown them again because I don’t love how weedy the foliage and stems are, they were a beautiful accent to the garden and the one flower that Ev seemed to always gravitate towards (see if you can spot the photo where he’s holding tight to his little cosmo stem!).

5. Our wild card item this year included a purple pepper plant (which we didn’t put into the garden bed so it’s not pictured here) and a gray heirloom watermelon(!). The pepper plant produced five beautiful peppers so far and the watermelon plant is coming along swimmingly. We check on it everyday and anticipate that being ready to eat in another month or so! While the watermelon hasn’t been the most rewarding crop-wise it HAS been the underdog and I love the underdog.

Some lessons learned!

1. I’m cognizant of how the sun hits our yard in relation to our landscape but now I am really aware of it in regard to our raised bed. This means, more specifically, that the summer sun is brightest on the front part of the bed facing our home and any shorter plants or flowers that go in the beds like tomatoes, need to be on that side otherwise the taller items like the zinnias, will block the much needed light. We had a tomato plant not thrive because of this but hey, lesson learned.

2. One garden bed, while seemingly large at the time of purchase, really doesn’t take much to fill! A lot of my seedlings had no place to go when they were transferred from trays to bed, and as such got trashed. Because of this we recently purchased a second garden bed (this same one from Ace) and placed it next to the current one so that we can spread out our plants next year AND make sure there’s ample space. We will also move our pots to go in between the two beds so they too, get more sunlight.

3. The type of soil and the amount you use it critical to the success of your plants and flowers. While our flowers did really well in the raised bed, we could have easily doubled the amount of soil in it and probably given everything an even better place for the plants to grow out of. Next year we will use more soil and make sure to fertilize it as richly as possible for ultimate success!

4. While I don’t feel it’s imperative to the success of a small garden like this, we didn’t put down any mesh lining under our bed and a lot of familiar weeds I recognize from this part of our yard started to spring up into the garden. Cheeky little weeds! And can you believe we forget to put down a liner when we set up the second bed too? It looks like next year we’ll just have some extra weeding to do.

5. Our tomato plants probably deserve to be planted directly into the ground and then staked to something like a metal rebar or teepee post. We overloaded our two dedicated tomato pots and I think this stunted the growth on the cherry tomatoes BUT worse, we had an awful wind storm a few weeks ago and the entire tomato cage in one of the pots PLUS the entire stalk of ripening fruit snapped off. What a sad sight to come out to the next morning! Lesson learned! Next year those babies need a better seatbelt.

6. Finally, this is more general of a lesson but still, next year I’ll start sowing seeds much earlier than we started this year so that everything can bloom sooner and we can have a bit bigger (and more varied) of a harvest. We had a slow start to the adventure this year because I didn’t want to do it all wrong and in hindsight I wish I had just jumped in sooner! I’ll be setting my alarm for Floret’s seeds (which fly fast!) and making sure we are ready to jump in as soon as our gardening hands allow us!

7. Oh, and watering etiquette. We are STILL working on this with both boys. The hose is a constant source of conflict and usually one kiddo ends up soaked where we’re outside; I’ll let you guess who ends up drenched. But perhaps this is just part of the fun?

Thanks for joining the fun, friends! Did you have any garden wins this year? Xo

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Photography: Samantha James Photography / Seeds: Floret Flowers / White raised garden beds: Ace Hardware / Chambray dress: The Brass Anchor / Boys outfits including Ev’s hat: Baby Zara / Glass sundae cup: Accent Decor / White watering can: Hearth and Hand Magnolia / Mini pink sauce bowls: Anthropologie / Texas cutting board: gift