Third Time’s a Charm

I wrote this post back in September which was not that long ago. I’ve had a busy past few years, and I’ve been promising to show you how my urban garden grows. I will make a third attempt this year (since I’ve been trying since 2016 ) and you know what they say…

third time’s a charm‘…fingers crossed hoping this works!!!!


I start making plans for my garden in the middle of summer which for our zone 5 garden is around late July or early August. I start journaling in an inexpensive spiral notebook by jotting down ideas as I sketch loose diagrams of my garden. Over the years, I have gone through tons of these spiral notebooks. I know some people use programs on their computers to figure out their garden space, but I have found a simple spiral notebook to be my go to each time I want to make changes to Palm Rae Potager.

IMG_2123 copy

I like to make plans for the next year garden while I say goodbye to the present year garden.  These are some of the questions I address in my journal each year.  I am all about the 3’s today!

  • What was NOT successful this year?
  • What was VERY successful this year/ exceeded my expectations?
  • What do I want to change next year to make these two goals attainable?

I wrote the below section in late September. I will fill in where needed to freshen up the post. I intended to follow through this year with explanations as to how I grow our Urban Potager. I have my fingers crossed that the next few months I will stay on task. Things are quiet around here at Palm Rae Potager, so I should be able to achieve this goal.


This past spring I created a new gathering space outside as we replaced our old porch that was falling off the back of our house.  The railing was collapsing, and the wood was rotten. It had to go. When remodeling our home, we always attempt to keep the same footprint and use what we can instead of tearing up and replacing everything. This porch area was poured back in 1968, and it is still functional. There is no need to tear all this up and replace something updated. We live in a throwaway society and need to start preserving what we can utilize and not keep filling up our landfills; just because we need to stay fashionable. My motto is if it is “functional” than it is stylish.

Each time I tried to capture a picture of this remodeled gathering space after a get together; it never looked right.  What was wrong? Usually, I can catch a picture of something, but not this gathering place.

I decided to saturate “it ” in my photoshop. I FINALLY captured it…

 But Why???

I thought about it for a few months ( remember I am behind in posting!) since I just could not find the right picture.  AHA! I got it. The people were not in the picture and when they left…..they took some of the garden colors…That was it! Each time we gathered in our garden with family, friends or neighbors a bit of color was taken home.  I genuinely believe people create gardens to be enjoyed by others and to color their life with happiness. We sure could use a bit more of that in this world today.

IMG_2064-2018-gatheringTo me, it is all about giving others a wonderful time sitting in nature. I heard several people say, “I can’t believe I am in the city?” Yep, it made them happy and they were like little kids playing outside in the forest. Our gardens “heal”  if we build them and share. I can’t imagine a better way to spend a beautiful day or evening! Can you?

Time to Start Planning for Next year!

As I am working in the garden all summer, I am thinking about what I need to change or save for the next garden year. It usually starts around the middle of July and continues through the middle of September if we have a hot fall. I decided this past year to document how Palm Rae Potager starts from the ground up to provide for year-round eating. Our garden does not just pop up one day with food and nature dancing all around. It is a carefully choreographed  “garden dance” that begins the year before.


A system and a plan are always set in motion the previous year. I bet some of you did not know that, well, neither did I until I started thinking about what, how and when I do various things. People often ask me; Where did you start?  I feel like at that moment, I have so much to tell them all at once that we would be sitting there for a few hours and I have no doubt it would overwhelm them and they would walk away with the idea that it is too time-consuming. Yes, in the early stages it is a bit more time consuming, but if you do it right, it takes care of its self as the summer progresses along. You do get time to sit down and sip a cup of tea or share a craft beer with friends in the evenings!

Many of my garden seeds are saved for the next year from the previous year. Yes, I  save MANY  of my seeds. Some years, I keep seeds from one crop, so I  only grow that one out. I have grown out my red peppers three years in a row. I should have enough red pepper seeds to last me a few years. Next year, I would like to grow out a variety of peppers to trial and see if there are any others I would enjoy eating. If you want to save one type of pepper you need to grow out only that pepper on your city lot. Peppers will cross with one another. I selected the traits I wanted in red pepper. To me the early red color and sweet flavor. You can read about that goal in this post (here).

However, this year, I think I would like to grow out a good cooking pepper that does not need to be the color red. Maybe a banana pepper. I have now until next spring to decide. In the meantime, I have collected seeds from my red pepper from this year and should have enough seed.


I believe it is time to start over saving my cucumber seed after this year. It looked rather awful most of the summer. One thing about lemon cucumber is it keeps on producing even if the leaves or plant look horrible. I love my lemon cucumbers, but this year, I believe it is time to try some other types of cucumbers as I grow out a few sources to see if they are the right lemon cucumber I want to enjoy each summer.

That is the funny thing about seeds you order from other places. They will say a seed is this or that and the longer you garden you find out, hmmm…that is not what I ordered. This has happened to me over the years more times than I want to admit. The problem is that I need to trust my seed sources.  I have been keeping records of where my seed sources are and which ones tend to be “not true to seed.”  They are not what they say they are, imposters!  Shoot, I am not mad since I have saved some seed of my own and being in the seed sometimes you never know what someone else is growing and seeds do cross. However, some have been a pleasant surprise.

Rudbeckia triloba

Also, known as triloba  “variation”  or “prairie glow” depending on who is selling the seed or plants. I tried to find it several places this year, but each place sold out. I decided to save my own seeds from a plant I purchased.. Not a problem now! This is why you have to plan ahead. It does self-sow but if you have an urban paper like I do you move your garden beds each year to keep your soil healthy. I always pull up my little seedlings that have self-sown. Once I recognize them, I do not have a problem, but the first few years I pluck the little guys out early spring!

This week and next as long as it stays warm enough, I am collecting seeds from my garden. I will share with you all about my Fall salad garden!

Happy Gardening from my garden to yours!





14 Comments Add yours

  1. Kathy Sturr says:

    Oh Robbie, so beautiful! You make me (almost) miss my old garden. Truth is, I love, love, love the woods up North and I am so excited and rejuvenated by my somewhat tropical garden in the South. Your sitting area is spectacular! I can hear the conversation and laughter of good times with friends and family. For me, it’s all about a screened porch. I love the intimacy of a great chair and a good book with a garden surround. Love that little rudbeckia – what a sweetheart! I am just delving into some seed experimentation here. I have started a coontie (shrub), some cypress wildflower, a pomegranate tree, coral bean (not to be eaten – for the hummingbirds), and I am babying my American Chestnut tree seedlings here for the winter to plant in the forest up North. Next up, is a Magnolia tree. I like having my little plot at the community garden here for veggies and the house garden for the birds, butterflies, and bees. I love the charm of aged materials and agree, updating something for surface beauty only is really wasteful. Enjoy your planning and planting!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Robbie says:

      Kathy-you are my kindred spirit:-) I would have you over if you could come by someday. You live in the USA and always have an open invitation. I need to stop by your blog and see what you are developing. All that property you have now! Also your little paradise in the south-you are so blessed and I am eager to hear all about what you are doing. Pomegranate tree-WOW-now that is exciting. I was watching a documentary of a guy in Arizona that had 180 fruit trees on his city lot. OH MY GOODNESS…he had trees filled with grapefruits, oranges, etc. I would love it! You have a pomegraate tree…my favorite!!!!


  2. It’s beautiful Robbie – all your photos always are!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Robbie says:

      Thanks Pauline-it was fun sharing. If you lived in the USA you would be invited! Enjoy your warm weather soon as we get cold-LOL:-)


  3. Eliza Waters says:

    Nice to see your post, Robbie! Hard to believe it is November already – how does the time fly so fast? Your entertaining space speaks of lots of friends and family, a dozen seats! I bet folks love visiting your beautiful garden. Your red pepper look delicious and I love the rudbeckia. I grew something similar a few years back but it didn’t self-sow, unfortunately, and the vendor hasn’t offered it since. Already looking towards spring! 🙂


    1. Robbie says:

      Happy Fall Eliza! I miss visiting your paradise:-) You know Eliza- I have extra tables to seat another dozen plus- I did this summer, There is always a seat for you if you ever travel west to the middle of the USA.. You are always invited Eliza:-) As I said, I am always planning for that next season!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Murtagh's Meadow says:

    Great post and photos as always Robbie. I love your idea of sharing your garden/Nature with your friends. This year I have struggled a bit with having enough time to do all my garden jobs but i know it will wait for me!!


    1. Robbie says:

      Yes, you are right. It can wait- for those little people you have at home will be flying away from the nest before you know it. It goes too fast! Then you will be in my season with an empty nest and more time to fill but still playing catch-up lol. I have no excuse…I guess I am easily distracted! Shoot I know I am!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. plumdirt says:

    So good to hear from you! I find myself saving extra seeds this year, as we hope to be in a new home this time next year and I’d surely miss the self-sowing Thai basil, butterfly weed, zinnia, and cilantro I’ve introduced here. The Japanese purple sweet potatoes that also grow like weeds… can stay here. Ha!
    Do you keep your peppers in a hoop house this time of year where you are? I know there was already snow not too far away, I think.


    1. Robbie says:

      I was away from the computer the past few days after I posted. I missed your comment. How exciting!!! You are moving again. I know you little gardeners are growing much bigger. Like weeds, I bet! I do not have a hoop house. I grow peppers up until the first frost comes. I just pull up the plants and have to wait until the next summer. I do grow salad greens inside. I try to keep fall greens going into winter and do cover. However, a big groundhog got my kale this summer. He sawed off the tall kale that I use in the winter. I was furious. But that is what happens when you garden with nature. Sometimes it just happens. It is growing back where he chopped it off, so I did fence it off. You get a lot of self-sowing in your warmer climate. I do get some but some things I just have to start over-ugh. Happy GArdening!!!


      1. plumdirt says:

        What a hungry ground hog! My kale and beets get taken to the stump by caterpillars at least once a year, but they come back each time.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Robbie says:

        He is cute too so I have to learn how to live with him-FENCING!lol

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Your posts always uplift me, Robbie, and I am very thankful for this one. Such wise observations about how we plan and live our lives, about the colour that friends and family bring to our home life, etc., etc! A writer once said “the people who visit are a home’s chief decoration” — or some such thing. Finally, it’s so good to keep a journal — I’d be lost without mine.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Robbie says:

      Good morning from Illinois Cynthia- Always a bright ray of sunshine to hear from you! It is sunny outside today and the snow is melting:-) What a great quote-I totally agree!!! The people and laughter that fill our homes means the most:-) All that keeping up with the newest decorations-LOL…people always keep us in style:-)

      Liked by 1 person

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