I started gardening in September, first with one raised planter bed filled with some peppers (Serrano, Jalepeno, Dragon Cayenne, Bell and Banana), tomatoes (San Marzano and Mr Stripey), basil, and clove. The raised planter is 7’x11′ and about 16.5″ tall. I lined the bottom with a porous weed barrier, then a layer of marble chips for drainage, followed by peet moss and then a potting mix on top. The potting mix layer was a bit thinner than I like and I plan on adding another layer of potting mix next season to bring the soil level up to just a few inches under the edge of the planter.
The plants I got from Home Depot’s garden center and were already in small pots. I used an organic fertilizer formulated for vegetables around the base of the hole I dug for each plant, and once a month since, I’ve added a few teaspoons of it around the base of each plant. I water each planter bed for a few minutes every other day, and even less when it rains.
For the most part they’ve all done well. The basil and cloves do so well that we can pick them down to the stem and have an almost bare plant and a week later the plant has grown back and it’s time for more pesto (or clove sauce).
The banana peppers are huge, similar in size to actual bananas and they grow very quickly and in large numbers.The jalepenos have grown well, but the plant only produces a few at a time. The dragon cayenne (cross between thai pepper and cayenne pepper) also grow like crazy. I’ve been waiting for them to turn red before I harvest them, so they end up taking longer than the banana peppers to ripen, but they grow in a much larger quantity.
I accidentally purchased 2 serrano plants, but they’re both doing well. I also wait for these to turn red, but you can pick them when they’re green if you prefer. They are about halfway in between the jalepenos and dragon cayennes in every factor. The bell peppers were a huge failure pretty much right off the bat. The plant still exists, but it’s small and shriveled and looks terrible and has no peppers.
I planted 2 kinds of tomatoes: Mr. Stripey and San Marzano. San Marzano tomatoes are the Italian tomato sauce tomato. They’re tall and thin and ovalloid and that plant has been growing really well. It outgrew 2 tomato cages and is starting to grow along the rope I have holding up my outdoor string lights. I expect to have a few dozen tomatoes from that plant.
The other tomato plant: Mr Stripey, is a red and yellow striped tomato that I mainly bought for the novelty of it. The plant itself has grown really large, almost as large as the San Marzano, but it hasn’t produced a single flower, and thus, no striped tomatoes in my future.
That first planter bed was showing a lot of progress, so a few weeks later I built another planter bed and added some more tomato plants, along with more basil, rosemary, mint, and citronella. This soil level was a bit lower, and one of the pepper plants didn’t make it. I’ll definitely add more soil to this planter bed before next season. Aside from the shishito pepper plant though, all of the plants in that bed are doing well.
The tomatoes I planted in the second raised bed were: Golden Jubilee, Black Prince, and Heatmaster. The Golden Jubilee tomatoes will grow into yellow tomatoes, the Black Prince will be dark red/purple tomatoes, and the Heatmaster tomatoes are designed to be more heat tolerant, but otherwise your standard red tomato.
I used these tomato craters to grow theses tomato plants in. They basically create a moat around your tomato plants with a few drainage holes at the bottom to deliver water deeper into the soil. I think overall they really helped. My tomatoes flowered much sooner than the other tomato plants from the first bed, aside from Golden Jubilee which hasn’t flowered yet. It’s interesting, the only 2 tomato plants that didn’t flower are the Golden Jubilee and Mr. Stripey. Both plants produce tomatoes with a yellow color, either as a stripe or the entire fruit, and both have so far failed to flower. I suspect it may be related to the color somehow.