I thought I’d give you a bit of an update on my bucket garden and how it is doing this summer compared to this time last year.

My bucket garden tomatoes are doing so much better this year than last year. (I wish I could say the same about the tomatoes I have in the ground out at my grandparents.) But at least I think I know some of the reasons, the main one being fertilizer.

Last year my bucket garden cherry tomato looked good, produced a couple handfuls of good looking (and tasting) tomatoes and then started to decline fast. When I asked the extension vegetable specialist about it one day in the break room (the perks of working at the university), the first question he asked was about how often I fed, or fertilized, them. And I realized I hadn’t. Whatever nutrients had been in the soil mix when I planted the tomatoes had surely been long ago used up and I had essentially starved them.

So this year, I took his advice and fertilized at the beginning when I planted and also a couple times throughout the growing season. I can tell that it has definitely helped, and I’m enjoying all the tomatoes.

My spinach was done months ago, and my lettuce hasn’t been as productive in this hot weather (and what I have harvested has been on the bitter side). So I’ll be seeding some more of both this weekend for a late summer/fall harvest. But my basil, though small, is growing like crazy lately – more fresh pesto for me!

bucket garden flowers, strawflower

I planted a bucket full of zinnias, mixed with some strawflower, and have been enjoying their colorful blooms – even if the grasshoppers and nibbling on them.

Last year I planted peppers in my buckets and I think they suffered the same problem as my tomatoes – no fertilizer – and my happiest bucket garden plants were my strawberries. This year I have neither peppers or strawberries planted in my buckets. Instead, I have flowers. My zinnias have been blooming for a few weeks now. Slow and steady. And unfortunately being eaten by insects. I’ve spotted at least one fat and happy grasshopper out there, as well as a few earwigs. But since they seem to be leaving my tomatoes and my basil alone, I’m fine with them nibbling on my zinnia leaves.

In addition to zinnias, I also have a few strawflowers mixed into the bucket, and they should be opening into their full splendor soon. And, of course, I have some gladiolus. The first spikes bloomed mostly while I was on vacation, but I’m getting a couple more spikes opening up this week which I am enjoying thoroughly.

How are your gardens growing? Harvested any tomatoes yet in your neck of the woods?