Hollyhocks, Zinnias, and Tomatoes

Until about three years ago, Raf and I could not get anything to grow.  We tried flowers.  We tried vegetables.  We tried bushes of various kinds, but we truly believed we had the old "black thumb"...all the plants turned black and died!

Then we got our handyman to build us some raised beds off the east side of the deck.

The first year...not much happened, and the second year was not a whole lot better.  BUT, the third year we began to get some, for us, startling results.

Last summer we planted several tomato plants, but mostly we planted zinnias, and, while the tomatoes did ok, and we got quite a few, fairly good tasting tomatoes, the zinnias we planted from seeds purchased through Burpee turned out to be spectacular, and last year I showed you many a beautiful flower.

 This year's zinnias.  They really are pretty!
 Our nasturtiums this year.  They are good to eat, having a peppery taste.

This past winter, because of our great success last year, we had our handyman build a second set of raised planters along the south side of the deck.

I ordered seeds from Burpee, and tomato plants and some petunias, and away we went. BUT, nothing seemed to grown in the new beds.  And, frankly, nothing much is growing there right now.

However, in the old bed, the tomatoes are flourishing, and zinnias are ok, and we have nasturtiums, and one single hollyhock, which I planted from a Bupee seed last summer.  It grew low to the ground and didn't do a whole lot, but this year it grew over eight feet tall. 

 Our eastern bed...as you can tell, to the right, in front of the shed, nothing is growing to the south!

Now, we came to realize that something was going on in the new bed, but the old bed was doing fine.

Our handyman used treated wood. The most common types of chemical used to treat wood are Alkaline Copper Quaternary, Copper Azole, and Micronized Copper Quaternary.  I don't know which type he used, but one of these chemicals, I think, has gotten into the soil and caused the plants not to grow.  In fact, I believe it poisoned them, and perhaps that's what caused the first couple of years of the old bed not to do well, either.

I was hoping that by now, whatever was in the wood would have drained through with watering and rain, but so far, the plants still seem stunted and dying.

Therefore, I recommend that if you get a raised bed or planter, you check with someone who knows about plants before using chemically treated wood!

Today, from our old bed, we picked our first "Early Girl" tomato.  Here is how it looked...before we cut it in two at et it!

Next week I plant to talk specifically about Hollyhocks!


Annie said…
What an interesting story, Sue. I have a brown thumb too but succulents became my backyard best friends last summer. They actually even survive over the winter.

This morning I bought some native grasses for the front. Keeping my fingers crossed that lightning will strike again and I'll be 2 for 2.

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