Ashlie Behm


Watching our Garden come to Life

sunflower opening up in a backyard garden at a portland photographer's home

One of my favorite things about gardening is watching it progress throughout the season. I spend time each morning checking in on everything and watering when needed. It’s a peaceful way to start my day, helping me clear my mind, bringing me joy in such a small but intimate and beautiful way. In my mind, there is nothing more thrilling than watching something you planted from seed sprout before your eyes and then turn into a thriving beautiful plant providing you and your family with nourishment. 

Last week, I shared how we planned and planted our first backyard garden. This week I want to share the results and a few reflections in time for this year’s garden! 

I took photos throughout last year’s growing season, so you can get an idea of the progression of the garden throughout the summer. My husband and I were both enamored with the state of our garden and how beautiful it looked once all the plants were booming. It was a dramatic  transformation and I loved documenting it through my camera lens.

How it went

In my short time as an amateur gardener, I’ve come to learn that it is just one giant experiment specific to you and your location. Sure, there are best practices. But most of the other gardeners I have spoken to throughout the years have always said the same thing to me, “gardening is really just an experiment. Try it out and see what works for you.” Which has become my approach to it and one of the reasons I decided to keep a gardening journal. 

I bought a beautiful blank notebook designed with plants and flowers on the front and back and began taking notes. From our initial design and layout down to which days I planted what. I made sure to document it all. This way I knew I could adjust accordingly as needed going forward. 

What went well: 

  • Basil – we planted 2 varieties: lemon and italian, in the same box as our tomatoes. They both did amazing. We ate SO many tomato mozzarella salads, one of my absolute favorite things to eat in the summer!
  • Flowers – our wildflowers did amazing and brought so much beauty to our garden, as well as pollinators. I also planted dahlia tubers (my favorite flower!) and a lot of sunflower seeds,  both did really well in our garden. 
  • Greens – we planted a variety of leafy greens in the garden including a mesclun mix, spinach, and arugula. They all did very well. We didn’t have to buy any lettuce for our salads all summer long! 
  • Radishes – we planted a row of radishes in one of our boxes and continued planting throughout the summer. 
  • Rhubarb – our rhubarb plant did awesome throughout the summer. My hubby made us a few delicious pies from our plant and we froze much of it to use later in the year as well.
  • Rosemary – our rosemary immediately took off and we’ve been enjoying clippings from it all year long. 
  • Squash – we planted delicata, butternut, and spaghetti. While we did have an intense squash bug invasion in late summer, I was able to fight back with some intense hand removal and lots of soapy water. We ended up with a hefty amount of squash that lasted us throughout the fall/winter allowing us to make squash soup, spaghetti squash pasta, roasted and stuffed squash all winter long!
  • Sage – our sage also did wonderfully and has given us the opportunity to experiment incorporating it  into some of our meals. One of our go-to meals is a mushroom, sage risotto made in our InstantPot – it’s delicious and easy to make! 
  • Tomatoes – we planted 2 brandywine heirloom tomatoes, one roma tomato, one traditional slicer and one cherry tomato. They all did really well! We had so many delicious tomatoes to eat throughout the summer. I even had enough to can four quart sized mason jars of sauce. 
  • Zucchini squashwe planted one and despite the small space I put it in, it did wonderfully. SO MUCH squash! 

Lessons I learned:

  • The corn I planted in rows too close to each other, so they never produced any cobs worth harvesting. I’m going to try again this year but give them more space. 
  • My pickling cucumbers didn’t produce. They grew to be one to two inches in size and then they would turn yellow and die. After much research it appears that they weren’t being pollinated. I might need to do some hand pollination in the future if this continues to be a problem. Or I might have to try a different variety. 
  • I planted my onions too close together. When I bought the starts, I didn’t realize I needed to separate out each individual plant and give them all plenty of space. I didn’t actually have the space for that in the garden, so we harvested some small onions. But nothing even close to the size you find in the store. This year, I’m starting them from seed and am going to give each plant much more space.
  • My peppers needed more sun. They did not produce as much fruit as I had hoped, mainly because I put them in the wrong container box. Easy fix.  
  • The squash plants were too close together. This is part of the reason we got a squash bug infestation. I will give them more room to spread out in the future. 

Final Thoughts

Gardening is a rewarding adventure that has so many positive benefits if you are up to putting the time into it. There is a lot of trial and error involved, so patience is necessary as well as a quest for knowledge. I am continually learning something about growing my own food. Which is why I have found that keeping a gardening journal is helpful in my journey. 

I hope you find a bit of inspiration here. Whether you are planting a boxed backyard garden, growing a few plants in containers, or just looking to follow along. 

Enjoy these images of the progression of my garden. I am already busy working on my 2020 garden. I’ve been documenting it each step of the way to share with you throughout the year! 

Backyard garden at portland portrait photographer home
backyard garden close up of cucumber
sunflower opening up in a backyard garden at a portland photographer's home
plant close-ups in backyard garden at portland photographer's home
Closeup of sunflower photo with a bee on it
Backyard garden at a portland photographer's home
Dhalia unfurling in a portland newborn photographer's backyard garden
close up of growing vegetables in a Portland portrait photographer's backyard garden
Tomatoes growing in cages in a portland photographer's backyard garden
Close up of a growing butternut squash in a newborn photographer's backyard garden
Close up of a sunflower growing in a Portland Oregon Photographers backyard garden
Close up of a pepper and blooming sunflower growing in a Portland Newborn Photographer's backyard garden
Summer Squash growing in a Portland Maternity Photographer's backyard garden
Rhubarb plant growing in a Portland Oregon Maternity & Newborn Photographer's backyard garden
Close-up of borage flower in a Portland Newborn Photographer's backyard garden

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