Of course! The first week of September and we are getting the nicest summer weather of the year. The planters that I haven’t watered all year are now drying out on a regular basis. The garage wall has an amazing self watering system. There is no gutter along the roof line. Every time it rains, (every second day this year,) the water pours over the edge and evenly waters the planters hanging on the wall. I remembered to put in some slow release fertilizer granules to replace the regular feedings the other planters get when they are watered. This week I have had to water them twice and that was a change in my routine. Of course, like all of you, I embrace change.
It wasn’t that long ago that I had almost all of the natural vegetation, (aka weeds,) out of the vegetable portion of the garden and I cannot believe how suddenly they have re-emerged and grown to significant size. The Purslane Portulaca oleracea has covered the drier areas and I’m starting to read about its use as an herb to see if I can’t utilize some of this very prolific beast. It re-roots quite readily if you just disturb it so bending over to pick up it up becomes important. I never notice it flowering so I’m not sure where all the seed comes from other than Mother Nature just toying with me. Apparently it is still widely cultivated in parts of the world as a vegetable and is eaten either raw in salads or cooked in a variety of ways. The old herbals indicate a wide variety of medicinal claims for it. I’m going out to weed a bit of the garden and will finish writing this after dinner when I will report on it’s edibleness. Actually it was quite tasty. Sauteed some onions in a bit of butter and then threw in the weeds, stirred to get the onions and butter over the wild greens covered the pan and let them wilt. Served them. Pleasant but different flavour. I will do it again. I have a large crop available.
The results this year have been some of the best that these planters have ever produced. Besides the regular watering it was the choice of plants that has made such a great show. Bonfire Begonias! Regular readers will remember me taking cuttings all winter from these plants growing under lights in the basement. Last spring 10 planters received 4 - 5 small plants each and just look at what was produced. Now that it is September it is time to take some cuttings to start the whole process over again. Well worth the effort and the puttering in the basement all winter keeps this gardener’s soul alive when he’s not skiing.
Some other new things have grown amazingly well. I planted a climbing Zucchini called Trombetta this year and it covered the fence and invaded the park next door. The young fruit are plentiful and delicious but don’t turn your back on them. I found the one pictured growing on the other side of the fence. Amazingly no visitors to the park picked it. Maybe it just scared them away. It is a great addition to the vegetable garden but it certainly needs to be given something tall and strong to climb on. The one growing under the shade of the great Walnut tree is about a tenth the size of the one in the sun.
I get given a wide assortment of plants, tools and other garden paraphernalia in the hope that I will be amazed by the sample and thus write about it. Many of these things perform nicely, some are complete dogs and occasionally there is a plant or tool that is quite outstanding. I try to tell you about some of the good the bad and the ugly. Here is a truly good item. It is a planter known as the Earth Box. You can see the amazing growth and productiveness of the Eggplant in the picture. The Peppers that were inter-planted have grown quite well but have suffered from the competition of the more aggressive Eggplant. This planter is a closed system that has soil fertilizer and plants installed in the spring and then a cover put over the whole thing with small holes for the stem of the plants to grow through. It has a reservoir of water that the gardener keeps filled through a filling tube. This is the hardest part of using this planter. Even during a very rainy summer I needed to remember to water this planter when none of the others needed water because no rain reaches the soil. That tiny detail aside, this planter outperforms anything else that I have tried to grow vegetables in. It is not ugly but it is not highly decorative. It is very functional. If you want vegetables on your patio or balcony or you just don’t like all that bare soil and weeding thing then give the Earth Box a try.
My ordinary pot that was planted with Potatoes has also done remarkably well this year. I have picked several Potatoes from the top of the pot because the watering had exposed them to the sunlight which would turn them green and bitter. I have kept them separate in the basement so that when the plant dies down, which is happening rapidly now, I can count and weigh all of the tubers that this pot produced.
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My newsletter subscribers get to ask me questions. Just ‘reply’ to the email newsletter. It is always interesting to read the questions; mostly to see if I actually can answer them or if I have to wade into the textbooks to research the answers. If that happens then we all learn something.
Tom Asks? You often mention your Peonies, particularly the big red single called America. When should I plant Peonies and can I come by and a get a piece of yours??
Ken Answers! Tom, normally I love to share my plants with friends and neighbours but it is difficult, if not impossible to get just ‘a piece’ from a Peony. This is the correct time of year to plant them but digging up a mature Peony is a massive undertaking, they have huge roots, and there is really no need to sweat that much as your Peonies will be happy in the same spot for 20+ years. Follow the link on my Peony page to find a good nursery.
111 Trent St. W.