Over 30C again today and when the sun started to disappear this evening, I went back outside to, once again, water the Tuberous Begonias and many of the other containers. Cordelia, the very expensive Begonia is starting to look worthwhile. Despite the somewhat shorter days this heat just sucks the moisture out of the soil, through the plants and into the atmosphere which is already too humid. Oops! I’m complaining about the weather. Oh well, it appears to be a Canadian national pastime. I’m going to have to start running the sprinklers over the rest of the garden. Was attempting to pull weeds in the beds around the ponds this morning. I can really only be out there before the sun starts to beat upon us, usually by about 9:00 am. The soil is so dry and hard that very few weeds yielded any roots, they just broke off at the surface. With the slightest hint of moisture, I’m sure they will roar back to life and make me wonder why I even bothered.
The main crop of Tomatoes is starting to ripen and soon there will be as much of an abundance as there presently is with the Zucchini. Surplus Tomatoes are easier to give away. The Pole Beans are producing like mad and we can’t eat them fast enough either. It’s at this point in the summer that I start to ask myself why I have so many vegetables planted? It’s really not about the absolute quantity but rather that I want to try several different varieties to see how they perform. At least with the Pole Beans I can leave the excess on the vines and pick them as dried beans to store and use over the winter.
Managed to prune the Boston Ivy this morning before the sun drove me off the ladder. Much of that ivy is on the north and west sides of the house where it takes a little longer for the sun to arrive in the morning. A well established vine like mine can put on tremendous growth in one season and pruning it is an essential annual chore.
The Zinnias are performing exceptionally well in this hot sunny weather and they produce an endless supply of beautiful cut flowers to bring into the house. They were interplanted with some of the Eggplant, which has proven to be a poor decision. The Zinnias are really out competing the Eggplant, leaving them small an unproductive. Competition for water and now for light, as the Zinnias get quite tall, has left the Eggplant struggling to survive. I could remove the Zinnias but that is difficult to do when they are so beautiful and we have other sections of Eggplant that are doing somewhat better.
The seedlings of the fall crops have been doing well under the lights in the basement and are now ready to move outdoors into a slightly shady spot. Transplanting them into the garden in this hot dry weather can be a bit tricky. We grow them in the fall because they prefer a cooler moister climate and asking them to start out at 30C + with minimal water is asking for failure. The Cheddar Cauliflower that is going into the Earthbox planter will be fine but the Broccoli, Kohl Rabi, Pak Choi and Lettuce that are ready for the garden will take some extra watering. I already seem to spend a significant part of each morning watering my many containers and I’m not anxious to add to that. If I want fresh Broccoli in October, I really have to put in that effort now.
It is time to decide which of my many Iris need to be dug and divided this year. The first weeks of August are the best time for this activity and I did mark several when they were in bloom, as candidates for this years dig and divide program. Now we only need to find the time to do it. At least the weeds around the Iris clumps will get dealt with as we dig up the Iris. Weeds just seem to be a huge problem this year and trying to get up the energy to pull them from hard dry ground, when the relentless sun is beating down, seems very difficult to do.
The heat has produced some benefits, of course. Many of the vegetables and flowers are producing great crops and doing it two to three weeks earlier than would be normal. I have as many Cucumbers as I do Zucchini and there are only so many things you can do with a Cucumber. Have you ever heard of a Cucumber loaf. On the other hand, I must get my daughter’s great recipe for Cucumber soup. It was cold and refreshing and I’m not really the world’s biggest Cucumber fan.
Keeping up to date on gardening activities can be followed on a more frequent basis by checking the front page of my web site, gardening-enjoyed.com. It changes every 2 or 3 days to show you what I am up to. That change only takes a few minutes, while producing Dallying is a much larger effort.
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.
Eleanor asks? My aconitum carmichaelii has deformed terminal shoots and the leaves seem to sag and then brown and dry up and die. Any ideas? Here are a few pictures.
Ken Answers! Strangely enough a friend showed me a similar problem in her garden this week. I am not certain about the cause but I suspect a tiny insect of some sort. A thrip or mite, that is invading the terminal shoot and then the rest of the problem develops from that damage. It is probably too late to do anything except cut off the damaged shoots and destroy them. Here is one of Eleanor’s pictures. My research has not produced any better answers. If anybody out there has a more definitive answer please share it.
Margery Asks? I have two questions: 1 - my acorn squash are producing many flowers but not setting any fruit - why would this be?
2 - I planted zucchini hoping to coax it up a trellis but it isn't going! It just spreads out huge leaves from a central base. Is it a particular kind that travel up your fence?
Ken Answers! Most squash of any type tend to produce a series of male flowers before they start to produce the female flowers that develop into fruit. Keep waiting the girls are probably just a little slow in getting ready to show up. The climbing Zucchini is a summer squash called trombetta and is available from Renee’s seeds.
Silvia Ask? I got a big surprise from a gentlemen who no longer wanted to bring in his collection of 100+ red patriot dahlias. I got the tubers and planted them all over the garden! I"ll be faced with digging up those tubers in the fall before the frost. Could you share the best way to store them over the winter? Would they be ok in a large container in the garage? Do I put the tubers in soil or leave them in a large container on their own? He also gave me canna lilies...same process for those? Thank yo so much! Oh! Do you ammend your soil with organic compost every year? I have raised veggie boxes and seem to have to do it every year and several times throughout the Summer. I just applied eathworm casting compost tea to all the beds. What do you do to better your soil year to year? Thanks and keep on growing!!!
Ken Answers! Dahlia tubers are best stored in some very lightly damp peat moss at about 7 - 8C. They will not stand any freezing. Cannas are equally cold sensitive but will be happy just stored loose in a box. Compost, compost and more compost keeps my soil slowly improving but sometimes it never seems enough.
Cynthia Asks? Red Lily Beetle larva - have you ever, tried washing them off the underside of the leaves, with say the old fashioned 'Fairy' household soap dissolved in water trick, using a fine spray?? Like you, at the beginning of the growth of the lovely foliage, as soon as I saw the beetles I knocked them off 2-3 times daily, but they still managed to leave the horrible black slimy blobs underneath the leaves.
Ken Answers! I have used a spray of insecticidal soap on the black blob larva. If you coat them well it does work. The older the larva and thus the thicker the black slime layer, then the less effective the soap is. In the spring I make sure I capture and kill the red bugs. Knocking them off just slows them down.
Thanks you for the information re Lily bugs. I had a lily garden- devastated this year. !! Can I remove the roots, clean the soil and put them back in next year?
In other words would they overwinter in my house--and I can use a cleaner for the soil? Thanks.
Ken Answers! Do not dig up your Lily bulbs. If they regenerated at all before the leaves were destroyed they will come back. The energy required to establish new roots in the spring would probably finish them off. The adult bugs overwintering in the soil would be almost impossible to clean out with chemicals. Just be observant very early on and pick them off and kill them.
Nancy Asks? I have a garden of cosmos and want a definition of dead-heading them. Do I only snip off the heads or take it quite far down the stem. Sorry...but I am a beginner.
Ken Answers! Cut off the flower and all of the stem that is underneath it down as far as where the next stem branches off. If they are getting wild and leggy, as Cosmos can, then chop off at least the top half of the plant and new shoots will appear below the cut that will soon be blooming again.
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