The garden is blooming and growing at a wonderful rate. Already we have more food than we can possibly eat and that makes the neighbours and children quite happy. The early peas did not germinate that well this year and as there may not be enough at any one time to shell and serve for dinner, I’m just sampling my way through the garden as I walk around. They are even delightful at 6:00 AM as breakfast appetizers. The Sweet Peas that I’m trying seriously for the first time this year are growing fast and strong. They do need a bit of maintenance though. To keep them blooming I have to make sure that they don’t set any seeds. That chore has delightful consequences, containers of sweet smelling blossoms in the house. I did make one mistake when setting up the Sweet Pea’s climbing fence. It actually touches the ground which makes weeding behind it a bit problematic.
I was away from the garden for three days and it’s amazing just how much can happen in that time. The plants grew nicely and the ‘natural vegetation’ doubled in size and quantity. The absence was due to a cousin’s wedding and I was lucky enough to be able to indulge in another of my horticultural pursuits. The ‘Assistant Gardener’ and I did the flowers for the wedding. It takes a busy couple of days but it is a wonderfully creative exercise that we thoroughly enjoy. Yes, I do hire out my talent for a modest fee.
I have a few hours yet to decide on how to prepare this delightful white discovery that was peeking through the leaves in the garden when I went for my wander yesterday morning. There is always the cheese sauce but I have also used a fresh mango sauce. It being the first of the season I may just steam it lightly and drizzle some butter over it so that we can enjoy its fresh natural flavour. There is also an abundance of Broccoli quickly developing and the Bok Choi is getting huge. It’s time to start the family dinner time activity of “count the vegetables.” The children tell me that the record at one meal was thirteen and they all like almost all of them. That’s the real achievement.
There are a multitude of chores of varying sizes that await me each morning as I wander the garden. The biggest sometimes seems to be deciding which one to do first. The last issue of ‘Dallying’ looked at pruning shrubs and now we want to go a little higher and look at a bit of maintenance that is required on my Harlequin Maple to keep it doing what it is supposed to do. As I’m working on this dramatic variegated tree, the ‘Assistant Gardener’ wanders by and asks why we can’t find something that will grow under it all summer. The bulbs do well in the spring but it is very dry and shady there all summer. Next thing I know I’m dividing a big Hosta or two that were apparently being wasted behind the garage and moving them to the bed under the Maple. We’ll see how they do there. They should be fine.
I also like to try different things just to see if I can do them. I’ve always admired the fancy and expensive grafted tree Roses the garden centres have for sale at a price way beyond what this frugal gardener is prepared to pay. I also have no desire to spend the time winterizing one of these delicate delights. Let’s see if we can make our own hardy Tree Rose. My trial one, which sort of started out accidentally, seems to be developing quite nicely and now I’m going to try another.
I have a bag of Corn gluten that is sold as a lawn fertilizer and weed control product. It must be applied to the lawn early in the spring to be effective. Didn’t happen here. As I finish weeding each of the big perennial beds, where nothing will be grown from seed, I’m applying this material before I put down this year’s application of mulch. How will I know whether the mulch or the Corn gluten suppressed the weeds. I guess I won’t but I will have used up that free sample bag.
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.
Mary Lou Asks? Hi Ken – I am very sad to share my lovely pear tree appears to be deceased. Yesterday, it just looked very droopy and I watered it. Today, the leaves are mostly brown and it is a sad, sad sight. I spoke to the landscaper working at the church, and he told me that he had heard about this happening to a number of pear trees recently. Have you? I also have a late-flowering magnolia tree in my front bed that I planted last fall. This spring it had lovely buds on it, but these never opened and seem to now have disappeared. Can you shed any light on what may have happened?
Ken Answers! The Pear I’m not sure about. There is some research about a fungus disease that has had similar effects in Pear but none that indicates that it is present here. I’ll search for more answers. The late blooming Magnolia was probably hurt by the late frost that we had in May this year. The tree is hardy enough but the flower buds, once they start to swell, are very tender and were probably killed by that frost. It should be fine next year.
Sandra Asks? I`ve got a question for you ,my husband waters the plants with backwash water from the fish pond is that a good thing or not other, than the hard pressure from the water?
Ken Answers! I would think that it would be a good thing. There would be a considerable amount of dissolved nutrients in that water. I’ve never seen fish manure advertised but there are certainly lots of fish emulsion products out there. If the plants in the fish pond are thriving then there is unlikely anything toxic in the water. Sounds like a clever use of ‘waste’ water to me.
Silvia Asks? I would love to experiment with growing garlic on my raised beds. I have purple Mexican garlic with the roots as well as organic Californian garlic with roots attached also. Can I plant the cloves directly into the beds now or should I wait for the fall? Are there some varieties that do better in Ontario? Do you grow garlic?
Ken Answers! Yes I do grow garlic and it is quite easy. I would wait and plant your cloves closer to the fall if you think they will last that long. If they start to grow now they will not bulb up very well. They like to have a cold rest period. One caveat about growing garlic. Harvest it all. I was lazy one year and the seeds and bulbils found the soil and now tiny garlic plants are one of my worst weeds in that garden.
Ross Asks? When I wash the lamb's quarters in a big bowl of water there is always a layer of 'grainy scum' that obviously comes from this wild green. Does anyone know what it is? Do lamb's quarters rate as a good quality vegetable to eat?
Ken Answers! I’m not sure that I should admit how easy it was for me to go out in to the garden and find a large handful of lamb’s quarters. We do see it as a common vegetable garden weed. I have eaten it however, kind of Spinach like. I washed my big handful and could not duplicate your ‘grainy scum.’ I suspect that it is just dust on the surface of the leaves from your particular soil type although the leaves sometimes have a white powdery substance on the underside. Like most wild greens it is a nutritious and delicious addition to the dinner plate. Pick young plants or new growth tips and steam them lightly.
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