Well we finally had a whole half inch of rain this past weekend. Some plants have perked up but some will never recover. I know I’m supposed to be the horticulturist with the answers but I don’t understand why well established plants in good soil wilt and die while brand new weeds can germinate and grow in apparently inhospitable solid gravel paths? Mother Nature just has to keep pointing out that she is in control, not me. I may enter into agreements with her, encourage her and even occasionally manipulate her; then she just slaps me upside the head and reminds me of my subordinate position. All of which makes gardening the interesting challenge that keeps me at it.

I have been ignoring the garden and my readers for a while, as the vagaries of life play out. It has been my pleasure to assume the role of care giver and helper to an old friend of many years. Finding appropriate accommodation for my hospitalized friend because she cannot return to her previous independent living is, a time consuming, frustrating and sometimes demoralizing task. We think we have achieved some measure of success and I’m looking forward to her moving in and then reacquainting myself with those weeds flourishing in the gravel path.

Despite all the problems this is a wonderful time of year for vegetable gardeners, especially if they are also cooks. A quick trip down the gravel path, ignoring the weeds, will yield at least half a dozen delicious vegetables for dinner. Five varieties of potato to choose from and they really are quite different in colour, taste and texture. Assorted summer squash such as Zucchini, which are the most prolific things in the garden. A feast of tomatoes and peppers of several colours and heats. Pole beans dripping from their strings and beets and carrots just waiting the call to dinner. One of my new favourite recipes makes a delicious dish from the rather humble Swiss Chard which I have discovered to my great delight is a wonderful looking container plant (pictured left,) and seems to do even better there than it does in the garden. That may have something to do with the supply of water but it is also up off the ground and away from little chewing insects.

All through the two centre beds in the back garden, between the ripening Asparagus ferns, the Daylilies and the newly rearranged Iris, are long drying stalks reminding me of yet another bounty. Garlic is so easy to grow and it takes up such little space and the flavour of fresh garlic in any recipe is far superior to shaking that bottle of dried garlic powder. I must get out there and dig up all that sumptuous flavour and replant for next year.

Those rearranged Iris are entering a growth phase as they start to adapt to their new homes. I have applied a sample of the new Miracle Gro fertilizer that attaches to the end of the hose. It was a free sample, so I used it and the application worked quite well except for having to drag 100' of hose in between all the beds. I’m not sure why they have produced it with such a high Nitrogen content as this is quite different to their previous products. I’m quite sure that I would not have chosen to purchase that formula but we will see what happens.

Now that I have a bit of time back in the garden I will use my favoured, slower and more organic treatment for Iris. Alfalfa pellets. You buy them at a country store that sells animal feed but they make a great Iris fertilizer and mulch and I think the Daylilies are going to get some this year as well. Spread them thinly in a 15cm circle around each plant. You will learn what I mean by thinly as I did. The first time I used them I covered the ground with them. They get wet. They swell to several times their original size and you have this massive solid hunk of stuff around each plant. Yes, if you have a rabbit problem in your garden this may give them something easier to eat than your prized plants. They (the alfalfa not the rabbits,) do provide nutrients and valuable organic matter to the soil and the Iris in particular seem to respond to this treatment.

The sun is drying the dew from the garden so I must get out there and enjoy feeding the Iris and rabbits. Maybe haul a few deep rooted (they go way down to find that bit of water,) weeds from the gravel paths.

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.

Gary asks? My lawn has several nice green spots, weeds, contrasting with the sea of dead brown grass. Should I consider completely renovating it?

Ken Answers! What a great time to ask that question. The early weeks of September are the ideal time to start a new lawn from seed. Go to luscious lawns at my website, www.gardening-enjoyed.com to see how to do this job simply and properly.