Mother Nature is tossing me some real challenges this year. How can some things be quite late and other things actually early, all in the same year. If it likes cool and wet and it’s already planted then it’s growing like crazy. The little bit of lawn that is allowed to have some space in my yard needs to be cut too often but it rains so frequently that the grass is too wet to cut. Meanwhile there are alien invaders in the basement. Theoretically it is a closed system down there with only seeds and sterile soil brought in. A few cuttings from Begonias and Geraniums also find their way into that space. Where did an invasion of Aphids come from. Most of the seedlings are now crawling with these nasty little green sap suckers. Trying to spray these tiny plants requires picking up each cell pak and moving it around so that the spray can reach the Aphids that are hiding under the little leaves. The Begonias and Geraniums appear to have no bugs and they should be the only way those little invaders could have made it into the basement. Thank you Mother Nature for keeping me on my toes. Insecticidal soap does kill most Aphids that it covers but new ones arrive the next day and require yet another round of spraying. At least the very wet and late soil is giving the Peppers and Eggplant time to recover from the Aphids and struggle into decent sized plants.

Peonia tenuifolia the fern leaf Peony is in full bloom. It is always the first Peony to bloom but has grown noticeably bigger this spring and the blooms are a week or so ahead of their usual bloom time. Although these delightful small Peonies have very interesting foliage and small but early blooms, that foliage will often disappear by mid summer. One of the features of most Peonies is the interesting long lasting foliage.

There is one little corner of the side yard where grass has been the plant of choice but it simply refuses to do well there. The weeds have no such problem. I give up and need to kill off the sparse grass and the healthy weeds. Covering that space with some black plastic will create great heat, (if the sun ever shines,) that should turn all of the vegetative matter under the plastic into dead soft compost. I will give it a couple of weeks and then remove the plastic, add a bit of compost and rototill that space. Now the only decision is what to plant in this new little garden. I can almost guarantee that some grass will volunteer in there.

The Potatoes that have been planted in their large clay pot, have emerged. As they continue to grow they will slowly be covered with additional soil until the pot is almost full. We never cover all of the growing plants as we need some of the top leaves exposed to the sunlight so that photosynthesis can produce the growth that we are after.

One of my favourite free houseplants is also fun to share with the children. Buy some dates. Eat the date. Plant the pit. Most of them will grow and turn into a nice little palm tree. These plants have significant root systems that are designed to find sparse water in its semi desert natural habitat. That requires that we need to keep it transplanted into pots that are much deeper than the size of the plant would seem to indicate. This little plant is about two years from a planted pit and kids find it quite fascinating to watch these things grow. I will admit that once a Date Palm gets to be a few years old it may no longer be the most beautiful house plant. It is also is a high light plant that likes to find its way outside into the sunlight during the frost free period unless you have a very bright window to keep it in most of the year.

Time to answer a few questions and then get back into the garden. If you have a gardening question just ‘reply’ to this newsletter and send me your query. I try to answer most of the questions and the ones that I answer here are those that I think will have the widest interest. You can also find the latest garden updates on the front page of gardening-enjoyed .

Blain Asks? Under our front window we have extremely dry sandy soil, and it is a very sunny location. We have added compost etc.... But VERY little rain that ever gets to that location, we are looking for some sort of plant that just might like these conditions. Any ideas? Thanks.

Ken Answers! If you want a colourful summer try Portulaca, a semi succulent annual. There are a variety of perennial Sedums from ground covers to tall fall blooming clumps that should like your conditions. To be a bit fancier there are a collection of tender succulents such as Echiveria or even some Cactus that might like to spend the summer there.

Sandra Asks ? Why don`t my tulips get any flowers most of them only get leaves, not sure if the soil has any thing to do with, the soil is really sandy, I also plant at least 5 bulbs but not all come up.

Ken Answers! If the leafy Tulips are a few years old then they have just outlived there usefulness and need to be pulled up and replaced this fall. If they are new you might try some bulb fertilizer when you plant them as the sandy soil will probably be quite deficient. Planting Tulips with some Blood and Bone meal will keep them going for a few years and will deter the squirrels which may be the answer to your disappearing Tulips. Try to always plant the largest sized bulbs you can find as that is the best guarantee of good flowers. Smaller cheaper bulbs are not always a bargain.

Ann Asks ? Had great success with my first garlic planting 2 seasons ago and wondered why on earth I had never planted this before. I now have seedlings left from last year and wonder if I should just dig them up and compost them or if they are at all edible if left until autumn?

Ken Answers! Garlic seedlings will take a couple of years before they really develop into large bulbs. I will caution you about letting your garlic drop its seeds. It can become quite a bothersome weed if too many seedlings find their way into your garden. Cut off the Garlic scapes, the top curly bit of the long stem, along with the seed head before it develops. These are very tasty added to stir fries or to make pesto from and it keeps the seedlings from taking over your garden.

111 Trent St. W.
Whitby ON