Helen Lang: Plant corn now for best results

Saanich Peninsula garden columnist offers seasonal advice.

Not quite the urgency to get seeds in now although it is not too late for many things such as lettuce, peas, shallots, which can go in pretty well at any time.

It’s a little early for the planting of over-wintering vegetables. Wait a week or so for them. I promise to give you the signal at the proper time. Meanwhile, what needs doing? There is always weeding and watering of course and you should plant your corn now that the soil is warm. Soak the seed overnight to get it interested in growing immediately. You’ll want to harvest it as soon as possible (what a happy thought). I imagine everyone loves corn on the cob. It’s pretty messy, but oh, so good!

If you haven’t yet put in your cucumber seed, do it now or buy small plants at a nursery. Please don’t forget to shelter these from the sun. Tomatoes and peppers can go outside any time now. It helps if you can plant tomatoes against a fence as it gives you something to tie your tomatoes to as they get large and start to bear fruit.

You have an uneasy choice now … are you someone who removes the branches which grow from the “armpits” of tomato plants, or do you leave these to produce more, but probably smaller, fruit? Gardeners are divided on this issue, and will defend their choice with a raised hoe if challenged! So caution is advised. I never could make up my mind and usually left some of the ones which arrived early and removed those which came later.

I always grew too many tomatoes anyway and some years found frozen tomatoes in the freezer from the year earlier, while I was freezing the current crop. I never could throw these away, usually making a vegetable soup. I grew up with my Mother’s advice: “Waste not, want not” and it has stuck with me all these years.

The lilies out on the balcony are not yet flowering but the buds are large and healthy looking. Beside them stands a single purple fox glove in a pot. Where it came from I have no idea but it is welcome. Then there are those determined yellow pansies in with the allium. Strange bed-fellow, the allium so tall and the pansies so short, but I’m grateful to have them all.

The five amaryllis are going out on the balcony for the summer. I’m going to fertilize and water them well then in a week or so cut their long trailing leaves back to a reasonable size.

The hibiscus and the orange tree are both going out there as well.  I do want to leave enough room for a couple of chairs, though. I don’t suppose there is a hope of getting an small extension added to the balcony.

What do you think?

Helen Lang has been the Peninsula News Review’s garden columnist for more than 30 years.

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