Skip to content

HELEN LANG: Dog days of summer fool area gardeners

Mist and dew on the ground indicate fall is on its way

You know, I think maybe it is fall, in spite of all my protests that it’s still summer.

In the early mornings now, my open window has a coating of mist on the glass and the same thing is happening on the plexiglass on the balcony wall above the street.

Well, it was the sunniest summer I can recall in years and the cooler nights are rather a welcome change. As a result, the miniature orange tree is now back in the living room. The crazy thing has ripe fruit on it, green fruit and beautifully perfumed blossoms. Do you think it has got its wires crossed somehow and doesn’t know which season this is? Interesting anyway.

As I threatened last week I have now pulled up the two tomato plants and hung them, laden with green fruit, on a nail in the dark utility room, where, hopefully, they will ripen over the next few weeks. It is warmer in there than I think is best, but what other choice does one have in a condo?

I’ve planted scallions in the now empty pot. If they grow, great. If they don’t it is no great loss, since the seed wouldn’t be viable by next spring, anyway. You have to buy new seed each year, as you do with parsnips and probably many other small seeds as well.

They are so tiny they don’t have much capacity for viable storage over a period of months.

I wonder how seed suppliers store them over the winter months? In a cool, dark place no doubt, with controlled humidity and all that neat stuff that we ordinary gardeners can only dream about.

That amazing hibiscus plant that I rave about is doing it again. It spent the summer outside and now has a big orange bud on one of its branches as it sits in the west-facing window.

It also has a lot of fresh green leaves, so it must have really enjoyed being outside. I decided to fertilize it while I was thinking about it and made myself a cup of tea in the meantime. Now we are both refreshed and rarin’ to go.

Helen Lang has been the News Review’s garden columnist for more than 30 years. Her columns appear weekly.