HELEN LANG: Less (water) is more when it comes to plants

PNR's garden columnist shares watering tips for other gardeners

This coming Sunday I hope to go across on the Mill Bay ferry to meet my brother Herb and Anthony, the man who drives him, and proceed to Cedar for several days of what is (for me) R and R.

Does that mean rest and relaxation? For me it does. Oh, it’s lovely. I hope it will be sunny while I’m there, but it really doesn’t matter, it’s just nice to get away and forget all about my duties here.

My youngest daughter, who at the moment lives with me, will hopefully attend to watering my precious plants. Mind you, the last time I was away for several days the sight of my darlings on my return was as though they were in the middle of the Sahara desert with no oasis in sight. However I recalled reading somewhere that too little water was much better for plants than too much and it was true. Everything gave a vast sigh of relief, drank deeply and made a full recovery. My daughter was relieved as I had given her such a dirty look that she had to have two hot baths to get the dirt off.

I hope she will remember to water this time. I’ll probably phone her to make sure she does.

I may not have much of a garden, but what I do have is valuable (probably only to me). My Swiss chard and the carrots are up (barely), but the pole beans are headed for the sky. Yipee.

And the two tomatoes given to me by my eldest are in bloom. I have them both in the same five gallon pot, clutching a stake in the middle to keep them upright.

They were enormous when she gave them to me, not realizing that short and sturdy is preferable to tall and skinny, but one does not say anything except “thank you dear” when the plants are a gift.

Strawberry season at last. It has to be one of the nicest times of the year.

A good many years ago I was on my own with four children to support and because I had no particular skills I ended up on my knees picking strawberries for a farmer. I

t was hard work, but I sneaked the odd reward, a lovely fully ripe berry that never made it into the basket. It tasted wonderful then and strawberries still taste delectable, even when you have to pay for them.

Helen Lang has been the Peninsula News Review’s garden columnist for more than 25 years.

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