HELEN LANG: Be patient in the garden

On the 24th of May, a wonderful gardener I knew used to plant his vegetable garden

On the 24th of May, a wonderful gardener I knew used to plant his vegetable garden — everything went in, from potatoes to tomatoes, and everything grew with enthusiasm.

His garden was a picture of glowing health, which only got better as the season advanced. What I learned from him was not to rush. It was better to wait until the weather settled, the days were longer, the nights warmer and the seedlings he had started inside were bigger and stronger.

I’m trying, once again, to grow a few veggies in my balcony pots. Maybe spinach, tomatoes and perhaps an acorn squash. I won’t attempt any of the brassicas, remembering with disgust the white butterfly that, last year, laid its eggs on my two precious Brussels sprouts plants. Those eventually succumbed without producing a single sprout. I hope the beastly thing died of indigestion!

This afternoon I hope to buy the seeds but will wait for my daughter to take me to a nursery to get the seedling tomatoes and maybe a squash plant to give me a small head-start.

This balcony faces west and it gets like an oven during the afternoons, so things really shoot up as long as I keep up the watering and regular applications of fertilizer.

Oh, I can hardly wait! I will get at least one dark purple flowered petunia (for its heavenly perfume), a couple geraniums and some boccopa for beauty’s sake.

I had a splendid Mother’s Day. My kids and several of my grand kids were especially nice to me. One bouquet came in a round vase with flowers painted on the glass. In it were five purple tulip buds, a cluster of pink rosebuds, three gerbera, (two yellow and one orange) a couple large carnations (one red and one pink) three yellow daisies, several dark pink rosebuds, four mauve alstroemeria and one adorable orange-brown bird overseeing the “garden” beneath.

There was also a large mixed bouquet of (mostly), chrysanthemums, another of white and pale yellow baby chrysanthemums and one of red and white carnations. There is also a round pot of live red roses in bloom, which will last almost a month if I put it outside.

This is what happens (if you are lucky) when you have a large extended family!

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

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