HELEN LANG: Growing in a small space

Have I mentioned that my potatoes are up? I know there are only a few chunks of sprouted spuds, but my satisfaction is enormous

Have I mentioned that my potatoes are up? I know there are only a few chunks of sprouted spuds in that five gallon pot, but my satisfaction is enormous, just seeing them appear.

I should have married a farmer as my dear spouse used to suggest when I had gone into orbit over some peas almost ready to eat, or the flowering tomato plants in the greenhouse.

The clematis “Jackmanii” has been growing apace but without support. It was nervously climbing up a stucco wall until I put up the trellis support and threaded the wandering vines through the openings. It is in front of my bedroom window so it will be lovely when it flowers.

Also on the balcony there are several lilies thrusting up above the soil, about five inches now, so things are moving right along in spite of the confined space.

The green peas, in with daffodil bulbs, are now up. Have I mentioned that Leona Casey sent me the answer to supporting the peas as they grow?

She suggested turning a tomato cage up-side-down inside the five gallon pot. Rather than leave those spikes that are supposed to hold the cage upright, pointing “up”, I’ll bend them over so they won’t poke me in the eye when I’m picking the peas.

May I suggest that you pinch off the dead flowers on tulips and daffodils but allow the stems to remain.

They may look sort of strange but leaving the stems to die back naturally helps replenish energy to the bulbs, so they’ll bloom well next spring. Use scissors if you hate to get daffodil juice on your fingers.

Talking about removing dead flowers, when your rhododendron blooms have faded, rub vasoline on your hands before pinching out the flower, carefully leaving the unfurled new leaves which seem almost to be a part of  the blossom. The Vaseline is to save your hands from the glue-like sap attached to rhodo blossoms.

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