HELEN LANG: Taking a risk on sweet peas

My garden peas were a dismal failure — not even a meal to be had, so out the barren plants go, to be replaced by sweet peas

It was 92 degrees in the bedroom. The window was open and the door onto the balcony but it was like living in deepest Africa — and this is merely an observation, not a complaint — but oh my it was hot!

Desperate  circumstances demand desperate acts. I took the scissors and cut off the sleeves of my nightie, and another two feet off the hem. There, that was better, but not much, but decency demands a certain amount of respectability. What if someone came to the door? My youngest daughter, who lives with me, was horrified but I was not going to add another single item to my costume. Not even my ear rings! This was it! If she didn’t like it, she could look the other way.

Man! It was hot! We open the doors in the early morning and close them when it begins to warm, close the Venician blinds, pull the curtains across, turn on the fan and lie down to conserve any energy left. I love summer, don’t get me wrong, but it does seem to be extra hot right now, don’t you think? Global warming, pehaps?

In this heat, things really grow!

Last week I raved about keeping up the watering but now we are being urged to conserve water, so please give up your daily shower in favour of your garden’s needs. I’m only partly teasing … you won’t die if you don’t have a bath but your plants will, if their roots don’t get wet. Mind you, I’ve found its better to let plants get a little dry, rather than too wet, but in this heat they do need a little extra help.

There are still three lilies in bud but this heat certainly shortened the lives of the earlier ones — they lasted two days, or three at most, and the blooms crumbled and died.

I’ve been remembering the lilies I had on the deck at Melissa Street. I had 10 pots of lovely lilies, some perfumed. What a joy they were, in their stately beauty.

Cher is also a lily fan and hers will be in full bloom now, her whole back garden full of sweet scent. I love lilies!

My garden peas were a dismal failure — not even a meal to be had, so out the barren plants go, to be replaced by sweet peas. Those seeds are now soaking in a bowl on the kitchen counter. I’m going to take out the pea foliage (carefully, carefully) fertilize the soil, digging in some granules of 20-20-20 and water until the soil is soaked. I’ll wait a day for the fertilizer to blend with the soil and plant the seeds tomorrow.

I know its risky to plant sweet peas in all this heat. I know they prefer it cooler but I have the seed. I love sweet peas, the balcony looks pretty bare, so in they go and we’ll see what happens next.

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



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