We shuffled all of the remaining houseplants inside last Friday just before the hard frost returned. And so began the arduous process of stuffing potted plants into windows and underneath lights in preparation for a long winter indoors.
This year I decided to go for an all succulent mix in my office window, which wasn’t difficult given how many I have. I haven’t counted, but my best guess is TOO MANY. I usually put most of the agave into this prime spot where I can see them at a glance from my desk chair all winter long. However, this year I decided to mix things up a bit and have instead situated my new collection of unusual opuntia within reach.
A few of my tender paddle cactus (opuntia).
Chances are good that a few of the smaller plants will end up in the basement should the windowsill get too cold and draughty come mid-winter. I also plan to move this year’s Offfice Tomato Experiment 2012/13 once it gets too cold in the unheated front porch “greenhouse.”
I’ve been hurriedly bringing all of my frost-sensitive houseplants indoors for the winter in a mad rush to beat the season. As always I am doing it at the last minute rather than drawing it out slowly. Many of you are in a similar boat so I thought I’d compile a checklist of things that I do in the process.
- Check all plants thoroughly for critters. Check underneath mulch, leaves, in the crevices between stems…
- Slugs, snails, sowbugs, and earwigs can cram themselves into the tiniest spots. Check all around containers, especially plastic pots and hanging baskets that have a crevice underneath the lip.
- To flush pests out of the soil: Add a few inches of water to a deep sink or bucket and mix in a few drops of natural dish soap (no chemicals or scents added). The unscented Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap works well for this. Set pots in the liquid for a couple of hours. I am often lazy and don’t bother doing this with all pots — just the ones that I know are problematic.
- To flush pests out of the soil: A few drops of neem oil can be added to the water as an alternative to soap.
- Scrub any outside dirt from the side of the pots while they have their turn in the soapy water.
- Lightly shower particularly dirty or pest-infested plants with a hose before bringing them inside.
- Scrub down empty pots with a scrub brush and lightly soapy warm water. Set aside to dry thoroughly before putting them away.
- Place a small piece of newspaper between stacked terracotta pots to keep them from sticking to one another.
- Prune off any dead or diseased leaves and stems and cut back hard any plants that will be going dormant through the winter months.
It’s that time of year where so much is going on in the garden, I can’t keep up. I LOVE it!
Clockwise from Top Left: 1. Two types of mint, pink snapdragons, and a geranium in pots. I set these pots on a metal table at the back of the garden, in front of the ramshackle shed. The geranium was not happy there and has since been moved. 2. My friend Barry bought me two of these video blue metal pails a few years ago. I love the colour and always try to plant them up with complimentary plants. This one is currently holding yellow violas and pansies. 3. My lunch on holiday Monday. The salad is from the garden. It was sprinkled with dianthus petals that are now blooming in full force in the dry bed garden. 4. May 19.
Assorted and Sundry
An article I wrote about cherry tomatoes was published in the summer 2012 issue of Garden Making Magazine.
A review of my recent book, “Easy Growing” in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Interview about planting weekend with Metro Morning News’ Matt Galloway. p.s. I am eating my words when it comes to basil because this has been the hottest late May I can recall. I have put my basil out, probably the earliest ever! p.s.s I should have mentioned Hens and Chicks aka sempervivums to the question about indestructible. Tough as nails and hardy to the cold, too.
Recently on HGTV Gardens I answered questions about Making Thrifty, D.I.Y Containers, Where and How to Score Bargain Plants, and Trouble with Lettuce That Won’t Form Heads.
Have a great weekend! And happy long weekend to my American friends.
Last fall, once the summer annuals had died off, I began the process of dividing up the right side of my garden into smaller beds separated and accessible by paths. While I managed to move a few perennials out of the newly formed pathways before the ground froze, there were a few borderline tender(ish) perennials that I kept in place for their own good. It was simply too late to uproot and establish them elsewhere.
I am now in the process of transplanting those that remain to new beds and accidentally dug up this species tulip in the process. Since it was out of the ground I figured that I might as well take its picture.
Soon, once the flowering bulbs have finished doing their thing, I will carefully remove those that are sitting in the middle of pathways and replant them as well. Since I’m bound to find fault with some of these new plantings, I’ll likely dig up and replant a few of the perennials again in the fall once I see how the garden looks with its new form. We gardeners are rarely satisfied.
I’ve been down for the count these past few days with some sort of epic plague. My brain is slow and foggy so now is the perfect time to republish a few of my Globe and Mail Kitchen Gardening articles.
This one on good soil for your vegetable garden is the perfect companion to my recent HGTV article on reusing container soil. Speaking of… I have a new article up on HGTV that answers the ever popular question, “Are there any edibles that I can grow in the shade?”
Originally published in the Globe and Mail on May. 23, 2009.
The subject of garden soil is conversational codeine to most people. Yet refer to that brown stuff as “dirt” in the wrong company and be prepared to have some thrown in your face.
“It’s soil, you moron, not dirt!” an obviously superior gardener recently informed me. “Only idiots like you call it dirt.”