Use your garden like a room to your house

O h me, oh my — five “grands” ages five to 11. What a crew. This little house is bursting at the seams. There are bouquets galore in various jelly jars, hither and yon, inside and out. Glorious. The soccer ball is being kicked into perennial beds, Jade the Dog is barking. It looks and sounds just like life.

In the midst of all this action, there is one batch of columbine that I have failed to deadhead and they are now lost for the season. What a year columbine have had, they are the overall winners so far. The task of deadheading them has proven valuable, they still look good and are producing more blooms. But as they fade, here come the Asiatic lilies. I can hardly wait. They are just starting to open and there are a zillion of them here. Actually, they need to be thinned.

I have had the best luck with the Asiatic lilies. There are others out there that I have tried but these are so hardy, they even survived the ice of 2012. They hardly showed that fateful spring but the next year they came out in force and haven’t looked back. I thin them in the spring when they start to show. I don’t know if this is the ideal time but it works for me. I dig out the whole of whatever batch, lay them out on a tarp and replant them here and there.

Years ago a friend presented me with a double handful of these bulbs that were in full bloom, I replanted them and they just carried on as if nothing had happened, no trauma, no drama, just blooms. They come in oodles of colors and heights. I have a batch growing in a pot that I just drag into the greenhouse at the end of season and drag it back out the following spring. I love lilies.

Hummingbirds. Now really, I want to love them, but… Methinks they are thugs. They chase every other bird away from everything. And I mean everything. They are not even competing for the same food source but there are the hummers fighting like mad with any other feathered creature that seems to be invading its space. Interesting. They were undaunted by the good sized crowd here for the Fourth of July.

They just kept buzzing around, enjoying the delphiniums, mock orange, the list is long and hummingbirds are, apparently, indiscriminate when it comes to what they ingest to keep going. But, they are gone. I haven’t seen a single one in two days. Mother Nature snapped her fingers and they are on their way. They delighted the Homer “grands,” although the Bellingham “grands” see them on a regular basis, including their nests. I sort of miss them …

We need to take a good look at our vegetable garden. Is yours being invaded by slugs? Especially the lettuce? Pull it and throw it on the compost pile. You don’t need to be feeding slugs. Be sure that any large leaves (from broccoli for instance) are not laying in the path, i.e. touching the ground thereby providing easy access. Keep the weeds down. Keep the whole scene clean of debris. Don’t just leave the trimmings laying around, it makes for a perfect hiding place.

Or you can flip those big leaves over and spray the accumulated slugs with a vinegar solution. Or you can use smallish boards and do the same thing. There are those who swear by a dish of beer (we’re talking about slugs here). I’ve tried this and it is too much fuss for me. Whatever works for you, do it.

All that said, now that I am deep into my sixth decade, I am using Sluggo. Yes. I do everything I just said but I also sprinkle some around each raised bed after “we” mow and I run the trimmer. I do NOT put it directly into the raised bed. Why would you want to put bait right next to the plant that you are trying to protect? Lure them out into the path. Think about this.

Also, plant lettuce that has a red tint to it, they seem to hold off from those longer than the bright green ones. Same goes for cabbage. They hardly touch red cabbage but can eat up a green one in jig time.

There you have it people. Throw open your doors and use your garden like another room to your house. Use it. Enjoy it.

Rosemary Fitzpatrick is a longtime Homer gardener. She has been writing Kachemak Gardener since 1990.