A Gardener’s Diary: Don’t let all that rain go to waste

Rain barrels can be put to good use now for the dry Okanagan summer that is on its way

Already the end of June. Everything is growing so fast and this includes the weeds. Last week, we added two more rain barrels to our collection. They came just in time to catch the heavy rain. With all the other containers and garbage pails full, we were able to store more than 600 gallons. All the small pails I had in the shed were also used up. I highly recommend every household have at least one or two barrels. Living in the Okanagan, this should almost be a must.

We had our garden club picnic last Sunday. The weather was perfect with a soft breeze, sun and some clouds. This was a pot luck and as usual, the food was excellent. This was a good time to socialize and play a few games and of course talk about plants.

On June 21, we had our last session of the Intergenerational Landed Learning program at St. James School. Some of you that attended the People Place’s Garden Tour June 8 had a chance to look at the raised beds and all the vegetables that were grown by the Grade 4 students and their gardener friends. This is a fine program that teaches gardening to the young minds eager to learn. We had a cool start but everything really grew well and the big harvest for the rest of the vegetables will be sometime in September at the return of classes.

We all like to cut fresh flowers from our gardens and sometimes little tricks help make them look better. The following come from the book, 1,001 Gardening Secrets:

1. Keep cut flowers beautiful. Add two tablespoons each of sugar and vinegar to a quart of water. Pour the mixture in a vase and put in your flowers. The sugar feeds your blooms, and vinegar keeps them fresh a long time.

2. To hold flowers in place, trim off sharp edges of a small piece of chicken wire and crumple it loosely so it fits in the top of your container. Stick your stems between the wires, and your creation will stay put.

3. Trim leaves to prolong flowers. To savour your bouquet for as long as possible, get your clippers out and cut off any leaves that are under water. These soggy leaves will rot and encourage bacteria to grow, which can mean a short life for your beautiful arrangement.

4. Clip stems to keep bouquet bright. When you bring flowers home from the market, trim off a half inch of each stem with a sharp knife. Then plunge the stems in room-temperature water. Make sure you cut on the diagonal and keep the ends under water at all times. This prevents air bubbles from getting stuck at the end of the stem and blocking the water traveling up.

5. Protect furniture from water spills. Never set a bouquet of flowers or a potted plant directly on wooden furniture. Water spills can damage the surface. Instead, set vases and flower pots on decorative trays, mismatched saucers, or shallow bowls filled with pebbles.

6. Help flowers live a long life. Prolong the life of your blooms by keeping them shaded and cool. Instead of placing them near a television or heat source, set them in a cool spot away from windows and drafts. Keep flowers out of direct sunlight, too, or they will wilt.

Cut your flowers, smell the roses and have a very safe and beautiful summer.

For more information: 250-558-4556.

Jocelyne Sewell is an organic gardening enthusiast and member of the Okanagan Gardens and Roses Club whose column appears every other Wednesday.