Because of unforeseen circumstances, Gail Morgan of BX Creek Lilies will not be writing this column as previously stated, so here I am again. I was there Sunday and the lilies were beautiful. You still have a chance this coming weekend to visit and enjoy these beauties. The colours are just fantastic and unless you see them for yourself, I just cannot give them enough praise. The garden will be open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 4617 Pleasant Valley Rd. Call Gail at 250-309-0528, if you would like to visit at any other time.
The recipe I gave you last time to deter mosquitoes makes a big batch. I used rubbing alcohol. I made only 1/5 of the recipe. I used it many nights. I guess it is not 100 per cent proof but it seems to help, and I also like the smell of cloves. The smell of alcohol goes away as the cloves marinate in it.
I had a phone call about the squash shriveling and falling off. This happens often at the beginning of the season which is usually June. We always have rain and cooler temperature and the bees are few in this kind of weather. The plants do not get pollinated so the little fruits shrivel and die after a few days. Now that the warmer and sunnier weather is back, this problem should go away. It happens to me every year and I still end up the season with enough squash for all my needs.
The rhizome-rooted irises are planted in mid or late summer. It is a good idea to dig up rhizomatous irises every four or five years so that weak rhizomes can be removed and the soil reworked and fertilized. After the plants have bloomed, lift the entire clump with a spade and separate it into small clusters of rhizomes. Choose only the largest and healthiest looking ones for transplanting. Let the hose run gently over these while you spade the soil deeply for the new plantings. Sprinkle bone meal over the spots and spade in. Irises demand plenty of rich soil so mix in a generous portion of rotted manure or compost. Good drainage is a must and will prevent borers and root rot.
If several are planted together, space them in a circle or half moon, leaves turned outward. If leaves turn inward, the growth will soon centre and become crowded. Make each hole deep and broad enough to take the roots without crowding and adjust the height of the plant so that the rhizomes are barely covered. Trim any broken or torn roots; trim the leaves to about three to four inches. (This is the only time the leaves should be cut. You cut them to reduce the demand for moisture, which the disturbed roots would not be able to meet.) The rhizome should be left bare or only a small amount of soil on them. If planted too deep, they will not bloom. Tamp the soil firmly.
During July the first dying leaves of the bearded irises will droop. Remove these. However, do not cut off the leaves until they have obviously wilted. Many gardeners make the mistake of cutting down all the leaves as soon as the blooms have faded. The leaves must be allowed to grow and produce food for the rhizomes to store for the following season. In the middle of March, early April, give the beds a dressing of bone meal. The heavy spring rains or melting snow will carry the nutrients down to the plant roots.
For more information: 250-558-4556.
Jocelyne Sewell is an organic gardening expert in the North Okanagan and member of Okanagan Gardens & Roses Club. Her column appears every other Wednesday.