A Week in the Life of a Container Gardener – mid-August


(the lanai- a quick iPhone shot from one end)

Friday, August 9th:
I didn’t have time for anything but a quick walk-through to make sure everything was okay.

Saturday, August 10th:
Gracie and I gardened together, which is always sort of *interesting* because her idea of gardening is squirting things with the mister, hosing everything off at full blast, and picking through whatever I am pruning to see if I mistakenly removed flowers (which *is* a part of pruning) and then begging me to let her keep them (which is usually not the best because they are either half-dead or have a pest of some kind on them, which is why I pruned them to begin with). So as I did gardening, Gracie talked to the poor flowers I cruelly lopped off the plants.

OH, we did rescue a bee- we found him swimming madly in the pool, so we scooped him out and patted him off with a leaf and put him in one of the hibiscus pots to dry off. I didn’t have much hope, but after about twenty minutes of him wiggling his legs (and Gracie giving regular status reports) he disappeared from the pot he was in. Half an hour later, we saw him S L O W L Y fly by as we were at the far end of the garden. I tried to prop open the door to let him fly out, but he never did. He just landed on the hibiscus and then flew back over to the far side of the lanai and back a few times. I hope he found somewhere safe to land and something nourishing. I’ll keep an eye out for him and see if I can’t get him outside.

I wound up getting a fair bit done despite helper Gracie and Operation: Rescue the Bee. I fertilized the roses with proper rose fertilizer, I did a lot of pest control with the hose/mister, and I watered and pruned a lot of stuff that was overdue.

As far as pest control, I have issues with aphids and mealybugs right now. Because I garden on a screened-in lanai, and my garden is fairly manageable and in pots, I can usually spot a pest infestation right as it starts, so with a few days of misting/flat hosing, I can remove any pests on the plant and keep them off until there isn’t an issue. The only problem with that right now is that it’s rainy season, so the plants can’t always handle the moisture from a dousing with the hose in addition to the rainfall. So then I have to use a soap-based pest control, which does okay.

I’m waiting to see if my Cest Bon hibiscus bounces back from the little aphid attack that happened earlier this week. All my hibiscus tend to get aphids if I don’t spray mist them daily.

In other garden news, Tom brought me back some rose cuttings from his mother’s garden in New Mexico (she passed away about six weeks ago) and they are doing nicely. Out of the twelve cuttings I received, six are rooting and shooting leaves. I’m hoping the specific rose fertilizer gives them a little boost to keep growing!

I wanted to do more in the garden on Saturday, but by 1pm it was SWELTERING, the sun was beating down, and I was exhausted from two hours swimming laps in the pool and then almost two hours gardening. I just had to put down what I was doing and come inside and take a cool shower. It was too much.

Sunday, August 11th:
I picked up where I left off saturday and went around the garden with multi-purpose fertilizer (granuals) and did the quarterly fertilizing and a bit of watering/misting. It took a good bit of time, but I did it before I went swimming so it wasn’t terrible- the sun was still in front of the house and the temperature hadn’t gotten up there yet.

My sunflower seeds sprouted which is nice. My geraniums are struggling, which is to be expected. Hopefully the fertilizer will pep everything up a bit and give the plants enough of a kick to get the garden through until the end of September, when it cools off and the sun goes from being a searing bright alien light in the sky to just an object of warmth and a creator of light and shadow. (I’m VERY EXCITED FOR FALL.)

I have no grand plans for fall planting- I know tomatoes and eggplant will go in, and I’d like to do some salad veggies. I don’t know what, though- Tom and I have HUGE salads every night (we’re talking mixing-bowl size) and anything that’s capable of being grown in a container might be eaten instantly. I’d love to find something container-friendly that would provide us enough of a crop that it would last for several salads. Tomatoes and eggplants do well enough that they provide us several weeks of food with one “crop” but I don’t know of anything else that might be like that.

As far as other seeds, I have so many established plants and there’s enough of them that I know starting seeds might be a little too ambitious. To be honest, I’d rather spend that money on a few more dwarf hibiscus, some of the rarer varieties.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to resist starting nasturtium, though- I seem to have an obsession. Every year I say I won’t go nuts with them, and every year I wind up planting about 50 seeds.

Monday, August 12th:
Not much today. I wasn’t going to do anything at all, but I got out there pretty early and it was shady and just under 85 degrees so I decided to check on things and do a little watering. I basically dead-headed the hibiscus (a daily task) and poked around a bit. I was dismayed to find that two of the three remaining plumeria, all of which are growing, have soft stems. I am really bummed. I hope maybe they can pull through, especially since it hasn’t rained an excessive amount and the leaves are growing off the top of the plant a tiny bit every day. Oh well, what can I do? I really did my best with them. It’s such a bummer, though, when a plant you really coddle and invest a lot of effort and emotion into doesn’t make it.

Tuesday, August 13th:
Again, I planned on not doing anything today because of the heat and the sun (it was REALLY intense today) but I wound up blowing away some aphids that had started clustering on one of my new hibiscus (GO AWAY!) and watering a few other plants that dried up overnight. I also moved a few plants around. The sun is tricky right now. There’s a fine line between “direct sun” and “way too much and instantly kills said plant”. I’m trying to find spaces for some of my more “touchy” plants where they still get a lot of direct sun, which they require, but not complete total scorchiness. It’s a delicate balancing act.

I also let Milo out in the garden for a tiny bit. He’s got a collar on now with TWO bells- one of them the size of a quarter, so hopefully that will help warn the lizards.

Oh, and the bee Gracie and I rescued ended up in my bedroom last night. I have NO recollection of this but Tom told me that I woke him up at 2am mumbling something about a bee and a rescue and he was able to piece together what was going on. (And no, I don’t know for sure that it was the same bee, but I think it was- rarely do bees make it inside the screened enclosure, and this guy was a super slow flyer, like the one we rescued.) Tom had to rescue him and get him outside, but he seemed reluctant to leave the lampshade he was buzzing around inside of. I’m all for bees, but I can’t have one living in my bedroom.

Fare thee well, little bee.

Wednesday and Thursday, August 14th and 15th:
Heavy rains on both days were both beneficial (plants scrubbed clean = bugs be gone!) but also bad because now everything is DRENCHED and soaked. My plumeria stalks bit the dust- half of them rotted so I once again trimmed them and set them out to dry hoping I can salvage them. I also repotted my poor camellia bonsai, trying to get the root ball to dry out. *sigh*

One gardening day at a time, right?

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