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Helen Chesnut's Garden Notes: Nerines need full sun, warm sheltered location

At the base of a south-facing wall is considered the ideal location for these South African native bulbs

Dear Helen: Some of my Nerines need to be moved. What is the best time to transplant, and what are the ideal growing conditions for them? The ones that get only morning sun do not bloom in the fall. Would a large pot on my south-facing, fully sunny deck be suitable for them?


Spring is the recommended time. Simply lift the clumps, divide into individual large bulbs or groups of several small bulbs and replant. To flower well, the plants need full sun and a warm, sheltered location. At the base of a south-facing wall is considered ideal.

If you have plenty of the bulbs to experiment with, you might want to try a few of them in the large pot on your deck. The concern is how these South African native bulbs would come through one of our winters in a pot.

Dear Helen: A member of a garden group I belong to told us that she drenches beet seedlings with sea water to help make her plantings successful. I did not think to ask her how this provides a benefit. Does it discourage pests, provide micro-nutrients, or deliver some other advantage? Have you ever heard of this practice?


I have heard of it. I recall, years ago, my father speaking and writing about the practice of watering beets with sea water. I cannot remember details, except that the sea water needed to be highly diluted.

It is, apparently, a traditional English practice, based on the vegetable’s ancestry as a European seaside plant that benefits from the many minerals found in sea water. Two of my oldest British vegetable gardening books recommend a very dilute application of mineral-rich salt, either on its own or in solution, on beets. The dilution is high, using no more than a scant tablespoon of the salt for two metres of beet row seedlings.

The sea water would have to come from unpolluted waters, and applied very carefully. My preference is to use a generous layer of compost in preparing a seed bed for beets, and to use kelp meal as the potassium component in the slow-release, natural-source fertilizer I use throughout the garden.

Kelp meal contains dozens of sea-based trace minerals. Another good source of the minerals is the soft rock phosphate I use in my home-made fertilizer as the phosphorus source.

Keep in mind that all the trace minerals in the world will not produce productive beet plants if the pH is too low. I learned this the hard way when I moved back to the coast from the Okanagan. I could not get spinach or beets to produce more than a few puny wisps of foliage.

It was only when I began using Dolopril, a pelletted, fast-acting form of dolomite lime, in preparing the soil did beets (and the spinach) begin to flourish. My acidic soil needed to have its pH lifted toward neutrality, to around 6.8 on the acid-alkaline scale of 1 to 14.

Dear Helen: In a recent column you recommended wrapping apple tree trunks with corrugated cardboard to trap coddling moth larvae as they move down the trunk to pupate in early June. Any ideas on where to obtain the corrugated cardboard?


Probably the easiest source would be used boxes made of corrugated cardboard. Major mail order services use them. They often end up flattened, in recycling bins. Art supply stores and picture framing services are other possible sources.


Floral Arts. The Mid Island Floral Art Club will meet on Thursday, June 8, at 2 p.m. in St. Stephen’s Church, 150 Village Way in Qualicum Beach. Irene brooks will present a demonstration on “Succulents in Floral Design”. Guests are welcome. Drop-in fee $5.

Summer garden show. The View Royal Garden Club is hosting a Summer Garden Show on Saturday, June 10, 1 to 3 p.m. in Wheeley Hall, behind Esquimalt United Church, 500 Admirals Rd. in Victoria. Entrance off Lyall St. Exhibits include perennials, vegetables and fruits, potted plants and herbs. Admission $5, includes refreshments and door prize tickets.

Teeny Tiny tour. Victoria Hospice is hosting its annual fundraising Teeny Tiny Garden Tour on Sunday, June 11, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The tour will feature 13 inspiring gardens. Information and ticket sources at

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