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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #251--- A gardener's use for shredded paper.
March 01, 2016
We all have a little shredder in our office to destroy all those bits of paper that carry sensitive information. Gardeners actually have a good use for that shredded paper. I have been digging in my big box of it to find all of the summer flowering bulbs and tubers that have been stored in it all winter. It keeps those tubers, dark, dry and relatively cool; just the conditions they need to have a comfortable winter’s nap. When I empty the box the shredded paper that is left can be used in the garden as a one season mulch. Dahlias, Colocasia and Tuberous Begonias have been sleeping happily in this box and now it is time to get them out and let them find some warm moist soil. Suddenly space becomes a problem. My couple of hundred Begonia seedlings don’t take as much room as half a dozen of these awakening delights. It will be some time before light is critical so I could take them upstairs and spread them around the floor of the solarium and see what the Assistant Gardener’s reaction is. Maybe it’s time to plug in the heating cable to warm up the outdoor cold frame. There are many large Geraniums under the lights that I really should put into larger pots and then move them to the cold frame as they are not quite as sensitive to the fluctuating temperatures they will find there.
The problem with keeping tubers from year to year is that they multiply and get bigger. This Dahlia tuber was new last year and I started it in a 10 cm (4") pot. That’s a 20 cm (8") pot that it doesn’t want to fit in. I really want to take advantage of its size to grow a magnificent plant this summer but I have several of a similar size. Even if I can get them potted they will be a problem under the lights. If I raise the lights high enough to put those pots underneath, then the lights will be too high to give the maximum amount of light to the much shorter seedlings that need to share the space. To make them fit into the pot I will remove some of the outer tubers. There are always a few that have partially broken connections or are damaged. After I remove those bits they can probably be squeezed into that pot. I could divide the large clump of tubers to make more plants but Dahlias divisions are very difficult to figure out until they have sprouted so that you can see where the strongest stems are coming from. I’m not sure I really need two or more of that particular Dahlia. I would rather acquire another variety to squeeze into the limited space in the garden. I’ll pot it up as best as possible and hide it among the big pots of Orchids in the solarium and move it out to the cold frame before anybody notices it.
I haven’t showed you the how well the fancy Tuberous Begonia seedlings are doing. They are growing quite quickly and it will soon be time to try and separate them and transplant them to larger individual pots. It’s interesting how, in the same batch, some of the seedlings take off and grow at a much faster rate than some others. Obviously I will transplant the biggest ones, partly because they will be much easier to handle and obviously they should be the most vigorous all summer. As much as I try to spread their tiny seeds evenly over the soil you can see that they always wind up clumped together and that is one of the reasons to transplant them now so that they can be more easily untangled and not have to compete with their bed mates. I have a few volunteers to help me with the other problem. There are many more seedlings than I could possibly grow on or use in the garden this summer. That’s a problem that I’m glad to have and one that’s hard to avoid when dealing with seeds that are size of dust particles.
Those of my readers in southern Ontario can get their gardener’s soul nourished at Canada Blooms, the country’s biggest gardening show. It runs from 11 - 20 of March and you can find me there speaking on Monday 14th at noon.
Now it’s time to answer a few of my reader’s questions. Don’t forget to check the front page of the Website for frequent short ideas for current gardening activities.
Sylvia Asks? Help! How do I get my huge Madagascar Cactus to bloom?
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