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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #387 - We are doing an Artichoke trial this year
March 19, 2022

Here it is the middle of March and we are finally starting to publish “Dallying” for 2022. It seems to have been a long winter and in my part of the world we have had a significant snowfall this year. Early in February my seed orders started to arrive and find their way into some growing media. The Onions are all up and got their first haircut this morning. This array of seedlings on the germination bed is doing nicely, with a couple of exceptions, and will need transplanting in the next week or two. The second big batch of early vegetables were seeded on the Ides of March and, as usual, I am amazed that some of them have germinated in three days. I was moving them this morning from under their plastic humidity cover to increase their light. Keeping the light intensity as high as possible is one of the secrets to producing strong healthy seedlings that will readily transition to the garden. Included in this picture are some Coleus and Impatiens that are doing well and getting themselves ready to occupy some of our shady areas. The Impatiens are from the new Beacon series that are mildew resistant. Almost all of the seeds have arrived by now and are sorted into batches by their sowing dates. There is another group ready to go every two weeks until the first of May. My usual attempt at reducing the garden is already failing as the seed list runs to 90 varieties. It’s an addiction.

Outside, the few warm days have been rapidly melting the ice and snow and opening up the ponds. That’s sort of a good thing but it does allow us to observe how badly one of them needs to have the big clean out this year. One of the ugly jobs that we need to tackle just as soon as it’s warm enough. Pump out most of the water, attempt to catch the fish and keep them in a bucket and then start to pull and hack away at the overgrown Waterlily and Iris roots. Cold, dirty and backbreaking but, thankfully, not every year. Happy fish and clean water are rewards.

These Snowdrops are really quite amazing. We have seen them several times over the last month or so as the snow receded and then accumulated again. The picture includes the big brown rock, as it is the key to very early blooms. It appears out of the snow first and its dark colour draws the heat from the sun and that helps to warm the adjacent soil giving those close bulbs the encouragement to throw up some of their delightful harbingers of spring. The same Snowdrops in the front yard probably won’t venture forth, for at least a couple more weeks. The beauty of Snowdrops is their early arrival. If those tiny 3 cm flowers were in the middle of the summer garden they wouldn’t even be noticeable but this week they are the biggest and showiest thing in the whole garden.

This is part of this year’s experiment. I have tried to grow Artichokes before with limited success as they are essentially a big perennial but not in my garden, and want to bloom in their second year. There are now a couple of varieties that are touted as blooming in their first year and Imperial Star can be seen in this picture, hopefully, on their way to producing some lovely buds this summer. They are a large and attractive plant even if they don’t produce as advertised.

How dull the kitchen would be in the middle of winter if it were not for Amaryllis. This is just the first of the old bulbs that were having a rest in the cool dark basement. There are a few more waiting for their turn to come up into the light. I try to bring up a couple of them every two weeks so that the kitchen will have those great blooms until spring. They stay in their pots while they are resting and that gets them very dry. The first step is to stand them in the laundry tub with a several cm of water so that they soak it all up from the bottom and get thoroughly wet. When the blooms are finished they will find a spot on the floor of the solarium so that they can keep growing leaves until it’s time to put them outside for the summer. The big Cactus in the corner is starting to display its large yellow blooms. I’ll show you some pictures in the next edition.

We have started doing our presentations in person again and it is wonderful to have a live and responsive audience again. If your group is looking for an interesting and entertaining speaker then check out these topics

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