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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #260 - Komatsuna is slowly replacing Asparagus on our dinner plates.
May 27, 2016

I really do try to get along with Mother Nature but she doesn’t seem to respond to my advances. What do I need to do to keep her happy, so that she will at least attempt to cooperate with me or let me cooperate with her? I put up these lovely trellises to showcase the beauty of her Clematis. You would think that she would be happy to have a nice support for her vines to grow on. You can see that the lovely new shoots of this Clematis are growing directly away from that trellis. I spend some time walking around the garden showing the Clematis vines where the Trellises are. I weave them through and tuck them in and when I come back around next week they are wandering straight away from those trellises once again. I guess it gives me a feeling of purpose and necessity in the garden but it would be so much easier if they could find the trellis on their own. My sometimes friend Mother Nature is doing other strange things. The tree Peony is usually the first to bloom followed by the herbaceous types. Several of those are doing wonderful things but the tree Peony is still fast asleep. She has several fat buds on the newer portion of the plant but the old established section looks good but has few if any flower buds. Strange things happening all over the garden but that’s what keeps us interested and wondering every year.

We continue to feast upon a plethora of Asparagus but suddenly many other spring vegetables are providing us with an overabundance of tasty green things for the dinner plate. In this picture you can see a large and delectable Komatsuna. It is surrounded by a splendid supply of Spinach In the background is the developing, round Kohl Rabi and at that size it is sweet and tender and delectable. Sliced thick and covered with a bit of Parmesan cheese then into a warm pan and the taste treat will be wonderful. The green Onions in the foreground are just waiting to be added to a that Spinach salad. Suddenly there is an excess of delights and we start the family game of counting the number of vegetables on our dinner plates. The lonely lamb chop starts to become surplus to our needs although I still do find it difficult to give up a small taste of animal protein amongst the abundance of vegetables.

Tired of pulling your own weeds. It’s starting to be garden tour season where we snoop through other people’s gardens and wonder why no weeds seem to grow in that part of town. One of the best is “Through The Garden Gate” the big tour from the Toronto Botanical Garden. It is on June 11 and 12 and this year it wanders through the Kingsway section of Toronto. Big old homes many of which hang over the Humber River. I was on the media tour this past week and there are some wonderful gardens to see. A couple of wonderful cheque book gardens and one that belongs to a true plant collector. Anybody that has a group of four species Peonies under the shade of a beautiful Japanese Maple is my kind of gardener and he has a garden where you can spend a significant amount of time. The vista is nice but the detailed examination of the many labeled delights can consume a large portion of your day. I realize that many of my readers are nowhere near this wonderful tour but if you are then it really is worth the effort. It’s always a treat to spend time resting from our gardening efforts and being a voyeur on other’s efforts even if they seem to magically have no weeds. Maybe all of their weeds have found a magical way to move to our gardens.

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.

Brenda Asks? Your tulips are outstanding, wish I lived closer. My question today involves My yucca. I had three but they have multiplied profusely. I have had as many as 11 blooms. Last year I noticed that they are all infested with a tiny Black bug (they are back again this year) which is about a 1/4 inch long or less but very fine? I thought they were just specks of dirt until I saw them move. They seem to be tucked into the base of the leaves. The leaves have to be pulled apart to reveal them. I dug out one that was turning quite brown. Any idea what they are and what I can do about them?

Ken Answers! Apparently there is a Yucca Plant Bug that fits your description. Spraying with insecticidal soap seems to be the cure of choice. It only works as a contact spray, it must hit the living bug, so spraying at regular intervals, maybe weekly, will get rid of them after a few sprays. They do leave little plies of black feces on the leaves which may be some of the black specks that you are seeing.

Jeff Asks? The second photo of Pak Choi shows what is probably flea beetle damage. I don't mind them on radish but they're the reason I've stopped growing spring-planted arugula. I know floating row covers might prevent this, what else might work?

Ken Answers! You are correct about the flea beetle damage. It tastes just fine and the few holes in the leaves make no difference, except that the judge at our vegetable show would not give it a 1st place this week. Too much effort to stop the little bit of superficial damage. Some of the beneficial nematodes work against flea beetles. It's all about best use of time and resources, sometimes referred to as lazy :-)

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