The Snowdrops came up. The snow came down. Apparently we haven’t quite broken the snowfall record yet. I don’t care anymore. I just go to the basement and tend to my expanding garden.

The Sweet Peas are doing very well. The ones that were started on the heating cable are still a little ahead of the ones started cold and there remains a noticeable difference in the percentage germinated. I will always start them warm in the future. I got out my tiny snips and pruned them this week. To make bushy, well developed plants we have to pinch them at this very early stage. As soon as there were about five leaves I pruned them back to two or three to force that bushy growth. This sometimes left just a little green stick and a couple of buds but they quickly leafed out.

An email arrived from Veseys, touting their started seedlings. A great idea for those who want to grow their own plants but either failed to get them started in time or just have trouble germinating seeds. I changed my opinion when I followed the link to their web page. Excellent little plants, that have to be transplanted to bigger pots as soon as you receive them but the prices they were asking seemed to be greater than your local garden centre would charge for the finished plants in the spring. You still had to have pots and soil for the transplanting and that will only increase your cost. Selling plugs, (that’s what the industry calls these started plants,) at retail is a fine idea but this attempt just does not seem to make economic sense, unless you found a variety that you just didn’t think would be available in your area.

Last week I planted a few varieties of Tomato, particularly ones where the seed was from 2007. I figured they may take longer to germinate and I also put two seeds in each little plug to allow for a reduced germination percentage. Three days later, Tomato Caspian Pink is up and there are two seedlings in every space. I am always totally in awe of mother nature. Those little beige fuzzy flecks of nothing can sit in a paper bag for 18 months and then magically turn into live Tomato plants in a few days with heat and warmth. People ask me why I bother gardening????

My Witch Hazel, Hamamelis intermedia ‘Diane’ continues to expand her flowers. I freely admit that you have to put your boots on and go and have a close look but isn’t that what we do everyday in the summer in order to appreciate what’s in the garden. The same tour of the garden this morning showed significant patches of bare soil where early vegetables might be able to find a home when some of the water leaves. The openings in the ponds are getting bigger and the Crocus, that evaded the squirrels, in the Hosta bed are showing leaves and coloured buds.

Spring really is making its presence known if you look for it around the corners of the snow banks. I’m fascinated by the number of people that continue to go to the Raspberry pages of the website. I have added some more information there to help you get started growing these delights in your backyard.

My newsletter subscribers get to ask me questions. Just ‘reply’ to the email newsletter. It is always interesting to read the questions; mostly to see if I actually can answer them or if I have to wade into the textbooks to research the answers. If that happens then we all learn something.

MaryEllen asks? I saved these seed pods last fall and seemed to have lost the label. I’m sure it was a perennial. What could they be?

Ken answers! I haven’t a clue, was my answer when I was shown the seed pods. Today, a lucky coincidence, when I was wandering around the snow drifts looking for spring I happened to notice these woody recurved seed pods on top of the 150cm /5ft flower stalks of my Spuria Iris. Seed that was collected last fall will probably need a cold period to germinate. I’m just going to collect and plant a few of mine, that were outside all winter, and see what happens. It’s probably 2 -3 years to a blooming plant. I love it when a happenstance find in the garden makes me look knowledgeable!

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Whitby ON