The snow continues to pile up outside my window and in my part of the world we are actually, sort of, kinda, hoping for a bit more. Another 10cm and apparently we break the record for the most snowfall ever recorded in Toronto. My daughter in Ottawa has twice as much but that’s their problem. Does make it a bit more difficult to get to see the Grandson though.

Meanwhile, the basement is getting greener and greener. The Sweet peas have germinated, well most of them. I did a bit of an experiment. Sweet Peas are a cool weather crop. I put half the seeds where they would get some bottom heat, (picture left,) and half just under the new lights (picture above.) The heated ones all came up on the same day and the cooler ones are germinating a few days later and more erratically. I was worried when I nicked their seed coats, as the package instructed, that I might have been a bit aggressive, as up to half the seed coat fell off. Apparently I did it right.

I do wonder about all of those green shoots in the basement? Will the snow actually disappear in time to plant them or should I just order the fall bulbs now? I will forge ahead as gardeners are the most optimistic people I know. This year’s garden is going to be the best ever!!! This week five more Peppers (two are already started,) and the eggplant and some of the Tomatoes will find their way into the soil. That’s only seven Peppers - I’d better order some more! There is a new package of Linum grandiflorum, an annual Flax with a range of red to white flowers that also looks interesting and they are in this weeks lineup.

The new lights have been up and operating for two weeks and the cuttings that I took from the Geraniums when I moved them over, already have significant roots and I have potted them up. I had very few cuttings rot this time. Cutting them properly with a sharp knife does seem to make a difference.

The kitchen counter is ablaze with flowers. The first pots of Narcissus and Hyacinths that were forced in the basement are blooming and providing a bit of spring.

The Cymbidium Orchids on the solarium floor, are opening up and reminding me why I put up with these great pots of harsh stringy foliage for rest of the year. They will stay in bloom for close to three months. Early in the year I broke one of the flower stalks. I wept and tried to keep it in a vase of water. Didn’t work. Now we have to be careful because one of the flower stalks has decided to grow out into the narrowing path between the kitchen counter and the Orchid pots. These pots of Orchids are growing out of their containers and it looks like this spring I will have to divide them. Never done that before and am a little worried but I will call my friend who gave them to me and actually ask for some advice. Not one of my usual traits.

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.

Nadia asks? I have a large redtwig dogwood desperately in need of pruning - when is the time to do that?

Ken answers! If you can find it under snow, do it now. Most deciduous shrubs should be pruned just after they finished flowering. Since we don’t really care about cutting off the flower buds of this dogwood, (it’s grown mostly for its foliage and coloured stems,) then we can cut it now so that the new spring growth will quickly fill in the empty spaces. Cut a few of the older stems right down to ground level. This will allow new young growth to fill in the natural shape of the shrub. Do a few each year, in the late fall when you can use the prunings for winter container material, and you will keep the shrub constantly renewed.

Khadija Asks? I have a Boghabelia (sp?) that is dying no matter what I do for it, what should I try?

Ken Answers! Bougainvillea, (it’s always fun to see people try to spell this, who have never seen the name in writing,) is a tropical woody vine that flowers profusely. It makes a very poor houseplant. It likes to be in very high light and it grows quite rapidly demanding a large healthy root system. Lack of sufficient water and lack of light will result in rapid leaf drop. Cut it back hard and put it into the brightest spot you have and don’t let it dry out. Put it into a big container outside in the summer and watch it thrive. Consider leaving it out there and buying a new one the following spring.

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