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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #379 - A tempting crop of Wisterai seeds.
May 04, 2021

This is for all of you who have asked me if it is possible to get your Amaryllis to bloom again. I’m sure I showed you a similar picture last year but it is just so gorgeous that I had to share it again. It had over 40 blooms open and a few more to come. This started out as a single Amaryllis bulb a few years ago. Each year as it develops more side bulbs it gets moved to a bigger container (and that’s getting to be more difficult, even finding a container,) and spends the summer outside with lots of sunlight and regular water and fertilizer. In mid - late September, before any hint of frost, it moves to a dark cool spot in the basement and is allowed to go completely dormant. Sometime in the dead of winter it finds its way back to the solarium and then the magic happens. If somebody gives you an Amaryllis bulb, thank them profusely and send them a picture next year when it blooms again.

Would somebody please tell this bushy tailed tree rat that he is not a Baltimore Oriole. The Assistant Gardener really wants an Oriole to find our backyard and apparently orange slices and grapes will attract them. Watching this character climb down a thin piece of cotton string to steal his prize can be interesting as well as irritating. The male Cardinal has helped himself to a few of the grapes but seems to have decided that he has had enough. In this string of days with cold and wet weather, sitting in the solarium having breakfast and watching the antics of the backyard menagerie is what passes for a busy morning. We are learning to identify lots of birds and I will show you another pair farther down this page. Oh! Yes, the Heron has been by to check out the supply of goldfish in the ponds and he/she is magnificent to watch and a reminder to never stock the pond with expensive Koi. Across the fence in the park there was a Coyote going for a stroll this morning.

These are known as the cool season vegetables and they were planted a couple of days ago so that we could really test how well they like the, noticeably cool, (aka cold) weather. There is a wide variety of crops, most of which belong to the Cruciferae family, that thrive in the cooler spring weather. They were a bit larger transplants than would be ideal but they are all standing up and looking good. Pak Choi, Kohlrabi, Broccoli, Cauliflower and Lettuce are some of our favourites and the Pak Choi is almost big enough to harvest. You can see that they are planted in the subirrigation containers most of which are the commercial Earthbox brand that do an amazing job of growing many of my vegetables. Now I have to start preparing the rest of those containers to hold the warm season plants that will want to escape the coldframe by the end of May.

This picture is quite dark because this Robin has chosen our front porch to raise her family. There is an artificial evergreen decoration hanging from the ceiling and she thought it made a great place to set up housekeeping. It has a nice roof over her and a handy garden to find her dinner in. We now regularly use the side door to avoid disturbing her. When the little ones start screaming for their dinner we may not be as enamored with her.

Here is a temptation that I must resist. My Wisteria, that I have been training into a tree shape, flowers quite well and then produces all of these nice seed pods. This inquisitive grower really wants to collect these seeds and germinate them but I know that it can take up to twenty years for a Wisteria to bloom from seed and I’m not sure I have that much patience or time left. If any of you, who are much younger and patient, want to try, you are welcome to some. The pods and their seeds are also quite poisonous, another reason to carefully collect them and dispose of them somewhere safe. I need to get out my ladder and prune and train it some more. The horizontal 4 x 4s that are meant to hold the expanding vine are not doing their job well. My next step is to drill some holes through those arms and thread some clothesline or similar decorative wire through those holes to create a, sort of, spider web structure for the vine to grow out on. That seems to be one of those tomorrow jobs even though I have long since purchased the clothesline and the necessary long drill bit. Hopefully I can get it done this spring before it starts to grow. It didn’t seem happen last year even though I bought those items.

I promised you an update on the birds that visit our backyard. This pair of Mallards, literally, made quite a splash when they decided to land in the lower pond. Ducks look much bigger and the pond much smaller when they get together. They climbed out of the pond and wandered all around the garden, probably checking out the neighbourhood to see if was a suitable place to set up housekeeping. That was a couple of days ago and they have not been back so I guess we didn’t pass the test. While they were very interesting visitors, we’re not sure they would have been the most desirable tenants. They did attempt to endear themselves by pruning some of the plants in that pond.

To ask a question just “reply” to this ezine. Don’t forget to check the front page of the Website for frequent short ideas for current gardening activities.

Arlene Asks? Could you please tell me why the leaves on my Jade plant are withering? It looks like it needs water, but not sure if it has had too much water to cause this. No bugs, and I haven't changed my watering routine, am puzzled why it looks like it is dying.

Ken Answers! You may be correct. With too much water the roots quickly rot and that leaves the plant no way to get the water it needs and the leaves wilt just as they would with too little water. Check your watering routine. If it is too routine that may be the problem. In the short dark days of winter the plant needs much less water than it does in the long bright days of summer. Let it get quite dry and it might recover.

Margaret Asks? Can you recommend a potting soil for outdoor planters and for indoor geraniums, etc. It seems most of them are "moisture retaining" but when you look at the fine print, they contain plastics in one form or another. I don't want to add more micro-plastics to the environment. Any suggestions very welcome.

Ken Answers! And if you look carefully on those packages you will notice that they are never labelled for use with vegetables. Wonder why that is???? I use either Promix or Agromix for that reason.

Alexandra Asks? Last Fall I noticed brown/grey crickets ( about 1” long) jumping in my lawn. I enquired at a garden centre and got no satisfaction. A Google search indicated that these can be devastating but nothing to be done until spring. The lawn has thickened up and been mowed once. Yesterday I noticed a strip about 10 ft by 3 ft than is shorter and browner looking that the rest. There are several mounds about 3”or 4” across. Yikes!

Ken Answers! In all my years of gardening I don't think I've noticed crickets in a lawn but apparently they can be a problem. The problem for us is the lack of chemicals that might make their control easier. By the way, I'm quite happy with that lack of chemicals. Some kind of soap treatment appears to be your best answer but soap has no residual effect so you have to actually hit the crickets with it. I would contact the people at to see if they have an answer.

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