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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #347 - The front garden has a beautiful weed towering over it.
August 20, 2019

No bugs, beetles or diseases this week only good news stories.
A pox on the plant breeders. It’s always been a bit difficult to tell an Echinacea from a Rudbeckia, similar rough leaves and flower form. This is an Echibeckia!! They have crossed the two to provide this new category of perennials. This on is Sizzling Sunset and it made me want to go and find one. We were touring the trial gardens at the U. of Guelph and there were a few varieties of this new cross. One of our tour mates said he had grown one for a couple of years in his garden and found them to be relatively hardy in our part of the world. There were enough other wonderful new varieties in the trials that I could have done this whole issue of “Dallying” just showing them to you. If you find yourself in that part of the world the trials are open for anyone to see. Touring trials is just one of the perks of being a garden communicator and it sure beats pulling weeds.

One of the easy and productive chores this week has been harvesting the Garlic. Luckily the tall stems of ripe Garlic make it easy to find in the mass of short weeds that seem to have magically appeared in the Garlic patch. Once it is dug up it needs to be cured. They get spread out on top of the cold frame where they will receive a half days sun. That will dry out the bit of retained soil so that it can be easily brushed off. It will also cure the bulbs so that they have a drier firmer skin that will allow them to keep for a few months in the cold room. I never seem to grow enough and I find myself looking for good Garlic to buy in the late winter.

If a weed is defined as “just a plant growing where we don’t want it,” then I’m not sure how to classify this one. I know that I have pulled out many of them from various parts of the garden and I casually tried to pull this one and it fought back so mightily that I left it for another day and then it grew into this rather magnificent creature. Now I will keep it until it is fully in bloom although that may not be any more significant that what it is now. I will make sure to cut it down before that huge spray of blooms turns into a huge crop of seeds that might be looking for a home in other parts of the garden. This is just one of the items this week where I need some help from my readers. If you know what this beast is then please write and tell me. I did plant a whole bunch of new perennials in this garden last fall and maybe it’s one of them but there doesn’t seem to be a label anywhere near it and there does seem to be several very similar, but smaller, plants popping up in other parts of the yard. Temporarily, at least, it has left that classical definition of a weed but I think it will return there fairly soon.

This lovely tall Lily is new to my garden and it was given to me by a friend so I have no idea what it is. I asked for it because it was over 2 m tall in her garden and I wanted that height. This is its second year here and it is about 1.7 m tall with these lovely recurved blooms that hang down. A bit of research suggest that it might be an older variety “Black Beauty” but I cannot say for sure. If any of my readers think they recognize it then please send me your suggestions. It is growing in full sun in less than ideal soil because it’s at the end of the garden that was dug up a couple of years ago when the town was fixing sewers and the soil they supplied wasn’t quite the same as they had removed. It is later than almost all of my other Lilies and that should be a clue to finding its name. I seem to lose names anyway and just like it for its size and bloom time.

The tall Lilac in the very back corner of the garden is once again producing some weird blooms and fruit. I have regularly used it as a support to grow my winter squash in a more vertical fashion. This year I pointed one of my climbing Zucchini in its direction and it decided it really liked it there. Now you see a Lilac with a large yellow bloom in the last weeks of August. If you look closely through the branches you can make out a developing Zucchini. It’s about 1 m long and just right for picking and eating but I’m afraid I may have to get out the step ladder to undertake that chore. Maybe I should do that very early in the morning so that I don’t have to explain to the neighbours why I’m climbing the Lilac in August; although they just seem to accept strange goings on in my yard for whatever reason. Those long thin Zucchini trombata make a delicious contribution to the dinner plate.

Now it’s time to answer a few of my reader’s questions. 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.

Karen Asks? Was wondering if I should prune off the flowers off my tomatoes as I'm sure they will not come to anything substantial at this point. Also could you tell me if it's too early to put in my garlic for next year. I can't remember if I put it in last August or September.

Ken Answers! I plant my Garlic in mid to late September when I'm planting Tulips etc. I've never thought of pruning Tomato flowers, I'm not sure it will make the earlier ones any bigger but it might be an interesting experiment.

Carol Asks? Is there a reason that my tomato plants always get yellow leaves around this time? It doesn't seem to affect the tomatoes, just not nice to look at.

Ken Answers! Those yellow leaves probably have a few brown spots as well. It's a fungus disease called early blight and there is nothing much you can do about it. If you had started earlier in the season before it showed up and regularly sprayed with Bordo, a copper based organic spray, you could have greatly slowed its arrival.

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