Some seeds have arrived. Some haven’t been ordered yet. The tiny Begonia seeds that my son forwarded from England, have already germinated but I will not attempt to show you a picture as the new plants are so tiny that they would never show up at the resolution that I use for newsletter images. Such tiny things can however, stir up great spring like excitement in this gardener’s soul.

It has been a month since the last issue of Dallying In The Dirt and I have been very busy but unfortunately not on much actual gardening. I have been a speaker at some garden clubs and shows and it takes quite an amazing amount of time to put together a talk and slide show from the 10,000 digital images stored on this computer. Yes! They are backed up somewhere else, before any of you computer whizzes reminds me to do that. The hours that I spend cataloguing those images when I take them certainly pays great dividends when creating a slide show, as I can use my program’s search function to readily find all of my Cucumber pictures.

I am going to start to list my speaking engagements on the presentations page of the web site so that my Dallying readers can see when I might be in their neighbourhood.

The Begonia cuttings are all standing up nicely in the propagating bed and were joined this week by some Geranium cuttings. We have started looking anxiously for some signs of roots on those Begonias but they are a bit slow to provide me with that bit of satisfaction. The Geraniums should be a bit quicker. It’s certainly time to get seeds of the earliest vegetables such as the Onions and Leeks, into the soil. That will be one of this week’s jobs. Of course I haven’t quite got around to ordering all of those seeds but will get the left overs from last year started, while I wait for the new arrivals.

I will also be planting those fancy new Delphinium seeds that I mentioned in the last edition. I am very anxious to see how well they germinate and just what they will do in the garden this summer. I don’t expect a great show from any new perennial in its first year.

In my part of the world we have very little snow cover and for a gardener that is not always a good thing. While my snow blower sits lonely and unused in the garage, the roots of many perennials are trying to survive some freeze / thaw cycles without an insulating blanket of snow to protect them. I anticipate that there may be more winter kill in the garden this year. On the other hand I did have one lonely Snowdrop in bloom during the great thaw in the last week of January. It has since retreated somewhat to wait for warmer weather.

If you were far sighted enough to pot up some spring bulbs in the autumn then now is the time to retrieve them from the cold room, give them a good soaking and bring them into the warmth and light. Spring will burst forth in a few days from those pots.

I was at a meeting yesterday with a group of people who were planning a program for beginning vegetable gardeners and they started to discuss the computer spread sheets that they create for organizing when to plant what. Now, I know that I may not be the most organized of gardeners but that seemed to be a bit of an excessive use of time, at least to me. I do have a system, that simply sorts the seed packets into time identified envelopes. Seems easier to me but everyone does what works best for them.

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.

Joyce asks? Ken, our holly bushes didn't produce very many berries this year. We have about 15 bushes. Our neighbours' bushes were sparse too. We usually cut it all winter to add some red zing indoors but not this year. That is my question: what to do ?

Ken Answers! I really have no idea. Since they have fruited in other years, you obviously have the male and female plants that are required to get them to set fruit. You didn’t dig out or prune the male plant did you? It was a very wet summer and possibly the obliging insects didn’t get much pollen from the male to the female plants. Mother nature can be quite unpredictable and has been known to have a bad year every now and then. Either the pollen didn’t reach the female flowers or the fruit just didn’t develop because of adverse conditions.

Elizabeth Asks? You mention some wonderful delphiniums you have found. I Adore gorgeous blue delphiniums and wonder where one gets these seeds in N.Z. you have found.

Ken Answers! I appear to have irritated some of my readers by mentioning the Delphinium seeds without giving a source. I usually like to actually trial plants and tools etc before I tell you what they are or where I obtained them. Since I have piqued your curiosity, I will tell you that they came from Dowdeswell’s Delphiniums in New Zealand. Stay tuned to see how they do in my part of Canada.

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Whitby ON