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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #206---The fancy Begonia seeds have started to germinate.
February 21, 2015

There is now a large white bucket in the corner of the solarium and as the murky water clears, I can see the two Lotus plants in the pot of mud at the bottom of that bucket. Potting up these seeds was a bit of a messy and delicate task but we seem to have done it successfully. Time will tell as the second long stem reaches the top of the water and the little leaves start to unfurl. Noticeably more snow fell this morning. When the Assistant Gardener left at 9:00 am there were a few flakes on her car and I returned to the office. When I emerged at 11:00 to leave for the 8 minute drive to my morning speaking engagement, there was several centimeters on the ground and that drive took almost 40 minutes. When the speaker arrives about 2 minutes late, the organizers are very glad to see him. Despite the weather there was a reasonable crowd at the Seedy Saturday event and they seemed delighted to hear my ideas and suggestions for taking good garden photographs. One of the two batches of Tuberous Begonia seeds that I sowed last week, is peeking through the soil. Fascinating! Two packets of seeds, same source, same sowing time, one was regular Tuberous Begonias and one was the pendulous varieties, one has germinated a day or so before the other. Mother Nature continues to fascinate. These seeds are from Blackmore and Langdon, the pre-eminent breeder of fancy Begonias in England and I’m eagerly anticipating what they might produce. I have paid ridiculous prices for one of their named tubers in the past and the prospect of having several plants of that type is exciting.

The bright yellow Cymbidium Orchids that have been brightening up the Solarium and Kitchen for the last few months have left the room. Last week the blooms started to look a little tired and then in a matter of days they went from bright yellow to brown and shriveled. They have been replaced by a lovely spray of white Cymbidiums that have started blooming in February, right on schedule. Short days, cool nights, the depths of winter and these delights stretch out their bloom stalk and cover it with a dozen or more dazzling blooms to help make the winter less dreary. The several pots of Phalaenopsis Orchids are opening up their buds to display the flat moth shaped blooms that give these plants their common name. They are in 10cm (4") pots on the counter as opposed to the Cymbidiums in their 30cm (12") pots sitting on the floor. Each has its charms and at this time of year we are happy to have any and all of them. I brought up the first pots of miniature Narcissus that have been resting in the cold room. Forced Spring Bulbs are a special treat. The magnificent Orchids are blooming when they should but those tiny Narcissus won’t show up outside for several weeks yet, so having them in bloom in the house reminds us that the cold and snow will disappear and spring will come.

As we approach the first of March, I realize that I need to get to the basement and get busy. It’s about 6 - 7 weeks until the middle of April and I need to have cool season vegetable transplants ready to slip into the warming soil. If I don’t start seeds for Pak Choi and Broccoli and Kohl Rabi, this week then we won’t be eating those treats as late May arrives and we might be getting tired of a constant diet of Asparagus. They germinate and grow quickly but only if you put the seeds into some warm moist soil. There are also some flowers and a couple of vegetables that need more than 8 weeks to be ready to move outdoors. Most of them are warm season plants such as Petunias and I must get them going as well so that they will be good sized plants when their transplanting time arrives in late May or early June. I will also start a very few Tomatoes and Peppers so that I can have them in large pots by planting time. Always trying to get a head start so that we can have the first ripe juicy Tomato before anybody else. Not that it’s a competition!

Now it’s time to answer a few of my reader’s questions. Don’t forget to check the front page of the Website for frequent short ideas for current gardening activities.

Lila Asks? Hi Kenneth, can you suggest where I may get the heating mats you mentioned last week?

Ken Answers! Both Veseys and Stokes show heating mats in their online catalogues.

111 Trent St. W.
Whitby ON

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