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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #357 - This blooming Cactus is a delightful late winter surprise.
March 11, 2020

There is this large Cactus in the corner of the solarium. I have written about it before, mostly about its precipitous lean where it is now resting on the glass and about my reluctance to straighten it without a suit of armour to wear. Looking at it yesterday I noticed a wonderful thing. At its very top there was a complete circle of flower buds. One has obviously been open and the one closest, is about to open with several more to follow over the coming weeks. I wanted to wait and show you a picture of an open bloom but I needed to get this edition of “Dallying” out this week. This amazing display of bright yellow Cactus flowers is almost as exciting as the opening of Canada Blooms the biggest festival of all things gardening in Canada. I will be speaking there on Thursday 19th at noon. If you are tired of cold winter weather and need a injection of spring and gardening then find your way down to this great show. It opens on Friday and runs for over a week until the following Sunday.

This little projection emerging from the side of this plant is another of the exciting things happening in the solarium. This is a new flower stalk wandering forth from one of my old Phalaenopsis Orchids. I have had this plant for a few years and it continues to thrive and bloom. I confess that it is probably in the same container that it arrived in a few years ago but then Phalaenopsis are epiphytes that grow naturally with their roots in the air so the quality and quantity of the planting medium in that pot is somewhat unimportant. It is about 2 cm chunks of coir that allows for lots of air and the rapid passage of water . I think I see the start of a stalk on its neighbour as well. I just cut down the last stalks a few weeks ago so having it reblooming this quickly is a bonus. The slightly out of focus beige bits along the edge of the leaves are scale and seeing them reminded me to look over the plant and wipe off all the ones that I could find. They really like the margins of the undersides of the leaves and physically wiping them off is a reasonably good control. All around it on the floor are my Cymbidium Orchids that have multiple large bloom stalks but the buds are very reluctant to open this year and I have no idea why. They were late coming inside last fall and that might be a reason or it might just be Mother Nature messing with me again.

Down in the basement, under the lights, the magic is happening again. New life is springing forth from some little brown bits of stuff, seeds, that I provide with a little heat and moisture and then whole new plants emerge. We will eat again this year! Almost everything in the picture is a vegetable and most of them are very early season crops that will hopefully be in the garden by the last week of April. There are 4 varieties of Pak Choi, green, white dwarf, regular white but a new variety , (Asian Delight) that is not supposed to bolt and one with purple leaves. They are all such rapid growers that they will likley be the first things we harvest after the much anticipated Asparagus. The first ones will probably be big enough about three weeks after transplanting. They will stay in those tiny cells until the first set of true leaves appears and then they will be transplanted into regular cell paks and go to live in the hot frame outside. It’s as effective as a greenhouse and a lot cheaper to heat.

You have followed the propagation journey of my Streptocarpus. It started as a single leaf removed from the parent plant and stuck in the soil of my propagation bed. Weeks later a little plant appeared at its base and it was potted up on the 14th of January. The growth since then has been quite amazing. This has all happened under the lights downstairs and now I think I’ll move one of them up into the sunlight and see how long it takes to produce flowers.

We really want to get outside and start planting and cleaning up. The Snowdrops are popping up in several parts of the garden. The big clump at the front that is always the last to emerge has already burst into bloom. It was 15 C here on Monday which really moved things along and melted most of the snow. In the last snowstorm my snowblower ceased to function well. Do I take it to be fixed now or wait until next fall??? Will it snow again??? This picture is the Hosta bed under the big Walnut where the earliest Snowdrops appear. I walked out on to the deck to see what might be happening and if you look carefully in the centre of the picture you can see a Crocus that is just about to bloom. Unfortunately, much more obvious in the bottom of the picture, are a couple of very healthy and growing weeds. Why do they have to be the first things to thrive. Mother Nature would point out that they belong there and all the other stuff is just what I planted in the hope that I can get it to grow there. Now if it was only an edible weed.

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