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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #210---The broccoli transplants are growing faster than the ponds are me
March 20, 2015

The sun is shining, it’s relatively warm and I’ve done enough transplanting in the basement that the space under the lights is almost filled. That means that I can no longer procrastinate going outside and fixing the soffit and wiring so that I can turn on the heating cables in the coldframe. All of the early vegetables have germinated beautifully and left me with the usual gardener’s dilemma. I sowed 12 seeds to make sure I had enough, they all germinated, I really only need 8 plants and even that may be too many for some things. Compost or, transplant and look for space, that’s the never ending dilemma. Over the years I have slowly learned that compost is the correct answer and memories of dealing with too many Cauliflower remind me that it is the correct decision. I would love to have a dozen Cauliflower but not all ripe on the same day. Renee’s Seeds helps to solve that problem sometimes. She sells a packet of mixed varieties of Broccoli so that we don’t have 12 wonderful heads ready at the same time. Actually it will only be 8 because that’s all I will transplant, having learned to compost the extra ones. I know that if I only sow 8 seeds that they will not all germinate but when I want 8 and sow 12, I can be sure that all 12 will pop out of the soil right on schedule. Mother Nature likes to play with me.

The ponds are still heavily iced over. I’ve been out checking and I think one of the bubblers may not be running. That’s the next critical outside job. Make sure they are and hope they haven’t been off long enough to harm the fish. I know that the fish are inexpensive enough to replace but I do like to see some older large ones in the pond as well as the tiny new ones. It’s fascinating how all of the snow anywhere near those ponds is long gone but they still have several cms of ice solidly in place. Besides checking on the bubblers I need to see if I can open a small hole in that ice to speed the thawing process. That deep ice is a reminder of how many days this winter were exceptionally cold. Apparently we set some sort of record here by not having one day above freezing for the whole month of February.

Looking for something else happening in the garden, I went to check the Witch Hazel, no sign of the flower buds breaking but checking my records it has been in full bloom by this date most of the past few years. Will have to delay that picture and text for another week or so. This week’s upcoming chores will include remembering where I stored my Tuberous Begonia tubers and get them started. A little soak in some warm water to wake them up and they will all get planted in one shallow flat to save space. When they have some leaves and roots they will get potted in to their final containers and moved to the cold frame which will, hopefully, be working by then. I also received some Tuberous Begonia seed from Blackmore and Langdon, the English breeder of fancy Begonias. The seeds won’t produce any of their named varieties but should produce plants of the same caliber. Since their tubers sell for something in excess of $50 on this side of the Atlantic, I’m very excited to see what happens. The pendulous package has had a reasonable germination and there is over 20 little plants growing. The upright ones, not so good but there is at least half a dozen coming along. I hope they grow big enough this year to produce tubers so that I can keep them over for next year. It’s amazing what you can produce from seed with a little patience and the correct conditions.

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.

Norma Asks? Just received my first issue and notice that there are questions. I have just placed my vegetable garden seed order but am looking for an easier approach to carrots. I think pelleted carrot seeds would be much simpler (age is slowing my knees a trifle) but I cannot seem to locate a seed supplier for pelleted carrot seeds wherein I do not have to place an order for $25-$45 --or many more than I require.

Ken Answers! Yes, Stokes minimum order for pelleted carrot seed is 10,000 seeds which is probably slightly more than you need. Johnny’ s seeds in Maine does list packets of pelleted carrot seed. They do ship to Canada if that’s where you are and they have a wonderful range of vegetable varieties.

Spencer Asks? I bought one of those small portable greenhouses that has four shelves to put trays of seedlings in. If I have my tomato plants and pepper plants in the greenhouse (located outside on the deck) and leave them out there overnight, will the cool temperatures affect the plants (it will be April by the time I sow the seeds and I live in Ajax) or will the layer of clear plastic that encases the greenhouse frame provide enough insulation from rain, wind, etc? Would you recommend on cooler nights that i move the plants indoors?

Ken Answers! It probably won't freeze in that little greenhouse but it could get quite cool. A small portable heater makes a huge difference if you can get power out there. Watch out for the reverse problem of it overheating on bright sunny days.

Dan Asks? I'm rethinking my approach to fertilizing my lawn. In the past I've done the 4 step process after doing some research I believe I may be over fertilizing. This year I'm planning to apply a high nitrogen slow release granular fertilizer in mid May after the ground has warmed up. I'm them planning to repeat fertilizer process in mid summer and late fall. I'll take care of weed with spot treatment.

Ken Answers! If you use a slow release in the spring then you may even be able to skip the mid-summer application, particularly if we get a hot dry summer and the grass starts to brown and go dormant. The fall application is good but they don't usually use a slow release because the grass plants absorb it and store it in their crowns until next spring.

111 Trent St. W.
Whitby ON

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