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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #159 --- Echinacea Cheyenne Spirt is supposed to bloom first year from
March 01, 2014

I have limited self control. The Onion seeds have been sown, all six varieties that I just must try this year. I have ordered some Strawberry seeds that promise to fruit in the first year and to be everbearing. We’ll see. I gave up on Strawberries a few years ago as there is a great pick your own farm just 10 minutes from here. These new seed varieties look promising and I can’t resist a challenge. I’m going to convert the pillar of Peppers and see if I can use it to grow the strawberries. They will be compact and up off the ground. I also sowed a Geranium, Pinto Premium White to Rose and an Echinacea, Cheyenne Spirit. These two are All America Selections winners for 2013. Cheyenne Spirit is a compact perennial, just over 60 cm (24") that will bloom the first year from seed and has a variety of flower colours. The instructions say to plant by the end of January. Who am I to follow instructions too closely. There are several interesting All America Selections for 2014 including Bean Mascotte, a compact bush bean that apparently does well in containers and a couple of Tomatoes including a beefsteak sized, Chef’s Choice Orange. I’m waiting patiently? for some seed samples of the 2014 varieties. All America Selections is an independent testing organization that has been trialing new unsold varieties since 1932. They test in a wide range of sites across Canada and the U.S. and compile their results to award national winners each year. In 2014 they added regional winners to better help gardeners choose new varieties that would flourish in their locales.

Here it is the first of March and I would really like to start writing about spring things but it’s -15 C and the snow in the yard is still too deep for comfortable walking. Some great skiing is being enjoyed when the weather is not too cold. I have this Crab Apple tree in the back yard that is in the space between the three ponds and hangs over parts of all of them. I keep it very tightly pruned and refer to it as my giant bonsai. I need to get out there this week and do that pruning. The one advantage of the very cold winter is that the ponds are frozen solid allowing me to walk on them for easier access to the Crab Apple. Some years it’s been a bit of a balancing act to get to the upper branches. I essentially prune off all of the long, new growth shoots each year. That leaves the short knobby bits (called spurs) that are the source of the flowers and fruit. The tree hasn’t really increased in size in the 15 years that I have been pruning it, It makes a great accent over the ponds without becoming a large shade producing presence in that design. It only flowers every other year which is a disappointment but also we only have to pick up the falling fruit every other year which is a joy.

As it is now officially March I will head to the basement and try and find the Begonia tubers. I have the regular Tuberous Begonias to start. I also saved some large tubers from the Begonia boliviensis so I have them to work with in addition to the thousand seedlings from those plants. It’s amazing how different the tuber’s growth habit is from the seed grown plants. The tubers produce long, thick, upright stems while the seedlings develop into a mass of thin trailing stems. Both flower wonderfully and I use them in different locales and I have too many of both. Some of the saved tubers have already found a new home and my generosity will be further extended in the next week or so. Both types of Begonia tubers need to start showing shoots of new growth before I plant them. Some are already doing that but some will need waking up. They will get a nice warm bath, 109 F / 43 C for about 15 minutes and then they will be set out somewhere warm until the shoots start to appear. Only after they have started to sprout will they get planted. That will be this weeks reminder that spring is coming.

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.

Rasheed Asks Time to get hands dirty and enjoy another year of “Dallying.” Please share the seeds planting schedule to help us shop and plan, appreciate if you can add few tips (like light, water/moisture, fertilizer and related stuff).

Ken Answers! When to start which seeds is always a quandary to many gardeners. Seed packages and catalogues have a wealth of information to help with this but here is my method. There are many other pages on the web site that will help with using adequate light, and other factors such as soil temperature and transplanting times and tricks. Relax and enjoy late winter gardening.

111 Trent St. W.
Whitby ON

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