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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #175 --- The Chipmunk knows a pawn broker
June 20, 2014

Apparently they didn’t get the memo. In answer to the oft repeated question about dealing with rabbits, squirrels, etc. I frequently say, that I plant a lot and then they get some and I get some and everybody’s happy. They were getting more than their share and the garden now looks like a show room for the chicken wire industry. The final indignation. Yesterday I was tired enough that I sat in the reclining deck chair and dozed off for a few moments. I was awakened by a strange sensation. A chipmunk was gnawing on the shiny gold ring on my finger. Does he know a pawn broker in the area? He ran a few feet away when I sat up to see what was happening. After I finish writing Dallying, I’m going out to buy a couple of traps so that I can begin the relocation process for my furry (former) friends. In among the forest of weeds, that are the result of my limited time in the garden, there are some exciting things happening. The Asparagus is being allowed to grow its beautiful fern like foliage that regenerates the root for next year but we are still harvesting a little bit. The first crisp Kohl Rabi made its way into a stir fry this week along with some Pak Choi. A welcome change in flavour and texture from the Asparagus. Many of the nearly dead Roses have surged forth from their base and are starting to bloom. A miracle of toughness and survival.

As of this morning, the cold frame is almost empty and that means that most of the garden is planted. A few late seeded items have to now get their chance to find soil and moisture. The Parsnips and Rutabagas will be sown next week. At the bottom of the garden there is some amazing growth. The few Parsnips that did not get dug up last fall or this spring are proving that they are true biennials. Massive flower stalks are soaring 1.5 M (5') above the soil carrying large umbels of bright yellow flowers. I need the space but they are so impressive that I cannot bring myself to dig them out. They stayed standing throughout the wicked wind and rain that passed through here earlier this week. Many other things did not. Peonies that are strong enough to stand on their own most of the time are laying battered and beaten on the ground. Even that has an upside. I just go out and cut them and they fill the house with their colour and fragrance. Peonies make great cut flowers and will last indoors for a week or two. The last of the Iris are still blooming and some of them are now indoors as well, having decided to lay down on the job after the storm. Flavours, fragrances and fabulous colours fill the house to remind us of the many rewards of spending a few hours in the garden.

The drying and fading Tulip foliage is disappearing among the other perennials filling the front beds and I spend a few moments pulling that foliage out to make the beds look a little tidier. The Peonies and Iris are putting on their last act as the Lilies grow taller above everything else and are developing clusters of buds on top. At their bottoms some leaves are disappearing to prove that I didn’t kill all of the Red Lily Bug adults. I pick off those leaves and step on them or throw them in the bin. Squishing the dung covered larva is nowhere near as satisfying as crunching the adults and it’s a lot messier. I have managed to keep their population quite low and the result will be a wonderful display of Lily blooms over the summer. In large clumps below the towering Lilies, the Daylilies are starting to show their clusters of buds promising their great show of colour to come. All of the annual flowers have settled in and are starting their rapid growth to fill the containers and beds with their brilliant colours. The trick now is to pay attention to their increasing need for water so that they will be able to really supply that constant colour. I hear the weeds calling me!!

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.

Brenda Asks? Maybe you can suggest a solution to a puzzle... I have some lovely two-toned tall bearded iris that I've been growing for more than 10 years. There is normally a lot of flowering stalks coming up by now (if not actually blooming already) and throughout the 3 large clumps I have in different areas, I do not see a single flower stalk. However I do have a new neighbour this season -- a groundhog, which I've seen a few times. Is it possible the groundhog is eating my iris flower stalks down to the ground? Or, do irises go into a resting state every few years?

Ken Answers! I’m not an authority on the dietary habits of groundhogs but I have seen them eat many things. It’s hard to believe that they would eat all the flower stalks but they may have. Iris do stop blooming if the clump gets too big and old. Try digging and dividing some of your clumps. The first week of August is the best time to do so.

111 Trent St. W.
Whitby ON

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