Back to Back Issues Page
Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #189 --- The colourful colourful coleus cuttings have been taken.
September 27, 2014

Everyone enjoyed my Rose photography but apparently I should have named the Rose. It is Anniversary Blush that was bred and introduced for Sheridan Nurseries 100th anniversary. It has been putting on a spectacular show in my garden all season as it continues to rebloom. We are having the most magnificent week of weather. Sunny and warm and better than many of our mid summer days. It’s hard to remember that we should be in the garden doing our autumn chores. Mother Nature has these built in timers that seem to have no bearing on strange weather. In the middle of this late heat wave I found this wonderful group of large fresh mauve blooms. The Colchicum have burst forth from the ground right on schedule, apparently having no regard for the warm days. I’m sure if I researched far enough I could find a study that indicates just what tells the Colchicum to bloom. This huge clump, I counted about 30 blooms, was planted as a single bulb about 2009. Everybody should see what just one Colchicum bulb can do before they go to the garden centre and suffer sticker shock at the $5 price tag of a single bulb. It really is a great bargain if you understand what it is going to do for the next many years.

The Colchicum blooming does remind me to get on with some of the other autumn chores. I have several Part Time Houseplants that have been outside all summer, I need to think about getting them back into the house. The most tender make the move first and the Hibiscus fall into that category. Before they make the trek there are a few precautions we should take. Indoors these plants become ideal homes for a couple of nasty bugs. Spider mites are possibly the worst. The best defence is a good offence. Even though there is little evidence of any mites presently living on my Hibiscus, I’m sure there are a few in hiding, just waiting for the more ideal conditions indoors. I start spraying several days before they move in. Spider mites are prolific little beasts and they can have an entire life cycle in four days. That’s why we spray every 2 days for several days. We need to catch each batch of eggs as they hatch and kill those nymphs before they have the opportunity to mature and lay the next batch of eggs. Insecticidal soap works nicely on them if we follow that timetable and if we make a point of spraying the underside of the leaves where these little nasties prefer to live.

A more pleasant autumn chore is wandering the garden and choosing which annual flowers we want to propagate and grow over the winter. I have a couple of different Geraniums that I keep from year to year. Taking cuttings from these is a pleasant chore and it provides me with at least two benefits. It saves me the expense of buying new plants in the spring and it provides me with a bit of active indoor gardening during the winter. This year I grew some gorgeous Coleus in the front porch planters. I needed something that would grow well in a container and provide some colour in the shade where I had grown Impatiens for several years. This Coleus did the job extremely well and never even attempted to bloom. Having the multi coloured Coleus plants bloom is not a feature, it’s just the foliage we want. Cuttings from these, easy to root, plants are now in the basement propagating space, beside the Geraniums. I’m not rushing to take cuttings from some of my various Begonias because I’m finding them easier to grow from seed; some even from seed that I’m now collecting in the garden.

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.

Ann Asks? You describe my yard with overgrown raspberries-but I had cultivated plants and want to know how to deal with them. Can I trellis them? Stake them? Keep them to a few branches?

Ken Answers! Raspberries of many types can be successfully grown in your back yard but they do need some control measures. Careful pruning and training are illustrated at these links. Mobile ones like the Black Raspberry need to be prevented from arching over and rooting in undesirable locations.

Marcia Asks? The few tomatoes that we have left on the vine are not ripening any time soon, and it's September 24th already. We've never had this problem before. Do you have any ideas other than picking them? Was it the weather \ year \ tomato type?

Ken Answers! All of the above. Tomatoes are a hot sunny plant and our rather cool summer has left many of them very slow to ripen. Bringing them in to a sunny windowsill is about all you can do at this point.

Brenda Asks? Vivian mentioned bringing in her angel wing begonias for the winter. I hadn't thought about doing that but what a wonderful idea. Can that be done with dragon wing begonias as well and if so what is the routine for bringing them in?

Ken Answers! Some Begonias can be brought in to grow as houseplants for the winter. Dragon wings would probably survive for a while but if they are like mine they are far too big to move in. They do not propagate from cuttings very well but grow readily from seed if started early enough. I leave mine to die in the frost and buy new seed.

111 Trent St. W.
Whitby ON

Back to Back Issues Page